While many may imagine D.C. to be filled with tight security, restricted buildings and museums, it is actually quite the opposite! Washington, D.C. happens to be one of the most dog friendly cities we have ever visited. It had been on our “bucket list” for a while and we decided to visit this spring just in time for the cherry blossom festival. Here are my top 5 suggestions when visiting the DC area with your pooch.
1. Take A Walk Around the Basin
Our first stop in D.C. was The Tidal Basin, a partially man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel in Washington, D.C. and the focal point of the National Cherry Blossom Festival held each spring from March through April. Dogs are welcome to walk around the entire perimeter of the tidal basin while taking in the exquisite views of the cherry blossom trees, presidential memorials and the water. Each spring, there is also a festival centered around the cherry blossoms with outdoor music, food vendors and other activities. Dogs are always allowed on the National Mall and all Memorial Parks but must be on a leash at all times.
2. Spend the Day in Georgetown!
Georgetown is a beautiful neighborhood of Washington, D.C. with so much to offer, especially when it comes to dog friendly attractions and restaurants. This town is a great place to grab lunch, shop, walk around and take in the sights.Walk along The Georgetown Waterfront and grab lunch or dinner at any of the outdoor waterfront restaurants. Insider Tip: this is an ideal place to see a beautiful sunset!
For dessert, get your hands on a Baked and Wired cupcake, officially known as the best cupcakes in DC. They have plenty of outdoor tables to enjoy a treat with your pet.
If you’re only in Georgetown for a short time period, be sure to make a stop at the Peacock Café . A beautiful restaurant right in the center of town offering delicious brunch, lunch and cocktails. Take a break from shopping and enjoy dining here. They have their own dog bowls and treats!
3. Explore The Outskirts of D.C.
Within 20 minutes of The District, you will find Shirlington Dog Park in Arlington, VA. This mile-long dog park also functions as a great walking trail. BONUS: it’s all fenced in! Throughout the park, there are gates that open to a stream that runs alongside the park. Dogs are welcome to swim and play in the water (at your own risk as this particular portion is NOT fenced in).
Insider tip: Park your car by The Muddy Mutt, a self-dog washing station where you can pay to shampoo, bathe and blow-dry your dog. Trust me, you’ll need it after playing there for a while!
4. Take a Hike on The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Trail
Get ready for 184.5 miles of adventure! This flat trail runs directly alongside the C&O Canal and Potomac River from Georgetown, D.C. all the way to Ohio. My suggestion: drive to the Great Falls Park Visitor Center (only 20 min outside of D.C.), park your car for $5 and head South along the canal for 2-3 miles. Dogs are allowed everywhere on the trail (on leash) and inside the park except the paved trail to the waterfall lookout.
If you are traveling with more than one person, you can take turns visiting the falls while someone stays behind with your pup. It only takes a few minutes to walk to the lookout, and it’s definitely a site to see! After you hike a few miles South, you will get to a large parking lot with a restaurant at the top called Old Angler’s Inn (Potomac, MD) that has plenty of outdoor seating for you and the pups. Even in the cold, they have plenty of heat lamps. They also don’t mind that you are casually dressed from a hike.
5. Coffee Break
Our last stop before heading home was Northside Social in Arlington, VA. This adorable coffeeshop is set on a corner right in the heart of Arlington with plenty of outdoor tables. (They also did not seem to mind people coming inside with their dogs to order). We loved this local coffee shop because they bake all of their delicious pastries in house! Don’t miss their gooey cinnamon buns. On the weekends, you can be sure to be dining with at least 5-10 other dogs outside.
Have you visited D.C. with your dog? If there is something we didn’t mention, we would love to hear your experiences & suggestions in the comments below!