Many of us are about to hit the road for summer vacation. While you’re busy planning the sights to see around the country, we have a handful more to add to your list: dog parks that offer just a few more treats than you’d expect.
Of course, cleanliness, safety and a good crowd can be some of the most important features at any dog park. But you might not have heard about the parks for pooches that have popped up in recent years that feature water fun, agility courses — and even some art for the happy hounds’ human companions.
From Massachusetts to California and lots of places in between, check out our list of 10 cool dog parks. You might discover a new off-leash oasis to visit with your best friend.
But remember: if you’re planning to hit the road to visit one of these parks in another area, check with your vet to see if your dog needs any vaccinations or parasite-control products to address the potential risks in the region. Also, some of the following parks agility courses and swimming, so don’t hesitate to ask your vet whether your dog is physically fit enough for those activities (as well as the rigors of dog parks in general). There may be certain precautions you should take for a safe but fun visit.
Bear Creek Dog Park, Colorado
Dogs in Colorado Springs, Colorado,
have a 25-acre playground to themselves. The natural environment includes cooling
pools, sunflower-lined trails and challenging agility obstacle courses for
canine visitors to indulge in. With 100,000 visitors a year, Bear Creek is the most heavily used
park in the El Paso County park system.
Beau’s Dream Dog Park, Pennsylvania
Built in 2013 after Beau and his owner, Angela, won a $500,000 dog
park makeover from Beneful, Beau’s
Dream in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, features something to bark about in both
the small and large dog areas. Both spaces include splash pads for the pooches
to cool off in. In addition, the small dog area has an adorable Dachshund-shaped
tunnel, and the large dog area has a truly dream-worthy tennis ball tree that
launches balls for the dogs to chase (although, remember, a tennis ball is a toy that requires supervision).
Buffalo Bayou Dog Park, Texas
Houston, Texas, is packed with dog
parks that make the city a puppy paradise. Among them is Buffalo Bayou, which was
renovated last year. It features large and small dog ponds, washing stations
and drinking fountains — plus, structures to provide relief from the hot
southern sun and seating areas for the dogs’ people.
Bentonville Bark Park, Arkansas
If your pooch is ready for playtime —
and to show off her agility skills — the Bark Park in Bentonville,
Arkansas, is the place for you. The 1.3-acre park began as a Girl Scout
project, and the whole community got involved. The park’s new Thursday Yappy
Hour draws 150 to 200 pups a week. The event includes live music and free
treats for the dogs — not to mention complimentary iced tea and ice cream for
Willow Creek Dog Park, Arizona
You’ll find another of Beneful’s four
dream parks in Prescott, Arizona. This one features an adorable fire station
theme, complete with a red fire truck play area, tunnels shaped like a fire
hose and a covered firehouse lounge area with tables for dog owners to kick
back. In addition to Willow Creek and Beau’s
Dream, the company has done makeovers on parks in Georgia and Alabama.
Pilgrim Bark Park, Massachusetts
Located in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the
Pilgrim Bark Park offers fun for
the dogs — and an inspirational space for the people, too. The park was built
in 2008 to reflect the town’s love of the arts, and local artists have contributed to the
design and nautical theme. You’re greeted by an entry with silhouettes of a
variety of dogs in all shapes and sizes, and once inside, you’ll find cute doghouses
and even a dog boat, a bronze whale’s tale sculpture and a sculpture of a
Native American fishing net that offers shade.
Dog Wood Park, Florida
If you’re headed to Florida, you might
want to stop by Jacksonville’s Dog Wood Park, where you’ll
find a whopping 42-acre swim and play park. The park has jogging and walking
trails, swimming areas (including the 2-acre Lake Bow Wow and the smaller Lake
Fifi for little dogs), wide-open fields for tossing a ball or Frisbee, tunnels
for the dogs to run through and even a dog shower to rinse off those muddy
Magnuson Dog Park, Washington
Located on Lake Washington in Seattle,
the 9-acre Magnuson Dog Park is the only dog
park within the city limits with water access. It includes a large play area
as well as several smaller ones along a winding trail where you can walk or run
to get a workout of your own.
Shaggy Pines Dog Park, Michigan
This private doggie “heaven on earth”
spans 20 acres in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area. Shaggy Pines has a dog swimming pond —
but it also includes two large “dry” dog areas if you’re not up for having a
wet pup. The trails are lit for evening use (and plowed in the winter), and visitors can enjoy “Doggy Mountain,” which is a big sand pile for digging and
climbing. As for the humans, a deck overlooking a pond has lounge chairs and
music for a little relaxation time.
Point Isabel, California
With a picturesque view of the Golden
Gate Bridge, Point Isabel Regional Shoreline is a
23-acre dog park in Richmond, California. More than 1 million people visit the
multi-use park each year — most of them with their canine companions. Even dog
lovers who don’t have a dog of their own come to see the pups romp and play in
the scenic park. Point Isabel also features the Sit & Stay Café, which
offers treats for both you and your dog.