4 Pet-Friendly Texas Travel Destinations

Summer is the time when many of us visit a new city and get our fill of the local food favorites and star-studded attractions. In search of new experiences we oftentimes have to leave our pets behind. At Brilliant Energy, we are always looking for ways to involve our pets in every aspect of our lives. And after reading that more than 176 million vacations were taken in Texas in 2014, reports the Office of the Governor, we just knew we weren’t the only ones involving our pets in summer getaways. So if you’re one of the 32 percent of U.S. dog owners who take their pets with them on their leisure trips, says global market intelligence firm MarketResearch.com, then you’ll appreciate today’s blog post. Here are four pet-friendly destinations in Texas you should consider this year.

Explore the Capitol

Austin routinely makes the list of one as the top dog-friendly cities in the country, and for good reason. It is home to dozens of area restaurants with outdoor seating so both you and your dogs can enjoy a meal together. There are also several off-leash and on-leash dog parks, including Bastrop State Park and Barton Creek Greenbelt Preserve. Or if you both like the music scene, check out the Austin Symphony for free ensemble concerts in front of the Long Center City Terrace (until Aug. 28, 2016) or Blues on the Green at Zilker Park (Aug. 3, 2016). To get the full experience (and to score some free swag), plan your trip for late August when the Austin Pet Expo takes place. This year it’s at the Palmer Events Center on Aug. 20-21, 2016. Did we mention it’s also free?!

Hit the Beach

A warm sun, soft sand, glistening ocean waves, and beachfront bungalows are all reasons why we love the beach. And we’re pretty sure your dog would enjoy it as well (maybe even your cat if s/he likes to surf or fish!). If you’re looking for a dog-friendly beach this summer, Texas has more than 600 miles of beachfront to choose from, says TravelTexas.com. To get started in your search, consider Galveston, Lake Jackson, Padre Island, or South Padre Island for your travels. Corpus Christi has Padre Island National Seashore, and there are even dog-friendly parks and campgrounds nearby so you’ll have more things to do. Galveston is located just 50 miles from downtown Houston, so there are also plenty of beaches, parks, and campgrounds to explore in the area. Or if you want to stick to Galveston-bound beaches, there’s Big Reef Nature Park, Galveston Island State Park, and Stewart Beach to stroll through. Just make sure you check out Stewart Beach, which is located along the seawall. It’s one of the best family beaches in the area, and it’s popular for its summer sandcastle competitions. Lake Jackson surprisingly has a 3.5-mile long city beach called Bryan Beach -- it’s simple, but provides a nice change of pace if you want to get away from the immediate vicinity of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Pick Some Fruit

If you want to do something different with Fido, head northwest to Lubbock for the weekend to enjoy a winery tour or explore a local cider mill. Y’all can walk throughout Apple Country Hi Plains Orchards and pick from the 30 varieties of apples before enjoying a picnic at Apple Country’s gazebo. Just make sure you remove the seeds before sharing your apple slices with your canine companion! Or if you’re looking for something a little more grownup, visit Llano Estacado Winery off of Highway 85. Llano Estacado is Texas’ largest winery, and it offers a wide selection of wines to taste. While dogs can explore the grounds they cannot enter the building, so plan your visit accordingly.

Visit a Ranch

Nothing says Texas like a good ol’ fashion cowboy ranch. Depending on where you travel in Texas, you and your dog can smell some bluebonnets, visit with the resident horses, run along some trails, and more. If you grew up watching primetime television, you may remember the TV series “Dallas” and its larger-than-life Southfork Ranch. Today, Southfork is popular among tourists and locals alike, hosting dozens of events annually. They offer chuck wagon dinners, guided tours, and shopping opportunities. But just like Apple Country, pets must be leashed and remain outside (unless they can be carried). If you’re looking for something more scenic, drive upstate to Amarillo and spend the weekend at Elkins Ranch. The cattle ranch offers jeep tours of the nation’s second-largest canyon, Palo Duro Canyon - and yes, well-behaved pets can come along for the ride! And for a different kind of ranch, you should also stop at Amarillo’s Cadillac Ranch off Old Route 66. There are 10 Cadillacs that range from a 1949 club coupe to a 1963 sedan that are all placed nose down in the ground. It’s a fun roadside destination that makes it the perfect pitstop for you and your pets to enjoy.

So what’s your favorite pet-friendly destination? Tell us in the comments.