College football is back and it’s game week in the South Eastern Conference! I know it’s game week for everyone else too but…whatever.
We’re cleaning the lake water out of the ice chests, polishing the chandeliers, and buying new outfits like it’s Easter (“Is this too dressy for tailgate?”). The only thing we love more than football and tailgating is our dogs, and that’s a real close call!
For those of you hitting the road with your best furry friend, this is the first in a series of posts that will highlight dog-friendly things to do across the conference as you follow your favorite SEC team. I’ll start with the BEST.
You didn’t expect me to be unbiased did you?
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
If you’re headed to The Hill there are lots of dog-friendly things to do. Don’t miss the activity at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market, open Saturday mornings until November. You’ll also want to take a stroll down Dickson Street. You can grab a beer and a variety of eats at the dog-friendly food truck court or walk a little further down to one of our new favorites, Deluxe Burger. Dogs are welcome and they’ll bring your pooch some water right away. Try The Southerner (pimento cheese, bacon and BBQ burger) and the Bulleit Rye sweet tea served in a mason jar, of course.
Your pooch can also take an off-leash romp on the front lawn of Old Main on the University of Arkansas campus. It isn’t a dog park, but on Saturday mornings there are usually at least a few well-behaved dogs having themselves a good time. If you’re dog isn’t nice, the regulars WILL ask you to leave.
While you’re there, be sure to notice all the names on the sidewalks. Senior Walk is the longest held tradition at the U of A and features the names of every graduate since 1876. I’m right there, in front of Old Main.
The Gardens is where I’ll be tailgating sans Henri. He doesn’t get to go because I actually go to the games, but dogs are definitely welcome in the AT&T Fan Zone. There are always a few leashed pooches, and sometimes Petri, the pot-bellied pig, will make the rounds in his Razorback jersey.
Look for the chandelier and the loud red-head.
Texas A&M, College Station
Ok. So really the only thing I like about A&M is Reveille.
A rough Collie, she’s known as the First Lady of Aggieland, and as a General, she is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. During the 2014 season, her escort, the ‘Mascot Corporal,’ made what was argueably the best play of A&Ms completely uninteresting beat-down of SMU when he blocked the Mustang’s wide receiver to protect her. I like Ryan Kreider too, I guess, but just him.
If you go to College Station be sure to check out the cemetery located at the north end of Kyle Field where all the Reveilles are buried. The bodies are laid facing the south end zone and the scoreboard. After the addition to Kyle Field was built at the north end, blocking the view of the scoreboard, the Reveille Scoreboard was placed outside the stadium so the girls (all the Reveilles are girls, ESPN) could always see the score.
If your pooch needs an off-leash romp check out University Dog Park with it’s swimming ponds and obstacle courses. There is a wash and hydration station for after-play clean-up.
Quite a few restaurants have dog-friendly patios, but we always recommend going local. Blackwater Draw is an old house with a wrap around porch that’s perfect for well-behaved leashed pups. It’s located in Northgate, the entertainment district directly across from the A&M campus. It’ll be packed on game weekends, but it isn’t the same rowdy crowd you’d find at one of the other late-night bars.
The Blackwater menu features suggested pairings from their own brews. I think their brunch menu looks pretty amazing, and after a night in College Station, you just might need that Outlaw paired with a Contract Killer. I’m also told that the French toast coated in Cinnamon Toast Crunch is life changing. Get there between 9:45-10:00 to avoid a long wait.
*Special shout out to Myleah Krause, puppy raiser for Lone Start Guide Dog Raisers, for the tips.
University of Kentucky, Lexington
Football season is the perfect time to talk about how much I love and appreciate the birthplace of bourbon. When basketball season rolls around, I don’t love Kentucky near as much. That being said, Lexington is pretty dog-friendly and you’ll have no problem finding things to do.
For starters, one of my favorite dog-friendly hotel chains, 21C Museum Hotel, is opening there in October. Dog-friendly throughout the hotel you can roam the galleries of this boutique hotel/art museum with your dog and your cocktail.
If you’re out and about put Jefferson Avenue in your GPS and head to the Northside Neighborhood just 3 blocks from Rupp Arena (you weren’t really going for football were you?). Have dinner at the Grey Goose, then walk down the street to Chase Brewing Company (shameless plug for a friend of a friend). Their open-air taproom has two patios with a large beer garden out back. Lots of TVs and a 5′ x 8′ projection screen for big games make this a great pick for sportsing with your dog.
On campus, you’ll want to check out the University of Kentucky Arboretum, also known as The State Botanical Garden of Kentucky. The 100-acre garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk every day of the year, and leashed dogs are allowed on the 2-mile paved path in the The Walk Across Kentucky exhibit area. Please note that the Arboretum is right next to the stadium and NOT open on home game days.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville is really dog-friendly, y’all! Pretty much anywhere with a patio is fair game, and this town has FIVE dog parks.
We suggest you head to Downtown Knoxville and visit Market Square. They have a First Friday event and a Saturday farmer’s market in addition to over 70 restaurants and bars featuring everything from art to live music. You’ll also discover that most of the restaurants have water bowls for the pooches. I’m told Soccer Taco has the best cheese dip, and The French Market has the best crepes. For a special treat, Coolato Gelato offers free pup cups with a human purchase.
The Hogs play Tennessee October 3rd in Knoxville. Henri and I just might have to pay ol’ Smokey a visit!
Look for our next post featuring four more teams from the SEC. We’ll feature two from the east and two from the best. I mean, west.
Also, GO HOGS!