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Many pet lovers are hesitant to take frequent weekend trips because it means leaving their four-legged friends behind with a dog sitter or at a kennel. But these days, more American households have pets than ever before, which is driving local communities to offer pet-friendly things to do to attract travelers with dogs. One of the most dog-friendly destinations in the South to check out is Augusta, a popular getaway in Georgia that has come to be known as a “dog-topia” for pups of all sizes, ages, and breeds. Here are some of the many pet-friendly things you can do with your dog when you visit Augusta for the weekend.
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To get some exercise for you and your pup, start your day off with a run along the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. The canal is a popular place for walking, running, biking, paddling, floating, and taking guided boat tours. The main towpath trail is wide, while other trails sprawl into wooded and urban areas to add some variety. Other main trails are the River Levee Trail, Mill Village Trail, and Third Level Trail. Side trails and paths include the Old Fish Camp Path, River Shoals Nature Trail, and Lake Olmstead Trail. Dogs are also welcome on the mountain bike singletrack trails as long as they’re on leashes.
Augusta also has a lovely scenic waterfront that’s fun to check out with your dog as you walk along the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk extends between 6th Street and 10th Street along the Savannah River and has two levels. The 8th Street Plaza and Bulkhead are home to the Saturday Market on the River and the Candlelight Jazz Series. Other landmarks are the Japanese Gardens on the lower level, the Jessye Normal Amphitheater at the end of the 9th Street Plaza, and Heroes’ Overlook at 10th Street. You and your pup can also walk together through Augusta’s downtown area and window-shop along the way as you go past the local stores.
After some epic outdoor adventures together, it doesn’t get much better than a craft brewery that welcomes dogs. There are a couple of great dog-friendly brew spots in town to wind down and relax, including Riverwatch Brewery and Savannah River Brewing Company. These well-established breweries are favorites among both locals and visitors and cater to a wide variety of tastes. At Riverwatch, try the Three Under Par Belgian tripel beer, and try the Savannah River IPA at Savannah River Brewing Company.
Another fun area to explore with your pup is Phinizy Swamp, which has a great boardwalk to stroll along together. Leashed pets are welcome here. As you’re walking along, be on the lookout for native wildlife, such as blue herons, river otters, red-shouldered hawks, and even alligators. It’s free to visit the park any day of the year from 6:30am to 8pm. Areas to check out are the Beaver Dam Trail, Bridge Through the Woods, Pond Trail, and Pfizer Pavilion.
The restaurants in some cities are more pet-friendly than others, and Augusta is one of the easiest places to eat well with a pup by your side. There are great spots with pet-friendly patios in and around the downtown area of Augusta that are well worth the visit to relax and experience the diverse flavors of the city. For example, the Hive is known for its famous Cubano sandwich and over 78 beer selections on tap. Or you can enjoy the patio at Bodega Ultima with your pup and savor a Roast Pork Ultima Bahn Mi. Other foodie recommendations that allow dogs are Farmhaus Burger, which makes an excellent strawberry shortcake boozy milkshake, and Fuse Augusta, which is locally known for its Fuse Burger.
If your pup likes the water, then it’s also fun to take him or her out on a kayak or SUP for a fun change of scenery. Betty’s Branch, a tributary of the Savannah River, is a popular kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding spot in the Augusta area. It’s also home to the Benderdinker kayak and music festival each year. Dogs are even welcome at the festival as long as they are leashed! Betty’s Branch is an easy paddling trip because no shuttle is necessary, and the launch point and finish point are at the same boat ramp. You can also access the river near the Strom Thurmond Dam. Betty’s Branch is near Riverside Park, a multi-use facility with recreation fields and dog-friendly areas. The Riverside Dog Park has fenced-in grassy areas where your pup can run free and socialize after a day with you on the water.
Another fun place to get outdoors and have an adventure with your dog in the Augusta area is Mistletoe State Park. This Georgia State Park is located on the 71,100-acre Clarks Hill Lake and has numerous hiking trails. The park itself spans nearly 2,000 acres and has 15.5 miles of trails. Dogs are welcome here, and popular trails include the 1/3-mile Canyon Trail Loop, 3.75-mile Cliatt Creek Nature Trail Loop, 1.9-mile Beach Trail, and 6.25-mile Rock Dam Trail. You can also camp here with your dog in one of the 93 tent, trailer, and RV campsites. There’s even a Campground Loop Trail that’s 1.5 miles long and makes a great walk with your dog.
At the end of a long day of sightseeing, adventuring, and eating and drinking together, you and your pup will need a nice place to relax and sleep. Fortunately, there are numerous pet-friendly accommodations in Augusta to make both you and your pet feel at home. The Partridge Inn is a budget-friendly, historic hotel and popular pet-friendly option. You can also stay at the newly opened Hyatt House Augusta/Downtown or the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center along the riverfront.