If you’re looking for a dog-friendly city, you’ve found it. With a population near one million, Charlotte is full of young, active dog parents. As a result, Charlotte residents and visitors have plenty of options for veterinarians, parks, and dog-friendly venues.
In this guide, we’ll lay out the best of each, giving you the full rundown of everything you need to know as a dog owner in the Queen City.
Kelsey W., Charlotte resident
It seems like the city of Charlotte—especially the newer areas like South End—was built with pet parents in mind. I have a corgi, and she’s been with me to countless breweries, walks, and dog-centered events.
Planning the day with your dog
As a dog-friendly city, Charlotte makes it possible to go about your day with your dog in tow — you just need to do a little planning. Here are the best pup-approved coffee shops, cafes, breweries and bars, trails, and stores.
Where to stay with your dog
A little over two square miles in size, Uptown Charlotte is a great place to stay with your dog. The area has a surprising number of green spaces that are perfect for letting your dog stretch their legs. If you’re looking to stay a bit south of the city’s center, South End and SouthPark are also great neighborhoods to set your sights on.
Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel
This Centrally-located, four-star hotel in Uptown is part of a large hotel chain, making it a more budget-friendly option. It borders Romare Bearden Park and Truist Field, where the Charlotte Knights baseball team plays. The best part: There’s no pet fee, regardless of your dog’s size or breed.
Hampton Inn & Suites Charlotte/South Park at Phillips Place
Situated within a luxury shopping center and near a major mall, this Hampton Inn and Suites is a shopper’s dream. It’s a less walkable area than South End or Uptown, but you still aren’t far from a decent-sized park, Symphony Park. And if you go for a walk in one of the many surrounding neighborhoods, you’ll see some of the city’s most opulent homes.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites: Charlotte - South End
Hotel options are limited in the South End area, so you may want to explore Airbnb or VRBO if you’re set on the area. However, if you have an ADA-registered service dog, you can stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. Even better, there’s no additional fee.
Where to get coffee with your dog
Coffee drinkers rejoice! From SouthPark to NoDa and everywhere in between, there are a variety of places offering your life source — and your pup can join you. Some are easy walking distance from popular neighborhoods, while others you may need to take a short drive to reach. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy a cup of joe with your four-legged bestie by your side.
Summit Coffee has locations in central Charlotte—specifically in SouthPark, NoDa, and Villa Heights. All of them are dog-friendly and have patios, though the NoDa location’s patio is the smallest. Still, the NoDa neighborhood is very walkable with plenty of places to spread out if Summit is too crowded for you and your pup. Be sure to check out the seasonal menu if you go
On the north side of the city is Hex Coffee, nestled within Camp North End. The development is sprawling, with plenty of shops, restaurants, street art, and lounge space. Hex Coffee itself is dog-friendly if you want to stay and sip, but it never hurts to have room to explore if you take your coffee to go.
Not Just Coffee
Like Summit Coffee, Not Just Coffee has several Charlotte locations. We recommend stopping by the Atherton Mill location in South End. The indoor area is moderately sized, but it probably isn’t the best place to go if you have a large dog and plan to sit inside. The reason we recommend this location, however, is because it’s right next to the Light Rail Trail, a popular dog-walking destination that runs through South End and into Uptown. Take your coffee with you on a nice walk with your pup!
Where to walk with your dog
From shaded trails to the local park to jaunts through your favorite neighborhood, your dog deserves a good walk every day. Regardless of where you live in the city, dog owners have plenty of places to let their pup stretch their legs.
The Cross-Charlotte Trail
If you’re looking for a long walk among the trees, hop on the Cross-Charlotte Trail at one of the many access points throughout the city. The paved trail is dog-friendly and bike-friendly, starting north of Uptown and extending over 18 miles into South Carolina. Much of the trail runs alongside Little Sugar Creek.
The Rail Trail
You’ll find much more foot traffic (human and canine) and fewer trees walking the Rail Trail. As the name suggests, the trail runs along the city’s Light Rail tracks, roughly from north to south. It’s a great way to see some of the city’s youngest, most dog-friendly neighborhoods.
This 98-acre park in South Charlotte is perfect for a walk with your pup. On a nice day, you’ll see lots of people and other dogs but still have plenty of space to spread out on your own. A large pond is central to this park, and lots of trees offer shady patches to relax in.
Where to play fetch with your dog
While a walk can be refreshing in the morning, letting your dog run free is extra fun. There are a handful of areas with enclosed areas where you can let your pup off-leash for a game of fetch or simply to let them have a sniff-ari in a new place.
🚨 Remember, Charlotte has leash laws! Only let your dog off-leash for fetch (or any other play time) in designated areas.
McAlpine Creek Park
Spanning 114 acres, this East Charlotte nature preserve has a massive, fenced-in dog park. If your pup is the social type, they’ll have plenty of furry friends to share a game of fetch with. Otherwise, there’s tons of open green space at this park for one-on-one playtime.
Renaissance Park Dog Park
Part of a 145-acre South Charlotte urban park, Renaissance Park Dog Park is a sprawling, fence-secured space that’s perfect for off-leash running. There’s even a smaller, separate area for small dogs. If you get bored of fetch, there’s a four-mile trail loop within the park you can walk together.
NoDa, Villa Heights, and Plaza Midwood residents are near Cordelia Park, a neighborhood green space with a basketball court, a walking trail, and a playground. It’s moderately sized for some one-on-one time with your pup and has great views of Uptown.
Where to eat lunch with your dog
If you’re out and about with your pup during the day and want to stop for a bite to eat somewhere, you’ll be happy to know that Charlotte has a lot of restaurants with outdoor patios, offering a place for Fido to hang out with you while you eat. Whether you want a quick bite or a sit-down meal, we have a few options to offer.
The Goodyear House
In the NoDa area, The Goodyear House has a great menu for lunch, whether you’re craving a burger, a salad, or something a bit more elevated, like scallops or cashew mac and cheese. The outdoor patio area is expansive and pet-friendly, with both covered and uncovered seating
Seoul Food Meat Company
This South End Korean fusion barbecue restaurant is a great place to stop for a bite in South End. Find barbecue pulled pork, fat brisket bulgogi tacos, and their famously crispy wings. The best part for dog parents is the fenced-in dog area on the back patio.
There are two Common Market restaurants in Charlotte, one in South End and one in Plaza Midwood. You can’t go wrong with either, as both are in walkable, buzzing areas. Whichever you choose, grab a sandwich and a local craft beer and enjoy the patio with your pup. On weekend evenings, you might even catch some live music or a comedy show.
Where to shop with your dog
We love that Charlotte is dog-friendly enough to have shopping areas where you can bring your pup inside with you. From art fairs to brick-and-mortar stores of all kinds, a lot of places have begun welcoming four-legged friends in with open paws.
Atherton Mill Farmers Market
Stop by South End’s Atherton Mill on Saturdays from 8 am–1 pm to find produce, artisan cheese, homemade goods, and retail pop-ups at the farmer’s market. As the market is outdoors, it’s a great place to bring your dog. However, it does get quite busy at peak hours, so keep that in mind if your pup doesn’t like crowds.
Sleepy Poet Antique Mall
If you’re into thrift shopping, Sleepy Poet will feel like paradise. The massive antique mall hosts tons of vendors, selling everything from furniture to 80s memorabilia. Dogs are always welcome. (This is a great place to come when looking for rainy-day activities with your pup!)
Park Road Shopping Center
This historic South Charlotte strip of shops has a diverse set of pet-friendly stores, making it a great place to run errands. Locally-owned Blackhawk Hardware has everything from gardening tools to dog toys, plus the friendliest staff who will love saying hi to your pup. Be sure to also stop by Park Road Books and Great Outdoor Provision Co., and you can even have Fido with you while shopping at one of the boutiques like Julie’s.
Where to enjoy the outdoors with your dog
If you’re the outdoorsy type or just want to get out of the house with your dog in tow, Charlotte and its surrounding areas offer a lot of great options. Whether you want to go hiking or simply have a picnic and enjoy the weather, we’ve got you covered.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
This outdoor recreation center is an unbeatable place to spend a day with your dog. Entry is free—you just pay for parking ($6 for the day or $60 for an annual parking pass) and activity passes if you want to raft on the manmade rapids, canoe, rock climb, or zip line. Of course, those activities aren’t dog-friendly, but the expansive lawn area surrounding the rapids is a great place to perch with your pooch and watch rafters go by. There are also over 50 miles of trails on-site, which are free to walk with or without your four-legged friend.
If you’re interested in some real elevation gain and don’t mind going a bit outside the city, Crowders Mountain offers a pretty good payoff for a quick drive. About 45 minutes west of Uptown is Crowders Mountain State Park. Between the two peaks—Crowders Mountain and The Pinnacle— there are eleven trails to choose from, ranging from easy to strenuous.
Latta Nature Preserve
A short drive north into the suburbs will land you at a beautiful nature preserve on the shores of Mountain Island Lake. Here, you can soak up the sun, walk the trails, and even see some rehabilitated birds at the Carolina Raptor Center.
Where to grab a drink with your dog
Happy hour is right around the corner and it’s time to find somewhere to enjoy a refreshing adult beverage — with your pup, of course. Enjoy craft beer, mixed drinks, or mocktails from a huge selection of local breweries, outdoor patios, and dog bars (yup, you read that right).
There are dog-friendly bars, and then there’s Skiptown. The South End dog bar, daycare, and grooming location is the perfect place to grab a drink with your pup (literally— Skiptown makes “dog beer” out of bone broth.) The venue has over 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor play space for dogs, so expect lots of commotion. A day pass is $5–$15 depending on the day.
🚨To enter, your dog must be registered through Skiptown’s app, fully vaccinated (Rabies, DHLPP, Bordetella), at least 4 months old, and spayed/neutered if over 6 months in age.
In Plaza Midwood, Optimist Hall is a renovated mill filled with food stalls and small shops. It’s a highly trafficked area, so we wouldn’t recommend bringing your dog inside. However, the outdoor seating is plentiful, with access to Fonta Flora Brewery and The Spindle Bar.
The Dog Bar
Another great, off-leash place to grab a drink is The Dog Bar in NoDa. All breeds are welcome as long as they’re well-behaved off-leash, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. To enter, there’s a $10 annual membership fee per dog. Dogs are welcome indoors or on the shaded, astroturf patio.
Free, nationwide, text-based amber alert for lost pets
Other essentials for your dog
Any pet parent knows that it’s not all fun and games—you also need to know where to go for health care, grooming, and retail goods. Not sure where to get kibble? Need something to occupy your pet while you’re at work? Here are our top recommendations.
Where to take your dog to the vet
Whether your dog needs a yearly check-up or (paws crossed this doesn’t happen) has a late-night emergency, it’s vital to know where the vets are located around the city. Getting established somewhere will also help to get your pup in to see someone quickly should they have a minor illness or injury that doesn’t require an ER visit.
Uptown Veterinary Hospital
Right in the center of Charlotte is Uptown Veterinary Hospital. The hospital offers comprehensive veterinary care and has an average Yelp rating of 4.8 stars and over 50 reviews praising Dr. Jen and her team.
South End Veterinary Clinic
A little further south of Uptown is South End Veterinary Clinic, offering everything from wellness care to surgery. It has an average Yelp rating of 4.7 stars and 30 reviews.
Also in South Charlotte is CLT Vets, whose services include emergency care, pain management, hospice, surgery, and oral care. Located on South Boulevard, it’s in a prime location if you live in the South Charlotte area.
Where to get your dog groomed
If you have a pup who enjoys getting dirty or has a high-maintenance coat, you know just how important having a good groomer can be. Here are some top picks for bathing and full-service grooms in the Charlotte area.
You can make a reservation for a full-service dog grooming appointment, or you can save a little money by doing a self-service visit. If you use the self-service dog wash, Bubbly Paws provides all the tools, towels, and shampoo—you just need to provide the elbow grease. For frequent bathers, join the Scrub Club for unlimited self-service baths and product discounts.
Whitney’s Wittle Wonders
This locally-owned groomer is in the University area, which is easy for city dwellers and those who live further north to access. Here, your dog can get a fresh cut, a nail trim, and even a pet-safe dye job. Online reviews of Whitney’s Wittle Wonders are glowing.
Doggie Styles Mobile Pet Grooming
If you live in the South Charlotte area and need someone who will come to you, this is a great option. Doggie Styles’ service area expands across South Charlotte, down through the Ballantyne and Waxhaw area, and into Indian Land, SC. Double-check her site to see if your area is included (chances are, it is).
Where to find training for your dog
From puppy classes to basic commands to leash reactivity and more, having a reputable trainer in your corner is extremely helpful when training your dog. You even have options for more specialized trainers, like agility or therapy training.
Charlotte Off Leash Dog Training
Whether you’re looking for obedience training, boarding-style training, or nose work and tracking, you’ll find it here. They offer a range of packages and prices, from $300 for a single-day class to $2,800 for a two-week boarding training program.
The Dog Knowledge
This 10,000-square-foot facility in the Grier Heights neighborhood of Charlotte has a roster of successful case studies on its online review pages. They offer obedience training as well as service and therapy training. They offer four- to eight-week programs starting at $2,900.
With several locations around Charlotte, Hilton Hounds offers group classes and private trainings that cover obedience, tricks, and behavior modification. Plus, they operate with a positive reinforcement philosophy, so you can rest assured your pup is having fun (and getting lots of praise!).
Where to board your dog or find doggy daycare
Going out of town and can’t find a dog sitter? Maybe you’d rather leave your pup at doggy daycare versus having someone come let them out for you during the day. Whatever your reason, Charlotte has an array of dog boarding and daycare facilities.
Camp Bow Wow
With two locations in central Charlotte and two more in neighboring suburbs, Camp Bow Wow is a popular destination for dog boarding. Visiting dogs get to play all day in spacious play yards, then sleep in individual cabins on comfy cots with fleece blankets. Plus, you can check in on your pup through the live webcams for peace of mind. Overnight stays start at $50.
Located in South End, Club Fetch is a popular boarding facility, daycare, and groomer. Club Fetch takes extra care to make sure boarding isn’t stressful, welcoming blankets and toys from home and playing nightly movies for the pups at bedtime. Boarding packages start at $49 per night, and daycare starts at $32 per day, with discounts for multi-day packs.
As if it couldn’t offer more, the South End dog bar and groomer mentioned earlier is also an overnight boarding and daycare facility. You’ll get daily updates in the Skiptown app, and you can rest assured knowing that your dog has tons of time to play in the expansive indoor and outdoor off-leash parks, an agility course, and a splash pad.
Where to buy dog supplies
Whether you just brought home a new furry best friend and need to buy all of the essentials, or if you running low on your dog’s favorite food or treats, it’s nice to know there are options on where you can go to grab it all. Aside from the big box stores like PetSmart or Petco, Charlotte has some smaller, more local businesses you can consider, too.
This South Charlotte pet store (which recently acquired Pet People) is tucked into a small strip of shops in the Dilworth neighborhood. Here, you’ll find everything from chew toys to everyday kibble.
Pet Supplies Plus
This independently-owned pet supermarket has two Charlotte locations, one in SouthPark and one in Elizabeth. You can even get delivery and curbside pickup.
In addition to pet supplies like shampoo, food, grooming tools, and accessories, Canine Cafe sells homemade dog treats your pup will love. This locally-owned cafe has been in Charlotte for nearly twenty years.
Experiencing Charlotte as a dog owner
Charlotte’s explosive growth over the last few decades has only made it a more dog-friendly city. Today, there’s no shortage of places you can take your pooch, and you have a wealth of options when it comes to care and other services. The best way to find out what works for your dog is to do your research, and if you’ve made it this far, you’re on the right track.
We encourage you to try out the recommendations in this guide, talk to other pet parents, and don’t be afraid to try something new until you find the perfect match for you and your pup.