Dog Chapel
Dog Chapel by alans1948 (CC BY)

Coolest Dog Parks Across America Worth Going Out of Your Way For

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Dog Chapel
Dog Chapel by alans1948 (CC BY)

Off-Leash Living

A park that allows dogs is one thing, but a genuine, bona fide dog park is a whole different day of adventure with your canine. The best dog parks aren't crowded, even when they're busy. They're run well, but not bogged down with too many rules. They're set up well to keep the big, young, and adventurous types away from pooches who are old, small, timid, or who just don't want to deal with all that big-breed drama. 


The best dog parks also have plenty of amenities to keep both dog and human happy and comfortable for long stretches — lots of water, shelter, shade, benches, and easy restroom access. The very best have unique and imaginative features and layouts that you don't see at run-of-the-mill dog parks — those are the ones that made this list. Here are the all-star dog parks that are close to home no matter where you live. (If you're a dog lover, you'll want to check out these bits of canine trivia.)


Related: 16 RV Parks Your Pooch Will Love As Much As You

Dog Mountain
©TripAdvisor

Dog Mountain

St. Johnsbury, Vermont

In 1995, a couple named Stephen and Gwen Huneck bought 150 acres of pristine mountain wilderness in St. Johnsbury. In one of the coolest moves ever, they welcomed the world's dogs, turned the property's barn into a studio space, and opened the Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain. In 2015, the nonprofit Friends of Dog Mountain debuted, and today Dog Mountain remains a local legend and regional tourist draw.  


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Dog Beach
©TripAdvisor

Dog Beach

Fort Myers, Florida

Dog Beach is one of two unleashed dog parks in the super dog-friendly town of Fort Myers. Beyond those two spots, pretty much the whole city is one big dog park as long as your dog is on a leash. Dog-friendly, but leash-required parks, restaurants, and beaches are standard across Fort Myers. Dog Beach itself is part of a beautiful tidal flat that gives your best friend surf, sand, and pooled water to frolic in all over the beach. 


Related: 20 Beaches Your Dog Will Love — and So Will You

Hefflinger Dog Park
Lianna N./Yelp

Hefflinger Dog Park

Omaha, Nebraska

The first official dog park in Omaha, Hefflinger Dog Park has 5 acres dedicated to big dogs only. Their littler, older, and/or more timid colleagues have 2 acres all to themselves in the small dog area. The entire park is off-leash and all 7 acres are completely enclosed, and its canine water fountains are much appreciated by dogs and their owners.

Point Isabel Regional Shoreline and Dog Park
Man L./Yelp

Point Isabel Regional Shoreline and Dog Park

Richmond, California

Tucked on the shores of the San Francisco Bay and the San Pablo Bay is Richmond, where you'll find the East Bay Regional Park District's Point Isabel Regional Shoreline. You'll also find postcard views of Marin County, Brooks Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge from this 23-acre park, which happens to be one of the most popular in the Bay Area. It draws 1 million visitors per year, most of whom bring their dogs. They come for the park, but they eventually get hungry and stay for Mudpuppy's Tub & Scrub and the Sit & Stay Café. 


Related: 25 Rare Dog Breeds for Pets That Will Stand Out at the Park

Southbury Dog Park
Allison B./Yelp

Southbury Dog Park

Southbury, Connecticut

A super-passionate all-volunteer non-profit organization maintains Southbury Dog Park. That's no small task, considering its size. Spread out across 14 acres of forested land with trails and a river, Southbury is consistently ranked as one of the best dog parks in the whole country. In addition to the trails, there is also a fenced-in area for small dogs. 


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Cosmo Dog Park
James H./Yelp

Cosmo Dog Park

Gilbert, Arizona

Named for Gilbert's first K-9 police dog, Cosmo Park is bursting with amenities. Among the attractions are four fully fenced-in areas, lights for nighttime hangouts, a big lake filled with reclaimed water, multiple dog-washing stations and dog/person water fountains, and separate areas for timid and active dogs. 

Loch Haven Park
Paul C./Yelp

Loch Haven Park

Hoover, Alabama

Big dogs and small dogs have their own sections at Loch Haven Park, where there's plenty of room to run around. The off-leash areas are fully fenced-in within the 17-acre park, which is heavily wooded and crisscrossed with trails, streams, and creeks for all-day adventure. Visitors will also find a canine obstacle course, a walking track, and a covered picnic pavilion.

Freedom Barks Dog Park
Melanie R./Yelp

Freedom Barks Dog Park

Medford, New Jersey

Maintained by the volunteers, Freedom Barks Dog Park has been recognized as one of the top dog parks in New Jersey and in the country — it draws visitors and their pooches from across the Tri-State Area. With 26 acres of room to run, obstacles to jump, trails to wander, and creeks for unlimited doggy paddling, it's not hard to understand why.

Montrose Dog Beach
Austen O./Yelp

Montrose Dog Beach

Chicago

Montrose Dog Beach is maintained and regulated by a hardcore group of dog-beach people who are part of a volunteer organization called MonDog. It's the first off-leash dog beach in the entire city, and it's located on the northwest corner of the beach, which is the closest and most convenient section for city access. The beach's double-gate system prevents unintended jailbreaks for any dogs entering or exiting with their people. Visitors should note that dog-friendly area tags ($10) are required.

Jack Russell Terrier walking kindly on loose leash
alexei_tm/istockphoto

Las Cruces Dog Park

Las Cruces, New Mexico

The Las Cruces Dog Park is new, so all of the amenities are fresh and up to date. There are acres of room to run, a designated area for dogs with special needs, as much water as the New Mexico heat requires and then some, and plenty of shade. The real draw, however, is the city itself. Like Fort Myers, Florida, Las Cruces prides itself on being a super pet-friendly town. The city's website lists a huge variety of restaurants, stores, and public places that welcome people and their dogs. 


Related: Beautiful Dog-Friendly Vacation Rentals Across America

Tommy Schumpert Park
TheOKdogs G./Yelp

Tommy Schumpert Park

Knoxville, Tennessee 

Tommy Schumpert Park is a beautiful place to spend a day with your family, your dog, or both. The dog park is just one feature on a big, long, laundry list of amenities and activities found within the 73-acre park. Both the all-dogs area and small-dogs area are fenced-in and off-leash, and the entire thing is circled by a paved walking loop.  

Warren G. Magnuson Park
Han L./Yelp

Warren G. Magnuson Park

Seattle

The biggest fully fenced-in off-leash dog park in Seattle, Warren G. Magnuson Park is spread out across 8.6 acres. With a winding trail that leads dogs and people from one open space to the next, the park is known for offering plenty of breathing room, and it does a good job of segregating small or shy dogs.

Congressman Bill Archer Dog Park
Karson N./Yelp

Congressman Bill Archer Dog Park

Houston

The biggest dog park in Houston, Bill Archer Dog Park spans 17 acres. There's a trail that connects it all — it winds for more than a mile. The trail links a multi-use section with an agility course to both the smaller area for smaller dogs and the large dog park, both of which have their own ponds, shaded areas, and dog/human water fountains. 


Related: The 25 Best Cities to Visit With Your Dog

Hugh Rogers Whitefish Dog Park
Derek M./Yelp

Hugh Rogers Whitefish Dog Park

Whitefish, Montana

Hugh Rogers Whitefish Dog Park is as famous as a Montana dog park can be. Its praises have been sung by the likes of USA Today and Oprah — and for good reason. Free to the public, it sprawls across five acres of land, where you'll find obstacle courses, a pond, a dog beach, washing stations, beautiful mountain views, and the occasional passing train.

James Island County Park
©TripAdvisor

James Island County Park

Charleston, South Carolina 

Sprawling acres of fenced-in, off-leash grassy running area with sections for dogs both small and large are just part of what makes James Island County Park stand out from the pack. There's also a dog-washing area. For water-friendly dogs, there's a huge lake for swimming and splashing, but be warned — keep an eye on your dog. It's an authentic natural outdoor area and you should expect wildlife to be present. (Hint: There are alligators in South Carolina.)


Related: 30 Popular Dog Breeds That Don't Shed

Black and Tan Shiba Inu Puppy running along a creek on an early spring day
sack/istockphoto

Cherry Creek ​Dog Off-Leash Area

Arapahoe County, Colorado

The Dog Off-Leash Area — DOLA to locals — of Cherry Creek State Park is one of the biggest fully enclosed dog parks on this list. Spanning a full 107 acres, it includes hills and woods, trails, and water. The integrity of the wild and rugged park is maintained by erosion control and other improvements that are continuously taking place across the grounds. Also, it's open early and closes late, so visitors can stop by from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Twin Lakes Recreation Area  Columbia, Missouri
©TripAdvisor

Twin Lakes Recreation Area

Columbia, Missouri

Twin Lakes is home to three dog parks. Lakeside Dog Park is a three-season park for all sized dogs — it's fenced in on three sides with a lake serving as a natural fourth barrier. Next is Paws Pond Dog Park, which is for smaller dogs — it's also open spring through fall. Finally is the Off-Season Dog Park, which is for cold-weather dogs who love a good winter romp. Together, the three parks span more than 10 acres.

Fiesta Island San Diego
©TripAdvisor

Fiesta Island

San Diego

Way down on the other end of the West Coast from Seattle is Fiesta Island, a big peninsula within Mission Bay. The off-leash park is not dog-exclusive — you'll see people picnicking, beachgoers beach-going, and the water is sure to be packed with boaters, anglers, and waterskiers. Fiesta Island features huge off-leash areas where pups can play in sand dunes and the soothing bay waters.

Shawnee Mission Dog park
Shawnee Mission Dog park by Benjamin White (CC BY-SA)

Shawnee Mission Park

Shawnee and Lenexa, Kansas

Spanning two towns, Shawnee Mission Park holds the title of the most-visited park in all of Kansas. An enormous recreation center, the 1,236-acre space contains horseback, bike, and nature trails, as well as a campground, a 54-par Frisbee golf course, and an archery range. The crown jewel is a big and beautiful 53-acre dog park and swimming area in the heart of it all featuring a variety of wood-chip and natural trails.

Amity Dog Park
©TripAdvisor

Amity Dog Park

Nampa, Idaho

Opened in 2009, Amity Dog Park is home to 6 acres of off-leash exploration for humans and dogs alike. There are trails, open play areas, areas that are cordoned off for senior dogs and small dogs, a swimming pond, shade shelters, and water fountains for both canine and persons. 


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