In Austin, we are blessed with some of the world’s cutest pups — at least in our humble opinion. However, getting a dog in college is a huge responsibility that not everyone can take on while balancing school, organizations, part-time jobs and internships. Lucky for us, Austin is the type of city that caters to every dogs’ needs and offers a wide array of places for us dog lovers to go and find some friendly pups to pet. With plenty of pet-friendly parks, river-fronts, restaurants and hangout spots, Austin is a dog’s best friend— and a dog-lover’s, too, if you know just where to look.
Here are ORANGE ATX staff's favorite spots in Austin to pet pups for free.
Zoya — Red Bud Isle
Sometimes, not having a pet is a nuisance. Life would be so much easier with a furry friend. Thankfully, Red Bud Isle is a beautiful pet-friendly park on Town Lake. Owners and their best pals take walks and have a good time outdoors. The scenery is equally enjoyable with lakefront views. Pups can run around and greet fellow Austinites. When a pup chooses to say hello to me, of all people, my day instantly becomes better. I feel incredibly special. Austin has several dog parks, but Red Bud Isle is special. As the seasons change, the park remains a popular spot for Austinites to relax. Picture-perfect views and a furry friend make for a nice, relaxing experience.
Rebecca — RuffTail Runners
Among other perks, being a dog owner gives you a constant exercise partner that will never bail on you. A jog is almost always guaranteed to be more enjoyable with a furry companion pulling you along. Fortunately, you do not have to own a dog to enjoy the company of a dog on your run or walk in Austin. A program called RuffTail Runners does more than let you pet dogs for free, RuffTail allows non-dog owners to take shelter dogs out for some exercise. Volunteers can take dogs on long runs around Town Lake or just take them for a quick walk around the corner. Runners and walkers are paired with certain shelter dogs based on their ability, but every dog is guaranteed to make for great company. Volunteers that cannot commit to taking care of a dog full time get to spend time exercising with a pup, while the shelter dogs get the exercise, fresh air, and stress relief that they need. You can become a volunteer here.
Tess — Banger’s
There’s not many things better than good food, drinks and puppy petting — which is exactly what you get when you show up to Bangers on Rainey Street. Every third Monday of the month, Banger’s hosts “Mutt Monday” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and pup owners flock to the restaurant from all corners of the city. While dog owners enjoy their half-off pints, you can enjoy playing with their dogs. It’s a win-win situation. If you find a pup you really like, you can even treat them to some of Bangers’ homemade dog sausage. Luckily, dogs are welcome on the restaurant's outdoor patio everyday, not just on Mutt Mondays.
Cierra — Auditorium Shores
One of my favorite places to pet cute dogs is the off-leash section of Auditorium Shores on Town Lake. No matter what day it is, there is almost always people with their dogs, and it can be incredibly relaxing and entertaining to watch them fetch toys or pet them as they come up to meet you. When my family and I visited Austin for the first time, this place was definitely one that stuck in our heads and made a big impression on us. Hopefully one day when I’m a little more responsible and have the time to care for a dog, I’ll get to bring my own pooch there.
Jenan — The Picnic on Barton Springs Road
My ideal way to spend the day — eating great food and looking at cute dogs — can be fulfilled at a charming little food truck park not too far from campus, called The Picnic. A circle of vendors surrounding several cozy benches, this outdoor eatery is a great place for Austinites to stop by after walking their dogs at Zilker. You’re sure to be visited by plenty of pups while their owners are busy enjoying the food. The park is large enough to seat tens of people, yet intimate enough for you to pet the dog seated at the next bench next to you. Many pet owners allow their dogs to explore the park as they eat, so you may unexpectedly (but still welcomingly) find a furry friend under your bench at any given moment. I can’t think of a better way to spend a lunch date than with a fantastic view of tons of adorable Austin pups.