Why Dogs Love Living in Austin

If I were a dog, I would want to live here in Austin where the city really seems to care about a dog's quality of life. The city has specifically identified some of the hottest nature spots in town as leash-free zones. I have a blond Labrador named Lola who has personally tested several of the hottest spots in town...

1. Auditorium Shores - South side of Lady Bird Lake, just west of First Street Bridge.
Big expansive green field on the banks of Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake)...think "size of a football field"....with a downtown city view. Water dogs can get their fill of the lake. Land lubbers can run and run and run...and run some more. Watch out for joggers and bikers whizzing by on the trail...not all of them are understanding that it's a leash free zone right there. We like to go on Sunday's with a tennis ball and let Lola chase the ball into the water until her heart's content. She always seems to make friends too.

2. Norwood Estate Dog Park - Northwest corner of I-35 and Riverside
This park is better known as "the dog park on Riverside". There are community drinking water stations for the dogs (be sure to bring a jug of water to contribute if you can remember.) This is a good ol' standby dog park, with ample parking and comfy plastic lawn chairs for the human race... it's especially a good call when it's too much effort to go down to Auditorium Shores due to parking, traffic, etc. There's no water feature...but plenty of shade and always a good natured crowd of playmates for your dog.

3. Zilker Park - soccer fields north side of Barton Springs Rd.
Simply put: BIG OPEN GREEN SPACE Those Frisbee catching, ball fetching pooches will especially love you for it.

4. Shoal Creek Greenbelt - West side of Lamar, between 26th and 28th streets
This really feels more like a jogging trail that is permitting your dog a visit than a dog park. It's really a problem if you have the kind of dog who thinks everyone is a playmate and wants to run after every jogger who passes by. Still...it's green, and beautiful...but you do have to tune out Lamar traffic.

5. Red Bud Isle -- MY FAVE -- take 6th street west until it turns into Lake Austin Blvd. then turn left on Red Bud Trail. Park is on left...
Okay seriously, this little island on Lady Bird Lake feels like you are visiting another world! We like to go early in the morning with the kids and dog before it gets too hot. It's actually an entirely leash free island and the dog can swim to his/her heart content while you and the kids enjoy snacks on the shoreline.

There are 12 total "off leash areas" in Austin... sounds like Lola has some more exploring to do.

Photo courtesy of http://www.austindogwalker.com/ -- owner Kevin took it at Zilker Park on a beautiful sunny day in Austin.

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