By Caroline Strogis

A frequently asked question of pet owners: “Can my dog come?” Afternoons spent
out to lunch, for coffee or for a nice run becomes even more enjoyable when we can share these experiences with our four-legged best friends. Dogs are great for a social life and a great reason to get outdoors. Not only do we benefit from this but also, a social dog tends to be happier and better behaved. So explore Gainesville with your furry friend by visiting some of the many pet-friendly places in town!

Depot Park

On any given day, a visit to Depot includes seeing many people walking their dogs. Dogs must be kept on a leash at the park, but there is no shortage of things to do with your pup. Depot has a huge lawn to relax or play, with the Pop-a-Top General Store or Boxcar Beer & Wine Garden to grab snacks and drinks to enjoy on the patio. Depot also includes a beautiful 0.8-mile trail to get in some exercise and view nature. This trail also connects to the 16-mile long Hawthorn State Trail for the more athletic breeds.

Loosey’s

Named after the owner’s dog, Loosey’s lives up to the expectations of being a dog-friendly spot to grab lunch and a drink. Loosey’s is known for serving wings, burgers and beer and hosting many events and trivia nights. Their Instagram account features pictures of pups sitting out on their patio area, encouraging visitors to bring their furry friends along. Dogs are even greeted with water bowls and treats.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Known for having the state’s largest public display of bamboo and giant Victoria water lilies, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens consists of a 1.5-mile paved walkway to explore the gardens. There is an $8 admission fee for adults, and dogs are welcome if they are kept on a leash. Plan on spending half your day there if you want to see it all, but this shouldn’t be a problem with multiple water bowls for dogs placed along the path and pavilions with seating areas to rest. Guests are also welcome to bring in picnic baskets to enjoy a meal in the scenic garden.

SweetBerries Eatery & Frozen Custard

SweetBerries is a local favorite for soups, salads and sandwiches, but what really makes the visit is getting frozen custard on a hot day. SweetBerries has a large patio area nestled under beautiful trees and colorful umbrellas and includes a watering station for dogs. SweetBerries even has a walk-up ordering window for added convenience for those who bring their pets along.

The Swamp Restaurant

The Swamp Restaurant is a popular destination for live music and sporting events. They have a large fenced in patio and an upstairs wrap-around balcony that welcomes dogs. The Swamp not only provides water and treats, they even have an entire dog menu and toys available to borrow. Throughout the year, they have dog events such as Halloween costume contests, “Yappy Hour” and a Christmas event called “Santa Paws” where you can take pictures of your pup sitting on Santa’s lap!

What to Know Before You Go

Use sites like bringfido.com to find a list of restaurants that are pet-friendly.

You can also call ahead to see if you can bring your furry-friend.

Keep your pet on a leash when taking them out in public.

Make sure to bring an extra bowl of food and water in case they get hungry or thirsty.