9 Dog Parks Where Your Pup Can Run Off-Leash

There’s a park for every good boy and girl in Arlington. 🐕🐩
Benjamin Banneker Park

Yogi is a little skeptical of the play area (and the snow) at the newly renovated Benjamin Banneker dog park, one of Arlington’s dog parks. (Photo by Bette Canter)

If your furry friend needs to burn off some restless energy, or you want to help your dog socialize with other neighborhood pups, what better way to do so than by going to a dog park? Luckily, Arlington County has nine county-sanctioned, off-leash dog parks currently open where your canine can chase tennis balls, sniff other dog butts and roll around in the dirt.

It’s important to keep a few things in mind before taking your dog on the park adventure of his or her dreams. Arlington County has rules and regulations to be followed in all dog parks. But don’t fret, it’s nothing dog owners haven’t seen before—make sure your dog is licensed with the county and vaccinated; don’t lose sight of your pooch in the park; pick up and throw away Fido’s poop (most parks have designated trash cans for this); don’t bring in more than three dogs per human; dogs must be four months or older; remove your dog if he or she becomes aggressive, etc.

Arlington County’s dog parks are open from sunrise until a half an hour after sunset, unless the park has lights.

Additionally, don’t forget to consider the weather! If it’s warm outside, be sure to bring water and a bowl for your dog to have a drink; many parks have water fountains and bowls, but not all. If it’s rainy or cold, make sure your dog has a jacket or sweater, if needed. And if there’s ice on the ground, consider booties or a balm on your dog’s paws.

Here’s our breakdown of the nine Arlington dog parks, with some help from my pup Yogi, who you will see featured in some of the photos.

Benjamin Banneker dog park

The snow-covered dog play area at Benjamin Banneker Dog Park. (Photo by Bette Canter)

Benjamin Banneker Dog Park

Located on the border of Arlington and Falls Church, this newly renovated dog park stands out because of the dog play area; a number of cement obstacles—tubes, platforms and the like for your dog to climb and jump on—sit on a patch of artificial turf, covering about a quarter of the dog park. If you’re looking to improve your dog’s agility skills, this is an ideal place to do so! The rest of this fully fenced, medium-sized park has gravel-covered dirt. Additionally, there’s a separate small-dog run, with its own turf play section, and separate entrances for both areas. // 1680 N. Sycamore Street, Arlington (East Falls Church)

Fort Barnard dog park

One of two entrances to Fort Barnard dog park. (Photo by Bette Canter)

Fort Barnard Dog Park

Fort Barnard Dog Park is located right on Walter Reed Drive, and with no dedicated parking, you’ll need to park on the street and unload your pet as cars drive past. This fully fenced-in park is on the smaller side; however, it’s ideal if you are looking for a place where you can sit at one of many tables and benches and not lose track of your pup running around. Also, it doesn’t close until 9 p.m. // 2050 S. Walter Reed Drive, Arlington (Douglas Park)

Fort Ethan Allen Dog Park

A mural at the Fort Ethan Allen Dog Park. (Photo by Matt Blitz)

Fort Ethan Allen Dog Park

Fort Ethan Allen Dog Park is set up for both dogs and humans to have an enjoyable time. There’s plenty of space for dogs to run in this medium-sized, gravel-covered park, and trees provide needed shade on warm days. Additionally, humans can sit on one of many benches on a raised wooden platform while the dogs play, and there’s a small library, if you’re interested in grabbing a book (or donating some) to kill some time. If there’s no street parking available, check the Madison Community Center for spots. // 3829 N. Stafford St., Arlington (Rivercrest)

Gateway dog park

The entrance to Gateway Dog Park from inside the park. (Photo by Bette Canter)

Gateway Park

This dog park, which opened in 2021, is nothing fancy, but is one of the few dog parks in Rosslyn. The park has gravel-covered dirt, which is standard for dog parks in the area, and there are two separate fenced areas for big dogs and small dogs. There’s no designated parking, so plan to walk with your dog to this park. The lights stay on until 9 p.m., so if you get home from work late, you can still take your dog out for some fun (to show them just how sorry you are, of course). Plus, on clear days, you get a view of Georgetown and the Washington monument. // 1300 Langston Blvd., Arlington (Rosslyn)

Glencarlyn dog park

The off-leash area in Glencarlyn Park. (Photo by Bette Canter)

Glencarlyn Dog Park

The most important thing to know about the Glencarlyn Dog Park: The park is not fenced (the off-leash boundaries are marked by signs), so if your dog doesn’t have the best recall, you might spend more of your time stressing than relaxing if you come here.

However, if you and your pup are up for an adventure, then this is the place for you. The off-leash area is down in a ravine and next to a stream, creating some natural borders—and a place for your dog to cool off when it’s warm outside. The majority of the park is wooded with plenty of dirt, so be prepared to clean off your dog when you leave. There are a few parking spots next to the off-leash area, or you can walk down to that area (with your dog on a leash) from several different entrances. // 301 S. Harrison St., Arlington (Glencarlyn)

James Hunter Park

James Hunter Park. (Photo by Matt Blitz)

James Hunter Dog Park

This Clarendon dog park is best known for its big water feature, in which dogs can play (when it’s turned on, of course). However, the parking here can be a challenge—as in all of Clarendon—so plan to walk, if possible. This dog park is closed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. – noon for maintenance, and it closes at 9 p.m. nightly. // 1230 N. Hartford St., Arlington (Clarendon)

The entrance and exit areas at Shirlington Dog Park. (Photo by Keith Ford.)

Shirlington Dog Park

Shirlington Dog Park is one of the most popular dog parks in the area. I visited with Yogi on a cold, gray day, and found plenty of fellow visitors in spite of the weather. There is parking available, but you may need to get creative if the lot is full. The park itself a huge, narrow space—about a quarter mile long with varying widths—which means you may need to be prepared to run after your dog. There is also a separate fenced-in area for smaller dogs (25 pounds or smaller) near the entrance on Oakland Street. Additionally, there’s access to a nearby stream, but it’s not fenced in and not technically part of the dog park.

A unique, and possibly overlooked, feature of this dog park is the fact that there are separate fenced areas for arriving dogs and departing dogs. On busy days, you may encounter a slight backup while waiting for your turn to get into the fenced area to put your dog’s leash back on. But the dual staging areas help to prevent that bottleneck.

If you—humans, not dogs—are thirsty after your dog park visit, stop by New District Brewing, a dog-friendly brewery next to the park. // 2710 S. Oakland St., Arlington (Shirlington)

Towers arlington dog park

This platform is a fun challenge for dogs to run over—and a place for old tennis balls to hide. (Photo by Bette Canter)

Towers Park

This park, located off Columbia Pike, is tucked behind some tennis courts, next to the Columbia Crossing apartment complex and along the Fillmore Park bike path. There’s a parking lot for the park and the courts, but ongoing construction takes away a few of those spots. Dogs have plenty of space to run on the gravel-covered dirt, and smaller dogs have their own fenced space over by the entrance off the bike path. Similar to the Utah Dog Park (see below), this park has a strong neighborhood vibe; great if you live within walking distance, but not necessarily worth a drive. However, if you need a late-night dog run, this is the place for you, since it has lights and is open until 10 p.m. // 801 S. Scott St., Arlington (Columbia Pike)

Utah Dog Park

Utah Dog Park. (Photo by Matt Blitz)

Utah Dog Park

Utah Dog Park, located in Fairlington just off 395, has a strong neighborhood vibe. Located near a baseball field and an outdoor volleyball court, this park doesn’t have dedicated parking, but there’s plenty of street parking in the cul-de-sac next to it (though if there’s a baseball game going on, parking will be significantly more difficult). The park is fully fenced, and the gravel cover means your dog won’t get terribly dirty when playing around. There are water fountains and bowls for the dogs to rehydrate on warm days, in addition to a collection of bags to clean up after your dog. // 3191 S. Utah St., Arlington (Fairlington)

Related Stories:

Saying ‘I Love You’ With Wiener Dogs

Amid the Pandemic, an Uptick in Pet Adoptions

Categories: Pets