Pet-Friendly Adventures That Will Have Their Tails Wagging

Each year thousands of people flock to Western North Carolina for the plethora of outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, this is especially true for Rutherford County. From pristine lakes to the quaint small towns, Rutherford County checks off many things on a visitor’s list, but what about their canine companions? 


There is no shortage of things to do with your fur babies while visiting 4Paws Kingdom Campground and Dog Retreat but even more adventures await outside the campground. Here is a list of our favorite spots, by town, as well as a link to even more things to do and see.

Western NC Pet-Friendly Adventure

The Town of Rutherfordton

Rutherfordton is our home community. Just 5 miles down the road from 4Paws, this small southern town offers a lot of opportunities to take your pets along. These are our favorite places to visit when we are in town.

  • Copper Penny - Local restaurant featuring outdoor dining where dogs are welcomed
  • Paws and Purrs Barkery - Shop for outfits, new leashes, dog beds and hand baked dog treats
  • Kiwanis Park - A great place to take a stroll, rock on the front porch or get some off-leash time (dog park is currently being built and should be available by summer 2021)
  • Purple Martin Greenway - Bike, walk, run and play on this over 3-mile greenway that stretches from Kiwanis Park down to the river where canines and humans can cool off and wet their paws
  • Downtown Historic Walking Tour - Rutherfordton won North Carolina’s “Small Town of the Year” back in 2016 and one walk around downtown and it is easy to see why. They have a great cluster of historic buildings and homes that tell the story of this small community that was once a hub of gold production during the NC Gold Rush. Did you know that was the first gold rush in American history? Check it out at
Purple Martin Greenway

The Town of Spindale

Smaller than Rutherfordton, Spindale is a community that grew mostly from the mills that were around in the early 1900s. This town has come a long way and it is making a name for itself as it adds some of the top places to eat on Restaurant Row.


  • Thermal Belt Rail Trail - The train that used to run through the town is long gone, but the path it took is not. It has been converted into a 13+ mile path for running, walking and biking that connects Forest City, Spindale, Ruth and Rutherfordton together. The Spindale trek is fairly level and a nice little walk with easy access to parking.
  • Barley’s Taproom - A favorite local hot spot for craft beer, pizza and music. You can usually find a band playing on the weekends and they have a constant rotation of regionally sourced craft beer to tickle your taste buds.
Thermal Belt Rail Trail

The Town of Forest City

Known for its “Million Lights” Christmas show, this town has a ton of things to offer throughout the year. The downtown area is one of our favorite places to spend the day and it provides a wealth of shopping, eating and play opportunities for humans and canines.


  • POPS Park - The newest addition to downtown is a play park that has outdoor seating, music concerts and events in the summer and even a splash pad that you can cool off in.
  • Trails to Tails Dog Park - Give Fido some off leash time in the local dog park to meet new friends and work off some of that energy. The park is located just off the Thermal Belt Rail Trail and behind POPS Park.
  • Copper Penny - That’s right, there is one in Forest City as well and it offers a nice place to have a drink outside and take in the scenery.
  • Smith’s Drug - Pets can’t go inside, but you can sit outside this landmark diner in the rocking chairs while enjoying some hand dipped ice cream or the famous grilled pimento and cheese sandwich. Seriously it was featured in Our State magazine as one of the best sandwiches in the state!


Trails to Tails Dog Park

The Towns of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock

Two towns that together provide an unforgettable experience. Imagine pristine water, a beautiful mountain backdrop and one of the most visited state parks all coming together within a mile of each other. That’s what you get when you visit Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. This is why people flock to Rutherford County year after year and it is worth a day trip from 4Paws to experience it yourself. It is just a short 20-25 minute drive and worth every second.

  • Chimney Rock State Park - One of the most visited state parks, it is easy to see why once you make the climb to the top of the Chimney and take in one of the most breathtaking views you will ever see. There are a number of different hikes for all dog and human abilities and an elevator that will take you up to the chimney if stairs aren’t your thing. However, note that pets ARE NOT allowed on the elevator due to the health codes for the deli located in the building where the elevator takes guests. The trail to the chimney is about 500 stairs and takes roughly 20 to 25 minutes. If you don’t think you can make it to the top, it is still a nice view from the parking lot and some lower level trails.
  • Riverwalk - Not up for a big hike but still want to take in the local scenery and shops? Take a stroll along the river, tip your toes in the mountain water or find a rock and have a picnic. 
  • Lake Lure Adventure Company - Is your pup a water pup? Then you have to take him to Lake Lure Adventure Company. They offer a ton of outdoor activities such as boat rentals, skiing, tubing and more. All fur babies are welcomed.
  • Bubba O’Leary’s General Store - Well behaved and leashed pets are welcome in this store who features a Golden Lab as their store mascot. Here you can find souvenirs, local artistry and even some vintage candy for your sweet tooth.

For even more pet-friendly adventures visit the local tourism website at

Lake Lure Adventure Company