15 Fun things to do with your dog in Nashville

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When people think of Nashville, many think of country music. But as pooch parents, we think of how many dog parks, restaurants, and other fun attractions are dog friendly. Nashville ranks high on the list of great places to bring your dog for a visit or to live. According to a survey done by the Downtown Nashville Partnership, there are more than 3,000 dogs just in the downtown area. In fact, there are more pets than children in Nashville overall, and the majority of households have at least one fur buddy. 

When we did our research, we found more than 150 different fun things to do with your dog in Nashville. From having a brew to having a blast in one of the many parks, you can find all sorts of places to go with your fur baby. You can go swimming in J. Percy Priest Lake, shopping at White’s Mercantile for dog treats and toys, play games at 13-bit Bar, and become a star in your own photo shoot. We listed our favorite top 15 fun things to do with your dog in Nashville to help get you started. 

Take a hike: Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail

With almost 7 miles of trails that you and your fur buddy can explore and enjoy as long as he is on a leash. This trail meanders along the river for some extra special waterfront views. It has two sections, and both have trailheads with restrooms and parking. The first section is almost 4, miles, and it is paved, so you and Fido can walk it with ease. You will see stunning dogwood (woof!), oaks, sycamore, and other flora, and several small waterfalls. 

Some spots have signs with information about the flora and fauna you can see in that area. Two miles in, you will find a bridge that spans 200+ feet over the Sycamore Creek and a side trail that takes you to a picnic area. There are restrooms and kiosk about a mile further where you can take a break. The second section, Eagle Pass, takes you 3 miles through Dyson Ditch Wildlife Refuge. You and your pup will likely see a variety of wildlife and beautiful views. 

Discover craft beer: The Filling Station

With two locations, this pup-loving pub and tasting space is a fun way to taste local craft beer and bar food. The main location is on Halcyon just north of Sevier Park, across from the “I Believe in Nashville” mural. This is the original flagship store where the crew started their beer-loving adventure, boasts 24 different flavors of craft beer that rotate weekly. You can see the details on the website, but some of the recent varieties include Pumpkin Pie Treat, Orange Passion Mimosa, Bow Echo Hazy, and Death Raptor.

The second location is on Main Street in the Historic Edgefield area between East Park and Frederick Douglass Park. It is a little bit larger than the other Filling Station with a different brew list that also rotates weekly. Some of their most recent choices have included Vanilla Cream Ale, Moon Dust, Sour Me Unicorn Farts (really!), and Outlaw. Whichever location you choose, they both love dogs, and you and Fido are welcome to share the patio for some drinks and snacks.  

Get a workout: Fair Park Dog Park

Fair Park Dog Park is located in the southwestern section of the Nashville Fairgrounds at Pitts Park. It is more than just a dog park, though. The huge park is wide open for all pooches to play and also has agility equipment. Let your dog race through the 5 tire obstacles in between the weaving poles, and then run through the 3 concrete tunnels. Across the path, there is a doggy see-saw and bar jump to hop over. Fido will get a workout here. 

This fun off-leash dog park is covered in astroturf, so it does not get muddy when it rains. However, there are no rain shelters, so if the forecast is calling for rain, bring an umbrella. The rest of the park is also dog-friendly, but he has to be on a leash. It is a large place that used to be home to Fair Park Amusement Park, which closed in 1987. It opened back in 1891 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Enjoy the art: Gulch Dog Park

Located between Pie Town and Music Row, the Gulch is not your typical dog park. Yes, it has all of the usual features, like grassy areas and trees for shade. But it is also home to some stellar artwork. The park is proud to let local artists decorate the park with six murals to make it more beautiful as well as to show off their work. You are within walking distance of the Country Music Hall of Fame, too so you and your pooch can walk over and take a look. But only from the outside because dogs are not allowed. 

Let your pup off his leash so he can romp and play with the other fur babies at the park. It has separate sections for small and large dogs and playground equipment for dogs. Get your camera ready to take some great shots of your pup on the slide. He will also love climbing on the giant boulders. And you will enjoy the local food truck that is set up there permanently so you and your pup can refuel on fresh and tasty food.

See the falls: Stones River Greenway

If you and your pooch want a real workout, try the Stones River Greenway. It is 10 miles long and fully paved so it is an easy walk, but it has some steep hills. The trail takes you and your pup along the Stones River from J. Percy Priest Lake to Shelby Bottoms passing through Stones River Bend Park, Two Rivers Park, Heartland Park, and then to the Shelby Bottoms area. Right after you pass Greenway Trailhead, the path turns into an elevated boardwalk. 

Your pooch is probably more interested in the fact that this trail connects two of the best dog parks in Nashville. Stones River Dog Park (aka J. Percy Priest Dog Park), located at the trailhead, is 2.5 acres with pools, fountains, and plenty of room to run. The 7-acre Two Rivers Dog Park at Shelby Bottoms is fully fenced, has plenty of shaded benches, and even has a pavilion. Along the greenway, you will find quite a few rest areas, some with restrooms and potable water for your pup.  

Go swimming: Smith Springs Recreational Area

Just a stone’s throw away from the Greenway, Smith Springs Recreational Area is on a peninsula over J. Percy Priest Lake. The dam here created this 14,200-acre reservoir with sparkling clear water your pup can play and swim in. The beach is rocky, though, so wear water shoes or good sandals. In fact, you can get in there with your fur baby and cool off. There is also a 1.2-mile nature trail you and your pup can explore. 

While you are there, you can enjoy a picnic, go camping, or toss a line in and see what you can catch. The lake is full of striped bass, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and white bass. Bring your bass lures or you can get something at the marina. Speaking of the marina, there is usually a food truck or two, and there is a concession stand so you guys can refuel for another adventure. 

Go shopping: White’s Mercantile

If your pooch likes to shop, take him to White’s Mercantile, where they truly love fur babies. They have 3 locations in Nashville, including the one on South Avenue, the one in Green Hills, and the one in Franklin. Known as the general store for tastemakers, the modern department store was brought to life in 2013 by singer and songwriter Holly Williams when she was looking for a store where she could buy everything she needed. And the one-stop shop was born!

In this store, you can find everything from artwork to Ziploc bags, so they truly have something from A to Z. The artwork is mostly done by her superstar husband, Chris Coleman. Just put a leash on your pupster and head into one of the local White’s Mercantile, where they have everything you need, so you don’t have to go anywhere else. You will also find a section of items just for pets, and they have employees who give out dog treats. 

Be a star: Iconic Nashville Instagram Photo Shoot

Whether you are new to the area or if you have lived here your whole life, a guided tour is a treat for everyone, including your dog. And this one is extra special because you will be guided by a professional photographer. Those with fur babies get a private tour for a dog photo shoot that you will never forget. And previous customers say the tour guides are great storytellers as well. 

You and your pooch will take a guided tour of the iconic Gulch neighborhood, where you can see sensational murals and other landmarks like the Nashville Wings and I <3 Nashville wall painting. The photographer will set you up in about 50 different shots for about an hour while you explore the Gulch. About a week after the film shoot tour, you will get 20 to 40 edited photos of you and your fur buddy to show off on Instagram. 

Tour the city: Walkin’ Nashville

You may remember the legends Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Hank Williams, or maybe you have heard about them from your parents. These Nashville greats perfected their music in this great city, and there is evidence of that all over. This fun and the unique tour takes you on a trip through the city for a little history with a focus on music. It lasts two hours, and your dog is welcome as long as he is leashed and behaves well. 

Learn about those behind-the-scenes anecdotes and gossip as well as true history and trivia so you can show off to your friends about your expertise in this magical place nicknamed Music City. Some of the places you will see along the way include Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Roberts Western World, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Skull’s Rainbow Room, The Arcade, and more. Be sure to let them know you are bringing your pooch when you reserve your tickets. 

Hunt for ghosts: Nashville Ghosts Tour

As long as you and your canine companion are not afraid of the dark, this is a tour you should not miss out on. You and your pup can get a look at the dark side of Music City with real ghost stories, hauntings, and strange places in downtown Nashville. You and the rest of the group will spend about an hour visiting 8 different scary sites starting at Skull’s Rainbow Room. You will also learn some fascinating history along the way. 

If you want a longer tour, take the extended trip. It lasts one and a half hours, and you get to see 12 different spots. Some of the fascinating stories you will hear about include serious haunted houses and other buildings, notorious murderers, and mob activity that will make you cringe. See the spooky spots in the Red Light District, a civil war hospital, and learn all about the history of the tragic Maxwell House Motel. 

Play games: 16-Bit Bar & Arcade

Puppy parents who like to drink and play video games will love this place. It is called 16-Bit Bar & Arcade because you can play more than 30 popular classic arcade games. And the games are free as long as you are buying drinks. Some of these drinks include wine, draft beer, specialty cocktails, and even mocktails for the designated driver. And, of course, you can get your pooch some water and snacks at the bar as well. 

No matter whether you are old enough to have played these games or just like classic video games, this bar has so many of well-known names. Some of the most popular include Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Dig Dug. Oh, and then there are the Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Centipede. Your dog will love the excitement and the attention he gets while you work hard to get your name on the leaderboard. 

Get out on the water: Four Corners Boat Rentals and Marina

The Four Corners Boat Rentals and Marina can be found just a few minutes from downtown Nashville at J. Percy Priest Lake. Located in the Four Corners Recreation Area and Resort on the east side of the reservoir, it is situated in the middle of the lake for the best coverage and access. J. Percy Priest is 42 miles long with over 14,200 acres of beautiful clean water where you can swim, fish, go boating, or just play in the water. 

This is the largest marina on J. Percy Priest Lake and has the most boats and slips to rent as well as the Four Corners Marina Bar & Grill where you can grab some grub after being out on the boat all day. Yes, your fur baby can come along on the boat, and they have many to choose from, including the 30-foot double-decker pontoon with one or two slides, the 20-foot single-level pontoon, the 20-foot Starcraft. and the 18-foot Sea Fox, or you can get a kayak that seats one or two. 

Get social: William A. Pitts Dog Park

If your pooch loves playing with other fur babies, take him to William A Pitts Dog Park in Pitts Park. It has two acres of fenced-in space, and there are almost always more than a few dogs to play with. You will find Pitts Park in Antioch, just a few minutes from downtown Tennessee. The reason it is so popular is probably because of all the features the park has, such as the doggie water fountain, benches, and lots of shade trees. 

The wooden fence is nice, and it has mesh in between to keep your pups from breaking loose. The surface is both grass and dirt, so your fur baby can run and play or roll in the dirt. Just make sure your seats are covered, so he doesn’t get your car dirty. Although the park has a good amount of doggie clean-up bag dispensers, you may want to bring your own just in case. The rest of Pitts Park is fun too, but Fido will need to be on a leash to join you there. 

Dine with your dog: Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen

Many of the eateries in Nashville are dog-friendly, especially those with outdoor seating. But Von Elrod’s has the largest covered outdoor area with enough room for more than 100 pooch parents and their pooches. It is also climate-controlled with heaters and fans, so you do not have to worry about the weather. What’s more? They have 38 beers on tap and smoked meats that fall off the bone. 

If you are coming for the food, get the sausage sampler and share a bit with your pooch, or you can order him his own turkey sandwich. The Texas-style brisket and Carolina pulled pork are both popular, and the tacos are filled with the same delicious smoked meats. They also have homemade pretzels, crinkle fries, macaroni & cheese, and loaded potato salad. For dessert, you can enjoy banana caramel pudding or cookies with Oreo dip. Just remember, dogs cannot eat chocolate!

The Final Woof

Although dogs are not allowed in many of the popular attractions in Nashville, there are some that you and your fur baby can enjoy together.

For example, Centennial Park is home to The Parthenon (a replica of the Greek one) and has 132 acres and a dog park where he can run off-leash, and you can relax on a shaded bench while you watch. 

Then, there are some other restaurants in the city where you and your pup can refuel, like Biscuit Love in the Gulch, Urban Grub on 12th Avenue, and Peg Leg Porker on Gleaves. And if you like vegan food, try AVO on City Avenue. 

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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