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5 Reasons Why Your Dog Wants to Visit Asheville

From hiking trails to dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, travel tips for dog parents on where to go and what to do in Asheville to make tails wag

A long leash tied to a dog up ahead on a hiking trail in Asheville.

Dogs love hiking in Asheville as much as their humans.

Photo by Rachel Pressley

My dog Maggie loves to travel and has visited 16 states with my wife and me since we rescued her a year ago—but her tail wags the hardest when she knows we’re headed home to Asheville, North Carolina. Bring your own pup to see why canine companions love Asheville, one of the Blue Ridge Mountains’ most outdoor-oriented, food-obsessed, and dog-friendly cities. Just be warned, you may have one sullen little doggy when it’s time to depart.

Trails for dogs

A family walks their dog along Reed Creek Greenway in Asheville while the dad is carrying a child on his shoulders.

Dogs and their humans alike love places like Reed Creek Greenway

Photo by Reggie Tidwell

Four-season hiking is one of the main draws of the Asheville area for hounds and their humans. Come fall, the leaves put on one of the most spectacular shows in the country, and in the winter temperate climates make it possible to enjoy equally stunning views. Hike the Greybeard Trail for sweeping panoramas of some of the area’s tallest peaks including Mount Mitchell, which at 6,684 feet, is the tallest point in mainland North America east of the Mississippi River.

In the spring, put the window down as you wind your way along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Graveyard Fields and let your four-legged friend get a sniff of what’s in store. The trail is renowned for the sweet smell of rhododendrons in bloom starting in late May. Come summer, head for the French Broad River Greenway and Reed Creek Greenway, fairly flat areas with lots of tree cover to keep you and your dog cool.

A dog standing alert and off-leash on a wooden platform outdoors at WagBar in Asheville.

WagBar, an off-leash dog park and bar in Asheville

Photo by Reggie Tidwell

Most trails in the Asheville area are open to dogs and in keeping with Leave No Trace principles, you’ll want to stick to the trail and have them on a six-foot leash. Forgot yours? Stop in at The Patton Avenue Pet Company, a local’s choice for numerous options for leashes, harnesses, outdoor gear, and treats. While you’re there, pick up a bag of locally made dog treats by Botanical Bones. Maggie will do just about anything for their plant-based snacks.

Downtown dog delights

Asheville is a highly walkable city.

Asheville is a highly walkable city.

Photo by Jared Kay

The trail-to-town culture is strong in Asheville which means you and your dog can pull up at local breweries, and most restaurants are happy to host pets right after a hike. In fact, you’ll fit right in if you’ve got a little dirt on your boots—Fido, too. Dogs are not only tolerated but welcome in many of the bars around town. Numerous shops have water bowls for pets at their entrance and several local boutiques such as Ware, Provisions Mercantile, and Duncan and York allow your pooch inside while you browse for local goods.

Food for all

Asheville has long had a reputation as a foodie destination, with several James Beard Award–recognized spots calling it home, from Chai Pani to Rhubarb. And while dogs have to stay home at those restaurants, you can make it up to them by taking them to the Universal Joint (or the U-Joint as locals say). Well-behaved pups can also partake in the fun on the outdoor patio and beer garden at 12 Bones Smokehouse.

Reward them afterward with peanut butter-and-banana frozen yogurt, an all-natural treat with no added sugar, from The Hop, a local shop that’s been winning over dog’s hearts with this recipe since 2010. The frozen yogurt comes pre-packaged—Maggie recommends getting a few extra to-go.

The beer scene

A black dog looking at their human companion holding a drink on the outdoor patio at Burial Beer.

A dog and their companion enjoy the outdoor patio at Burial Beer.

Photo by Reggie Tidwell

Asheville gets its nickname, Beer City, thanks to more craft breweries than you’ll likely have time for in a trip here. The good thing is it’s impossible to find a bad beer in town and most watering holes permit dogs.

If your pup is super social and you like Belgian beers, a no-brainer is New Belgium Brewing. Want to relax in a covered outdoor area (made using shipping containers) while sipping a Hazy IPA? Head to Hi-Wire’s RAD Beer Garden. For a selfie with your dog inside an old VW van, in between savoring a resinous pale ale, Burial Beer’s got you covered.

Dog-friendly hotels

One of the many things that make Asheville stand out is its abundance of lodging options that welcome your furry friends with open arms. Centrally located downtown, the Kimpton Hotel Arras offers a special treat bag upon check-in as well as pet beds and bowls—so you can pack a lot less. Aloft Asheville Downtown is also a great option, especially for those traveling with larger breeds, as there’s no extra pet fee or size restriction. Just on the other side of downtown, Hotel Indigo offers a Pet-Friendly Package that includes a welcome treat, along with a bed and bowl to use during your stay.

Consider staying at a bed and breakfast in the Montford Historic District for a cozy and walkable experience. The 1900 Inn on Montford boasts three pet-friendly rooms, two of which are on the ground floor and have an enclosed rear garden, providing easy pet pit stops in the mornings and evenings. Another option that welcomes dogs is the Crowne Plaza Asheville, where a spa, golf course, tennis courts, trails, and the Adventure Center of Asheville await their humans.

Meet fellow dog lovers

When two dogs hit it off, they have a way of bringing their associated humans together, too. Whether you and your pup are traveling solo or in a pack, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that you could go home with a few new friends, both furry and otherwise. Your best bet for these kinds of spontaneous connections is at WagBar, an off-leash dog park and bar where your dog’s happiness is front and center. Proof of their vaccinations and a day pass will provide a safe and wag-worthy adventure where your dog can run around and socialize while you enjoy a local craft brew. (You may even see Maggie there!)

Another popular gathering place is the French Broad Dog Park which is free and popular with canines of all sizes. Even iconic Biltmore allows your pup to adventure with you on their grounds and trails, as well as kick back on the outdoor patios of Cedrics Tavern and the Bistro.

Everywhere you go, and no matter the season, Asheville is among the top dog-friendly destinations, well, anywhere. Don’t believe me? Just ask Maggie.

Explore Asheville and written by Erin McGrady
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