On the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, five miles from Oakland and 12 miles from San Francisco, Berkeley is located in Alameda County and has a population of more than 120,000. It is a historic city with the oldest campus of the University of California, which opened in 1868. It is also home to the largest religious study institution in the world, the Graduate Theological Union. The city is also the birthplace of Ben Affleck, Andy Samberg, and Nicole Richie.
The weather in Berkeley is almost always fantastic. With an average high of 75 in the summer and 60 in the winter, this is the city to visit for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, swimming, boating, and playing at the park with your fur baby. There are more than 50 city parks, two state parks, and several regional parks for you to enjoy. But you will be looking for an off-leash dog park for your pooch. Here are 15 of our favorites.
Alameda Dog Park
Pack some water, doggie bags, and a leash and head to Alameda Dog Park, located in Lower Washington Park, next to Robert Crown Beach and Crab Cove Duck Pond in Alameda, just eight miles south of Berkeley downtown. If you have a tiny tot, you will be glad to know that they have a special section for small and shy dogs who have big-dog anxiety. And big pup parents will be happy to know there is a special section for them too.
It is a large park with a wide open space with grass, sand, and dirt terrain perfect for a game of fetch. The sandy area is great for diggers! Other features include numerous park benches and chairs, water fountains, and agility equipment. Your cuddle buddy can run through tunnels, jump through hoops and jumpovers, and run up and down ramps. There are also cleanup stations with doggie bags for your convenience.
Bayfront Park Mill Valley Dog Park
Just a few minutes from downtown Berkeley, you will find Bayfront Park Mill Valley Dog Park right on the bay, which explains the name. Your pup will have access to the Pickleweed Inlet of Richardson Bay, but this is NOT completely fenced. It only has a fence on two sides. The other two sides are waterfront. If your fur puppy does not have good recall, it may be best to keep him on a leash here.
If you do not mind your pooch getting a little (or a lot) muddy, he can safely splash and play in the water alone or with other pups. However, humans are not allowed (nor do they want to) to swim in the bay. Wading is fine, but you may find yourself stuck in the mud. Besides the waterfront, you will also find an awesome tire jump and some pedestals and ramps, as well as natural obstacles for your canine companion to climb.
Blair Dog Park
This is among one of the best off-leash parks in Piedmont! Blair Park has both a leashed and unleashed section for all cuddle buddies, small and large. Your dog needs to have good recall here as well because it is not fenced and is bordered by a busy street. Also, you will need to get a permit from the city before heading over to play. It is just over five miles to the southeast of downtown Berkeley next to Coaches Field.
The 15-acre park also has tennis courts, a playground for the kiddos, a creek for Fido to splash in, and a nice trail to explore. Be sure to bring plenty of water and doggie bags too. They have a few waste stations and water fountains, but they are few and far apart. You can get an off-leash dog permit at the police station, or you can use a leash. Leashed dogs do not need a permit.
Dracena Quarry Dog Park
Less than five miles south of downtown Berkeley in Piedmont, you will find Dracena Quarry Park inside the Dracena Quarry Community Park. It is about a mile to the west of Blair Dog Park and features eight acres of family-friendly activities, from playgrounds to picnic areas. There are also two sections for fur babies. One is a large open lawn where your pup can play on a leash, and the other is a fenced dog run where your little buddy can run around off the leash.
To get to the dog park (they call it a dog run), use the Dracena Avenue entrance. That way, you will not have to go all the way through the park. However, the rest of the park is dog-friendly too, as long as your canine companion is on a leash the whole time. The dog run is a long strip of grass with benches, but you should bring your own doggie bags and water, and there is no small dog area.
Main Street Dog Park
The Main Street Dog Park is located on Alameda Island along the Oakland Estuary off of the San Francisco Bay. The park is less than five miles from Berkeley in the heart of Oakland and has some fun spaces for everyone. There is no small dog area, so all of the pups play together. It is a large open area completely fenced with lots of seating choices for pups and their parents. However, you will not find any shade here.
It is an excellent place to enjoy the beauty of the water and watch the ships go by while your cuddly buddy plays with other pups. And since it is not inside a community park, you do not have to worry about traipsing through the play areas and kids that may be afraid of dogs. However, that also means there are no restrooms. They do have water fountains, though but your should bring poop baggies.
Martinez Dog Park
Located on the waterfront at Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline Park, all fur puppies are invited to have fun at Martinez Dog Park. It is about 25 minutes northeast of downtown Berkeley and features some great amenities, including a separate space for little dogs under 30 pounds, as well as pet waste stations with doggie bags, drinking fountains, and lots of picnic tables in the shade for the pup parents. The terrain is mostly wood chips and bark with some grass and soil.
This pooch play area started as a temporary dog park in 2017 to see how popular it would be if the city made it permanent. They provided a guest book for everyone to sign, and apparently, it worked because the popular pup place is still there! If you are looking for a spot where your canine compadre can spend the day playing with other pups, this is your spot because it is always quite busy.
McLaren Dog Park
McLaren Park is a large community park in San Francisco, less than 20 miles southwest of Berkeley. It is just north of San Bruno Mountain State and County Park, which is also dog-friendly for leashed dogs. Many families with pup children visit this place every day because of the two different dog areas, one with 60 acres, making it the largest dog park in the city! Because of so much acreage, you may want to keep your pooch on his leash if he is not voice controlled.
Your fur baby will love the Field of Dogs, which is what the locals call it. There are numerous trails and a nice little lake where dogs can play in the water and cool off. You will also find several picnic areas where you can have a bite to eat or just relax. The smaller off-leash area is in the southwestern corner of the park by the soccer fields and skatepark.
Mission Dolores Dog Park
Mission Dolores Park Dog Park is another community park with two different dog play areas. The northern dog park is in the middle of the park, northeast of the playground. It is on a hill, so you get some stunning views of the area. This is the larger of the two, and it has lots of space to let your pooch run around off his leash to get rid of those zoomies. It is really important to let your furry friend work off that excess energy every day for a happier and healthier pup.
The other pooch playground is in the southeastern corner of the park, next to the tennis courts. This one is a little bit smaller but still has plenty of room for your pup to romp around off the leash. They do have waste stations with poop baggies but bring your own anyway, just in case. Also, bring your own water for yourself and your cuddle buddy.
Newhall Park Paw Patch
About 20 minutes northeast of downtown Berkeley, Newhall Park has 126 acres of recreational space for the whole family, including your dog. Your best furry friend will love this large grassy expanse with tons of room to run. You can find the dog park in the northern section of the park past the bocce court near the pond. The Paw Patch is fully fenced, has a small dog section for dogs 30 pounds and under, and there are poop stations to make it easy to clean up after your pup.
One thing to note, the big dog area is limited to 30 dogs. So, if you get there and you see that it is full, you may need to come back later. It is a very pup popular park so it is a good idea to bring your own doggie bags in case they run out. The park also has benches for the pup parents, water fountains for all, and enough room for any dog to get rid of some extra energy.
Point Isabel Off-Leash Park
Point Isabel Off-Leash Park is a big community park with 23 acres of waterfront space to run and play, splash in the water, or just sit in the sand. The entire park is an off-leash park except for the parking lots. But if your pupster is not voice trained, you will want to keep him on a leash here because there are no fences on land or in the water. The park is situated along the coast, less than five miles to the northwest of the city of Berkeley.
If you have a canoe or kayak, bring it along because this is where the trailhead to the San Francisco Bay Water Trail. And do not forget your fishing gear if you like to fish. The shoreline has some awesome spots for fishing too. You do not have to have a boat. You can catch flounder, bass, and even sharks here. Before you go, stop by Mudpuppies to have a snack while your fur baby gets a bath.
Sausalito Dog Park
Also known as Remington Dog Park, Sausalito Dog Park in Sausalito is just about a half hour from Berkeley in Martin Luther King Jr. Park and has approximately 1.3 acres of fenced play space for all pooches. If you have a little tyke, don’t worry. There is a special section for small and timid fur babies. The park also has plenty of benches and picnic tables for pet parents, a water fountain for pups, and waste stations with poop bags for easier cleanup.
The ground cover is mostly soft wood chips and mulch, but there are some grassy areas too. In the middle of the park, there is a box of tennis balls to play a game of fetch with your fur puppy. Outside the fenced area, put Fido’s leash back on, and you can explore MLK Park, where you will find tennis courts, basketball, a great playground for the kiddos, and a large field for hanging out.
Seal Point Harbor Dog Park
Your fur buddy will love being able to run amok without a leash at Seal Point Harbor Dog Park in San Mateo, just 30 minutes from downtown Berkeley to the west. It is located in Seal Point Park, where you will find an awesome bay trail, kayak launch, and restrooms for your convenience. The dog park is a large wide-open space that is completely fenced with a double-gated safety entrance. Although it is covered with crushed gravel, it can still be muddy after a large rain.
Little pups and huge hounds have their own separate spaces so everyone can play with pooches of their own size. In addition, there are water fountains for both pups and pup parents, lots of seating to choose from, and doggie bag dispensers for easier cleanup. Perhaps the best thing about Seal Point Harbor Dog Park is its vicinity to the San Francisco Bay. You can put your cuddle buddy’s leash on and walk along the water.
Upper Douglass Dog Park
Upper Douglass Dog Play Area in the southeastern section of Douglass Community Park has a fantastic off-leash dog park with some great agility equipment. What makes them so unique is that they are natural items like jumps made from tree stumps and logs, tunnels under fallen tree limbs, and rocks to climb. There are even ramps to run on made of logs and tree limbs that dogs just love. And pet parents can choose from many different seating options, from logs to picnic tables.
One thing to know is that they close the dog park during the winter months from the end of November to the beginning of March. Also, it is closed for cleaning on Wednesdays. You will not have much trouble finding a drinking fountain or cleanup station because there are several of them throughout the park. But you really should bring your own baggies and water just in case.
Walter Haas Dog Park
Less than a mile south of Upper Douglass Dog Park in Diamond Heights, Walter Haas Dog Park has a large fenced area for poochies to play in. There are two sections: one for little pooches and another for the big dogs. It sits atop a hill where you will have an amazing view of the whole area, including the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The park is named in honor of Walter Haas, the city’s most well-known philanthropist who helped get it going.
Besides the view, perhaps the most popular thing about this dog park is the astroturf. The synthetic grass is not only nice on your pup’s paws, but it also helps prevent mud. However, there are some areas with grass and soil. Also, there are several ramps for your canine compadre to run up and down, boulders to climb on, and hydrants to pee on. Pet parents will be glad to see a lot of seating, doggie bags, and water fountains.
Wardlaw Dog Park
Last but not least, Wardlaw Dog Park in Vallejo is located in Wardlaw Park East, 25 miles to the northeast of Berkeley. It is situated between Wardlaw Elementary School and Jesse Bethel High School just off the Ascot Parkway. It runs alongside Blue Rock Springs Creek, where your fur pup can enjoy splashing around on a hot day. The 2.3-acre park is fully fenced and separated for small and large dogs so everyone can feel safe.
The terrain is grass and dirt, so it can get muddy after it rains. But they have a dog washing area so you can clean up your pup before heading back to the car. Both dogs and humans have plenty of seating in the shade as well as sunny areas, and there are drinking fountains too. The park also supplies doggie bags for pup parents to pick up what their cuddly canine leaves behind.
The Final Woof
Whether you are just visiting or have lived in Berkeley for a while, it is always important to know where all the best off-leash dog parks are at. But there are other things you and Fido can enjoy.
While you are in the area, get your canine companion some culture at the Palace of Fine Arts. Although he cannot go inside, the lagoon, colonnades, and Roman rotunda are worth the trip. In fact, this is the most photographed site in the city!
For something unique, you and your cuddle buddy can also take a ride on the Tilden Steam Train at the Redwood Valley Railway. The 15-minute ride takes you through the forest of redwoods to see the flora and fauna of the area.