You know that one ex you went back to a million times before you finally learned your lesson? That’s how I feel about my Hogs right now. I didn’t expect them to beat Texas A&M but I didn’t expect them to break my heart again either.
I’ll totally take them back before they head to Knoxville though. (Sigh)
So, while we all anticipate another week of SEC play- Auburn fans wonder where their defense went, and Saban checks in with the Devil for next week’s play calls only to discover he was on the phone with Sumlin- let’s explore the final few SEC college towns and their dog-friendly locations.
We’re starting with Georgia because they are at the top of my Good Dog List this week.
University of Georgia, Athens
Until this past Saturday I was going to say the best thing to ever come out of Georgia was University of Arkansas Head Coach and Athletic Director, Frank Broyles. Cause, you know, I’m biased like that. However, GA has a dog for a mascot, a great music scene, and a first class athletic department that’s setting the bar for programs that really care about players.
In last Saturday’s game, Southern player Devon Gales dropped motionless to the turf after a block. GA coaching staff and trainers were the first ones to him, and after several minutes without movement he was carted off the field. Most of us couldn’t do anything more than pray he would be ok.
Georgia took action and flew his parents to the hospital on their dime.
Way to be, Bulldogs!
Now, back to dog-friendly doin’s! Home to the B52s, REM and Widespread Panic, Rolling Stone named Athens “#1 College Music Scene in America”. Also, the Athens motto is ‘Life Unleashed’. Hello? That’s us!
For a surplus of weekend activity head to the Downtown area. There, you’ll find industrial buildings renovated to accommodate updated tastes dotting brick-lined streets.
Craft beer lovers will want to check out Creature Comforts Brewing Co. for a selection of year round, seasonal and limited release local brews. In its first year, Creature Comforts gained national attention winning a Bronze Medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival and was named one of the ‘Best New Breweries in the U.S.’ by The Daily Meal. Join them on Thursday evenings for jazz night in the tasting room, and if it’s too loud or your dog just hates jazz, you can sit on the patio. Water bowls are available in both areas.
After a tour and a tasting, or for a bite to eat head to Ted’s Most Best. This renovated tire storage garage was awarded an Outstanding Rehabilitation Award by the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation. The ACHF recognizes property owners who have gone above and beyond in caring for and fixing up their historic properties. Enjoy artisan pizza, large salads, and try your hand at a game of Bocce Ball on the spacious outdoor patio and Bocce court.
On game day, you can pay your respects to deceased Ugas interred in a mausoleum near the main entrance at the southwest corner of Sanford Stadium. A bronze plaque describing each dog’s tenure and including an epitaph is engraved in front of each tomb.
That’s a “Damn good dog!”
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Oh Nick! Nick, Nick, Nick. Even though Clarksdale, MS is no where near Tuscaloosa, we all know you’ve been to the Crossroads. Why can’t you just admit it?
If you’re headed to Bama for game day, let me know if you stumble across Sabin’s shrine to the Dark Lord. Maybe it’s hidden in the University of Alabama Arboretum. Located on University property, the dog-friendly Arboretum features walking trails through a native woodland section, a wildflower garden, a collection of ornamental plants, an experimental garden, and a children’s garden. They are open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset and leashed dogs are welcome. They even provide poop bags. So please be sure to pick up after your pooch.
After a couple of hours in the garden, head to Tuscaloosa’s most popular Irish pub, Innisfree, for lunch and a ‘Sabanade’ on their dog-friendly patio.
The Sabanade, named after guess-who-hail-Satan, is their signature game day drink; if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
When the Tide is in town, Thursday evening or Friday lunch is your best bet at ‘The Free’. By Friday night and on game days this place will be too rowdy for low to the ground patrons to move about safely or comfortably.
On game day, head to The Quad on the UA campus. Well behaved dogs can often be seen playing frisbee in their best plaid or mingling with friends pre-game.
Mississippi State, Starkville
Everybody needs more cowbell. Everybody except you Mississippi State.
Apparently, another thing Starkville doesn’t need more of is restaurants. They have more per capita than any other community in Mississippi, and Restaurant Business Magazine ranks Starksville No. 5 in its ‘Best Places to Open a Restaurant’ market index. Who knew?!
This is great news if you’re visiting because this culinary explosion- I’m still struggling with that- should provide you lots of options. Unfortunately, this is the one school/city that I have zero recommendations to give to you. I’ve never been there, I don’t know anyone from there, and even after repeated attempts, I was unable to get any information from the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.
Auburn University, Auburn
Go Tigers. War Eagle. I don’t get it. I’m sure I could ask my cousin, but she’s traded in her dark Auburn orange for the bright Tennessee kind. (Really, she hasn’t. Her daughter accepted a sports scholarship to TN and I’m pretty sure it pains her every time she has to yell “Go Vols!”)
The first thing you need to check out in Auburn is Toomer’s Corner and the southern live oak trees.
At the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and College street, Toomer’s marks the transition from downtown Auburn to the university campus. Traditionally, after an important Tiger victory those trees are covered in toilet paper, but thanks to some Bama nut job who poisoned them in 2011, you won’t be able to see it again until Fall 2016. The new trees are still acclimating to their environment and the University requested that fans not roll the trees until then.
While you’re downtown, grab a bite to eat on the dog-friendly patio at LiveOaks. Named after the Toomer’s Corner oaks that were replanted the week they opened, they offer a ‘rustic dining environment with a modern twist’. They are open for lunch, dinner and brunch.
Eclectic and trendy with a deep southern flair? That’s 12 South. Honky Tonk Vegas? Lower Broadway. Up-and-coming entrepeneurs? East Nash. Young professionals? Hillsboro.
You can roam all of these areas with your dog, but Broadway is going to be MUCH busier. More noise, more traffic, and not a lot of patios. It’s a great girls adventure (for girls who do those sorts of things- I suggest you have the fried bologna sandwich at Robert’s Western World, maybe buy yourself a nice pair of boots, then go ride the mechanical bull). Broadway probably isn’t the place for your dog, though. East Nashville is super dog-friendly but let’s stay closer to Vandy.
You can wander the streets and shops of the Hillsboro Village neighborhood and grab a bite to eat Thursday evening on any one of the dog-friendly patios, or save your meanderings for Saturday morning pre-game. If Saturday morning, check-out Fido Coffeehouse for signature drinks like the Milkbone or the Irish Setter, but be advised that there is no table-service. If you’re alone, you’ll have to leave your dog unattended at the sidewalk table to go inside to order.
12 South is a shoppers dream and a good choice for wasting your Friday. Eclectic shops line the walkable streets and restaurant patios welcome your pooch. Stop at Imogene + Willies, even if it’s just to say ‘hello’. They specialize in hand-made American denim and southern hospitality, and sell everything from vintage motorcycle helmets to antique raw edge cutting boards. I’m told there is an employee motivated campaign for a shop dog, but they haven’t gotten one yet. Your pooch is bound to get lots of snuggles here.
University of Florida, Gainesville
When it comes to Florida teams, the Gators are the good guys. ‘Good’ as in nobody has stolen any crab legs or popped their date in the nose at a bar. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Criminoles.
The other good, no GREAT, thing about Florida is that in May of 2009 the Florida Legislature passed an amendemnt to the ‘doggie dining law’ that removed the 2006 pilot project language and made the doggie dining program permanent. That means restaurants that wish to allow dogs on their patios can apply to their local government to do so, and most places with patios are dog-friendly.
Fun For Gator Pets lists 45 such establishments in Gainesville!
You’ll easily find plenty of dog-friendly places in the downtown area, and if you’re there on a Friday from August to October you can enjoy the Free Friday’s Concert Series. We also think Boca Fiesta with their fresh squeezed all-natural margaritas and the adjacent Back Yard Bar with big screen and complete sports package looks pretty amazing.
“On the East Coast, football is a cultural experience. In the Midwest, it’s a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it’s a tourist attraction. And in the South, football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day.” -Marino Casem
If you feel the same, then we hope this series of posts has inspired you to hit the road, visit some great college towns, and enjoy the spirit of the Southeastern Conference with (wo)man’s best friend.