One of the top 11 fastest-growing cities in the US, Charlotte has a hot housing market that means more and more commuters are settling in quiet towns like Wesley Chapel, a bustling village in the southern suburbs. That means plenty of canine companionship in the neighborhood: After all, what’s a suburban home without a couple of pups to play in the backyard? There are two vets and a major pet supply chain right in the heart of Wesley Chapel, and many options in adjacent towns (including an emergency hospital in Matthews with 24/7 vet care, just in case).
Wesley Chapel loves trees almost as much as it loves dogs, and you’ll find both at beautiful Dogwood Park. Your pups can frolic off-leash at the fenced dog park with small and large dog play areas, all while you relax in the shade with a book from the Little Free Library book swap. Back on-leash, you and your pups can enjoy the trees and meadows on the one-mile nature trail.
Need more park? Annexed into the neighboring town of Weddington, the Weddington Optimists Park is actually just across the street from Dogwood Park and closer to the center of Wesley Chapel than Weddington. The athletic facilities mean that there’s always some excitement to sniff out, and the on-leash walking trail provides exercise stations that are perfect if you have a short-legged buddy whose workout routine isn’t keeping you in top shape.
Downtown Monroe is less than 8 miles from Wesley Chapel. Explore this community on the Downtown Greenway, a well-marked trail through the parks and shopping districts of the city center. Starting at Belk Tonawanda Park on the north side — also a fun place to frolic — this 1.5-mile route will guide you to all of Monroe’s prettiest spots. If you’d rather immerse yourself in local history, grab the Historic Downtown Walking Tour map on the town’s website ahead of time. You can dine with your doggos at one of the 11 pet-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating in Monroe, many of which are located along Roosevelt Highway.
On the eastern edge of the Village of Marvin, but in the Waxhaw postal district, beautiful Marvin Efird Park is an enclave where on-leash dogs can enjoy some of the best that nature has to offer. The barn and community garden offer a scenic backdrop for the natural-surface trail network around the lake. Keep an eye on the calendar, too: the park hosts festivals and community events like Outdoor Movie Night, many of which welcome well-behaved pets. If you need more room to roam, the Village of Marvin also has a 1.3-mile paved multi-use trail along Marvin and Joe Kerr Roads. The Marvin Loop is pawpular among dog walkers from nearby subdivisions, so you’re sure to meet and sniff some new neighbors!
The drive into Downtown Charlotte is an easy excursion of about 20 miles. The Dillworth neighborhood is especially dog-friendly. Locals adore Pet Wants: The Urban Feed Store on Distribution Street. With the huge range of high-end pet food and quirky treats — Yak Treats are a favorite — you can stock up on goodies. Down the street, the Canine Café serves handmade doggie delights from the bakery counter. You can even order a personalized birthday cake for your pup to spice up your next pawty. Grab your own treat at the dog-friendly outdoor seating of one of the restaurants at the corner of East Blvd and Kenilworth: Your pup can tag along while you snack on doughnuts or fro-yo, or join you for a meal at Brixx Wood-fired Pizza. Walk it off at Southside Park nearby. The Charlotte Humane Society is next to the park: you can pick out a new bestie or stop and share your treats.
The Reedy Creek Nature Preserve is big enough to fill a whole weekend with outdoor fun. At over 900 acres, it's well worth the 27 mile drive from Wesley Chapel. The 10 miles of hiking trails give you plenty of on-leash exploring to do: the Sierra Loop Trail is pawticularly remote and rugged, but the tamer Sassafrass Trail offers a nice view of Dragonfly Pond. (Fair warning: your dogs might try to catch some dragonflies.) You can download the full trail map at the park’s webpage. If you wear out before your pups do, head for the off-leash fenced dog run! Located at the northern end of the park next to the athletic fields, this well-maintained play space will keep your pups entertained while you relax on a bench.