The small towns in Rutherford County aren't just places with a few pet-friendly destinations. They warmly welcome visiting dogs (and their owners) on vacation. From an impressive range of meandering mountain trails to a network of rushing rivers and cool creeks, plus a long list of parks, sidewalk cafes and pet-friendly lodging options, the entire area is a doggy dream destination. These towns are located near each other, so you can explore them easily.
Take a walk on the scenic lakeside boardwalk for spectacular views of the water and mountains. Stop at Scoop (2797 Memorial Highway) ice cream shop for a free scoop for your dog.
- At Morse Park, picnic and let fido splash around in the water.
- Stroll across the Flowering Bridge.
- Rent a pontoon boat at the marina to explore the lake. Find a cove for fishing or swimming.
- While a leash is required in most areas, you can go "leash-free" on the trails at Buffalo Creek Park on a 3.5-mile loop. Just watch out for the mountain bikers.
- At Pine Gables Cabins, a stay in one of their log cabins is a dog's life with splashing and swimming in Lake Lure. Pet owners will enjoy fishing, canoes and kayaks.
- See more things to do in Lake Lure.
Founded in 1787, explore one of the oldest towns in Western North Carolina. Grand historic antebellum homes and buildings line Main Street, perfect for strolling. It's about 15 miles from Lake Lure.
- Paws and Purrs Barkery (212 North Main St) will treat your dog to a dessert extravaganza with organic and gourmet treats, chews, beds, bowls, collars, leashes, apparel and toys.
- Near Rutherfordton is 4 Paws Kingdom Campground, the first and only dog-dedicated campground with a fenced-in swimming pond, multiple off-leash play, an agility park, creek, doggie bathhouse with grooming station and more. Rent one of their cabins or RVs or bring your own. Read more about 4 Paws.
- The Thermal Belt Rail Trail offers a 16-mile roundtrip walk or run through expansive fields and hilly gorges, passing by Bechtler Historic Mint Park, a perfect picnic spot.
- See more things to do in Rutherfordton.
Chimney Rock Village
A favorite stop for many generations of tourists, this popular little town is surrounded by the cliffs of the Hickory Nut Gorge is just a couple of miles from Lake Lure.
- Tucked away behind the busy main street is the Rocky Broad Riverwalk with fresh mountain water gently cascading around and over giant boulders - a perfect place for exploration!
- Bubba O'Leary's General Store welcomes leashed dogs inside - with a great section just for dogs.
- The Old Rock Café has a big, covered riverside deck that welcomes dogs. Across the street, Medina's Village Bistro even has a "doggies only" menu.
- At Chimney Rock Park, leashed dogs are allowed on all of the trails and buildings except for the Sky Lounge. One “must-do” doggie trail is the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. For the ultimate work out, take the 500+ stairs to the Chimney and beyond to Exclamation Point.
- See more things to do in the Village of Chimney Rock.
For more info on these places and many more to explore with your dog, go to the Rutherford Small Towns Web site.