15 Awesome Dog Friendly Parks to Visit in Washington, District of Columbia (DC)

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Better known as Washington, DC, this city is the capital of the United States. Actually, Washington is not a city at all. It is a district, the District of Columbia. It was named in honor of President George Washington and the nickname of America at the time, which was Columbus. The first congressional session was held in this historic town in 1800. With just 43,738 acres and a population of 670,000, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the southeastern US. 

Washington has hot summers in the 80s and cold winters in the 40s, and it enjoys both snow and rain year-round, so there is something for everyone here. If you enjoy winter sports, there are several parks with cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and sledding in the area, and in the summer, you have dozens of parks to choose from. But for your pup’s enjoyment, we found over 50 off-leash dog parks! Here are our top 15 off-leash dog parks in Washington, DC, that we think your pup will love. 

Bark Social Dog Park

Less than 15 miles from downtown Washington, DC, Bark Social in North Bethesda, Maryland, was the very first social club for pups and pup parents. Here, every day is a party, and you do not have to bring anything but your pooch and ID. If you are a resident, you can get a membership for a dollar a day. Just passing through? Snag a free day pass on their website and pay nothing! Well, you will have to pay for your drinks. 

You will find the pub park just off Highway 335 and Josiah Henson Parkway next to the Porsche dealership in the Pike & Rose Shopping Center. Grab a beer or cocktail and take your fur puppy out back to the half-acre supervised play area or they can play inside while you enjoy a game on TV and some snacks. They have doggie snacks too! Dogs must be at least four months old, spayed or neutered, and fully vaccinated. 


Barkhaus is just six miles to the south in Alexandria, Virginia, and has the privilege of being the first dog park bar in Alexandria. It also won Washingtonian’s Best of Washington award in 2021. But it is more than a bar or a dog park. It is like a home away from home where locals come almost every night to visit, enjoy a drink, and snack on some tasty food while Fido socializes with others of his own kind. 

You can get a daily pass for $15 or a monthly or yearly membership for less than a dollar a day. You will need an account and to show proof of shots and spaying or neutering before you can visit. That is what makes it worthwhile. Knowing that all the dogs are healthy. Besides the fenced yard with astroturf and play equipment, they have a fully-stocked bar and a menu just for dogs with Good Boy Dog Beer and Pawfectly Delicious dog treats. 

Carlyle Dog Park 

Also, in Alexandria, just about two miles south of Barkhaus, Carlyle Dog Run Park has close to three acres of space for pups to play unhindered without a leash. With separate spaces for little and large dogs, all pooches feel free to romp and roll without worry. The terrain is mostly gravel and grass, but there are patches of dirt here and there to create some mud when it rains. And we know how much dogs love mud!

The park is double-gated for safety and has some huge boulders that cuddle buddies enjoy climbing on. They also have a nice paved walkway for the pup parents with benches placed in the shade as well as seating in the sun for those who want to work on their tan. The park provides water for the dogs and doggie bags for easier cleanup. However, it is a good idea to bring your own in case they run out.

Ellsworth Urban Dog Park

There is a small four-acre community park about seven miles to the north of downtown Washington, DC, in Silver Spring, Maryland, called Ellsworth Urban Park. It features a cozy pooch play area of about 3,000 square feet for small dogs and about half an acre for larger pupcakes over 20 pounds. They are both ADA-compliant and have artificial grass that is easy on the paws and prevents muddy buddies. 

There is a cool play mound in each section for your canine companion to play king of the hill and a nice amount of space for running and chasing. You may even be able to play a game of fetch if it is not too crowded. Both sections have water fountains and mutt mitt dispensers, as well as seating and a shade structure for pet parents. Your pup is welcome in the rest of the park, too, as long as you keep his leash on. 

Eugene Simpson Stadium Dog Park

Right around the corner from Barkhaus, not even a half mile away, Simpson Stadium Park also includes an off-leash dog park for your cuddly canine companion to socialize and scramble around with other pups. The main park is about 10 acres and features many different activities for the whole family, including a playground, tennis courts, a beautiful garden, and a basketball court. And, of course, the Eugene Simpson Stadium Dog Park

You can find the dog park on East Monroe between the soccer field and basketball court across from the little league field. Although there is no special section for small pups, there is a lot of room to find a secluded space for your little one to play. There is a big hill that the fur babies love running up and down. Great for getting rid of the zoomies! They also have kiddie pools in the summer, and they supply water and doggie bags too. 

Founders Park Dog Park

Founders Park is the perfect spot for the whole family to spend the day just eight miles south of Washington, DC. If you like water sports, this great park is right on the Potomac River so you can do some fishing or just meander along the bank with your cuddly buddy. It is a peaceful place to do some daydreaming or people-watching on one of the many benches throughout the park. You will have to keep your pup on a leash in most of the park. 

However, there is a large grassy field where dogs are allowed to play off the leash but there is no fence so if he is not voice-controlled, you may want to leave that leash on anyway. You do not want to have to chase your canine companion around the park or into the water. The field is large enough to play fetch or toss around a frisbee but pack your own water and doggie bags. 

Glencarlyn Dog Park

Across the river, about eight miles to the west, Glencarlyn Dog Park is located in Arlington, Virginia, by the Four Mile Run Creek. It is right along the hiking trail in the thick wooded area that is typically populated with lots of wildlife. The off-leash area includes the creek, so your fur pup can play in the water if he wants to. However, like the dog park at Founders Park, it is not fenced. Your pooch should have good voice recall if you want to take that leash off. 

It is a popular park for family outings with a modern playground for the little humans featuring a treehouse and huge slide as well as swings and climbing equipment. There are also picnic tables in many areas of the park with barbecue grills in case you want to cook something up. They do not have any doggie bag dispensers, so make sure you bring your own.

Maryland City Park Dog Park

Pack up your pup, his leash, some toys, and doggie bags, and head to Maryland City Park in Laurel, Maryland, for some fun. Less than 20 miles northeast of downtown Washington, DC, it only takes a few minutes to get to the park on the edge of the Patuxent Research Refuge near the Patuxent River. It is on the northeastern corner of the park and features two separate sections, one for big pups and another for smaller pooches. 

Since it is fully fenced with a double-gated entry, you can feel safe letting him off the leash even if his recall is not as good as you want it to be. Let him run around and chase the other pups, play a game of frisbee or fetch, and just have a great time enjoying nature. Children under six years old are not allowed inside either of the dog sections, so keep that in mind if you brought your little ones to play. 

Newark Street Dog Park

Three miles northwest of downtown, right by the Washington National Cathedral, the Newark Street Dog Park is in the southwestern corner of the Newark Street Community Park between the playground, tennis courts, and the community garden. It has a small dog area of about 2,500 square feet, which is plenty of room for a bunch of tiny tots. The large dog area is about 9,000 square feet to give the bigger pooches room to roam. 

There is also a dog fountain and wading pool for both small and large fur puppies to share. This is especially popular during the summer, of course. The park just installed a new water spigot to refill dog bowls and pools, which is great for keeping pups from getting parched. For easier cleanup, there are waste stations with poop bags, and there are numerous benches for pet parents. Bring your own water and go ahead and pack extra doggie bags anyway.  

Le Droit Dog Park

Right in downtown Washington, DC, LeDroit Dog Park is located in the northeastern corner of Le Droit Park. It is also known as the Bloomingdale Dog Park because it is in the Bloomingdale neighborhood near Howard University. It is not huge, but it is great for a day of play. The small dog area is really small, with just enough space for about six pooches to play together. The large dog area is a lot larger and can handle about 30 cuddly canines. 

The Friends of the Park at LeDroit manage the park with volunteers who help clean and maintain the grass, refill doggie bag dispensers, and general upkeep. Pet parents who want to sit and relax can choose from several benches or just hang out with their pup playing ball or tug. There are lots of extra balls and other toys at the park in case you did not bring one. 

S Street Dog Park

The unique S Street Dog Park is just north of downtown past Dupont Circle. Although there is no small dog section, the park is constantly being improved, so there may be one eventually. Check it out before you cross it off your list. It has undergone some recent renovations to include new artificial turf, which prevents muddy paws when it rains. Across the street, the S Street Park is a newer off-leash area that has new landscaping and benches. 

Both of these parks are popular with the locals, so it can get crowded at times but since there are two of them, chances are pretty good that you and your canine compadre will find one that you like. Both parks have a lighted plaza that makes it easy to take your pooch to the park after dark. And they are shaped into hills to give the dogs more room to run as well as more exercise. 

Shaw Dog Park

Take your fur puppy to Shaw Dog Park and let him play with the other pups for a while. Less than a half mile from downtown, just past Logan Circle, you will find this fun pup play area at the northern end of Shaw Park. The park is about a third of an acre with pea gravel and five-foot chain link fencing. The small dog enclosure is just for dogs 25 pounds and under so those tiny Terriers and other little ones can feel safe to play. 

There are waste stations with poop bags to help pet parents with cleanup and a water fountain for both areas. Each side has several benches for the humans with shade structures to keep you out of the sun. The park is open late, so it is good that there are lights nearby for those pups that like to play after dark. Bring your own water and doggie bags in case you need them. 

Shirlington Dog Park

Shirlington Park’s dog park is just four miles southeast of Glencarlyn Dog Park and has a very large area that includes the Four Mile Run. The stream is a pup popular play space that dog parents enjoy bringing their pooches to when it is warm outside. Actually, many dogs enjoy playing at the stream when it is cold as well. But you may want to keep them from getting too wet if it is really cold outside. Either way, bring a towel to dry them off. 

There is a nice sidewalk in the middle of the park as well as picnic tables and benches for pet parents to enjoy while their pupsters play. The waste stations make it easier to pick up after your pup if you forgot to bring your own doggie bags, and water spigots are handy for refilling water bowls. And there are separate areas for big and small fur buddies to play with their own sizes. 

Swampoodle Dog Park

The Swampoodle Dog Park and Playground was named for a nearby neighborhood that disappeared in the 1800s. It is just two miles east of downtown Washington, DC on the corner of 3rd Streed Northeast and L Street Northeast. This special space for pups is packed with fun for all, including an agility structure of steps, tunnels, and pedestals that dogs love to explore. They can climb the stairs, run up and down the ramp, and jump off the elevated bridge. 

The ground is artificial turf, so you do not have to worry about muddy paws, even near the water spigot and bowls. There are also several benches and shade structures, as well as some doggie bag dispensers, but it is a good idea to bring your own because this is a popular spot. It also has a playground for the little humans if you have any and lights for those who want to play after dark. 

Vienna Dog Park

Grab your cuddly buddy, leash, and doggie bags and head east about 16 miles to Vienna Dog Park in Vienna, Virginia. It is located at the northern end of Nottoway Park on Courthouse Road across from the Nottoway Garden. The finely crushed stone terrain is great for pups who love to run and will not create mud when it rains, so that is a plus too! The double-gated entry helps prevent escape artists from getting away, so no worries there, either. 

There are plenty of benches for relaxing, dog waste stations with poop bags for pickup, and both human and dog water fountains. There is even some agility equipment for your fur baby to enjoy. They are great for giving your energetic ball of fur a good workout, and it is fun to watch him having a blast with the other fur puppies. Dogs must be at least four months old, have a license, and be completely vaccinated. 

The Final Woof

After spending the day (or several days) at the dog park, maybe it is time to do something more history-based. After all, Washington, DC, is the capital of the United States, so you may as well learn something about it. 

There are several dog-friendly sites where your leashed pooch can join you, like the Washington Monument, the FDR Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, to name a few. For something a little more fun while learning about the city, try the Secret City Washington DC Scavenger Hunt. They love leashed pups! Then, take your canine companion with you to the Lost Generation Brewing Company, where you can enjoy some adult beverages, and you can both grab some grub at one of the food trucks. 

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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