Our 16 Favorite Dog-Friendly Parks in San Francisco, California

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Spanish for Saint Francis, San Francisco is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of California and has over 808,000 residents. The city is at the end of a peninsula surrounded by San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, so it is a popular place for tourism as well as outdoor activities. It is also home to the Golden Gate Bridge and was the birthplace of the Chinese Fortune Cookie in the 1890s. It was invented by a Japanese immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara. 

The weather in San Francisco is also optimal for outdoor recreation, with an average high of 65 degrees F. Summers usually get up in the upper 60s, and in winter, the average is 55 degrees. Because of the awesome weather, the city has more than 225 parks, including 220 city parks, four state parks, and one national park. Your fur baby has lots of different off-leash dog parks to choose from as well. Here are our top 16 choices for you to check out. 

Berry Street Dog Park

Berry Street Dog Park can be found in eastern San Francisco by Mission Creek Channel and Park at Berry Street Park. On your way through the park to get to the pup play area, your cuddle buddy will need to be leashed. You can take it off once you get inside the fenced area. The ground here is mostly gravel with some artificial grass areas. The gravel can get a little muddy when it rains though, so keep that in mind. 

The shaded seating area is perfect for pup parents to sit back and relax but make sure you keep an eye on your fur baby and pick up anything he drops. Although the park has water fountains and waste stations with baggies, it is a good idea to bring your own just in case they do not have any. There are also balls and ropes as well as natural obstacles to jump over and climb on in case you forgot to bring your pup’s toys. 

Buena Vista Dog Park

Take your fur puppy to Buena Vista Park Dog Park, located right in the heart of San Francisco at Buena Vista Park. The first thing to know about this park is that it is popular with dog walkers so it can get very crowded very quickly. Since the city allows up to six dogs per person, you could find yourself in a park full of rowdy dogs with the arrival of just one person. While this is nice for dog walkers, it can be annoying to some pup parents whose dog gets overwhelmed in crowds. 

Being at the top of a hill, Buena Vista was named for its spectacular view, which means “beautiful view” in Spanish. You can see for miles in every direction at this lovely park. Places like Treasure Island, Golden Gate Park, and the Golden Gate Bridge are among the most renowned attractions here. Be sure to bring doggie bags and water when you visit.   

Channel Street Dog Park

Less than a mile northeast of Berry Street Dog Park, this recently opened pooch paradise has everything covered from bags to turf. First, the permeable turf actually absorbs dog urine, and it is cleaned automatically with automatic sprinklers. And while they have pup waste stations with doggie bags, it never hurts to have your own on hand. Bring water too because sometimes the water is not on. There is also plenty of seating for pet parents to sit and watch their dogs play. 

With over an acre of space, your pooch will have lots of room to roam or chase other pooches around. Although there is no agility equipment, your fur baby can climb the rocks and jump on or climb under the benches for some agility fun. But what he probably will love most is spending some quality time with you, his best friend. Bring a ball or doggie disc so you can play a game of catch or frisbee.

Corona Heights Dog Park

In the heart of San Francisco, about 10 minutes southwest of downtown, you can find Corona Heights Dog Play Area in the northwestern corner of Corona Heights Park. Even though it is a small park, this is one of the favorites for nature lovers because of how rustic and rugged the area is around Corona Heights Natural Area. It is not uncommon to see deer, coyotes, and other wildlife when you are here, especially in the mornings and evenings. 

It is located right across from the Field Museum and has a stunning view of the San Francisco area, including the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. All dogs play together here no matter the size or breed, so if your pooch is not comfortable with larger dogs, you may want to go to skip this one. The ground cover is mostly wood chips, and you should bring your own doggie bags and water because it is a busy place. 

Eureka Valley Dog Park

Tucked away in the southeastern area of San Francisco, Eureka Valley Dog Play Area is next to the Eureka Valley Recreation Center. This sandy, fenced dog run is found in the northeastern corner of the Rikki Streicher Field, and although it is not a huge place, it is wide open and has plenty of room for running around, which is why it is actually called a dog run. The wide section is flat and spacious but has no trees or shade. 

In fact, there is really no foliage here for shade, so some pup parents bring beach umbrellas, and there are a few shade structures around the perimeter. You will not find an agility station or fancy dog playground here, but you will find a lot of balls in all different sizes. And the city changes them often for safety. The dry ground can be dusty and hot, but there is a hose. Bring your own water anyway, just in case. Also, you will need to bring baggies. 

Garces Dog Agility Bark Park

If you want to see your canine companion jump through hoops, run through tunnels, and speed up and down ramps, take him to the Garces Dog Agility Bark Park. Some of the fun equipment to play with include a Rover jumpover, stepping stairs, an A-frame ladder, pedestals, and hoops. It is not a huge park, and there is no grass, but it is an awesome place to bring your fur puppy to learn some agility tricks.

The Bark Park is only big enough to hold about 10 dogs and their pet parents. But luckily, not many people know about this place since it is not connected to any other park. It is in the southwestern section of San Francisco by Lake Merced. It also has a few benches so you can relax and watch your pup play with the other pups if you are not doing the agility course with him. Bring doggie bags and water because they run out of baggies, and sometimes the water is off.

Golden Gate Dog Parks

Golden Gate Park is one of the most popular parks in California, with over 1,000 pet-friendly acres, including all sorts of recreational fun. From horseshoe courts to horseback rides and boat rentals to petanque, it is impossible to be bored at this park! Almost all of the activities are dog-friendly for leashed dogs except for indoors and a few other dog-free areas. What’s more, they have four different fenced off-leash dog parks to enjoy with your fur puppy. 

There is one fairly large dog park in the northeast corner featuring lots of shade and plenty of seating for pup parents. Another in the southeastern corner is cozy and quaint, with room to run around, but not too far. The one in the south-central section of the park is pretty awesome, too with restrooms and water for the humans. By far, the most popular is the dog training area in the northwestern section by the bison paddock. It has tons of room, sandy ground cover, and agility stations. 

Joby’s Run 

Also known as Upper Noe Dog Play Area, this pup patch was renamed in 2008 and dedicated to Joby Shinoff, who was the advocate behind the park, working with the parks department to design the first dog play area in Noe Valley, Joby’s Run. Situated in southern San Francisco in Upper Noe Recreation Area, your cuddly compadre can get rid of those zoomies running back and forth in the long and narrow dog runs.   

It is also the perfect park for playing fetch or frisbee. The park has two sections, one for huge hounds and another for tiny tots. Each section has pea gravel ground cover and a bunch of chairs that you can move around to sit where you like. That way, when the sun moves the shade to a different spot, you can go with it. Although there are water fountains and doggie bag dispensers, you should bring your own anyway, just to be on the safe side. 

Lafayette Park Dog Park

Located in northern San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, Lafayette Park Dog Park is a hilltop park in the middle of an upscale neighborhood featuring stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Being up so high, you can see quite far when it is not foggy. The dog park is fully fenced and boasts mostly astroturf and pavement, so you do not have to worry about muddy paws. You can also find water fountains servicing dogs and their humans, pet waste stations with baggies, and plenty of seating. 

The rest of Lafayette Park also welcomes dogs as long as they are on a leash. So put your cuddle buddy’s leash back on, and you can go enjoy a picnic at one of the picnic tables, let the little humans play at the playground, and take a walk to explore the flora and fauna. The whole park is 11.5 acres and has a lot of open green space for chilling out and watching the world go by.

Lake Merced Dog Park

Between Fort Funston and San Francisco State University, you will find Lake Merced Dog Play Area at the 600+ acre Lake Merced Park. The dog park is next to the main park to the east at Park Merced. The entire dog play area is covered in soft, comfortable synthetic grass, which means no muddy paws. There are several agility stations as well, including a hoop jump with multiple hoops, ramps, and tunnels. You will need to bring your own doggie bags and water, though. 

Most of Lake Merced is also dog-friendly as long as your canine companion is on a leash at all times. It is a fun place for water activities like fishing, boating, and your pooch can even do some swimming. There are extensive trails and quite a few picnic areas with tables, barbecue grills, restrooms, and water. If you have any kids with you, they will love the modern interactive playgrounds with slides, climbing, swings, and monkey bars.

McLaren Park Dog Parks

McLaren Park has two excellent pooch play areas, including one that is the biggest in the city, with 60 acres of off-leash space. You will find McLaren Park in southern San Francisco between Balboa Park, Bayshore Heights, and Bayview. Although there are fences, the large one by the amphitheater is 60 acres, so if your canine companion does not have good voice recall, you may want to keep his leash on him. 

In the large section are several trails and a huge grassy area called the Field of Dogs, where many pet parents hang out to let their fur babies play with the others. There is also a pond (McLaren Reservoir) where your pooch can cool off and splash around. The smaller pup park is next to the Crocker Amazon Playground in the southwestern corner of the park. Here there is no fence, so your dog needs to be voice-controlled. Also, bring plenty of doggie bags and water.

Mountain Lake Park Dog Park

In the northwestern section of San Francisco, you will find Mountain Lake Park Dog Play Area at the Presidio in the Richmond neighborhood. It is situated in the eastern corner of the park, right off of the nature trails. The ground cover is mostly wood chips, so it is easy on the puppy paws as well as pup parents. The wooded area provides lots of shade to keep out of the hot sun, or you can soak up some vitamin D on one of the other benches. 

Although this is an off-leash dog park, it is not fully fenced, so if your pooch is not voice controlled, you may want to keep his leash on him. There is a water hose for filling bowls and washing off your pups if they get dirty. You can even use it to fill up a kiddie pool when it gets hot. The park does have a doggie bag dispenser, but it is often empty, so bring your own. 

Pine Lake Park Dog Park

Pine Lake Park Dog Play Area is a large off-leash pooch playground in Pine Lake Park in southwestern San Francisco just north of Lake Merced. It is more than just a dog park, though because it has three acres that include picnic tables and barbecue pits where you can enjoy a meal. There is no fence keeping your fur baby from running off, though, so if he is a runner, you should keep him on a leash. 

You will notice that this is a very popular spot with the locals and it is crowded on weekends. If your pooch is not a fan of crowds, visit on weekdays before 5 PM. With so much room, this is the perfect park for a game of frisbee or fetch with your cuddle buddy. Dogs also have plenty of space for chasing each other and getting rid of the zoomies. You can bring your own dog bags if you want but they do provide them. 

St. Mary’s Dog Park

St. Mary’s Dog Park has all sorts of space for your furry friend to play in southern San Francisco. It is located in the southwestern corner of St. Mary’s Park, next to the playground and tennis courts. Fully fenced and filled with lush green grass, this park is a nice place for you to spend the day letting your pooch play with other pups. In fact, it is often called The Putting Green because of its wonderfully manicured lawn. 

Besides the usual open space and benches, you will also find a nice paved walking path with picnic tables and wooded areas that are fun to explore with your dog. One thing to know is that the fence is only about four feet high in some parts, so make sure you keep an eye on your cuddle buddy if he is a jumper. Like many of the other parks on this list, there is no small dog section. Dogs of all sizes play together here. 

Upper Douglass Dog Park

Less than a mile northwest of Joby’s Dog Park, Upper Douglass Dog Play Area is another great pup play space. It is rather large and has unique agility exercises made from natural items like tree stumps and logs. It is situated in the southeast corner of Douglass Park and has tons of room to roam around. Pup parents will find seating all over the park, from picnic tables to logs running around the perimeter. 

Unlike the others, this park is closed between December and March for winter and on Wednesdays for cleaning and maintenance. It is a huge place, so even though the limit is eight dogs per person, it does not get too crowded except for prime time weekends. There are drinking fountains with bowls for the pups, lots of seating for the pup parents, and plenty of waste stations with doggie bags for picking up after your cuddle buddy.

Walter Haas Dog Park

Walter Haas Dog Play Area can be found about a mile south of Upper Douglass Dog Play Area and half a mile west of Joby’s Dog Park. The fenced park is lined with astroturf for cleanliness and convenience. It makes picking up after Fido a lot easier too. The park was named after a generous businessman who helped get the dog parks going. He was a chair of the Board of Directors and a leader of fundraising efforts for many local parks. 

The dog area is about an acre of the four-acre public park and provides natural obstacles and climbing opportunities for all sized dogs. The rest of the park is dog-friendly for friendly leashed dogs. You can enjoy a picnic, play a game of tennis or basketball, or take a walk on the paved path. There are dog water fountains that are good for humans, too, waste stations with poop bags, and restrooms nearby.

The Final Woof

Need some retail therapy? Union Square has several dog-friendly shops, including Williams-Sonoma, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Macy’s. Just make sure your pup is on a leash, and bring plenty of doggie bags and water. Strawberry Village is another pup popular shopping area that includes Woodland’s Pet Food & Treats. You and your pup can also take a ride on the railroad. Redwood Valley Railway’s Tilden Steam Train has a 15-minute train tour through the woods that is dog-friendly too! One place you should not miss is Dogue. This is a fancy restaurant only for dogs. Your cuddly canine can enjoy a meal at the Bone Appetit Cafe, or you can pick him some items from the Pawtisserie.  

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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