The modern dog park is designed to maximize fun for pups while also providing exercise, socialization, and enrichment. In honor of National Dog Day, here are a few parks you might want to visit with your pooch.
1. PILGRIM BARK PARK // PROVINCETOWN, MASSACHUSETTS
Pilgrim Bark Park sits on an acre in Provincetown where dogs can run off-leash. (They also have a separate section for smaller pups, if that’s your preference.) But what sets this park apart is how local artists have adopted it as a gallery for sculptures that not only look great but double as play structures for dogs and resting places for owners. Pilgrim Bark Park depends completely on donations for support and will host the Carnival of the Dogs on August 29.
2. MILLIE BUSH BARK PARK // HOUSTON, TEXAS
One of several dog parks in Houston, the 13-acre Millie Bush Dog Park is named after President George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel Millie. The park has quite a few water attractions to keep canines cool in the Houston heat, including three different sized ponds to swim in, water fountains, and dog showers. There are also picnic tables for families just outside the dog area.
3. BENEFUL DREAM DOG PARK // ALABASTER, ALABAMA
Jenny Wilson of Alabaster, Alabama, was once the shelter manager for the local Humane Society. In 2011, her design for a dog park won a competition from Beneful pet food, and the prize included a half-million dollars to build a dog park on the very site where Wilson found her rescue dog, Honey Belle. The Beneful Dream Dog Park opened in 2012 with plenty of amenities, including a football field, a dog wash station, a splash pad, agility course, rubberized walkways, and more.
The Beneful pet food company sponsors dog parks all around the country.
4. THORNBERRY OFF-LEASH DOG PARK // IOWA CITY, IOWA
Iowa City donated 11 acres for its first dog park in 2006 at the behest of the Johnson County Dog Park Action Committee, which oversaw the project. Thornberry Off-Leash Dog Park is named for Dean Thornberry, who provided financial help to get the dog park launched. Now 12 acres, the completely fenced-in park features a pond, small-dog area, several shelters, an asphalt walking trail, a training area, and agility equipment.
5. BEA ARTHUR DOG PARK // NORFOLK, VIRGINIA
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) runs the Bea Arthur Dog Park named for the late Golden Girls actress and animal rights activist. The 1-acre park offers a ramp to the Elizabeth River, a bin full of dog toys, and 24-hour access.
6. ROCKY TOP DOG PARK // SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY
Rocky Top Dog Park is administered by the township of South Brunswick, New Jersey for the residents of the town (although the park is in Princeton and the mailing address is in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey). The members-only park offers separate areas for all dogs, small dogs, and a training area for dogs that need closer supervision. The general play area has a pond with a waterfall, in addition to grassy fields, wooded areas, and walking trails. Memberships can be bought on a monthly or yearly basis.
7. DOG WOOD PARK // JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA
Dog Wood Park offers Florida dogs and their owners 42 acres to run, swim, and play in. The private “country club” for dogs includes a 25-acre fenced-in area, 10 acres of woods, a two-acre lake for swimming, a special swimming area for small dogs, playground and agility equipment, and a dog spa for washing. Visitors can attend with members and must pay a day rate. The park is lit for night use until closing at 10 p.m.
8. MONTROSE DOG BEACH // CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Dogs love the beach, but it’s difficult to find public beaches that welcome pets. Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area, called Mondog for short, is Chicago’s first off-leash beach on Lake Michigan. The beach is a part of the Chicago Park District and is sponsored by the Montrose Dog Owners Group, a volunteer group that keeps the beach clean and orderly. The beach is fenced in, but the lake is not. Learn more about Montrose Dog Beach on Facebook.
9. POINT ISABEL REGIONAL SHORELINE // RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline contains 23 acres of dog-friendly public park on the San Francisco Bay. Pups are allowed off-leash as long as they are under voice control. Businesses at the shoreline that cater to canines include the Sit & Stay Cafe and Mudpuppy’s Tub and Scrub.
10. FREEDOM BARK PARK // LOWELL, INDIANA
Freedom Bark Park is 5 acres of converted farmland in the city of Lowell’s Freedom Park. This park stands out among dog parks for its eco-friendliness: It features a solar well, recycled mulch, biodegradable waste bags, and play equipment that otherwise would have been destined for the dump. And the entire construction of the park was done by volunteers! Freedom Bark Park also has one feature few other dog parks have—a dedicated area for digging.