News & Politics

Which Dog Park is Best for You?

The best parks for perfectly behaved dogs, misbehaved dogs, high energy dogs, dogs with protective owners, and more.

Photograph of S Street Dog Park by Tim Sloan/Getty Images

If your dog is as well behaved as Bo Obama: S Street Dog Park

One of DC’s most central and popular dog parks, where “Chuck Todd, come!” is something you might hear—in reference not to the Meet the Press host but to a yellow Lab that’s a regular. The small park near Dupont Circle tends to draw a helicopter-parent crowd sensitive to roughhousing, so get ready for some serious side-eye if your pup doesn’t mind his manners. 17th and S sts., NW.

If your dog needs a refresher course in Manners 101: Shirlington Dog Park

Photograph by Bill Ingalls/Ingalls Images

This 2½-acre grass-and-mulch park’s biggest asset is space. So if your dog decides to get all alpha over another’s ball or won’t stop humping some poor, helpless Chihuahua, there are plenty of areas you can take him for distraction. Beyond the gates, there’s a pen for small dogs and animals with special needs and a stream for swimming. Another big draw: an inexpensive dog-washing facility right outside the entrance. 2601 S. Arlington Mill Dr., Arlington.

If you want to take the edge off with your dog: 8 Chains North Winery

Lots of Virginia vineyards are canine-friendly, but this one northwest of Leesburg might be the most accommodating of all. Dogs are allowed to sit by your side—on leash—while you’re sipping Chardonnay or Petit Verdot in the cozy tasting room or on the patio. And if the animals get antsy, they can let off a little steam of their own inside a large fenced-in park on the property, where you can ditch the leash. 38593 Daymont La., Waterford.

If your dog would rather be on a hike: Glencarlyn Dog Park

Photograph by Dempster Dogs/Alamy

Don’t have time for a day trip to the Shenandoah? Bring your dog to this quiet, woodsy enclave suited to scampering. It’s bordered by a creek, which is good for a quick splash. One caveat: Nothing at the park is fenced in, so wandering types would probably be better off somewhere else. 301 S. Harrison St., Arlington.

If you want to socialize, too: Cabin John Dog Park

Montgomery County has only a handful of off-leash parks, and this one, opened in 2011, is one of the most well kempt. The one-acre expanse features separate areas for big and small dogs and a rock formation for climbing. The vibe is friendly—it’s become a popular spot for meetup groups, and many folks mingle around the shaded picnic tables. 10900 Westlake Dr., Bethesda.

10 Other Dog Parks You Love*

1. Baron Cameron Dog Park 11300 Baron Cameron Ave., Reston

2. Chevy Chase Dog Park 41st and Livingston sts., NW

3. Duke Street/Beatley Library Dog Park 5000 block of Duke St., Alexandria

4. Newark Street Dog Park 39th and Newark sts., NW

5. Old Izaak Walton Park 850 Davis Ct., SE, Leesburg

6. Quiet Waters Dog Park and Beach 600 Quiet Waters Park Rd., Annapolis

7. Shaw Dog Park 1673 11th St., NW

8. Simpson Stadium Park 426 E. Monroe Ave., Alexandria

9. South Run Dog Park 7550 Reservation Dr., Springfield

10. Vienna Dog Park 700 Courthouse Rd., Vienna

*These spots were winners in our online reader survey.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.