Four Dog-Friendly Road Trips for a Weekend — or Afternoon – Away from Cincinnati

Dogs need vacations, too

click to enlarge Addie the pug - Photo: Mackenzie Manley
Photo: Mackenzie Manley
Addie the pug

Despite Cincinnati’s welcoming nature toward our furry pals, sometimes you need some new scenery. Lucky for us, there are plenty day and weekend trips only a few hours’ drive away. 

Lexington, Kentucky

Time: 1 and a half hours

Get brunch. Take a walk. Play arcade games. And do it all with fido by your side. Located in the NoLi district of downtown Lex, Doodles is a brunch spot that locals swear by. (As a vegetarian, I can vouch for their meatless (and vegan!) options: they’re delish.) You really can’t go wrong their classic — and locally-sourced — menu. Not only are pups allowed on the patio, but water bowls are on the house so you can sip your mimosa or bloody mary stress-free. 

Also in NoLi, Arcadium Bar offers up vintage arcade games and a list of over 50 beers either on draft or in bottles, plus a dog-friendly interior. West Sixth Brewing is as iconic to Lexington as Rhinegeist is to us. Doggos are allowed on their patio and beer garden. There are several pet-friendly hotels in the area, but if you feel like camping, try the Kentucky Horse Park. Your dog is likely to be greeted with many new friends and sniffs. On the University of Kentucky’s campus, The Arboretum is also a chill spot to wander — furry friends are allowed on paved walking paths, but not in the gardens or buildings. visitlex.com

click to enlarge Yellow Springs - Photo: Lizzy Schmitt
Photo: Lizzy Schmitt
Yellow Springs


Yellow Springs, Ohio

Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

This cute, cozy town is just about an hour northeast of Cincy. With a thriving arts scene, tight-knit business community and beautiful hiking trails, this stop is a must. Pups are allowed in John Bryan State Park and Little Miami State Park — both of which offer up winding trails and fresh views. There isn’t much to offer in the way of dining with your pet, but you can grab an ice cream cone — vegan options available!— at Corner Cone. The town also has many locations with benches or picnic tables; grab a slice (or a whole pie) from Ha Ha Pizza or Bentino’s or a cup o’ joe from one of the several coffee houses in the area. Or visit the Yellow Springs Brewery for a beer, bites from a food truck and dog-friendly patio. yellowspringsohio.org

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery 

Time: 1 and a half hours

Aside from the bottling building, your pup is allowed anywhere on the property — even the tasting room and gift shop. Known for their bourbon whiskey, the Frankfort, Kentucky distillery offers up multiple tasting and history tours. Once night falls, you can even opt to explore its ~spooky~ and haunted past. 

Make it a weekend at Elkhorn Campground, only a 10-minute drive from Buffalo Trace. Private and RV-friendly, the cozy site is located on the banks of a creek and has a stocked general store onsite, a pool, putt-putt and more. buffalotracedistillery.com

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Time: 5 and a half hours

The farthest drive on this list, this southern alcove is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. There’s a host of pet-friendly Airbnbs, hotels and condos, including downtown’s Chattanooga Choo Choo, which was built as a train station in 1908 (the stained-glass windows and archways are still intact). The cool thing for dog owners: There’s a grassy outdoor area where fido can play.

Chill at the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge — the longest of its kind — to soak up views. Rock City — located on Lookout Mountain — is only a 10-minute drive from downtown, but boasts sweeping views of rock formations, lakes, caves and gardens. Pups are also allowed to dine on the terrace at Cafe 7. Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center also allows pets. Wander one of the largest treehouses in the Southeast or hike a few trails — just check out their list of rules beforehand. Located in Southside, hole-in-the-wall Conga Latin Food allows pooches on their patio. Feast on guac, pupusas, tacos, tamales and sweet fried plantains. Another option is Aretha Frankensteins in Tremont, famed for their brunch, sandwiches and expansive patio. Universal Joint serves up burgers and brews — dogs even get served a bucket of water. chattanoogafun.com

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