Did you know that “Dog City, USA” is one of Asheville’s most prestigious titles? A quick Google search will show you that our city has been chosen multiple times as one of the friendliest towns in the United States. Of course, that level of care, service, and hospitality had to include being welcoming of man’s best friends: doggies!
I couldn’t agree more with photographer and writer Roger Caras when he said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Traveling is not the same without them, and while some destinations are not suitable for their needs, Asheville is the perfect place for dogs to enjoy themselves in the company of their families.
Asheville is home to the first Dog Welcome Center in the country (I’ll tell you more about it later on!) and has many wonderful businesses where pups are not only welcomed but spoiled rotten – as they should be!
Do you want to explore Asheville’s excellent food and beer scene and don’t want to exclude your furry friend? I’ll tell you all about the best dog-friendly Asheville restaurants. However, being a dog-friendly restaurant is one thing, but having a dog menu at your restaurant (including dog beer) takes the label to another level!
The local mountains, trails, waterfalls, rivers, and parks offer countless opportunities for some of the best dog-friendly activities in Asheville, NC. So take your pups exploring our glorious outdoors during the day – including the grounds of the famous Biltmore Estate – and end the day with a downtown dinner topped with locally-made dog treats and a scoop of doggie ice cream (yeah, you read that right!).
I’ve compiled a list of some of the best dog-friendly activities in Asheville. If you are coming from out of town, I suggest you use the app Bring Fido to stay on top of the latest news. The Asheville Humane Society also has excellent resources that can help you find any kind of dog care. Please remember that dogs must be on leashes in Asheville and Buncombe County.
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14 Fun Dog-Friendly Activities in Asheville
1. Enjoy an Official Welcome Reception at the Asheville Dog Welcome Center
After you check in at your dog-friendly hotel, the first stop should be the Asheville Dog Welcome Center, next to the famous Pinball Museum and by the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. This is the spot to get advice on what to do with your dog while in Asheville and to learn about the etiquette of walking in the city’s crowded streets with dogs.
Downtown Asheville is super dog-friendly, and while this is great, it can also be overwhelming for some furry creatures and their humans. The Welcome Center is the perfect spot to take a break from the urban action and rest, drink water, or buy snacks.
The Welcome Center will also provide information about Asheville’s dog-friendly businesses, breweries, and restaurants, as well as emergency vets and grooming services in the area.
According to their excellent advice, it’s always better to keep your leash short, use a harness to avoid pulling, bring bones and chewing treats to keep your pups entertained, and take a foldable mat so they don’t have to rest on the concrete. Also, don’t forget a travel water bowl!
2. Stay in the Best Pet-Friendly Hotel in Asheville
The newly-built Kimpton Hotel Arras in downtown Asheville is one of the best boutique hotels in town, and its hospitality toward dogs is unbeatable. Well, their love for pets and their humans goes beyond dogs and includes all pets, even birds, hamsters, and iguanas. They are all welcome here at no extra charge!
Dogs will be gifted trendy beds, yummy treats, and other delightful surprises. In addition, every stay includes complimentary access to Wag!, a service that connects pet parents with professional pet caregivers for pet walking, boarding, or sitting.
Kimpton Hotel Arras features 128 modern, luxurious, yet laid-back rooms and is located in the center of town, a few steps from Pack Square, an urban park perfect for taking your dog for walks. Triangle Park and Battery Park also have green areas and are very close.
There is a Mediterranean food restaurant on-site, a bar where you can get breakfast, lunch, drinks, and tapas, a fantastic fitness center, and a spa. Plus, the rooms and common areas feature the work of local artists. Follow the hotel’s fun Instagram page to check out their cutest pet guests!
3. Treat Your Puppy to a Stay in a Lovely B&B in the Historic District of Montford
The renowned 1900 Inn on Montford is an Arts and Crafts-style bed and breakfast located in the historic district of Montford, an entirely walkable neighborhood of wide, shaded streets, parks, and trails perfect for your four-legged friend.
The walk from Montford to downtown is less than a mile and well worth the time. You’ll love the big Victorian houses, the gardens, and the friendly dog and human neighbors you’ll meet along the way. This is not a tourist district, although there are some bed and breakfasts and Airbnbs in the area.
The inn can accommodate pets in their Carriage House, which is home to the charming William Morris, Rosetti, and Cloisters rooms. There is a fee if the dog sleeps in the bed.
You’ll love the daily three-course gourmet breakfast, the gardens, the live mountain music on the front porch, the homemade cookies, and the proximity to Montford Park, the Tempie Avery Montford Center, and the Reed Creek Greenway.
This B&B is also within walking distance of All Day Darling, one of the best dog-friendly restaurants in Asheville with excellent food all day. Order the shakshouka or the fried chicken sandwich in a biscuit, and try the Hemp Latte with honey, CBD extract, ginger, sea salt, and oat milk for a spacy-head feeling.
4. Visit Wag Bar, an Acclaimed Off-Leash Dog Park with a Bar for Humans
Wag Bar is one of the best dog-friendly places in Asheville, and it’s received multiple recognitions, like “Best Pet-Friendly Bar/Brewery,” and come in 3rd place as “Business That Best Represents the Spirit of Its Town” from Mountain Xpress.
The reasons? It offers an interactive, dog-centric 25,000-square-foot park where dogs can play off-leash while their humans relax with drinks and snacks. The play area includes natural agility obstacles, a kiddie pool, and a green space.
In addition, they host year-round pet-related activities and events, like dog adoptions, training sessions, live music, and holiday parties, and offer opportunities to donate to animal rights charities.
The up-cycled shipping container bar features a wide range of non-alcoholic beverages, including yerba mate and kombucha, and an extensive selection of craft beers on tap, canned beers, cider, hard seltzers, and wines.
There are some excellent local snacks. Think cookies from West End Bakery and pretzels from Asheville Pretzel Co., but you can also bring outside food.
They offer memberships and day passes. Please read the rules before visiting, and have a blast!
5. Get a Custom Pet Portrait with Artist Angela Alexander in the River Arts District
This is not exactly an activity for your dog, but it celebrates our love for dogs and animals and their significance in our lives. Angela Alexander specializes in contemporary animal art. She offers adorable custom pet portraits: take your favorite photo of Fido, and she’ll make a vibrant, colorful, and humorous piece of art that will capture the personality and the life of your friend.
Angela starts with a black canvas and then layers loose brushstrokes in lively, bold colors. The results are unique paintings showcased at the AKC Museum of the Dog in St. Louis, MO, and featured in Air Bud Entertainment’s movie Pup Star: Better 2gether. In addition, you can find her art in different art galleries around town and her studio in the River Arts District.
Angela also participates in fundraisers for local animal shelters. “Forget Me Not” is a series of portraits that brings awareness about dogs that have been in the shelter for a long time and are longing for a forever home.
6. Bring Your Dogs on the River for a Ride on a Tandem or Canoe
French Broad Outfitters is a full-service river outfitter in Asheville. It has three locations and offers kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, and tube trips on the French Broad River, one of the oldest rivers in the world.
The store has all things kayaking, and they also feature e-bike tours and an excellent space for relaxing by the river or hosting private events. The times are self-guided and include a shuttle and equipment rental. You can also ask about guided tours if you’d like.
They are a super dog-friendly business, and dogs are welcome in the store, the shuttle, and on their river adventures! For example, imagine seeing the Biltmore Estate from the river or floating alongside the River Arts District with your pup while taking plenty of playful swimming breaks.
Just so you know, leashes are not allowed on the river for safety reasons, and all dogs (and humans) must wear PFDs if they want to fully enjoy this awesome dog-friendly activity!
7. Have a Dinner Date at One of These Two Downtown Restaurants Featuring Dog Menus
Twisted Laurel and Posana are two of the best dog-friendly Asheville restaurants. They are in the heart of downtown, very close to Pack Square Park, and offer dog menus!
Twisted Laurel is a downtown classic serving Italian-American-inspired comfort foods, including housemade pasta, sandwiches, salads, and stone hearth pizza pies. That’s for humans. But doggies also can enjoy a full menu – with protein, veggie, and dessert options – on the patio across the street from Pack Square.
Would Fido like grilled trout, a burger (meat or meatless), or scrambled eggs? What’s the side dish of their preference? Grilled Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or sweet potatoes? Choosing a dessert will be the hardest thing they’ll do all day, so I suggest ordering both the celery with peanut butter and the doggie ice cream!
Posana is a wonderful contemporary American restaurant offering a rotating menu of 100% gluten-free dishes made with seasonal, locally-grown ingredients and an impressive wine selection.
Dogs are welcome in the patio area, and they can savor a menu with a starter, an entree, a dessert, and a beer because, well, this is Asheville! What would your furry baby choose? The Bowser Beer, Cock-a-Doodle Brew, or the Bowser Beer, Beefy Brown?
Read our full review of Posana here.
8. Try These Other Beloved Dog-Friendly Asheville Restaurants
As I said before, Asheville is extremely dog-friendly, and almost every restaurant with outdoor seating will welcome your dog. Including all of the dog-friendly restaurants in town is impossible, but there are plenty in every part of the city. Here are some of the most dog-friendly Asheville restaurants.
Battery Park Book Exchange is one of the most unique places to hang out in downtown Asheville. Located in the Grove Arcade (where dogs are also welcome), this two-story bookstore features used books, wines, and savory foods in a lovely setting decorated with antique art and furniture.
It has an outdoor patio perfect for dogs and is one of the best spots to people-watch in downtown Asheville. Enjoy a glass of champagne, a charcuterie table, and have a fanciful moment with Fido.
Sunny Point Café in West Asheville is one of the best brunch spots in Asheville. It offers upscale, made-from-scratch comfort food and serves one of the best biscuits in town. There is plenty of outdoor seating and a lovely urban vegetable garden on-site!
In addition, they have recently added the bakery Rabbit Hole next door! Don’t miss the Huevos Rancheros, the Mighty Good Breakfast, and the Pecan Crusted Fried Green Tomato Sandwich.
Luella’s is among the best places to eat Southern food in Asheville. Its North Asheville location has an outdoor seating area next to Weaver Park, making it an excellent choice to walk your doggie before or after your meal. Some of their “Taste the Love” menu stars are the Smoked Wings, the Chile Rubbed Beef Brisket, and the Scratch-Made Banana Pudding.
9. Survey the Best Dog-Friendly Breweries in Asheville
Traveling with your dog doesn’t mean skipping one of Asheville’s main attractions: its breweries. You’ll soon discover that exploring the craft beer scene with your friend is one of the best dog-friendly activities in Asheville, NC! Of course, most breweries are happy to have dogs around, but here are three of the best.
Catawba Brewing Company – Biltmore Village welcomes dogs inside, so it’s the perfect option for enjoying a craft beer on a chilly day or a (rare) extremely hot day. There are often other dogs around so Fido can socialize. They also have a rotation of food trucks.
One World Brewery is the only brewery in town located in a basement. It’s downtown, below Farm Burger (another super dog-friendly establishment with outdoor seating and lots of meat!). Doggies can also be inside here.
Wedge Studios is set in a revamped 19th-century warehouse in the River Arts District. This area is home to over 200 art studios, shops, and many green areas, and you can’t leave Asheville without spending a few hours strolling around. This brewery has plenty of space, great food, and fantastic beer, of course!
10. Spend Long Hours Hiking in Asheville’s Beautiful Outdoors
Asheville’s surroundings offer so many rad opportunities for you and your dog to explore! From splashing in cool waterfalls and taking in sunset views to taking short, easy hikes with amazing views or embarking on day-long excursions full of fresh air, exercise, and adventure, the outdoor activities are endless in Asheville.
Please remember that some national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina and Tennessee), don’t allow dogs on the backcountry trails. So, leashed dogs can only be in campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roads.
Hiking is one of the best dog-friendly activities in Asheville, and you should plan plenty of time to do it. Pets on a leash are permitted in all North Carolina state parks on pedestrian trails only and in national forests. The same goes for camping, but leashes are mandatory.
Some of the most popular hiking trails near Asheville to walk with dogs are Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail (a short, easy hike with amazing 360-grade views), Black Balsam Knob (a bald top with breathtaking views), and Graveyard Fields (imagine blueberry picking, blooming rhododendron, and a swimming hole!).
11. Hang out with Local Pups at one of the Dog Parks in Asheville
You know the saying: “The world is a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way, everyone forgets it.” Well, dogs never forget how to have fun, and watching them play with other dogs is one of the biggest joys for their humans.
There are two dog parks in Asheville. The French Broad River Park by the homonymous river is one of the most fun Asheville urban parks. It connects with West Asheville’s greenways, and it has a small playground, lots of shade, fruit trees, a wildflower garden, grills, picnic tables, and a dog park!
Your friend will love playing with other dogs off-leash and sniffing the surroundings while you take him on a walk.
The Azalea Park is by the Swannanoa River in East Asheville. It has a playground with a large wooden structure surrounded by covered picnic areas. In addition, there is a dog park that you all will love.
12. Explore Two of the Most Beautiful Gardens in North Carolina with Your Dog
Asheville has beautiful parks, 10 miles of greenway, and urban gardens that people and animals love. There are plenty of green areas everywhere, and dogs are allowed in most of them.
While dogs are not permitted in the famous Botanical Gardens near downtown, the good news is that they can still enjoy two of the most famous Asheville landmarks: the North Carolina Arboretum and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate.
Exploring the North Carolina Arboretum’s 10 miles of trails is one of the best dog-friendly things to do in Asheville, enjoyable for the entire family. There are exhibitions, kid-friendly activities, a G-scale model train, a bonsai garden, and a quilted garden. Also, don’t miss the flowering National Native Azalea Collection from mid-April to May.
While only ADA-registered service animals are allowed in the Biltmore Estate buildings (including the house and the hotels), dogs are welcome to explore the 75-acre Biltmore Gardens and Grounds with their humans.
You’ll love the trails, the lagoon, and the abundance of flowers and colors. In addition, dogs are welcome in the outdoor eating areas. There are self-service kennels where you can leave your dog if you also plan to tour the house. Please call in advance to confirm if these services are available during your visit.
13. Take Asheville’s Most Famous Tour with Your Furry Friend
The purple open-air buses of the LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours are an Asheville landmark. Fortunately, traveling with a dog is not an obstacle for you to enjoy them!
Small dogs under 20 pounds can sit on their humans’ laps. People with dogs over that weight must buy a ticket for their furry companions. Dogs will have to sit on the seat next to their humans. There is an important requirement though: “All dogs must have a good sense of humor and must laugh at all dog jokes.”
They offer four tours, including a family-friendly tour, a haunted tour, and a bar/live music hopping tour. “Hey, Asheville” (13+) is their most popular one. It mixes comedy with history and lasts for 90 minutes.
You’ll love relaxing on the velveteen couches of the LaZoom Room Bar before or after your adventure. The tour goes through historic downtown, Montford, the River Arts District, and the South Slope (or Asheville’s Beer District). You can take the drinks you buy at the LaZoom bar on board.
This is a tour like you have never experienced before and one of the best dog-friendly activities in Asheville. The guides are hilarious actors, and you’ll find more unique Asheville characters along the way!
14. Spoil Your Dog Rotten with These Three Experiences
The Hop has been making ice cream for pups (and cats!) since 2010. All four locations, including the one downtown at the S&W Market food court, offer prepackaged servings of all-natural peanut butter and frozen banana yogurt (don’t worry, they don’t add sugar). But, of course, they also serve one of the best ice creams for humans, and their creative, collaborative flavors are legendary.
Smokey Mountain Dog Bakery in historic downtown Waynesville has a vast selection of freshly-made sweet and savory dog treats. You’ll love the cute decorated cookies created with honey, rolled oats, flaxseed, and peanut butter and garnished with yogurt-based frosting.
Finally, The Foundry Hotel in downtown Asheville offers the Pup-Marazzi Adventure Package. It starts with a hike with your pup, followed by a one-hour session with a local photographer to capture you and your friend with the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The deal includes dog beer, treats, a voucher for a dog bath, and a custom bandana.