15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Tennessee

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bulldog is having fun in a dog friendly vacation in Tennessee

You may think of country music when you think about Tennessee, but those of us with pooches are more worried about how many dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks, and beaches there are in the state and which vacation destinations are the best for pup parents. Since there are over 1.1 million dogs living in the state with 6.9 million people, you know there are going to be some great cities for a pup paradise.

From Nashville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will find that the state has a plethora of fun activities and nice pet-friendly places. First, there are over 6,000 vacation properties in town that allow dogs. There are also nearly 1,600 eating establishments in the state. 

Activities are also abundant, with 100 dog parks, several dog beaches, 70+ hiking trails, and more than 130 dog-friendly stores. Whether you have a huge Hound or a tiny Terrier, you will definitely be able to find the perfect vacation spot for you in Tennessee.


Nashville, a city that resonates with the sounds of music, natural splendors, and culinary delights, is a paradise for couples who love to bring their dogs along. As one of the top 20 pet-friendly cities in the U.S., Nashville is home to around 115,000 dogs among its 689,000 residents. Named after Revolutionary War hero Francis Nash, this city, founded in 1779, has transformed from a small settlement to a vibrant metropolis brimming with activities for dog lovers.

Couples can enjoy a scenic stroll with their furry companion on the Stones River Greenway. This route not only offers lush park views but also leads to the Stones River Dog Park, a haven with seven off-leash acres. While it’s a 10-mile hike to reach this park, the journey is filled with beautiful landscapes and opportunities to connect with nature. For those seeking a more accessible option, Pitts Dog Park is conveniently located near the parking area, offering two spacious acres for your dog to play and socialize.

Nashville’s dog-friendly scene extends beyond parks. After a day of exploring, unwind at Edley’s Bar-B-Que, where the outdoor tables are welcoming and heated in the winter, perfect for enjoying a burger, taco, or sandwich with your four-legged friend by your side. The city is also dotted with other dog-friendly activities, from outdoor concerts where you can soak in the city’s famous music scene with your pup, to pet-friendly patios at local cafes and eateries. Nashville’s vibrant culture and love for pets make it a city full of life and joy for both humans and their canine companions.


Take the human and furry kids to Gatlinburg for an unforgettable vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains. First, make sure you get a hotel with fun things to do, like The Park Vista, with its indoor pool, garden, two restaurants, and family rooms. It is within walking distance to the Space Needle, Star Cars Museum, Earthquake Ride, Ripley’s Aquarium, and the Guinness World Records Adventure. And it is just a few miles from Dollywood, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and the Titanic. 

Since Fido cannot join you, drop him off at Just Fer Paws, where he can play with other furry friends. Afterward, you can take your pooch on the SkyLift, where leashed dogs are welcome to go with you, and then cross over the SkyBridge, which is the longest cable bridge in the country. The kids will love it!

If you need a little retail therapy, your pup is welcome to join you at the Village Shops where they have 25 unique shops. He will love Bonediggity Barkery.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Speaking of the Great Smoky Mountains, the 522,429-acre park is right by Gatlinburg. Known for its fantastic skiing, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect winter vacation getaway for you and your fur baby. Dogs are welcome to join you but must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet at all times. The park has more than just the smoky mountains. It also includes the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Besides skiing, there are plenty of other dog-friendly activities. Fishing is very popular here, especially for trout. There are 2,900 miles of streams where you can catch rainbow, brown, and brook trout, as well as other fish. You will need a fishing license for everyone over 13 years of age.

Pack some food and have a picnic at one of the many picnic areas in the park. Some have barbecue grills, water, and restrooms, while others are nothing but picnic tables.


Home of Elvis’ mansion, Graceland, as well as Sun Studio where he. BB King and Johnny Cash recorded albums, Memphis is a fun music-themed vacation place for anyone who loves rock and roll, country and western, or the blues. With about 633,000 residents and an estimated 100,000 pets, you will certainly have your pick of hotels as well as restaurants and parks to visit. In fact, there are eight off-leash dog parks and 140 dog-friendly restaurants.

Backbeat Tours is a dog-friendly tour company with several different tours that allow leashed pups. The ghost tour is especially fascinating. Then, stop for a brew at one of the pup popular taprooms like Ghost River Brewing Company or Crosstown Brewing Company. Afterward, take Fido to Shelby Farms Park Outback, where they have 100+ acres of off-leash dog fun, like ponds, fountains, and trails. 

Don’t miss Malco Summer Drive-In, where you and your cuddle buddy can enjoy a movie and some snacks. 

Grundy Forest State Natural Area at South Cumberland State Park 

Do you like to sleep under the stars or just long to get closer to nature? Grundy Forest State Natural Area at South Cumberland State Park has four campgrounds that welcome fur babies as long as they are leashed at all times. Foster Falls has 25 primitive sites, Father Adamz has eight sites, Grundy Forest has five sites, and Small Wilds has six sites. The whole park has about 12,166 acres with an array of different places to visit. 

All campgrounds require a short walk to get there, and they each have a picnic table and fire ring. Some of them also have water and restrooms. 

Fiery Gizzard is a popular trail at the park. It is 12.5 miles long and connects Foster Falls with the Grundy Forest. There are creeks, waterfalls, gorges, and amazing scenery. Lost Cove is part of the enclosed sinkhole with clear streams and caves. Grundy Lakes offers hiking, fishing, picnicking, and swimming. 


When you go to Knoxville for a getaway with your little buddy, you should not be surprised if you see some dogs and their humans because there are 880,000 people with approximately 130,000 dogs living there. The city used to be the capital of Tennessee when it was settled in 1786 but was changed in 1791 when William Blount changed it to Knoxville to honor General Henry Knox. 

Today, the city has something for everyone to do, from historical tours to live music venues. Pet parents are happy to have 10 dog parks, dozens of dog-friendly trails, and even some tours that Fido can join you on. Try the Knoxville Scavenger Hunt Tour to learn about the city while having fun with your fur baby. For something more exciting, float down the river with Smoky Mountain River Rat Tubing, where dogs under 50 pounds are welcome. 

Don’t miss Craft Axe Throwing on Fifth Avenue. See how close you can get to a bullseye while enjoying some adult beverages. 


Nobody likes to spend a lot of money if they do not have to, and if you take your pupster to Clarksville, you will find a bunch of hotels for under $100! In fact, both Days Inn and Red Roof Inn have rooms starting at under $75, and they both have pools. For a nice free place to play with your leashed fur buddy, take him to Dunbar Cave State Park. It has 144 acres, including a prehistoric cave. You will have to pay a small fee if you want a guided tour though.

To give your pooch some time off the leash, take him to King’s Run Bark Park at Liberty Park. It has two fenced acres with fountains, shade, benches, and fun. Ashland City also has a nice pup play area that is totally free. You can also take him with you to Rural King where you can buy all sorts of things at discount prices. 

After, cool off with some ice cream at Dairy Queen or a milkshake. Leashed dogs are welcome at the outdoor tables. 


Glenn Miller made Chattanooga famous when he made the hit record “Chattanooga Choo Choo” in 1941, but it is known for more than just a song. One of the most popular things to do in this city is climbing and hiking in the Appalachian Mountains.  For an easy hike up the side of Signal Mountain, try the 3.7-mile Pot Point Nature Trail. For something a little more challenging, the Snoopers Rock Trail has almost six miles in the Prentice Cooper State Forest.

After your hike, you can relax with a beer while your pooch plays with other fur babies at Play.Wash.Pint. It is fully fenced with an astroturf and lots of agility equipment to play on. It has three sections: one for small dogs, one for big dogs, and one for all sizes. 

If you get hungry, take your canine compadre to Lakeshore Grille on Chickamauga Lake where you can choose from a vast array of cuisines from cajun to French.

Cherokee National Forest 

Pack up the family for a trip to the Cherokee National Forest for your next vacation. First, you can choose from over 30 dog-friendly hotels, including the Best Western Newport Inn, which has a pool, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, and a restaurant. If you come to ski, there are also three ski lifts nearby. But if you visit in the summer, there are so many things to do here, you will never get bored. 

The forest has 640,000 acres where you, the kids, and your pup can explore 150 miles of trails, play in the Ocoee River, and climb Big Frog Mountain. Just keep your cuddle buddy on a leash and keep your eyes open for bobcats, bears, coyotes, and skunks. You can also go swimming, boating, or fishing in any of the waters of the forest if you have a license.

Let your pooch play off the leash for a while in the Dog Park at Tinsley Park. It is fully fenced, has water fountains, and a special small dog section. 


Looking for a lake to take your pooch to this summer? Henderson is known as the “City by the Lake” because of its Old Hickory Lake access. You can find it in northern Tennesee by Nashville, where there are 62,000 people and about 10,000 dogs. Many celebrities were attracted to the lake so much that they bought homes there including Johnny Cash and his family. In fact, the “House of Cash” is still there.

The lake merges with the Cumberland River to provide other opportunities for boating, kayaking, fishing, and swimming. There are several dog-friendly parks along the waterfront, including Rockland Recreation Area is a known hotspot for locals to catch catfish over 25 pounds. Shutes Branch Park is another great place to spend the day on the lake with your fur baby.   

Nearby, Cooter’s Duke’s of Hazard Museum is dog-friendly and has all sorts of classic cars and items for Duke’s lovers to explore. Just keep your pup on a leash at all times. 


For those who enjoy history, Murfreesboro is a place where battlefields still loom large, and the locals participate in battles every weekend. Friendly ones, of course. The 152,769 people living there all know about the city’s history, and many are happy to share their knowledge. Cannonsburgh Village is a reproduction of a pioneer village from the 1830s with a chapel, school, grist mill, and caboose. It is also home to the largest cedar bucket in the world.

Nearby, the Stones River Battlefield is the site of one of the most important and biggest battles in the American Civil War, and it is dog-friendly. All pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet, and bring doggie bags. Then, take a trip on the water with Stones River Kayak. But make sure he has a doggie life jacket.

When it gets dark, take your little fur buddy to Stardust Drive-In Theater, where he can watch a movie with you. Maybe they will show “101 Dalmations” or “Benji.”

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park 

Speaking of history, the Old Stone Fort at this state park was built between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago where Native Americans lived for 500 years. This summer, head out to Manchester, Tennessee to visit the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, where leashed dogs are welcome in most places. You can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, and camping here. 

There are six main trails, including the half-acre Moat Trail that takes you to the western wall of the fort. The 1.4-mile Enclosure Trail is a little more challenging and takes you around the perimeter of the fort with interpretive signs telling you the history. Duck River is a great place to catch huge catfish and bass, so bring your gear if you like to fish. 

Why stay in a hotel when you can pitch a tent for just a few dollars? The park has 50 campsites with water, electricity, picnic tables, and showers.

Johnson City

Johnson City has almost 80,000 residents with an estimated 13.000 dogs, so you will find plenty of dog-friendly adventures here for you and your sweetheart. First, book a room at the posh Carnegie Hotel & Spa, where dogs are welcome for $75 per dog per night. The stunning building has a full spa and salon as well as a restaurant, so you two can get a couples’ massage and enjoy a meal while Fido relaxes in the room. 

Come back and grab your pup for a trip to Off Leash Social Dog Park Bar, where you two can enjoy some adult beverages while your cuddle buddy plays. Or head to Buffalo Mountain Park for the day. It has over 700 acres with some amazing views and waterfalls, perfect for a romantic picnic or a hike up the mountain. Bring lots of water and doggie bags.

Founders Park is another greenspace where dogs are welcome. There are five acres with walking paths and a creek, and they often have events. 


Located in western Tennessee, Jackson is a musical city with almost 70,000 residents who have approximately 11,000 pups. You will not have any trouble finding a pup popular hotel in Jackson and they are really affordable. In fact, there are four hotels with rooms starting between $50 and $85, and some have pools and free breakfast.

After you check into your room, take Fido to get rid of that excess energy he has been suppressing during your trip to Jackson. There are several dog parks, but Schneider Lake Dog Park has a separate area for small dogs and an obstacle course that dogs love. Jackson Downtown Dog Park is also pretty awesome. It is fenced and has benches, a water station, and dog bag dispensers. 

Don’t miss the Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park, where leashed dogs are welcome. It boasts over 1,200 acres with more than 15 Indian mounds. There are five different pup-friendly trails to explore as well. 

Long Hunter State Park

Another great lake park is the 2,600-acre Long Hunter State Park where leashed pups are allowed to join their humans at most of the activities in the place. The main attraction, Percy Priest Lake, has 14,000 acres of boating, swimming, and playing for everyone. It has two boat ramps, several campsites, and 25 miles of hiking trails ranging from one to six miles. 

If you have any little humans with you, there are lots of picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills. Some of them are located by playgrounds and restrooms, and some are on the lake. Couchville Lake is another lake in the park. It is 110 acres and has fishing piers and boat rentals. During the summer, there is a concession stand with food, drinks, and bait.

Camping is primitive, and you have to hike six miles to get to them. If you decide to hike in, remember that they do not have restrooms, water, or other amenities. 

The Final Woof

If you cannot decide where to go in Tennessee for your next vacation with Fido, we are here to help. If it is a summer vacation you are looking for, Memphis, Cherokee National Forest, Hendersonville, Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, and Long Hunter State Park are some great choices. For a winter stay, check out Nashville or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you want to romance your honey, Johnson City and Nashville have some awesome places to visit. And if you are thinking of a family trip, Gatlinburg has some cool kids’ attractions and Cherokee National Forest is full of family fun. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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