The Pup’s Travel Guide to Charlotte, NC [Part 1: Things To Do]

Date: August 3, 2018

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I’ll admit it. I’ve put this article off for a while now. With Charlotte being our home, it’s been hard to compile a list of the best dog-friendly activities, restaurants, and places to stay in our “neck of the woods.” Why? Because Charlotte, NC is incredibly dog-friendly! 

Charlotte, NC offers a plethora of dog-friendly things to do, making it difficult to pick favorites. That said, I’m going to do my best… and I’m breaking this article into three parts -- things to do, restaurants and accommodations. Once I get the articles up, you’ll be able to download the free eBook combining everything into one easy to read PDF.

Whether you’re looking to spend time in the city, you want to explore the Lake Norman area, or you’re seeking adventure in some of the smaller neighboring towns, Charlotte has so much to offer you and your pup. 

So without further ado, I give you The Pup’s Travel Guide to Charlotte, NC… Part 1! 

Dog-Friendly Activities

Enjoy the Local Breweries

Charlotte, NC is particularly proud of its breweries, and there are a variety of breweries with outdoor patios where you can sip on a local beer while enjoying the company of your pup. 

isabella-and-penelope-penny-4.pngAnd while there are many breweries across the Charlotte region, there are quite a few in the same area where you and your dog could stroll from one to the next. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.

  • Legion Brewing  - Located in Charlotte’s up-and-coming neighborhood, Plaza Midwood, with a second location opening soon in SouthPark, Legion offers a laidback atmosphere and is walking distance from tons of great restaurants.
  • The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery - Located in Southend, Olde Meck has a huge, outdoor Biergarten with tons of shade where you can hang out with friends and your pup. Charlotteans rave over the OMB Copper and the Hornet’s Nest brews. And with Olde Meck right down the street from Sugar Creek Brewing Company, Thirsty Nomad Brewing, Lenny Boy Brewing Co., and several other bars with dog-friendly patios, it’s a great place to begin a brewery crawl. This brewery is my personal favorite.
  • Sycamore Brewing - Also located in Southend, Sycamore Brewing is a Charlotte staple. In addition to a dog-friendly patio and craft beers, Sycamore regularly hosts Food Truck Fridays, trivia nights, festivals, and even oyster roasts. You can view all the brewery’s upcoming events here.
  • Wooden Robot Brewery - This brewery is located in just outside of the center of Charlotte and while new, is quickly growing in popularity due to its prime location and good beers. The patio is dog-friendly, and the attached restaurant offers delicious food.
  • NoDa Brewing Company - Located about 15 minutes from uptown, NoDa Brewing is famous for both its beers and its location. The brewery is nestled in the neighborhood of NoDa, known for its hipster flair, art and music scene, and creative atmosphere. The brewery has become so popular you can find NoDa Jam Session at many local restaurants.

And while this is not a  “brewery” per say, this is another excellent place to check out with your pup:

  • VGBG Beer Hall & Garden - Located in the NC Music Factory, VGBG offers an array of local NC beers and great food, but that’s not what it’s known for. With tons of traditional games like Jenga and cornhole, and several sand courts for volleyball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and football, VGBG is a league of its own… and your pup can join you!

Play at the Dog Bars

Charlotte’s dog bars take the typical dog park and up the ante. Dog bars are a great way to let your pup let off some steam and play off leash with other dogs while you kick back with friends and play games. Two of our favorites are:

  • The Dog Bar - Located right in the heart of NoDa, surrounded by tons of restaurants and NoDa Brewing Company, and the place is always packed with pups playing off leash.
  • Lucky Dog Bark & Brew - With a location in the Lake Norman area and Charlotte, Lucky Dog Bark & Brew is a great place to kick back and watch the game while your dog makes new friends. Lucky Dog is also a grooming salon so you can always schedule a bath after playtime if needed.

isabella-and-penelope-freedom-park-charlotte-nc.pngVisit the Beautiful Parks

If you’re looking for a place to get some fresh air with your dog in a quiet, peaceful setting, look no further than one of the many beautiful parks in the Charlotte region. 

Freedom Park is just outside the city and is frequented by Charlotteans walking their dogs or riding bikes around the pond, hanging from hammocks in the trees, or picnicking on the lawn. 

If you’re interested in getting out of the city, Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville is a great place to visit. Only 20 minutes outside of Charlotte, Latta Plantation offers hiking trails around Mountain Island Lake and throughout the many acres of the nature reserve, and there are a few areas where your dog could cool off in the water. 

The plantation is home to the Carolina Raptor Center and a restored 19th century Federal-style home and living history farm, originally owned by James Latta. And while Fido can’t accompany you inside the home, there are a variety of events that take place outdoors that your dog can enjoy with you.

With Latta Plantation located just a few miles from where we live in Huntersville, we frequently visit with the girls, and they love cooling down in the lake after a long hike.

isabella-and-penelope-woof-gang-bakery-2.pngGo Shopping in the Pet-Friendly Stores

Who doesn’t like being able to take their dog into stores with them? While Charlotte doesn’t have a vast amount of stores that welcome dogs, there are still quite a few places where your pup can shop with you, outside of Lowe’s Home Improvement and PetSmart.

Canine Cafe and Woof Gang Bakery are both excellent pet-friendly shops carrying a variety of fresh treats, toys, and home goods. 

And one of my favorite shops, Sleepy Poet Antique Mall, is also dog-friendly! Sleepy Poet Antiques is a 55,000 square-foot space filled with antique home decor and vintage clothing. It’s so fun to explore, and Fido can join you.

Spend the Day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

The U.S. National Whitewater Center fills 1,300 acres on the Catawba River, about 15 minutes from uptown Charlotte. And while dogs are not allowed in the man-made whitewater rafting river, dogs can accompany you kayaking or SUP boarding on the Catawba River, and exploring the 400+ mile trail system.

isabella-and-penelope-latta-plantation-2.pngWith so much to do, you could easily spend a whole day at the USNWC. And if you’re planning a trip between May and September, I highly recommend going on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday so you can wind down the day with River Jam. You and your pup can post up on the lawn and listen to live music while watching people raft down the river. With craft beer, food trucks and restaurants on site, there’s also plenty to eat and drink.

The USNWC also hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, and you can check them out here.

We love to take Isabella and Penelope to the USNWC to go paddleboarding, and then to hang out with friends on the lawn, especially as the weather gets cooler.

Get Out on Lake Norman

Even though it’s about a 30-minute drive from Charlotte, Lake Norman is one of Charlotteans’ favorite destinations, and of course, your dog can join you! 

Whether you want to picnic and hike in Lake Norman State Park, or you prefer to rent a boat and get on the water, there’s something for everyone. The small towns of Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson all border Lake Norman, and each is known for their small town charm, shops, restaurants, and country/historic feel.

If you decide to get out on the lake with your pup, check out swim safety tips for your dog here>>

isabella-and-penelope-isabella-6.pngCheck Out One of Charlotte’s Seasonal Dog-Friendly Events

As you can see above, Charlotte is far from lacking in dog-friendly activities… and those are just activities that you can partake in year-round. Charlotte, NC also has a variety of pet-friendly events and festivals that take place seasonally around the year.

isabella-and-penelope-bark-in-the-ballpark-charlotte-knights.pngWhile this is not a complete list, it does hold a few of my family’s favorites:

  • Latta Celtic Festival - Around St. Patrick’s Day, Historic Latta Plantation hosts the Celtic Festival where festival-goers can enjoy live music, food and beer vendors, arts and crafts, and historical Celtic warrior and heritage demonstrations, and your dog can join you.
  • Bark in the Ballpark - Each summer, the Charlotte Knights baseball team has a couple of Bark in the Ballparks. The event is held to raise awareness for local animal shelters, and your dog is allowed to join you in the baseball stadium for the game. Isabella and Penelope love going to the games!
  • The Rural Hill Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival - Held around November each year, this event is fantastic! The event is known for the National Border Collie Sheepherding Championships which are held over the two-day event, but there are also a variety of other dog events and demonstrations including dock diving, flyball, and more. Throughout the weekend, there are also tons of vendors, fall activities such as pumpkin chunkin’, and food and beverage options. We love taking Bella and Penny with us to this event! It’s so much fun for us and them to watch all the competitions and demonstrations.
  • Christmas in Davidson Doggie Fashion Show - If you’re coming in December, you have to make the 30-minute trip up I-77 to Davidson. This historic small town goes all out for Christmas and even hosts a Doggie Fashion Show where people dress their pups up in their best holiday attire. Whether or not you want to enter your pup, it's a fun event to watch. Participation does require registration beforehand.

Have Questions?

Have any questions about the dog-friendly activities I’ve shared above? Charlotteans, did I miss any staples? Let me know! Leave a comment or shoot me a message

And stay on the lookout for Part 2 coming soon!