Thousands of dogs and humans are expected to attend the 2019 AKC National Championship December 14-15 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The two-day show will feature popular competitions and dog sports with international canine athletes. Whether you’re coming for the show or just visiting Orlando, there are plenty of exciting dog-friendly options the city has to offer.
Though Orlando is known largely for warm Florida weather and Disney World, there are plenty of other ways to bond with your best friend in “The City Beautiful.” This list is sure to get their tails wagging.
1. Watch the AKC National Championship
Watch the best dogs compete! Your $10 ticket will grant you access to conformation breed and group judging, obedience, agility, and dock diving competitions and AKC’s Meet the Breeds.
2. Go For Drinks With Your Dog
Imbibe a few pints with your pup at pet-friendly patios at Brick House Tavern and Tap or The Stubborn Mule. K Restaurant and Wine Bar even features a Yappy Hour once a month with dog treats and a dog-friendly menu. Orlando Brewing has a Dog’s Day Out event every Sunday with special prices for pet owners.
3. Eat At a Dog-Friendly Restaurant
Enjoy some dog-friendly dining with these restaurants featuring outdoor seating where you and your canine companion can enjoy the Florida air. Try popping into popular restaurants like 903 Mills Market, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, and Teak Neighborhood Grill. And for high-end dining, try Highball & Harvest, located at the Ritz Carlton.
4. Take a Walking Tour of Orlando
Take a haunted tour of unsolved murders and ghostly sightings with American Ghost Adventures. Though regular tours don’t allow dogs, tourists can schedule private tours (with a minimum of six people) customized for canines. For contemporary art lovers, See Art Orlando is an enjoyable self-guided tour of Orlando’s eight permanent contemporary public art sculptures. Experience Orlando’s history with a free Downtown Historic Walking Tour that guides you past 28 historic architectural gems. Mosquito County Tours also offers historic downtown Orlando tours, audio tours, and more.
5. Enjoy Holiday Events & Decorations
All December long, celebrate the holidays by touring businesses with festive lights and decorations during Deck the Downtown. Visitors can even vote on which business best showcases the holiday spirit. People and their pups can also see the Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree Show — a 72-foot-tall Christmas tree with synchronized music and lights.
6. Take Your Dog Swimming
As Orlando is home to over 100 lakes, it’s not hard to find a good place for a swim. Baldwin Park boasts a sandy beach, dog park, and walking trails. Dogs can be off-leash from 8 a.m. to sunset. Canova Beach Park is a beachfront park outside of the city that allows both swimming and surfing. About an hour outside of Orlando, Smyrna Dunes Park is a peninsula with nature trails, educational programs, and plenty of space to swim. Dogs must be leased at all times.
7. Visit a Dog-Friendly Park
Orlando has over 100 parks where you can walk near the palm trees or take in lakeside views. Some popular dog parks include Barber Dog Park and Park of the Americas, where separate areas for small and large dogs in off-leash fenced areas. Located downtown, Lake Eola Park features a walking path all around the lake and hosts the Orlando Farmers Market.
Nature lovers will also enjoy Mead Botanical Gardens, a nearly 50-acre park with a butterfly garden, amphitheater, boardwalk, and bike trail. The gardens feature several ecosystems with Florida-friendly plants, a pine ecosystem, and wetlands to hike through. Dogs are allowed in specific areas of the gardens and must be kept on leash.
8. Treat Your Dog With Re-Tail Therapy
Take a dog-friendly walk on Park Avenue in Winter Park. This historic dog-friendly neighborhood just north of Orlando boasts restaurants, shops, and other gems. It’s also worth treating your dog to gourmet dog treats at Bark Avenue Bakery, which bakes all-natural treats daily. Or nearby Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming, which has gourmet dog treats and healthy pet foods. About a half-hour drive outside of Orlando, the town of Celebration welcomes pets at their outdoor town center.