Living Here Guide

13 dog-friendly places you can bring your pup in Charlotte

Jen Long of Charlotte cools down her Labrador, Hope, after playing fetch at Frazier Park dog park in 2011.
Jen Long of Charlotte cools down her Labrador, Hope, after playing fetch at Frazier Park dog park in 2011.

As the owner of a miniature polar bear (read: Great Pyrenees), I frequently find myself scouring business’ websites to determine whether my giant, fluffy pup will be welcome on the premises.

If you’re a dog owner in Charlotte, you’re probably aware that the Mecklenburg County Health Department says a state code rule forbids dogs from being in brewery taprooms. After word of this new rule got around town, it became harder than ever to determine where dogs were and weren’t allowed.

But take heart: Charlotte is a dog-friendly city, and there are dozens of restaurants, bottle shops, cafes and more that are happy to welcome your pup. Here are some of our favorites:

Spots Where Your Dog Can Be Indoors

(1) The Dog Bar

3307 N. Davidson St.

Charlotte’s original off-leash bar for dogs and their owners, The Dog Bar is basically a dog park that serves alcohol. There’s a partially covered AstroTurf play area (sanitized daily), and they put pools out in the summertime to keep your pet cool. There are obstacle courses and dog beds as well, but you’ll find that some dogs prefer to sit up on top of the bar. The Dog Bar hosts trivia at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, and if your team wins a round of trivia, you get a free round of drinks.

(2) Lucky Dog Bark & Brew

2220 Thrift Road, Charlotte; 19607 Statesville Road, Cornelius

Lucky Dog Bark & Brew is an indoor/outdoor sports bar and dog park. The outdoor area is paved, and dogs can roam freely off leash and play with other pups while their owners hang out at the bar. They also offer a sports-themed boutique, a dog bathing salon, doggie day care services, and overnight boarding.

(3) Hattie’s Tap & Tavern

2918 The Plaza

Nestled between NoDa and Plaza Midwood, Hattie’s is a dog-friendly pub with a huge craft beer selection and plenty of delicious cocktail options. Your pup is free to roam off leash both inside and outside on the covered patio, where you can play cornhole or giant Jenga. Check Hattie’s out on Tuesdays for bingo and Thursdays for karaoke.

(4) Canine Café

125 Remount Road, Unit A

In addition to offering an on-site bakery and selling all the all-natural treats and food your pup could desire, Canine Café also offers spa products and DIY dog baths. Bring your pooch for a bath and to play in the store with the rest of the dogs. Then grab a special snack for them on the way out. They’ll love you for it.

Canine cafe_2015 Observer file photo
Kristen DePalmo and her dog, Kenzie, participate in a charity dog wash hosted by the Canine Cafe in 2015. John D. Simmons

(5) Sleepy Poet Antique Mall

4450 South Blvd.

Yes, you read that right: While you’re scouring Sleepy Poet’s 55,000-square-foot space for home décor and vintage clothing, your pup can tag along. There is also a soda and snack corner (and free popcorn), so you can make a day out of antiquing with your furry friend.

(6) Paper Skyscraper

330 East Blvd.

Upon entering Paper Skyscraper in Dilworth, you may be greeted by a pup named Patsy – so of course your dog is also welcome. The gift shop-meets-bookstore-meets-stationery-mecca has lots to explore.

(7) Blackhawk Hardware

4225 Park Road

Open for business since 1977, Blackhawk Hardware is so more than a place to buy tools and housewares. This family owned and operated store at Park Road Shopping Center offers coffee (and free popcorn) for you to enjoy while you and your dog browse through their remodeling, gardening, DIY projects and gift sections.

(8) Star Dog Charlotte

700 NC Music Factory Blvd.

Star Dog is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Most people think that it’s just a dog training and grooming facility, but it’s also a public dog park. The 10,000-square-foot indoor training area and play arena has a rubber floor, and there’s also a 16,000-square-foot outdoor dog park with multiple training fields. Want to drop your dog off? Sign up for a full day or half day at their dog day camp. Bonus: Star Dog Charlotte will soon have an outdoor patio bar, serving a variety of local beers and more.

Where Your Dog Can Be Outdoors

(9) U.S. National Whitewater Center

5000 Whitewater Center Parkway

Your pup can explore the great outdoors right by your side at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. They’ll have to stay on their leash, but they can accompany you as you paddleboard or kayak, hike the trails and more.

(10) Brewery Patios

While dogs are no longer allowed inside local taprooms, they’re still welcome on the patios and in any outdoor space at most breweries in the area, including: Birdsong Brewing Company (1016 N. Davidson St.), Blue Blaze Brewing (528 S. Turner Ave.), Bold Missy Brewery (610 Anderson St.), Catawba Brewing Co. (212 S. Green St., Morganton), Free Range Brewing (2320 N. Davidson St.), Heist Brewery (2909 N. Davidson St., Suite 200), Legion Brewing (1906 Commonwealth Ave.), NoDa Brewing Company (2921 N. Tryon St.), The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (4150 Yancey Road), Salud Cerveceria (3306-C N. Davidson St.), Sugar Creek Brewing Company (215 Southside Drive), Sycamore Brewing (2161 Hawkins St.), Thirsty Nomad Brewing (4402 Stuart Andrew Blvd. A), Three Spirits Brewery (5046 Old Pineville Road), Triple C Brewing Company (2900 Griffith St.), The Unknown Brewing Co. (1327 S. Mint St.), Wooden Robot Brewery (1440 S. Tryon St., #110), and Lenny Boy Brewing (3000 S. Tryon St.).

(11) Twenty-Two

1500 Central Ave.

If you love art and booze, but don’t want to part with your pup to enjoy them, you’re in luck – you can both hang out at Twenty-Two, a well-known art gallery in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. As long as you bring someone with you and one of you stays on the patio with your dog, you can enjoy a few glasses of wine and browse the current exhibit at your leisure.

(12) Freedom Park

1900 East Blvd.

Arguably the most popular park in Charlotte, Freedom Park offers plenty of trails and walkways where you can run or mosey with your dog to get some energy out. While there’s no enclosed space for your pup to be off leash, there’s plenty of outdoor space that you both can enjoy together, including a seven-acre lake, four soccer fields, four baseball fields, 12 tennis courts, two volleyball courts, a full basketball court, and more. In fact, it’s worth a visit with or without your pooch.

Freedom Park 2_2011 Observer file photo
Adam Cahill leans in to get a drink of water along with his dogs at Freedom Park while walking on a hot Saturday. Diedra Laird

(13) Frazier Dog Park

1201 W. Fourth St. Ext.

This large Mecklenburg County park in the Third Ward area boasts a 1.3-acre dog park that’s totally fenced in, with a separate area for smaller dogs. There’s a shady and cool water station that often has pools in the summertime. At Frazier Dog Park, you’ll also find a long run, where your pup can sprint while chasing other dogs (like mine) or you can play plenty of rounds of fetch with your trusty tennis ball.

Frazier Dog Park 1_2015 Observer file photo
Chris Makowski’s dog, Kingsley, cools off in the pool at Frazier Dog Park in Charlotte in 2015. Robert Lahser

Need a different kind of furry fix? Say hello to Charlotte’s first cat café

Charlotte’s first “cat café,” called Mac Tabby, is slated to open in fall 2017 in Area 15, a small-business incubator in the Optimist Park area of NoDa. While you can’t bring your own cat to MacTabby, the 1,200-square-foot café will have 10 to 15 cats in need of attention and adoption. The café will serve coffee, wine and local beers, and the plan is to have food trucks outside. Owner Lori Konawalik – a local mom, cat lover, and wedding photographer – says she envisions Mac Tabby as a gathering spot for local artists, musicians, yogis and more. 516 E. 15th St.,

– Caroline Portillo