Dog parks are the fastest-growing segment of the urban park population. Today, in the 100 largest cities in the United States, there are over 600, off-leash parks for pooches to putter around and play.
If you’re traveling the country this summer with your pooch, check out some of the greatest dog parks in the U.S.:
Dog Wood Park in Jacksonville, Fla.: It’s worth the price of admission — yes it’s true, a dog park that charges $11 per pup. This is what you get: 42 acres of open space, closed space, agility courses, 10 acres of nature trails, three lighted acres for use until 10 p.m., and Lake Bow Wow, a two-acre swimming lake with fountain.
Laurel Canyon Dog Park in Los Angeles, Calif.: Centrally located in L.A., this park is high in the hills off tony Mulholland Drive and home many of Hollywood’s beautiful people and their pups. The park has been described as “a dirt oasis” for dogs — but it doubles as a top, celebrity-sighting destination. Is that Jessica Alba and her dogs?
Magnuson Dog Park in Seattle, Wash.: In a city where there are more canines than kids, Seattle has 11 off-leash parks within city limits — including Magnuson, the only one inside city limits with access to a freshwater beach. At nine acres, the park also has a special, fenced-in section for small dogs.
Millie Bush Bark Park in Houston, Texas: Anyone remember Millie Bush, the English Springer Spaniel who shared the White House with George and Barbara Bush? This sprawling, 13-acre dog park with three ponds, water fountains, and wash-stations was established in her honor within the George Bush Park in Houston.
Montrose Beach in Chicago, Ill.: Billed as the city’s first legal off-leash beach, it remains the only Lake Michigan beach experience you can have with your dog in Chicago. Go to their website before head to the shore and read up on dog beach etiquette, lovingly put together by the people of Mondog, a group of Montrose Beach and dog lovers who helped open the park in 2000.
Pilgrim Bark Park in Provincetown, Mass.: A relatively new park that consistently makes the cut as a top dog park in America. Here’s why: The PBP is filled with wonderful structures, painted benches, and tall sculptures donated by the surrounding artists of Cape Cod. The locale is more than just a dog park.
Point Isabel in Richmond, Calif.: Just outside of San Francisco, Point Isabel is a one-of-a-kind, landscaped, and 23-acre off leash dog park — one of the largest in the country. It has sweeping views of the Bay Area, and is well known for its dog bath facility (Mudpuppy’s Tub & Scrub) and a gourmet café for people called Sit And Stay. Half a million dogs visit Point Isabel each year.
Tompkins Square Dog Run in New York City, N.Y.: The first of 55 dog parks now scattered across the Big Apple, New Yorkers love this place. Tompkins Square opened in 1990 after a huge community effort to take it from a square block of urban decay and turn it into a safe place for dogs. In 2008, the park went through a $450,000 renovation that included a state-of-the-art clay surface. The park hosts an annual Halloween dog parade.
Even you aren’t traveling the country, chances are there is a unique dog park located near you. Know of any great dog parks you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments section.