From Memphis in the west to Chattanooga in the east, Tennessee offers many pet-friendly vacation spots with lakes, ponds, and rivers for water exploration. Consider a Tennessee vacation rental for that home-away-from-home feeling with your whole family (including your pet family), and enjoy these picturesque places together.
1. Old Hickory Lake
Located just 30 miles northwest of downtown Nashville, Old Hickory Lake is a great place to enjoy some watery fun with your pooch. Pack a picnic lunch, and head to Old Hickory Beach, where your furry best friend is welcome to play in the water anywhere outside of the supervised swimming area. Be sure to keep your pet outside of the sandy play area and clip on his leash when exploring the recreation area. Dogs are welcome year round, and Old Hickory Beach offers plenty of picnic areas with tables and grills plus three hiking loops through a variety of terrains to keep you, your pet and your family occupied. Consider booking a vacation rental right in Nashville for a pet-friendly vacation with some city fun added to your beach explorations. Many Nashville restaurants have dog-friendly patios, including Bar Louie, Caviar & Bananas and Epice. Head to Puckett’s Downtown or Tennesee Brew Works in the SoBro neighborhood for a delicious dinner plus live musical entertainment with your pet by your side.
2. Cummins Falls State Park
If you and your dog love adventures, Cummins Falls State Park is a great destination for your next vacation. Spend the night in a vacation home in nearby Cookeville and then head out to the park for a day full of fun. Convenient parking and restrooms are available at the trailhead as well as rustic-style picnic areas without grills. Keep your dog on-leash while hiking to the scenic overlook to enjoy the view of the dramatic falls from the top. Then step up your adventure with a hike along the minimally improved trail into the gorge. Expect rocky and uneven terrain, and make sure that both you and your dog have enough strength and energy for the hike back up after you explore. Bring along water for both of you and wear sturdy shoes. At the bottom of the trail, you’re rewarded with a gorgeous, up-close view of the falls plus a rustic plunge pool where you and your dog are free to cool off in the water. This park is open and welcoming to pets year round. While in Cookeville, be sure to enjoy the many parks available to you and your dog, including Cane Creek Park with a paved, 2-mile loop trail around scenic Cane Creek Lake and Dogwood Park, which offers plenty of green space right in downtown. Be sure to keep your dog on-leash inside city parks, and always clean up after your pet.
3. Big South Fork National Recreation Area
Enjoy the Cumberland River in all its glory with a pet-friendly trip to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The wide expanse of the river’s Big South Fork offers plenty of opportunities for your dog to get wet for spontaneous games of fetch or simply cooling off. Although this park does require the use of a leash, it also encourages you and your pet to explore the river. Some of the trails may have areas that are too steep for your pup, so be sure to check in at the visitor’s center for information about your planned route. Big South Fork is open to pets and owners year round, but some areas are more accessible during the warm-weather seasons. Check out the easier trails right next to the river for the most water access. All park trails are clearly marked, and the park has a Junior Ranger program if you’ve brought your kids or grandkids along. Look for a vacation rental in Rugby, Clarkrange or Allardt in Fentress county for a longer vacation. If you’re a history buff, take a peek at Ye Ole Jail, Forbus General Store, and the Alvin C. York Gristmill while you’re in the area.
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4. Percy Priest Lake
Formed by the J. Percy Priest Dam, this lake is encircled by multiple recreation areas perfect for playing with your pet. Avoid the day use areas with supervised swimming beaches. Most do not allow pets. Instead head to the Volunteer Trailhead for easy access to the water and a beautiful stretch of shore for your dog to enjoy a swim. Keep your dog on his leash when he’s not playing in the water. Long Hunter State Park also on Percy Priest Lake also has some pet-friendly hiking trails with water access. Ask for a map at the park office to get the most up-to-date info on where pets are allowed. For lodging, look for a pet-friendly vacation rental in nearby Franklin. Franklin prides itself on being a great place for pets, and many businesses offer outdoor watering areas and treats for your best buddy. Spend an afternoon exploring the rolling trails and historic buildings at Harlinsdale Farm, and giving your dog free rein at the farm’s 4-acre dog park. Shop for souvenirs indoors with you on-leash pet at Tin Cottage, and much of the outdoor entertainment events at the Factory at Franklin are also dog-friendly.
5. Shelby Farms Park
Book a vacation rental in Memphis and take your pet to Shelby Farms Park. The 4,500-acre park and nature preserve offers 40 miles of trails for nature lovers, and many are paved, making them a perfect choice for older dogs and those with mobility limitations. The best part is the Outback Off-Leash Dog Park. Located on the east side of the preserve, the dog park is a full 100 acres in size, so your pet has plenty of space to explore off leash, including welcoming ponds and lakes for swimming, retrieval or simply splashing about on a hot day. Hydrate at the water fountains with built-in dog bowls and use the convenient dog-wash station if your pet gets muddy. Dogs must be under voice control while off leash, and the encourages you to limit the use of treats when you are near other dogs. While in Memphis, be sure to enjoy the spectacular views and cool breezes off the Mississippi River with a walk with your dog along the Mississippi Greenbelt on the west of the city. For pet-friendly dining, head to Muddy’s Bake Shop, where the menu includes fresh-baked pet treats, or hit up South Of Beale for quality American cuisine on the patio. South of Beale also serves an excellent Sunday brunch.
6. Booker T. Washington State Park
7. Dandridge Municipal Park
For water fun on Douglas Lake, head to Dandridge Municipal Park. This public park offers a winding coastline with plenty of water access, and your pet is welcome on-leash or under your voice control in the water away from swimmers. Douglas Lake is beautiful in every season, but the spring and fall offer fewer crowds than summer without the colder winter temperatures. Settle in at a vacation rental in Dandridge for a taste of historic small-town living. Stop in at the Dandridge Visitor’s Center for a guide to the self-directed walking tour, and head out to learn a little bit about the area’s Revolutionary War history while your pet gets plenty of fresh air and exercise.
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