Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Washington DC

Fala, the first dog of our 32nd president, has his own memorial. Explore Washington, D.C. with your own pup.
Fala, the first dog of our 32nd president, has his own memorial. Explore Washington, D.C. with your own pup. | © Ken Lund / Flickr
Photo of Nick Dauk
24 May 2021

From watching a game with your pooch at the Nationals Park to enjoying a puppy popsicle at the Dairy Godmother, Washington DC ranks highly as one of the most dog-friendly cities in America.

Taking a trip with friends is the best. Taking a trip with man’s best friend? Even better. While traveling with dogs can be challenging in many cities, Washington DC is incredibly dog-friendly; there’s a number of off-leash parks, inclusive beer gardens and waterfront activities to try. So, jump in the car with Fido, and come explore the nation’s capital.

Drink a brew at Dacha Beer Garden

Bar, American, $$$
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Dacha Beer Garden for Weekend section
© The Washington Post / Getty
Spend a relaxing day down by the riverside with Rover at Dacha Beer Garden. The Navy Yard location down by Nationals Park has a dog-friendly beer garden, perfect for long summer days. Once you’ve had a few brews, stroll next door to Ballpark Dog Park for a little fun. If you’ve both got a little energy (or a buzz) to burn, take a long walk on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, and hit the Yards Park Dog Park for a few more off-leash laps.

Take your pup to see a Nationals game

Park
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An usher cleans seats before the start of a Washington Nationals baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. T9TKF7
© Tim Brown / Alamy

A large park, dozens of balls and all the scraps of popcorn, hot dogs and Cracker Jack – if that doesn’t sound like a dream date for your dog, then we don’t know what will. Pups in the Park brings DC’s doggies into Nationals Park to catch a game (and maybe a pop fly). A pet-friendly section in the outfield clearly becomes the best seats in the house; we have a feeling the felines from Detroit will get barked right out of the park.

Stroll down the National Mall

Building, Park
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Korean War Veterans Memorial located in National Mall. WWR9PX
© AlexCorv / Alamy
Watch your dog’s tail wag uncontrollably when they see just how big the National Mall park is. Whether it’s your first time in the nation’s capital, or if you’ve been coming here for what feels like four score and seven years, there’s a good chance you’ll discover something new. Spot the differences between The Arts of War and The Arts of Peace sculptures, and admire the beautiful bloom in the German-American Friendship Garden with your dog.

Drift along the Potomac River from the Key Bridge Boathouse

Park
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Rowing Potomac River Key Bridge Georgetown University Washington DC
© Wiliam Perry / Alamy
Rent a kayak or canoe, and hop on a tour around Roosevelt Island. As you drift downstream from the Key Bridge Boathouse, you’ll spot a number of monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial, which looks just as impressive from afar. Need one more reason to rent a boat with your frenchie? They’ll look too adorable for words in a doggie lifejacket.

Get your pooch down to Frolick Dogs

Dog Park
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At Frolick Dogs, every day is leg day. This innovative daycare center is your doggie destination for obedience training, wellness programs, fitness classes and general exercise. Let go of the leash for a while, and let your pooch spend the day frolicking with other DC-area dogs. Only a 20-minute ride from downtown DC to Alexandria, Frolick Dogs is a safe and secure place to board your dog for the afternoon while you work or sightsee.

Go wine tasting at 8 Chains North Winery

Wine Seller, Contemporary, $$$
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Cross over the Virginia state line, and you’ll find a winery rarity: a dog-friendly indoor tasting room at 8 Chains North Winery. Though pooches must remain on-leash when you’re sipping vino, they’ll have ample room to run freely in the large fenced dog park on site. 8 Chains North is owned and operated by the grower and winemaker; trust us, you’ll be able to taste such commitment and quality in every glass.

Let them off-leash at S Street Dog Park

Dog Park
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Washington DC, District of Columbia, Dupont Circle, park, adult adults man men male, woman women female lady, dog, pet, walking, leash, trees, sightse
© Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 6+ / Alamy

You certainly have your pick of parks around Washington. S Street Dog Park is a fantastic place to play near Dupont Circle. This popular 7,500sqft (697sqm), off-leash park draws dozens of friendly dogs and their owners throughout the day. It’s in an excellent location if you’re having lunch downtown, especially with Walter Pierce Dog Park only two blocks west. Make a point to top at Doggy Style Bakery, Boutique and Pet Spa to grab your good pup a treat.

Run free through Congressional Cemetery

Cemetery, Memorial
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Grave in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC, a National Historic Landmark. Elizabeth (left) and Mary Ann Hall (right)
© CNP Collection / Alamy
The final resting place of centuries of Washingtonians is perhaps one of the most unique and exclusive parks for walking your dog in DC. This 35-acre (14ha) area is completely fenced-in, so your dog is permitted to walk off-leash. You will need a membership to access the park, which can be purchased online, but be aware that membership is limited. Thankfully, you can join a waitlist to potentially gain access throughout the year. Not only does your membership fee help fund the upkeep of the cemetery, but you may also stumble upon awesome activities like springtime Yappy Hour.

Treat your pet at the Dairy Godmother

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream
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The Dairy Godmother is about to make you and your pup’s sweetest dreams come true. Sorbets, exotic marshmallows and a giant scoop of nostalgia are all on the menu. Fido can chow down on a Puppy Pop, made with yogurt and peanut butter, or munch on a baked “Squirrel”, concocted entirely from all-natural ingredients. Be sure to check their Flavor Forecast online to see a calendar view of which special custard will join the daily vanilla and chocolate options.

Enjoy special treatment at Wunder Garten

Bar, Market, American, $$$
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Beer in the park with your furry best friend sounds wunderful, doesn’t it? The Wunder Garten, just a few blocks north of Union Station, always has good times on tap. Pale ales from Virginia clank against lagers from Munich. Your pup won’t feel left out when they tag along; they’ll get a handful of treats and a little socializing, while Wunder Garten throws you a bone and knocks a few bucks off of your tab.
These recommendations were updated on May 24, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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