The Best 15 Dog Parks in Raleigh, North Carolina

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Known as the City of Oaks because of its numerous oak trees lining the streets of the city, Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and has almost 470,000 residents. It was chosen in 1788 to be the state capital and was named in 1792. The city is also known for its many free museums, often referred to as the Smithsonian of the South. However, since just one of them allow dogs, we will not elaborate on them. 

The warm climate makes Raleigh a nice place to enjoy the 200+ parks and recreational areas, including over 180 miles of trails. The first public park in North Carolina is also in Raleigh. Pullen Park has over 65 acres and was opened in 1887. What’s more, dogs are allowed here as long as they are leashed. For off-the-leash fun, take your pooch to one of the many off-leash dog parks in the city. Here are 15 of our top choices. 

Ashley Wilder Dog Park at Knightdale Station Park

Located at Knightdale Station Park in eastern Raleigh, Ashley Wilder Dog Park is a fairly large pooch park with tons of space for your pooch to play. It is situated in the southwestern corner of the park, just south of the playground, and has two sections, one for large dogs and one for the smaller pups under 23 pounds. The park also has some fun activities for fur babies, like hoops to run through and a rock formation to climb. 

The ground cover is mostly mulch, so it is not bad on the paws and keeps them from getting too dirty. There is even a couple of fire hydrants for the pooches to leave their marks. Pet parents will appreciate the waste stations with poop bags and the water fountain to keep their dogs hydrated. You will find plenty of shaded seating for you to sit and relax while your pup plays.

Buffaloe Road Dog Park

Pack up the dog toys, water, and doggie bags, and head to Buffaloe Road Dog Park with your cuddle buddy. You can find it in northeastern Raleigh just west of the Neuse River. This is a pup popular park with the locals, and you will typically see regular visitors that know each other. However, they are very friendly to newcomers, so they will make you and your canine companion feel welcome. 

Like most other dog parks, Buffaloe Road has a separate section for the small and shy dogs to play, which is great for those little tykes that are wary of playing with the bigger ones. Both sides are partially shaded with lots of seating, but the large dog section is huge and has a large expanse of woods for your dog to play in. There are also water fountains, waste stations, and a hose to fill water bowls and pools in summer. 

Carolina Pines Dog Park

Carolina Pines Dog Park is a fantastic pooch play space in southwestern Raleigh at Carolina Pines Park. This place looks more like a comfy backyard than a dog park with wood mom-and-pop chairs, picnic tables, and a deck with an old-fashioned bucket bathtub with a water spigot. There are also some homemade wooden dog playground equipment like a pedestal with steps and a ramp, a little creek for your cuddly canine to splash around in, and lots of tall trees for shade. 

There is a separate area for small and shy dogs, but it is not as large as the other side, so everyone usually ends up there. The locals are awesome and go out of their way to help your pupster fit in. The park has poop bags and water access as well. One section is reserved for training classes that the SPCA holds once in a while. They teach behavioral skills, puppy classes, and agility. 

Dorothea Dix Dog Park

Bring your cuddle buddy to romp around with other fur babies off their leashes at the Dorothea Dix Dog Park in downtown Raleigh. Just like the previous parks, they have separate sides for both huge hounds and puny pups. Each side has plenty of space, but the big dog section is larger than the other for obvious reasons. The grass here is thick and lush with modern upgraded ground drainage and extra-durable turf. 

You can find the dog park between the Big Field and the Sunflower Field in Dorothea Dix Community Park. It is a large park with a lot of open space for playing fetch or tossing around a frisbee. Or you can just let your pooch run around to get rid of the zoomies. If there are other pups there, they will love chasing each other around the field. Although they have doggie bag dispensers and a water fountain, bring your own, just in case. 

East Clayton Dog Park

Your fur baby will love visiting the East Clayton Dog Park in southeastern Raleigh for some off-leash play. The name tells you where it is, just east of the East Clayton community in the southwestern corner of East Clayton Community Park. It is easy to find with the giant dog bone statue out front. The large pooch play area has three acres. One acre for the little dogs, and the other two are for the big ones. 

The park has some doggie tunnels and climbing obstacles for the pups and benches for the pup parents. There is water access and a fountain for drinking and cleaning up your pup, but they are shut off in the winter, so you should bring your own from November through February. You will also find cleaning stations with doggie doo bags, but they sometimes run out so pack some of those too. What you cannot bring are dog treats or toys, food, alcohol, or glass bottles. 

Flaherty Dog Park

About 20 miles northeast of downtown Raleigh, Flaherty Dog Park can be found in Wake Forest in the middle of JB Flaherty Park between the lake and the ball fields. This park features two acres with separate space for the little and timid pooches as well as self-closing gates for security and a shade structure to keep everyone out of the elements. Your fur buddy will enjoy jumping through the hoops and zooming through the tunnels. And you will love watching him play!

The water stations have drinking fountains with spigots for filling bowls, or you can just let your pup drink out of the water bowl attached to the fountain. The park is large enough for a game of frisbee or fetch, too, so bring what you need. Just do not bring food or treats. You will have your choice of sitting in the shade or soaking up the sun, and there are waste stations with bags. They are closed every day from 7 to 8:30 AM for cleaning, so it is always clean and well-stocked. 

Hunter Street Park Dog Park

If you want to take your canine compadre to Hunter Street Dog Park, you will have to register and pay a small fee for membership. They require proof of rabies and vaccines when registering, which means that all the fur pups are healthy. The two-acre pooch playground has wood chip groundcover to prevent muddy paws, water fountains to keep everyone hydrated, and a separate area for small and shy dogs to play without triggering their large dog anxiety.

in Apex, NC. This recreation area for pups requires registration to be completed before visiting. Outside of the dog park, leashed dogs are welcome on the paved walking trail. You can find the park approximately 25 minutes southwest of Raleigh in Hunter Street Park in Apex. Some of the amenities include water stations, waste stations with doggie bags, a double-gated entry, and a few shade gazebos with seating for pet parents to relax.

Jaycee Dog Park

Jaycee Dog Park is located off of Wade Avenue in Jaycee Community Park near the tennis courts and playground. Here, you will find a cozy little fenced area for your canine companion to run and play off his leash. It is about 20 minutes northwest of downtown Raleigh near University Park and Forest Hills. The park has an accessible path for those with impaired mobility, and there is plenty of parking in two separate parking lots. 

There are lots of benches in this dog run, and they are mostly shaded by mature oaks and other large trees. All pooches play together here, from tiny Terriers to huge Hounds so if your little one is anxious around the big dogs, this may not be the best choice. Since there is only one waste station with a poop bag dispenser, you should bring your own. And although they have water, bring some of that too, just in case.

Lake Benson Dog Park

Pack up the pup and head to the 64-acre Lake Benson Park in Garner, about 15 minutes south of mid-town Raleigh, where they have a one-acre patch of greenspace for off-leash fun. Right off Interstate 95, this is a convenient dog park for those who are traveling too. Although some say it is too noisy because of traffic, most dogs do not even pay attention to the noise. Also, there is a small dog section for the petite pups to play with pooches of their own size. 

The park supplies poop bags, water fountains, shaded and unshaded seating, as well as mulched ground cover and lots of boulders to climb on. Your cuddle buddy will love being able to sniff and leave his mark on the decorated fire hydrants and run around with other pups for a while. The rest of the park is dog-friendly for leashed fur babies in case you want to enjoy the trails, picnic areas, or playgrounds. 

Millbrook Exchange Dog Park

Millbrook Exchange Dog Park opened in 2003, making it the first dog park in Raleigh. You can find this pup playground in the middle of the Millbrook Exchange Community Park next to the pool. There are three separate fenced dog areas. There is one for small dogs and one for large dogs in the dog park area. Then, there is another fenced off-leash area in the picnic area for all sizes and breeds to romp around while you enjoy a meal. 

In the dog park, your pooch can climb up and down the ramps, run and chase other fur babies, or play a game of fetch with you, his best friend. You have a wide array of choices for seating, whether you want to enjoy the sunshine or chill out in the shade. The park also provides doggie cleanup stations with bags as well as water fountains and a hose for filling bowls and pools. 

Northgate Park Dog Park

Take a 25-minute drive northwest of downtown Raleigh to check out Northgate Dog Park in Durham next to Northgate Community Park. If you have a small dog 30 pounds and under and 15 inches or smaller, he will love having his own space free of the big guys. Both of the dog park sections are fully fenced and full of grassy areas as well as dirt that all fur babies love to play in. However, it gets muddy after a rain, so bring towels to clean your puppy’s paws. 

You will also find plenty of benches for the pup parents, kiosks with seating to keep you out of inclement weather, a doggie poo bag dispenser for easier cleanup, and water access for filling bowls and cleaning paws. One thing to note, this dog park is in the process of changing locations because of the mud issues. However, it will stay open until the new one at Rock Quarry Park opens up. 


North Hills Dog Park

North Hills Dog Park is right in northern downtown Raleigh in a quaint neighborhood where your cuddle buddy can run around until he is worn out. It is a long park that leads into the woods at the eastern end. The ground is a mostly soft wood mulch that is easy on your pup’s paws and fun to romp around in. You will not find a small dog area here, though. All sizes and breeds are welcome to play together. 

Another thing you will not find here is water, so make sure you bring some for you and your fur baby. And although they have doggie bag dispensers, you should always carry some extras just in case they run out. Even though it is only about a quarter of an acre, it has lots of long open spaces for fetch and frisbee. But it gets muddy after it rains, so keep that in mind. 

Oakwood Dog Park

Oakwood Dog Park is situated in northeastern Raleigh at the 13-acre Oakwood Community Park, just a few miles from North Hills Dog Park. This one has two spaces for big and small pups so everyone can play safely. Surrounded by giant oak trees, you will immediately see how the park got its name. These trees are great for shade, but they also make a wonderful playground for your pooch. It is a pretty big park of more than one acre and has water buckets, toys, and lots of spaces to sit. 

The locals who visit often really go out of their way to make the newcomers feel welcome, and everyone seems to get along great. It is a terrific park for running out those zoomies and playing frisbee or fetch. The hose and bucket come in handy when it is muddy to clean your fur puppy before getting back in the car. 

Sugg Farm Dog Park

The Dog Park at Sugg Farm in Holly Springs, southwest of Raleigh, is inside Bass Lake Park and is a fun place for all pups to play. You will find two separate gated sections for both small and large dogs, perfect for those fur puppies under 30 pounds who have big dog anxiety. There is no fee to use this gorgeous new park, and it is open every day, so you can bring your canine companion to run around off his leash any day of the week. 

It is a large and clean space with wood chips so fresh you can smell the cedar. You are not allowed to bring toys, so leave them in the car and do not bring any food or treats. They provide water and doggie bags, but you can bring your own in case they run out. The city often holds events like Bark in the Park, Beericana, and air shows. 

West Street Dog Park

Why not enjoy an adult beverage while your pup plays with the other dogs at West Street Dog Park? This park/bar located downtown is open to the public but requires a membership or a day pass. A pass for one dog is only $5, so it is definitely worth checking out. And you know that the dogs here have all their shots. The awesome thing, if you are just stopping by, is that you can get a pass from the bartender if you have your pup’s shot records on your phone. 

The indoor dog park is perfect, with synthetic grass made for dogs and several large ramps and other play equipment to keep them busy. While your cuddle buddy plays, you can enjoy a beer, a glass of wine, or one of their specialty cocktails like the Underdog with gin, mint, lime, and cucumber or Man’s Best Friend with bourbon, lemon, mint, and maple syrup. Be sure to bring doggie bags to pick up after your pup. 

The Final Woof

As the Smithsonian of the South, it should not surprise you that there is at least one dog-friendly museum in Raleigh. The North Carolina Museum of Art has an outdoor area of over two miles of trails with sculptures and fountains. Similarly, the Cheshire Cat Antique Gallery is also pup popular, allowing dogs as long as they are on a leash and well-behaved. For a different kind of cultural experience, take your canine companion on a scavenger hunt at Raleigh Round the Capitol. You will explore the landmarks near the Capitol Building. Along the way, you and Fido will have to solve riddles to get to the next place. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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