things to do with a dog in Washington, DC

Top 25 Things to Do with a Dog in Washington DC & Beyond

September 7, 2017 | Inside Alexandria | By: The Goodhart Group

Top 25 Things to Do with a Dog in Washington DC & Beyond

Need ideas for things to do with a dog in Washington DC? Read on for Sales Agent Janel Voth’s Top 25 Things to Do with a Dog in Washington DC…and beyond!

The greater Washington, DC area is a great place to live with a dog. My wife, Kat, and I love living here, there is always so much to do, places to go, people to see. We currently try to bring our family, two French Bulldogs named Periwinkle and Sophie, with us whenever we can. In celebration of The Goodhart Group’s 25th anniversary, we have decided to share our 25 favorite things to do with a dog in Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland. Follow us at #goperiwinklego and #goodhart25 to see our complete adventure.

Ride a Bike

Living in Alexandria is a cyclist paradise. With its charming neighborhoods and winding trails, it is easy to throw on some spandex, hitch up the bike trailer, and plan an adventure everyone can enjoy. Alexandria marks the halfway point on the Mount Vernon Trail, this 18-mile walking/running/biking path takes you from Rosslyn to George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon. As you ride alongside the stunning Potomac River, you’ll pass views of the national monuments, Arlington Cemetery, parks, Old Town Alexandria and George Washington’s waterfront estate. We like to stop in to VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray for a tune up and a treat before our rides. For information about group rides, events and Bike to Work Day check out the Washington Area Bicyclist Association Facebook page.


Alexandria has some great opportunities for dogs (and their human companions) to swim. Annually, to close the summer pool season Alexandria Parks and Recreation hosts “Alexandria Dog Swim” day where the pool is open to all registered, well-behaved dog swimmers. This year most pools are open until mid-September (to register, visit the Alexandria Parks and Recreation site). For almost year round swimming opportunities, we frequent the Shirlington Dog Park or the Glencarlyn Park in Arlington.


One of our family’s favorite events is the Del Ray Halloween Parade. You will not want to miss this annual event where over 7,500 participants gather on Mt. Vernon Avenue to watch the parade featuring pets, kids, and some of the most elaborately decorated strollers you have ever seen. In Old Town we enjoy Doggy Trick or Treat on King Street, and Doggy Howl-o-ween Costume Contest at Jackson 20. The finale of the Doggy Yappy Hour series, the contest benefits the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

Shop Local – Old Town Alexandria

Sophie and Periwinkle LOVE walking on King Street in Old Town where they enjoy a plethora of dog friendly shops, water stops, and treat stations. They drag is to the Enchanted Florist on South Fairfax Street, to find free dog biscuits tucked into a stylized birdhouse called the Bone Box and every trip warrants a stop at The Dog Park to try on the finest of apparel. No walk is complete without a stop at Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato for lactose free Dog Gelato and locally made frozen treats for us too.

Shop Local – Del Ray

We often walk to Del Ray, which is one of the area’s most dog-friendly neighborhoods. It shows at places like The Dairy Godmother, which offers “puppy pops” in pumpkin and banana flavors, as well as “squirrels,” a baked dog treat and Natures Nibbles who has a wide variety of all natural treats and food. We often stop and have dinner at Pork Barrel BBQ on Mount Vernon Avenue, where dogs are welcome on the porch (it’s right next to the Dairy Godmother).


Several times a year the Washington Nationals (“GO NATS!”) host Pups in the Park, where you and your four-legged friend get your own seats together in the outfield reserved section. Proceeds from the game support the Washington Humane Society.


One of the great things about the Metro DC area is its close proximity to the George Washington and Shenandoah National Forest. We enjoy getting in the car and heading to the forest for a day hike, backpacking or camping. On days where we just want a good hike, but not as far a drive Great Falls National Park or Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax are great alternatives.


Our girls love the water. For those of you without a seaworthy vessel of your own, we recommend the Potomac Riverboat Company’s Canine Cruise touring the Alexandria Seaport.


We love Virginia wine and when you can bring your best friend along, it’s even better. Just a short drive from Washington, D.C. are Three Fox Vineyards, Barrel Oak Winery, and 8 Chains North, all of which are dog-friendly.


We feel privileged to live near our Nation’s Capital. There is so much to do and so much to see. One of our favorite things to do do in the fall is to leash up the girls and take a walking tour of the monuments. Most of the monuments are dog-friendly; for more information visit the National Park Service website.


The opportunities for indoor play in the DC area are abundant. We often head out to join our cousins in the DMV (dc/md/va) French Bulldog Meetup Group for play time at Frolick Dogs in Alexandria or partake in one of many Pups and Pints events in DC.


The Olde Towne School for Dogs has been an Alexandria fixture for over 40 years, providing a doggy day care, large pet supply store, grooming services and more. Many of our friends are graduates, we like to stop in for treats on our walks and pointers and tricks from the friendly staff.

Visit the Vet

I know going to the vet should not be on the top 25 things for a dog to do but Sophie and Periwinkle LOVE going to our vet. The Dr. Lewis and her staff at VCA Old Town Animal Hospital make it a must visit. Our girls literally pull us in the door every time we walk past! Once inside, they are showered with love and treats, which makes actual visits to the vet much easier.


The Metro DC area is abundantly dog friendly – so dog friendly there are over 100 off leash dog parks. Some of our favorites are S Street and Shaw Dog Parks in DC, Founders Park in Old Town, and Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Del Ray.

Get Presidential

George Washington’s Mount Vernon is located about 15 miles south of Washington DC along the banks of the Potomac River and it is a great place to bring your dog. The historic estate includes not only the Mount Vernon Mansion – George and Martha Washington’s home – but also a host of colonial-era buildings, beautiful gardens, a working distillery and gristmill, and a museum. Note, dogs must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in the museum or the historic home.


Escape the bustle of the city and enjoy the sights of the Potomac as you paddle past Old Town Alexandria, the Georgetown Waterfront, Roosevelt Island, and some of DC’s most stunning monuments. Our girls love to get out on the water and there are several places to rent Kayaks and Paddle Boards to include Key Bridge Boathouse and Belle Haven Marina. If you own your own gear, launching at Washington Sailing Marina on Daingerfield Island.


Explore 35 acres of off leash freedom at Congressional Cemetery. This historic yet active burial ground located on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC is one of the best places to allow your dog to run off leash in the Metro DC area. Initially known as the Washington Parish Burial Ground, Congressional became the first truly national burial ground as Congress bought sites, buried noted civil servants, and funded the infrastructure.

Drink Beer

Our community boast over 15 dog-friendly breweries. Some of our favorites include Bluejacket, Atlas Brew Works, and Bardo Brewing in DC which even has a dog mascot, Bardawg (with his own Twitter account). Dogs are welcome on all 15,000 square feet of the outdoor area and permitted to roam off-leash. There’s also corn hole and other activities for the human visitors. Just across the bridge in Maryland Jailbreak Brewing Company in Laurel and Vanish in Leesburg, VA both encourage you to bring your best friend.


Built to defend the river approach to Washington, DC, Fort Washington has stood as silent sentry for over 200 years. Located 12 miles south of Washington DC in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Fort Washington offers a range of experiences for every visitor. Experience history as you explore the coastal fortifications and historic lighthouse. Fort Washington is open year round from 8 a.m. to sunset.


 things to do with a dog in Washington DC

Located about 15 miles North of Washington, DC, Great Falls Park has many opportunities to explore history and nature, all in a beautiful 800-acre park which has fifteen miles of hiking trails. Take note that there are two (2) national parks in the area of Great FallsGreat Falls Park on the Virginia Side, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park on the Maryland side.

Dine Alexandria

Old Town Alexandria is a foodies paradise! There are too many restaurants with dog-friendly patios in Old Town Alexandria to list so I will share a few of our favorites: Haute Dog and Fries, Lost Dog Cafe Alexandria, and Virtue Feed & Grain, which even features a dog menu.

Dine DC

In DC, Art and Soul not only has a dog-friendly patio. It has an entire “pooch patio” menu, with selections like “Bowser Beer” (it’s non-alcoholic) and peanut banana “pupsicles” for canine visitors.

Dine Del Ray

Our favorite dog-friendly dining spot in Del Ray is Pork Barrel BBQ, where dogs are allowed on the front patio. For breakfast, we often hit Stomping Ground or Swings Coffee.


Our Frenchies are social butterflies and they love to go to happy hour. Fortunately for them, Jackson 20 on King Street hosts a special “yappy hour” just for them every Tuesday from 5-8 PM on its back patio during the summer months.


Waterfront fun is a summer mainstay in Old Town Alexandria, located on the Potomac River just minutes from Washington, D.C. From riverside dining to boat cruises, waterfront parks, festivals and more, you can spend an entire day (or more!) on Alexandria’s waterfront. Whether you want to set sail on a boat cruise, dine outside with waterfront views, take the dog along Alexandria is filled with endless options for everyone.

There you have it – Janel’s top 25 things to do with a dog in Washington DC…and beyond! Did we miss your dog’s favorite DC area pastime? Drop us a line to let us know so we can check it out!

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