Plan your own pet-friendly adventure in Melbourne. Frolic through dog approved parks and gardens, jump on a guided pooch-friendly tour and rest paws at cafes and leafy beer gardens. There's plenty of places in Melbourne to sniff out with your furriest friend. Make no bones about it.
1. Dog House Cafe
Let your dog take the lead on your next outing. Trot along to Dog House Cafe in Collingwood, which puts creature comforts first. Ten wooden pens allow owners and their best fur friends to brunch side by side. The cafe serves up muffins, bone biscuits and pupcakes, alongside coffee and juices for human patrons. The main drawcard? Stylish dogachinos, presented in oversized mugs, nestled into pooch-friendly bowls — to cater for those inevitable slops and spills.
2. Dog beaches
Nothing beats a good frolic in the water at the beach. Brighton Dog Beach's fully fenced stretch of sand is suitable for all pooches, big and small. Dogs are permitted off leash on St Kilda West Dog Beach, around annual daylight saving times, but must be kept away from the environmentally sensitive dune area at all times. Your four-legged pal can churn up the surf year round at Altona Dog Beach in Melbourne's west, while you take in spectacular views of nearby Williamstown and Port Phillip Bay.
Some metropolitan beaches do allow on-lead seaside adventures, but only during the cooler months. Check signage at the beach itself, or look up restrictions online, before you go.
3. Chapel Street
Chapel Street allows pup patronage at select businesses within its shopping precinct. This means you can take your hound along to your haircut and your pooch to brunch. Look out for 'Paw on the Door' sticker for the businesses with an open-doggy-door policy.
4. Fairfield Park Boathouse
Pop into a beautiful historic boathouse, where dogs on lead are permitted in outdoor spaces. Order modern plates, traditional drinks, or Devonshire tea to eat by the Yarra River. You can even captain your own pet-friendly boat, alongside a fluffy First Mate.
5. Culinary precincts
Sniff out a spot at open-air gardens and bars. Welcome to Thornbury and Welcome to Brunswick both allow pooches on their premises. Alternatively, rove with Rover around the grounds of Grazeland – a food precinct in Melbourne's inner west, where fur friends are welcome in some areas till 7pm.
6. Pooch-friendly pubs
Plenty of pubs, bars and breweries around the city welcome dogs on-lead in their outdoor spaces and leafy beer gardens. Collingwood's Stomping Ground encourages all pals – furry or otherwise – to gather together in their outdoor areas. General Assembly, Pilgrim Bar and The Common Man are pup-friendly premises, with riverside views.
7. Parks and gardens
There are plenty of green spaces across Melbourne where you can take in nature with your best mate in tow. Go for an on-lead stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens, and walk the dramatic tree-lined avenues of Carlton Gardens in the city's north. Roughly half of Fitzroy's Edinburgh Gardens is a designated off-lead area — the perfect place for zoomies with fellow four-legged friends.
Look out for signage at local parks and gardens, or seek further information online, as some places allow dogs in certain specified areas, rather than the entire park.
8. Doggy Urban Explorer
Unleash adventure on a tour run by local experts Gourmet Pawprints. Jump on a pet-friendly river cruise, stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens and enjoy a paw-fect picnic lunch on the banks of the Yarra River.
Seek out dog-friendly al fresco restaurants and café spaces for food, drinks and pup-approved treats. The Commons at Ormond Collective allows space for dogs at their outdoor tables and feature a foamy puppa-cino on their menu. Bring your dog along to The Farm Cafe in Abbotsford, Rudimentary in Footscray, A Minor Place in Brunswick and Collingwood's Cromwell Streat.
10. Where to go walkies
Shake off the backyard blues with walks around Melbourne. Stroll through dog-friendly Yarra Bend Park (which also allows for off-lead antics). Don't miss Dights Falls, a rock embankment where dogs can easily access the Yarra River. Zoom around the lake at Albert Park, or stretch six legs on a walk along next to the Maribyrnong River, west of the CBD.
Please note, lead restrictions apply. Check for information on individual parks via the Parks Victoria website.