Now that fall weather is on the horizon, you may be wondering where you can take your kids and your canine companions to enjoy the outdoors. Luckily, Austin is a fantastically pet-friendly city, so there are plenty of off-leash spots for your furry friends to play. Before you head out, be sure your dog is spayed or neutered and up to date on vaccinations. It is also a good idea to bring your own water bowl and waste bags since dog stations at public parks can be hit or miss. All set? Time to load up your pup and head out for some fun this fall!


Mary Elizabeth Branch Park Dog Run

2006 Philomena Street Austin, TX 78723

Mary Elizabeth Branch Park, a 3.5-acre park in the heart of Mueller, has something for everyone. Not only does the park boast a dog run for your pup to play off-leash, but it also has a playground, water feature, volleyball courts and event space. There are bathrooms nearby (a big bonus to parents of little kids). The dog park rules specify that parents need to keep an extra close eye on any kids under 12 years old, so make sure you keep your little ones close and teach them the do’s and don’t of interacting with other people’s pets.

Emma Long Metropolitan Park – Turkey Creek Trail

1600 City Park Road Austin, TX 78730

Photo credit:


Emma Long Metropolitan Park is one of West Austin’s gems, and well worth the price of admission ($5-$10 per car). The majority of Emma Long is on-leash, but Turkey Creek Trail, a 2.8-mile loop that takes you around the park and through multiple creek crossings, is off-leash. You can park right at the trailhead or choose a spot closer to the park’s other amenities, which include a designated swimming area and volleyball court. While perfect for a day trip, you can also reserve a campsite or RV spot and stay overnight. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the numerous picnic tables by the river. Or, if picnicking is not your style, plan to visit Ski Shores Café, right around the corner from the park.

Mary Moore Searight Park – Off Leash Trail

9401 S 1st Street Austin, TX 78748

Photo credit: Brian Fitzsimmons.

Mary Moore Searight Park has multiple trails, large fields and playgrounds, but where it really shines is its off-leash trail. If your family is looking for a fun and easy hiking spot, head to the north end of the park where you’ll find a one-mile off-leash loop. The loop is fenced-in, so you don’t need to worry about your dog escaping into other areas of the park. When you finish your hike, pop your dog’s leash back on and head to the playground area where you’ll find picnic tables and bathrooms. Word to the wise – check the weather before you go as there are a few spots with flowing water and the trail can get muddy.

Catherine Michalk is a native Austinite, writer and mom of three. You can follow her family’s adventures at

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