Your Trusted Auto Repair Shop for 40+ Years
Shop Talk Logo

Best Dog-Friendly Road Trips in the Southwest

Thanks to a worldwide pandemic, many of us have spent a lot of time at home. Though not necessarily ideal for humans, it hasn’t been as ruff for our pets, as they have benefitted from the extra time with their humans. Now that things are starting to open up, it’s time to think about venturing out. With all of the everyday stresses, we could all use a getaway—including our favorite four-legged friends. 

Dog in trunkWhy not go on a dog-friendly road trip? Pack up your car with your favorite snacks, road trip playlist, sense of adventure, and don’t forget Barkely’s toys, treats, and doggie seatbelt for safety. Take a look at some of our suggestions for dog-friendly road trips that offer all sorts of dog-friendly activities, restaurants, and hotel accommodations. Then, plan your trip and go!

Best Dog-Friendly Road Trips from Nevada

Williams, AZ/Grand Canyon National Park – 3.5 Hours

From Las Vegas, travel 220 miles via the US-93 and I-40 E and arrive at Williams, Arizona, a small town in the Kaibab National Forest. Williams is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” and is the main station for the Grand Canyon Railway.

 This small town offers big options for things to see and do:

  • Drive down the historic Route 66
  • Fish and hike in the great outdoors
  • Enjoy all the local shopping. 
  • Bearizona: Arizona’s only drive-thru wildlife park. Dogs are welcome on the drive through this unique zoo. Zookeepers love to see your pet visit and have been known to hand out treats at the entrance.

Less than an hour north of Williams is Grand Canyon National Park, where you and your pet can enjoy: 

  • Trails above the rim, campgrounds, and other developed areas – provided your pet remains leashed at all times.
  • The Grand Canyon Railway: While pets are prohibited from riding the train, there is a Pet Resort onsite that offers all the comforts of home while you enjoy the train ride to the Grand Canyon. 
  • Yavapai Lodge Tavern: After a nice day at the canyon, stop for dinner inside the Yavapai Lodge and enjoy tasty drinks and unique dishes. The patio area is pet-friendly and offers umbrellas, forest views, and a fire pit for cooler evenings.
  • Anna’s Grand Canyon Coffee Café: Visit for breakfast or lunch and enjoy a wide-variety of dishes. Outdoor tables are dog-friendly and a special dog menu is available!  

Lake Tahoe, CA – 7.5 Hours

From Las Vegas, take US-95 North 453 miles to Lake Tahoe, California. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this dog-friendly road trip destination is great any time of year for skiing and water play. 

  • Stay at the Fireside Lodge Bed and Breakfast, where there are plenty of ways to play in the snow for both you and your doggo.
  • Take your dog out on the lake at Regan Beach. This pet-friendly stretch of shoreline offers shallow waters for swimming and a play area. Try to maintain your balance together on a stand-up paddleboard!
  • Truckee River Rafting adventure: Leashed dogs up to 50 pounds are welcome on the self-guided rafting trip on the calm Truckee River.
  • Squaw Valley Aerial Tram: Dogs are welcome to ride the tram and enjoy the overwhelmingly beautiful views of Tahoe. Take the tram round trip or take the three-hour hike on Shirley Lake Trail. Enjoy a rest at the swimming hole and then take the tram back down. There’s a restaurant at the top that welcomes dogs at the outdoor tables.
  • Enjoy dinner at Base Camp Pizza Co. for pizza, pasta, and good eats for your good boy or girl
  • Grab a beer at Casey’s American Cantina. Be sure to stop by on Tuesdays between noon and closing for “Canines and Cocktails Yappy Hour”. 
  • For waterfront views with your best pal, enjoy a bite to eat at Artemis Lakefront Café for Mediterranean and Greek fare on their dog-friendly patio.

San Francisco, CA – 8.5 Hours

From Las Vegas, take the I-15 to the I-5 north 569 miles to the Golden Gate City. It’s one of the greatest cities in the world for culture, architecture, and cuisine. San Francisco is also a very pet-friendly city, making a visit here well worth the drive. 

  • For some beach time, visit Fort Funston Doggie Beach, where Molly can run off-leash, explore the trails, and play with other doggies.
  • Take in the views with your leashed, wet-nosed friend on the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruises. The one-hour “Escape from the Rock” tour will provide you with breathtaking views of bridges, piers, and Alcatraz. 
  • Enjoy a nice hike on the Lands’ End Trail or visit Bernal Hill Dog Park for beautiful city views. 
  • Have a cozy dinner at Fior d’Italia with your dog at their outdoor seating area. Your pampered pooch will enjoy biscuit treats and his own water bowl. 
  • Stop at the Park Chalet Coastal Beer Garden. This eatery features a large grassy area behind the restaurant with tables and is said to be one of the best dog-friendly restaurants in San Francisco. 

Best Dog-Friendly Road Trips from Austin

San Antonio, TX – 1.5 Hours

Travel south on the I-35 for 80 miles to San Antonio, a city packed with culture, attractions, and spectacular views. 

  • Enjoy window shopping with your four-legged friend at The Shops at La Cantera. Leashed dogs are welcome in the common areas and some stores permit pets as well. 
  • The San Antonio River Walk welcomes leashed pets as well as many of the outdoor restaurants and shops on their patios. 
  • Pay your respects to fallen dogs at the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. Campaigned by U.S. Army combat infantryman, John Burnam, and a German Shepherd Scout Dog Handler, Burnam wanted to honor and memorialize his war dog partners lost in the Vietnam war. 
  • For a traditional Irish (or American) dinner, visit Waxy O’Connor’s Irish Pub with your pet on their dog-friendly patio.
  • Visit Eggspecation for a hearty breakfast or lunch with a full pet-friendly patio 

Waco, TX – 1.5 Hours

Take I-35 North 102 miles through Hill Country to get to Waco, the birthplace of Dr. Pepper, in central Texas.

  • Make a stop at the famed Magnolia Market, created by Chip and Joanna Gaines. The shopping complex covers two blocks downtown. The Silos welcome all members of the family, including your four-legged pals! 
  • Cool off in one of the large pools at the H.O.T. Dog Park and enjoy social time with other doggies.
  • Visit the Waco Mammoth National Monument. Walk along the Bosque River among 100 acres of oak, mesquite, and cedar trees where Woolly Mammoths and other animals of the Ice Age once inhabited. 
  • For dining, Hecho En Waco’s Mexican cuisine and The Backyard Bar State and Grill each have patios to accommodate your pet. 
  • Shorty’s Pizza Shack offers the same, as well as the addition of a turf area complete with cornhole for your entertainment.

Dallas/Fort Worth – 3 Hours

Travel north via I-35 195 to Dallas, Texas. Not only is Dallas a major metropolis rich with history and culture, but it’s a dog-friendly city offering all kinds of entertainment for humans and their pets. Dog in back seat

  • Take a ride on the McKinney Avenue Trolley where your leashed pet can join you as you view the sights of the city. 
  • Visit the Katy Trail, an unused railroad passage turned trail, one of 1600 throughout the country. Katy Trail welcomes dogs and provides water fountains for both human and dog alike. 
  • Walk along the Dallas Heritage Village with your pup and take a step into history. The village is home to some of the largest and stately 19th century Victorian Homes and buildings in all of Texas. 

Dallas also offers many places for you and your pup to grab some grub: 

  • Stop by Mutt’s Cantina for some outdoor fun and socializing that both you and your doggie will enjoy. The cantina features an outdoor patio and beer garden. 
  • Visit Torchy’s Tacos and sit at one of thirteen dog-friendly tables
  • Dogs will be presented with their own menus at the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar. Foods for Fido include grilled hamburger patty, chicken breast, and brown rice.
  • The Texas Truck Yard has rotating food trucks and a spacious beer garden where dogs are welcome. Live music is played daily and special “ice cream” treats are available for your pupper.

Before you pack up Fido and hit the open road on one of these dog-friendly road trips, don’t forget your pre-road-trip oil change! At Sun Auto Service, our ASE-certified technicians will conduct a multi-point vehicle inspection and rotate your tires free of charge with each oil change to ensure your car is road-trip ready. Schedule your appointment or give us a call today!