21 of the best dog parks, hikes, and beaches in the Philly area
Where can you take your dog for a good time without traveling too far? Here are the best options in the city, the ’burbs, and New Jersey.
If your usual dog walk around the neighborhood is getting boring for you, imagine how your dog feels. After all, just like we need to get out and switch things up, like take in some nature or even just grab a beer, our pets need a break, too.
And here in the Philadelphia area, luckily, we have quite a few options.
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From dog parks and hiking trails to more offbeat options, there’s no shortage of places to take our pups for a nice day out — whether you’re feeling rugged and outdoorsy, or more metropolitan. In a place like Philly, that’s good news, considering there were an estimated 350,000 dogs in the city alone as of 2015.
So, where can you take your dog for a good time without traveling too far? Here are a few good options in the city, the burbs, and New Jersey:
Philly has tons of off-leash dog parks to choose from, but the Schuylkill River Park Dog Run is among the most beloved and beautiful. Located on the east side of the Schuylkill in Center City, the park has separate areas for small and large dogs, and is fitted with an AstroTurf-style surface to keep your pup’s paws safe and clean. Plus, there’s plenty of room to play fetch, and it has amenities like drinking water, some shade trees, and, for hot days, kiddie pools. It’s a popular park that can get crowded, and it’s next to train tracks, so make sure your pup is comfortable with lots of stimulation.
This off-leash hidden gem sits tucked away in Northern Liberties and is a must-visit for Philly dog owners. You do have to jump through a few hoops before going, such as filling out a registration form for your dog and going through a brief orientation, but the effort is worth it. Here, you’ll find a spacious plot of wood-chip-covered, fenced-in land for pups to get out their zoomies, socialize, and relax. There is also plenty of shade, and it has human-focused amenities like benches and picnic tables, so you can take a load off, too.
While this Spruce Hill park technically doesn’t have a dog park, it is something of an unofficial doggie destination for pup parents in West Philly. An area of the park known as “the bowl” (or sometimes the “dog bowl”) is a popular play area for dogs and their owners. You may see dogs running around off leash there, but it should be noted that dogs need to be leashed in public spaces per Philadelphia law — and the bowl area of the park, which is located near a playground, is not fenced in. So, if you go, remember to have your dog leashed and be safe and respectful.
At about 1,800 acres, the Wissahickon is enormous, and just about everywhere in it is a great place to explore on a hike with outdoorsy pups. (Please note, though: Dogs must be leashed at all times.) A favorite among dog owners is the Forbidden Drive Trail, which follows the Wissahickon Creek via a flat, gravel-covered path throughout the length of the park. But if you’re looking for something a little more challenging, you can head up into the park’s more wooded areas for more than 50 miles of trails — but come energized, as some trails can get pretty steep.
Sports fans probably know FDR Park best for being a tailgating locale — but it also happens to be a great, low-impact on-leash hiking spot for South Philly dog owners and their pups. At about 348 acres, there’s plenty to explore, but good options include a nice, scenic stroll around the park’s main lake or a walk through the South Philly Meadow trails. Plus, it’s known as an Important Bird Area that’s home to lots of wildlife for you and your dog to check out.
If your dog loves a good swim, check out the swimming pool at Philadelphia Animal Hospital. Filled with pet-friendly saline, it varies in depth from 3.5 feet to 6.5 feet and can be reserved for private recreational, therapeutic, or rehabilitative use. Sessions are an hour each and run $35/hour — but if your pup isn’t already a patient, you’ll have to schedule a one-time examination for an extra fee and provide vaccination records. And yes, you can also swim with your dog in the pool, and it’s open year-round.
Seger Dog Park has a proud reputation as being the cleanest dog park in Philly — a status that’s particularly impressive because the park is 100% volunteer run. The park is open to the public, but the nonprofit organization Seger Park Dog Owner’s Association relies on recommended donations (“memberships”) to keep things looking their best. The off-leash park is fenced in with several benches and low walls for sitting, and was converted from woodchips to synthetic turf in May 2021. Nearby trees make it easy to find a shady spot on hot summer days. Check out the Facebook page to learn about community events throughout the year such as Woofstock (a series of nights with live music) Howl-oween and pictures with Santa Paws.
This Fishtown dog park is another public neighborhood spot that’s maintained by hard-working volunteers who not only keep it clean but also organize fun events including monthly community meetings, puppy pool parties, holiday photo contests, and more. The park itself is mostly dirt and stone and while spacious, it is one single enclosure. (Something to keep in mind if you have dogs that don’t do well with mixed sizes.)
Sip a cold one while your canine companion plays nearby at this dog park/beer garden hybrid. Craft Hall’s Bark & Beer offers 2,000 square feet of turf for dogs to frolic unleashed and over 40 seats for their owners. Order from a menu of breed themed cocktails and beers to have delivered to you at the park and you can even treat your dog to a Dogua Fresca. The doggie “cocktail” comes in several flavors and is made with fresh fruit or vegetables and blended with coconut water until smooth. If you want to order from the full drink and food menu, visit the Puppy Porch just across the street for dog-friendly dining.
A newer addition to Philadelphia, Lanier Dog Park has been in the Grays Ferry neighborhood since 2018 as a dog recreation space and later expanded to a community group called the Lanier Dog Park Owner’s Association. Enjoy some off-leash time with your doggos in a safe and clean environment with other neighbors of Southwest Philly, plus Grays Ferry Coffee is a half-block away to sip coffee while watching your furry friends. Lanier Dog Park also hosts family-friendly events like Yappy Hour, Howl-o-ween, annual Phillies Game and Santa Paws. People visiting the dog park are encouraged to buy a membership for $50 ($25 for students and seniors) annually to help fund the operations of the park, as it’s volunteer-run.
Technically, a “dog run,” this smaller fenced in park for off-leash dog play is perfect for people in Center City without access to dog recreation areas. It’s a long rectangular shaped park that allows dogs to get their sprinting in and interact with other furry friends. While open to the public, buying a membership is highly encouraged as those annual dues help the park stay operating and improve its features. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Philly dog park without fun events of its own like Howliday Parties and educational workshops.
This Delaware County park stands at 2,600 acres and has about 13 miles of hiking trails to help tire out your pup (and you, if you’re not careful). Dogs must be leashed at all times, so your furry friend won’t be running wild, but don’t worry — there’s more than enough to keep their interest. The White to Yellow Trail Loop is a popular one among dog owners, and features tons of scenic forest views, lots of wildlife, and some spots where dogs can dip their paws into a creek across its 5-mile run. It can get strenuous, so bring some water and snacks for the both of you.
This bucolic Chester County spot is pet-friendly, so long as you keep your dog on a leash, pick up after it, and stick to designated trails to help protect plants and wildlife (it is a nature preserve, after all). Following those ground rules, you can enjoy breathtaking views on some nine miles of hiking trails across 571 rolling acres of woodlands, meadows, and wetlands. For a longer, slightly more challenging hike, check out the red loop trail (4.1 miles), or keep it short and easy on the purple (0.8 of a mile) or green loop trails (2.2 miles).
If you’re all hiked and dog-parked out, the Elmwood Park Zoo is offering something completely different with their Dog Days, Yappy Hours and special events like Howl-oween. During select days and hours, you can take your dog on a trip to the zoo to check out the animals on select days and hours, or have a drink in the Zoo Brew Beer Garden. To participate, you’ll need to complete an online application, provide vaccination records, and have a copy of your most recent vet visit records. You’ll also need to bring these documents with you on the day you visit the zoo. When you’re approved, you’ll be able to buy a pass ($9.95 to $10.95 per dog, depending on your membership) for your furry friend for a particularly unique day out (seriously, it’s the first dog-friendly zoo in the country).
Back in 2012, this park’s namesake pup, Beau (and his mom, Angela), won a Beneful Dream Dog Park contest, bringing some $500,000 in renovations to Buchanan Dog Park in Lancaster. With that, it became one of the coolest (and highest-rated) off-leash dog parks in the state, complete with splash pads, a tennis ball tree (with launcher), a dog tunnel, drinking fountains, and separate areas for small and large dogs. If all dogs go to heaven, it probably looks a lot like this.
Take a long (leashed) walk with your dog on the 3.3-mile loop trail, and then let them loose to play. Falls Township Dog Park is an off-leash dog park located within Falls Township Community Park. The dog park has two grassy, fenced spaces to keep the small and large breeds separated. It’s located next to a large lake, so the view is great and pups can cool off in the water on hotter days. In addition to the dog park and walking trail, the community park is home to basketball nets, a skate park, boat rentals, picnic tables, and two playgrounds. (Note that according to the posted rules, children under the ages of 12 are not permitted in the dog park.)
This one-acre gathering space for dogs and their humans is divided into an all-dog area and another for dogs under 25 pounds. The woodchip-covered park always has a variety of toys to encourage puppy play, including toddler-sized slides and ramps. Grab a seat under the shaded pavilion or at one of the benches or picnic tables while the dogs run and play. Bark Park is free and open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
Bark Park is a fenced in, off-leash dog park located within Warminster Township Community Park. The park itself has over five miles of walking trails, so you can take a walk and then let your pooch play in one of two fenced in areas depending on the size of your dog. Two playground areas, ball fields, basketball nets, and the popular Safety Town (a miniature town for little bike riders) are all nearby. To access Bark Park, you’ll need to complete an application form with license and vaccination info, participate in a free Bark Park workshop, and pay an annual access fee ($25 for township residents, $35 for non-residents).
In New Jersey
Just over the bridge in Blackwood, this Jersey park has plenty of room to explore on leash with your pup — but the real draw is the nine fenced-in acres in the woods where dogs can run off leash to their heart’s content. That’s a huge amount of space, so keep an eye on your dog and make sure they respond to commands to stay nearby (and for extra insurance, consider getting a pet tracker or GPS dog collar). As a bonus, there’s a small lake outside the dog park area that is commonly used for swimming during hot days, but technically your dog should be leashed while there.
This Medford park has received plenty of kudos over the years, including being named the No. 1 spot on Rover’s list of Jersey dog parks and getting a nod from USA Today as one of the top 10 dog parks in the country. The park has 26 acres of open fields to explore, creeks to swim in, and nature to take in. There are even two fenced-in off-leash areas for small and large dogs, each 30 yards by 100 yards, and each complete with agility equipment to train (and tire out) your pup.
Known variously as Longport Dog Beach, Malibu Beach, or simply Dog Beach, this spot is exactly what it sounds like — a (somewhat unofficial) beach just for dogs and their owners. Located at the Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area, this is a no-frills spot — as in, no public bathrooms, no water fountains, and no provided poop bags. But the main draws — the sand and surf — are available and accessible for your pup. Be warned, though: Parking gets tough because it’s a popular spot, and you could be ticketed or your car could be towed if you park in unauthorized areas.
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