Have Dog, Will Travel: Southern Comfort

By Lisa Wogan, March 2011, Updated June 2021

Country music is the big draw in Nashville—home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, honky-tonks, and pickin’ parties. But there’s more. Think southern hospitality with a hip vibe and a pup-loving beat. AAA ranked Nashville among the top ten cities to visit with a dog, and one reason is the Hermitage Hotel, where pups merrily pad in the footsteps of six presidents, Bette Davis and even Gene Autry’s equine co-star Champion. The whole scene is deluxe—from the Beaux-Arts lobby with its sienna marble, stained-glass ceiling and overstuffed furniture (perfect for afternoon tea) to down-right indulgence with luxurious pet beds, dog walking and a room service pet menu prepared in the Capitol Grille kitchen. (These same five-star chefs cook up delicious farm-to-table meals for folks on the other end of the leash, featuring produce from a landmark organic garden.) The carefully restored, 100-year-old inn is an Historic Hotel of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the hotel is located in East Nashville among lovely, old antebellum homes that can best be appreciated during languid dog strolls. There are no breed or size restrictions, but there is a $50 fee per pet, per night.

The Hermitage Hotel, 231 Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN, 37219
thehermitagehotel.com, 888.888.9414


HIKE Trek in the footsteps of Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians along the Old Natchez Trace trail—a prehistoric footpath that connects Nashville to Natchez, Miss. nps.gov/natt


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WANDER Window-shop eclectic boutiques in 12South, an up-and-coming neighborhood, where smart, young locals hang with their co-pilots. 12south.org

EAT & DRINK Dog-friendly patios abound in the 12South neighborhood, including 12 South Taproom and Grille and Rumours Wine Bar. A patch of sidewalk in front of tiny Las Paletas is the place to savor Mexican popsicles made from old family recipes, such as hibiscus or avocado.

PARTY Lawn chairs, blankets and laid-back pups are part of the scene at Full Moon Pickin’ Parties (May–Oct.). These informal bluegrass evenings raise funds for flood mitigation in the parks and programs for inner city kids. friendsofwarnerparks.com

GROOVE In late summer, Live on the Green, a free, six-week concert series at Public Square Park, highlights Music City musicians and eco-awareness, and welcomes leashed dogs. liveonthegreen.net

PLAY Nashville has three off-leash parks, including Centennial Dog Park on the West End near Vanderbilt University and Shelby Dog Park closer to the Hermitage Hotel. Take note: Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes are, unfortunately, not permitted in city dog parks. nashville.gov/parks

Photo courtesy The Hermitage Hotel

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of several books including Dog Park Wisdom.