Hollywood of the South, Empire City, and "The City That's Too Busy to Hate" are all nicknames for the vibrant cultural melting pot that is Atlanta. Here, peach trees dot the landscape, music fills the streets, and the smell of Southern soul food permeates the air.
Fifty million people visit Atlanta each year, many of them with dogs in tow. Atlanta's southern hospitality extends both to pets and the people who bring them.
With countless pup-friendly restaurants, parks, and shops, it's unsurprising that Atlanta ranks among the best places for US pet families to live. If you're in search of an unconventional urban road trip with dogs, Atlanta might be just the spot — and we can help you plan your visit! Keep reading for the “ultimutt” list of dog-friendly road trip ideas in Atlanta and the surrounding area.
Where to play
Empire City has no shortage of outdoor activities to entertain furry visitors. Below are some of our favorite family activities and dog-friendly parks in Atlanta.
If your pup loves a good walk, be sure to hit the Atlanta Beltline, a series of dog-friendly trails throughout Atlanta. The native trees and wildflowers will give you a glimpse of Atlanta's past as the art and architectural landscape gives you a taste of Atlanta's present and future.
The beltline houses the most extensive collection of outdoor artwork in the area, and you can even schedule a guide to show you around. Currently, 7 trails crisscross 8 different parks, but many more paths are underway! Most locals will agree there's no better way to see the city.
Atlanta Tiny Doors Scavenger Hunt
Keep your eyes low during walks downtown. Do you notice anything adorably peculiar?
Local artists have collaborated for the "Tiny Doors ATL" project, adorning local hotspots with teeny fairy doors to add a touch of whimsy to the scenery. These are usually miniature markups of the buildings they adorn; some look like teeny libraries, others entrances to petite theaters.
If your pack is planning to walk downtown anyway, why not enjoy a magical scavenger hunt while you're at it! Need a clue? You can search online for hints about where the "tiny people" have set up shop.
Sweetwater Creek State Park
Just 19 miles from the city center, Sweetwater Creek State Park offers furry folks a break from the hustle and bustle without straying too far. Choose from 4 different trails with varying difficulty alongside whitewater rapids, old-growth forests, enormous bluffs, and breathtaking cascades.
When Tucker tires of trekking, kick off your shoes and have a splash in the creek. This picturesque place is undoubtedly one of the best dog-friendly parks in Atlanta, and we're sure your pack will agree!
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
If fishing, tubing, and hiking is your bag, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is worth checking out. Hit the West Palisades trail for an easy family-friendly walk over creeks that branch from the "hooch."
The Eastern path will require a lot more effort (read steep and rocky climbs) but gives way to spectacular bluff-top views. This place isn't called "The Playground of Atlanta" for nothin'!
Piedmont Park on Park Drive is an excellent place for restless packs to expend some energy after a long ride.
There are so many ways to play here. You can hit the trails for family exercise, let the kids hang on the monkey bars, or watch as your pup makes new "fur-iends" in the leash-free enclosures.
Park vendors offer visitors respite from the Georgia heat, with gourmet popsicles for humans and "pupscicles" for pooches.
Where to stay
Camping with dogs in Atlanta doesn't mean "ruffing” it. There are quite a few positively posh campgrounds around where your pack can lay their head!
Sweetwater Creek RV Reserve
Only 18 miles from downtown Atlanta, you'll find a campground as adorable as its name — Sweetwater Creek RV Reserve. The campground doesn't have much in the entertainment department, but the owners are friendly, love animals and keep the park nice and tidy. The resort is within walking distance to a cute little park and a few cafes if you need something to do nearby.
Allatoona Landing Marine Resort
Allatoona Landing Marine Resort in Cartersville is the top dog for adventure opportunities. This cozy campground sits on the edge of Lake Allatoona, about 50 minutes from downtown ATL.
This location is fantastic for fishing and exploring and even has a private boat ramp where guests can set sail. Kids love this park since it has a sizable swimming pool and playground. The camp store stocks all the snacks and necessities you could want, so you don't have to leave the premises when the kids start screaming they're hungry.
Stone Mountain Park Campground
If there were a contest for dog-friendly campgrounds in Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park Campground would definitely win for most canine camping options. Canine campers can choose between RV, tent, yurt, or luxury park model sites.
The grounds are inside Stone Mountain Park, a family favorite located about 16 miles from the heart of Atlanta. Though dogs aren't allowed in the theme park's main areas, Fido is welcome to explore the Cherokee Trail at the foot of Stone Mountain. Take a look at pictures from the campground, and you'll see why it's Georgia's most "pawpular" outdoor lodging destination!
Where to eat
You can't leave Atlanta without trying the cuisine. Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants that accommodate guests traveling with dogs serving up these Southern staples.
Traditional eats include crispy fried chicken, fluffy buttermilk waffles, hickory-smoked pork, or buttery shrimp and grits. No time for a sit-down meal? Grab a burger and a peach milkshake at one of Atlanta's famous drive-ins.
Atlanta's offerings aren't just limited to traditional Southern fare and fast food; you'll find diverse ethnic cuisine if you know where to look. We're talking authentic yakitori, pho, Korean dumplings, and Malaysian curries — are you drooling yet? Some contemporary ATL eateries even have VIP (Very Important Pup) menus with homemade dog treats for their furry customers. Your pack certainly won't leave Atlanta hungry!
Where to roam
Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway offers fantastic scenic drives in Atlanta. Hop on the byway on State Route 2 near historic Prater's Grist Mill. You'll traverse almost 10 miles of picturesque farmland before you reach Stone Church, where GA-2 meets US 41. Follow US-41 as it skirts the western edge of Chattahoochee National Forest, and the road opens up to pine-studded mountains.
You can take North Tibbs Rd. and its offshoots for a closer look at the old-growth forest, or merge onto US-75 and head straight for the next leg of your journey. When you get to Dalton, put the car in "bark" and grab a bite at one of the town's pup-friendly restaurants.
For a real bird's eye view, head south from Dalton until North Tibs runs into GA-52. Your path will eventually intersect Fort Mountain State Park and come to a stop at the mountain overlook. Buckle up, pup — you're in for a real treat!
Where to learn
Atlanta is home to profoundly fascinating historical museums like the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum. Exhibits tell the true and often heartbreaking story of African American adversity and encourage visitors to inspire change in their own life. Due to the solemn nature and cultural significance of these exhibits, only service animals are allowed. Consider booking a dog walker in Atlanta to keep Buddy busy while you explore the city's educational centers.
Next, journey through time and space at the Fernbank Science Museum and Planetarium in Druid Hills. Museumgoers will see the actual Apollo 6 command module and a replica of the mission control room, almost exactly how it looked in April of 1968 during the Apollo liftoff. Head over to the live reptile and insect exhibits for some fascinating facts about arachnids and Serpentes. On select days of the week, Fernbank opens the observatory for guest viewing. This museum will have you seeing stars — literally!
End on a high note with a walk through the Georgia Aquarium.This enormous 6.3-million-gallon aquarium houses sharks, beluga whales, and a vast array of tropical fish. The aquarium isn't limited to strictly aquatic animals. You'll see mammals, reptiles, and birds too! Besides being fun to look at, much of the proceeds go toward breeding programs and research initiatives for threatened or endangered species.
Traveling with a dog is fun — it's the planning part that's miserable. Check out our guide on driving cross-country with a dog for an essential packing list and some tips for staying safe and sane!