I can honestly say that I’m done with summer. The vast majority of it has resembled an extended stay in a sauna here in the Piedmont part of NC, combined with mosquitos and fire ants. Yes, fire ants.
I’ve had the questionable pleasure of having gotten bitten 4 times over the course of the last few months. Those little angry suckers went for my feet every single time, resulting in major swelling which lasted 2-3 days. I’ll spare you a picture. Suffice it to say that I started carrying a cortisone gel in my cross-body purse for instant relief while out on doggie walks.
Aside from the critters, summer temps here in NC severely restrict outdoor activities with my pups. The only bearable time for walks or jogs is early in the mornings around 4:30/5:00 – it’ll start getting muggy as early as 6:00 am and it doesn’t even cool off much at nighttime.
We found some relief in doggie pool time in the yard and swimming at the Riverbark Pet Resort, located not far from us in Spring Lake, NC, but it was impossible to go for extended walks, let alone backpack walks or even hikes.
Missy Beating The Heat At RiverBark Pet Resort
Thankfully relief is near! We got a glimpse of fall on Labor Day Weekend with morning temperatures in the mid 60s, which felt like heaven! Although we’re currently experiencing another heat wave, I know that soon enough, it’ll be fun spending time outdoors again!
Now without further ado, here are some fun fall activities I enjoy with Missy & Buzz. The best part about them is that they’re inexpensive and typically don’t require more than a car and a full tank of gas!
Take An Urban Day Trip
Below picture was taken a few years ago when we used to live in Northern Virginia, about 45 mins outside of D.C. It was the perfect location and I miss it dearly – the countryside along with a plethora of walking trails and paths was near, but so was the big city with culture, sporting events, and dining options galore!
Coffee Break During Our Urban Dog Walk in D.C.
Every now & then the pups came along to downtown D.C. and walked the Mall (perfect for socialization purposes!), followed by enjoying some fresh water & a few tasty treats. Mommy would take in the big city views while having a cappuccino at a coffee store with a dog-friendly al-fresco area (yes, I’m talking about Starbucks).
Walking The Mall in Washington D.C.
Missy & Buzz would wear their respective doggie backpacks and carry their own water dishes, water bottles, and snacks. Besides being the most practical solution because I wouldn’t have to carry those items for them, it not only added a physical workout aspect to our urban adventure, but also a mental one – that’s the beauty of doggie backpacks: they’ll burn both physical AND mental energy, making for poopy puppies by the time we were back in our car on the way home to Suburbia.
If you’re interested in finding out a little more about backpacks for dogs, I invite you to read my blog post: How do I train my dog to accept a dog backpack?
Doggie Backpack Training
Total Cost: Gas money and however much you want to spend on coffee or lunch breaks!
Explore A (State) Park
We’re lucky to have Carvers Creek State Park practically in our backyard – it only takes us 10 mins from our driveway to their parking lot, which is fabulous, of course!
Although it covers about 4,000 acres, it only has walking paths of about 1.75 miles. We can still get about an hour worth of walking out of it. Besides, their walking paths surround a beautiful lake and offer plenty of benches to relax and simply enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of nature.
Walking Missy at Carvers Creek State Park
Raven Rock State Park is a little further away from us, about 25 mins one way, but so worth it every time we go! It is larger than Carver’s Creek with just shy of 4,700 acres and offers a plethora of walking paths, a separate equestrian area and even camping grounds.
One of my favorite hiking paths is the Raven Rock Loop Trail which takes us down to the Cape Fear River, lining the park. It offers some spectacular views of Raven Rock itself, the park’s namesake! We’re always in for a good butt workout after having climbed down 135 wooden steps, and back up!!
Missy Ready To Explore Raven Rock State Park in NC
Raven Rock at Raven Rock State Park, NC
Missy & Her Ruffwear Backpack At Raven Rock State Park, NC
I also like the Fish Traps Trail which offers some spectacular views of the Cape Fear River. It’s fairly short though and really more of a walk than a hike with its 0.6 miles in length. The second half of it going down to the river is steep, however, and still gives us a good workout, especially when going back up 😉
Missy Ready For A Treat Break At Cape Fear River's Fish Traps/Raven Rock State Park, NC
I found a completely different kind of park at the NCMA Museum Park, a little over an hour’s drive from us. It is known as the “intersection of art and nature” and is the outdoors extension of the museum, featuring an amphitheater, sculptures and art installations along 3 miles of paths. It’s obviously dog-friendly and even has a few poop bag stations!
Buzz Ready To Explore The NCMA Museum Park in Raleigh, NC
Total Cost: Gas money! (State) parks typically don’t require an entrance fee. Access to the Museum Park is also free.
Walk Your Neighborhood
Going for a walk in our neighborhood is a great fitness option on days where my work schedule leaves me little to no time to hop in the car and drive somewhere other than to my clients’ homes! We can log about 2.5 miles when walking our neighborhood, and like to incorporate a few short training sessions to keep things fun and interesting!
Incorporating Basic Obedience On A Morning Walk Through Our Neighborhood
Total Cost: Free!
Pack A Picnic
That’s what fall is perfect for – packing a picnic basket and heading out to a local park! Annoying mosquitos are now less frequent than during our humid NC summers and lower temperatures allow for an extended stay outdoors.
You could pack a tasty chew for your pup (I like larger chews because they’ll last longer, such as pig ears or frozen KONG toys filled with a scrumptious mélange of whatever I have handy – peanut butter, pumpkin puree, pureed fruit/veggies, small bites of treats) and pawlà, your pup will be busy munching away on whatever goodie you packed!
Missy & Our Picnic Spot At A Local Park
Making Frozen KONG Treats
Total Cost: Whichever treats you decide on for you pup(s) and yourself + gas money to get to the park.
Go For A Car Ride
Now that the windows can be rolled down your pups will likely appreciate all the wonderful smells coming their way while going for a car ride! Missy & Buzz love, love, love coming along in the car, regardless of where we’re going – a pet store, the vet, a park, the car wash, coffee drive-thru, drive-up ATM…they are always ready for our little car adventure!
In order to keep our outings safe, the pups wear car harnesses that attach to the seatbelt (I’ve upgraded from cheap no-name harnesses to more expensive, yet sturdier Ruffwear harnesses over the years). They’ve gotten used to them a long time ago and are perfectly well-behaved on their backbench.
Missy & Buzz Wearing Their Ruffwear Car Harnesses
Total Cost: Gas Money.
Fall is a wonderful time of the year to enjoy the outdoors and bond with your pup(s), and the best part is that it doesn’t cost a lot! A tank of gas and a few bucks for some K9 treats and human lunch/coffee typically do the trick.
Here’s to many fall adventures involving walks, backpack hikes, and picnics!
What are some of your favorite fall activities that don’t break the bank? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!