Our Favorite Dog-Friendly Outings for Spring
Furry friends come along for the adventure at these dog-friendly parks, patios and more.
Spring’s extra-strength sunshine, warm breezes and longer evenings bring a return of dog-friendly outings across the Twin Cities. From “paw-tios” where you can refuel after scenic lake or riverfront walks to the area’s best dog parks, here’s where to go with canine sidekicks.
1. Dine Like a Top Dog
Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room in Minneapolis goes the extra mile to welcome customers who want their four-legged best friend at their sides. With a tented “paw-tio,” it distinguishes itself not only as a year-round dog-friendly destination, but one with a three-course dog menu and “yappy hour” to boot. Order a marrow bone for your pup to gnaw on or order a homemade turkey “muttloaf,” salmon cakes or a vegetarian brunch bowl. Or, heck, go straight to dessert with a peanut butter, banana and coconut milk “pupcream” sundae made by Izzy’s Ice Cream (another beloved Minneapolis destination).
2. Stroll Along the Lakeshore
A must-visit for dogs and their humans: South Minneapolis’ chain of lakes. Try Lake Harriet and stop at the seasonal Bread and Pickle for lunch by the historic bandshell. Or head to Lake Bde Maka Ska, formerly known as Lake Calhoun and the largest of this chain of lakes.
3. Run Wild at Elm Creek
Elm Creek Park Reserve, which has been named one of the country’s top dog parks, features a 29-acre fenced forest near Maple Grove, and is the perfect place to turn Fido loose. A separate area gives frail and small dogs a place to roam without feeling intimidated. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, visit 3 Squares Restaurant on Arbor Lakes Parkway where the patio is open to pets, and the menu includes banana waffles with praline sauce and roasted duck and grits. For a more casual meal — with the bonus of shuffleboard or bean bag toss — head to OMNI Brewing Co. for cold beer and rotating food trucks.
4. Belly Up to a Nordeast Taproom
Breweries and distillers dot Northeast Minneapolis (aka Nordeast), often in repurposed warehouses boasting pet-friendly vibes inside and out. Check out Able Seedhouse and Brewery for cold brews and food truck barbecue; Sociable Cider Werks for bubbly, buzzy apple ciders and Hmong food truck fare; or Tattersall Distilling for its patio and creative cocktails.
5. Unwind in Eagan
Start your day on the southeast edge of Saint Paul hiking the 2.6-mile wooded trail around Jensen Lake at Eagan’s Lebanon Hills. It ranks among the best regional parks with its slew of hikes and outdoor activities. Afterward, cool off on the patio of Lone Oak Grill, about a 15-minute drive away. The dog-friendly patio is the perfect place to savor house-smoked meats, a wide variety of beers and live music.
6. Have a Spa Day
After a playdate at St. Louis Park’s Dakota Park Dog Park, book a service for your dog at LuLu & Luigi (which has a second location in Wayzata). Choose from pet spa treatments (blueberry facial, anyone?) to grooming services (does someone need a bath?). The boutique is also fully stocked with plenty of canine swag and gourmet treats. Cap things off on the pet-friendly patio of McCoy’s Public House, where you can order cocktails and upscale comfort food — from killer mac and cheese to short-rib pot roast.
7. Go to Grand Avenue
This popular Saint Paul neighborhood is lined with Victorian homes and one-of-a-kind businesses known for being dog-friendly — Coffee Bene, Salut Bar Américain, Dixie’s On Grand and Red Balloon Bookshop are among those welcoming furry friends. For a full-blown festival that celebrates all things dog, Paws on Grand in August includes a blessing of the animals, a “Dogs of Literature “costume contest, pet portrait-making and dog biscuit-decorating.
8. Explore the North Loop
Trendy North Loop near downtown Minneapolis has something for both of you. Your four-legged pal will love the sights (and smells) of the trails along the West River Parkway and the Mississippi River. You’ll love the many places you can sit outside and relax with microbrews and cocktails. Look for seafood and lobster rolls at Smack Shack, poutine and upscale burgers at Red Cow, and porchetta sandwiches and Lonely Blonde ale at Fulton Brewery Tap Room. For early risers and brunch aficionados, there’s The Freehouse brewery and gastropub, which offers avocado toast on brewer’s bread and Andouille hash; a brisket, rib and sirloin burger; or seafood mac and cheese.
9. Go for the Falls, Stay for the Seafood
In South Minneapolis’s Longfellow neighborhood west of the Mississippi River, the biggest draw is its famed Minnehaha Falls, immortalized in 1855 by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.” Enjoy the 53-foot waterfall, hike a few of the park’s trails, play the wooded disc golf course and then grab a table at the popular Sea Salt Eatery, where you and your pooch can enjoy a po’boy, crab cakes, ice cream and cold drinks April through October.
11. Bond with Bingo in Burnsville
Treat your best friend to an afternoon adventure at Alimagnet Dog Park, a seven acre, off-leash enclosure with a recently expanded space for petite pooches. When dinnertime hits, head over to Burger Jones for an evening of patio dining. Their menu features a range of options from classic and build-your-own burgers to their famous “Sortaburgers,” suitable for a variety of dietary preferences and restrictions.
11. Find Fido-Friendly Lodging
More than 60 hotels in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and the surrounding cities allow dogs. Search for pet-friendly digs at Explore Minnesota.