A.D. Thompson
happy dog at dog park

Apartment dwelling dog lovers need not fret for lack of yard space. Many cities have incredible outdoor spaces that are not only wonderful places for dogs to get to know their neighbors while they exercise, their owners benefit just as much from the fresh air and social time!

Check out these cities (in no particular order) with the great dog parks.

1. Chicago: Montrose Dog Beach

chicago montrose dog beach

Coastal dwellers may argue whether a Midwestern lake (even a massive one!) constitutes a beach, but the dogs of Chicago couldn't care less. Folks in this city love their time by the water and that might even go double for its four-legged residents.

Montrose Dog Beach was the city's first legal off-leash dog beach (the other is Belmont Harbor) and gives pups and their owners plenty of space to run, dig, swim, fetch and get gloriously sandy with no fear of bringing that sand back to their respective apartments (well, not the pups, at least).

Dedicated dog-washing stations ensure that visitors can bathe their best friends before heading out to explore other fun parts of the Windy City. Most love to camp out and stay awhile – particularly when the weather is agreeable – so feel free to bring a beach or camping chair and your pup's favorite waterproof fetch toy (as long as he or she doesn't mind sharing!).

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2. Nampa, ID: Amity Dog Park

Six rolling acres make for loads of nature-infused fun at this Nampa haven for Idahoan pet owners, especially those with older dogs. Amity Dog Park's small-dog area also welcomes senior pups who may find the rough play of the young guns a bit much for their weary bones. They're welcome to watch the whippersnappers through the fence and remember their salad days with no fear of getting sucked into the otherwise-fun fray.

Fully fenced and loaded with expansive field-like areas, walking trails, access to drinking water and even a swimming pond, pups here love to interact with other dogs and humans, but even those who prefer space can find it. The park is so big that even when “crowded," it never feels that way.

3. Honolulu: Hawaii Kai Dog Park

Hawaii Kai dog park

Welcome to Hawaii, our nation's only rabies-free state and home of the Honolulu's Hawaii Kai Dog Park, where mountain views, ocean views, bright sun and a few shady benches are enjoyed by all who come.

Separate sections for large and small dogs (small is defined as 18 pounds and under) help to keep the play safe for everyone and those with long-legged runners will absolutely love the wide-open space for their best friends to burn off pent-up energy.

Lots of parking means no circling for a spot and there's lots of fresh water to cool off play-spent pups after time in the sun.

4. Johns Creek, GA: Newtown Dream Dog Park

It's right in the name. Beneful dog food sponsored a Great Dane of a makeover for this Atlanta-area dog park and now the one-acre property is one of the prettiest and most fantastical in the nation.

You'll find Instagram-worthy photo ops as your dog crosses the bone bridge or runs through the fire hydrant-shaped sprinkler. They'll be running around on wonderfully sanitary dog-friendly turf, as well, with loads of agility-building obstacles to navigate. If you're in the Atlanta-area, it's worth taking the trip with your furry friends up to Johns Creek for this dog park.

5. New Orleans: NOLA City Bark

new orleans city park

Think the humans are the only folks who laissez les bon temps rouler in New Orleans? Hardly! And the dogs at NOLA City Bark don't even need a ball to do it.

This 4.6-acre park is a haven for canines in need of social time and exercise with lots of room to roam. Lots of fresh water and washing stations to get Rover clean before packing him into the car make this expansive space a favorite for Crescent City dog lovers, who also love to socialize while keeping one eye on their pets for safety.

6. Cincinnati: Washington Park Dog Park

The creek at this expansive dog park within a park allows for water play without getting too messy and boulders amid the landscaping are fun for hiding treats and make for interesting maneuvering.

Meanwhile, the whole park is lined with benches, so Cincinnati dog owners can keep good watch while dogs get their networking done.

Bonus: Synthetic turf helps keep this 12,000-square-foot park super clean (responsible owners, of course, are expected to do their part, as well!)

7. Dunedin, FL: Honeymoon Island Dog Beach

Honeymoon Island Florida

Honeymoon Island State Park is a favorite for residents of the westernmost Tampa Bay area (Clearwater, in particular) and one of the relatively few dog-friendly beaches in the Sunshine State.

While most of the park and its sugary beaches are off-limits for pets, one strand has been given over to canines and their sun- and surf-loving humans. This is NOT an off-leash park – dogs need to stay tethered but are free to enjoy the water and sand.

There's plenty of room to walk and dog-waste stations on the dune trail out to the beach. Watch for sand spurs, however, as you make your way out! A dog-wash location at the entrance and exit means you don't have to take the entire beach home with you after your visit.

8. Houston: Johnny Steele Dog Park

Located inside Buffalo Bayou Park, this two-acre playground for pups is super popular with Houston residents and it's easy to see why. A pond, drinking fountains (for dogs and people), a dog-washing station and shady areas to rest after time in the hot, Texas sun are phenomenal amenities for urban dogs on the go.

Post-Hurricane Harvey improvements here (will) include a new entry for small dogs, a new pond retaining wall with seating and more!

9. Troutdale, OR: Sandy River Delta

Troutdale Oregon

Locals love taking their pups to the Sandy River Delta's “1,000-acre Dog Park," which isn't off-leash everywhere but has loads of space where you can let your dog run to his or her heart's content. Take care to note which areas are designated leash-optional and please, for the love of all things, pick up after your pup!

There are miles of off-leash trails to explore, even some right along the beautiful Columbia River, that dogs here love to enjoy. There are no fences, so if you're confident your dog will stick close as you wander, this Troutdale gem is a magnificent option for true outdoor exploration with your furry best friend.

10. Omaha, NE: Nebraska Canine Commons

Planning is now underway for what its proponents say will be one of the world's largest indoor dog parks. With a price tag of $16 million, Nebraska Canine Commons will be an indoor, off-leash complex with an exterior mezzanine of dog-friendly space to total some 70,000+ square feet! That's roaming space equivalent to 1.2 NFL football fields!

Plans include a dedicated staff to help keep watch over the action and ensure fun and safety for all, space for all kinds of training and more. If planners are able to get funding – this membership-based, nonprofit facility has plans for a 2019 groundbreaking and 2020 opening.

Keep your eye on it, Omaha dog lovers!

Banner Photo by Ben Konfrst on Unsplash



About The Author

A.D. Thompson

A.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.