As New Yorkers with dogs and human children, we are always looking for ways to make the most of urban life. Our philosophy has been that in order to counterbalance the downsides of raising dogs in the city – small spaces and high prices – we must take full advantage of activities that are unique to New York. It turns out that the Big Apple is a wonderful and exciting place to live with a dog, especially for the adventurous among us!
1. Run Free!
New Yorkers are fortunate to live in a city that is anchored by enormous parks designed by the famous landscape architect duo Olmstead and Vaux. Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan are urban oases with something for everyone: wooded rambles, lakes, rolling meadows, and – best of all – off-leash hours for dogs. From 9pm until the parks close and in the early morning until 9am many of New York City’s public parks permit dogs to run, play, and socialize off-leash. It’s a type of urban exercise and activity that cannot be beat. Given the freedom to romp and roam outside the confines of the dog run fence may release a whole new wonderful side of your pup. Of course, she must have a dependable response to the “come” command, but if you are worried, leave a long, lightweight lead attached. She will make new friends, and you probably will too!
If you don’t live near one of the big parks, there are plenty of wonderful smaller parks all over the city. Some of our best city moments have taken place in the early hours of the morning at Fort Green Park in Brooklyn, sipping coffee, watching the pups play, and chatting with like-minded New Yorkers.
Our favorite places to let the dogs run off-leash are:
- Central Park, Manhattan
- Dyckman Fields, Manhattan
- Prospect Park, Brooklyn (Check out the Nethermead)
- Fort Green Park, Brooklyn
- Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
- Pelham Park, Bronx
You can access the complete list of dog runs and parks with off-leash hours on the NYC Parks website here.
2. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
In the summer months there is no shortage of restaurants and bars offering dog-friendly, patio seating, but what about when the weather is not so accommodating? Never fear, you’ll have your beer and doggy too! From breweries and trivia nights to New York’s first truly dog-friendly restaurant, this city’s purveyors of consumables (at least the cool Downtown and Brooklyn folks) have you covered.
- The Black Door: 127 West 26th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan.
- d.b.a.: 41 1st Avenue, East Village, Manhattan.
- Lucky Dog: 303 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
- Mission Dolores: 249 4th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Restaurant: we don’t know how they did it, but they did. The folks at Boris and Horton got approval from the city of New York to open a venue that serves food and welcomes dogs inside. We hope that many more restaurants will follow suit. Boris and Horton: 195 Avenue A, East Village, Manhattan.
Take your pup to a Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery invites patrons to bring pups to their tasting room (but not on tours). 79 N 11th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Beer Garden: You’ll have to wait until spring, but when the sun comes out our favorite beer garden of all time is Nowadays on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border. It’s a bit of a trek, but well worth it. Your pup and kids can play on grassy knolls while you sit back, relax, listen to some live music, and imbibe your favorite local brew.
3. Take in Some Art & Culture
One of NYC’s greatest assets is its commitment to accessible, public art. From curated installations in Central Park to graffiti collectives in Bushwick, every neighborhood has something interesting to see when taking your pup on a leashed walk through the city.
- Visit an Art Gallery in the Flatiron district that specializes in 19th century dog paintings and welcomes four-legged visitors: William Secord Gallery, 29 West 15th St.
- Tour a Sculpture Park on 5 beautiful, grassy acres next to the East River in Long Island City: Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, L.I.C., Queens.
- Take an Iconic Walk across one of the world’s most famous bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Go on a Self-Guided Graffiti Tour in hipsterville, a.k.a. Bushwick. Focus your walk around the intersection of Troutman Street and Wyckoff Avenue.
- Peruse 18 Miles of Books at the dog-friendly Strand Bookstore, just south of Union Square.
- Splurge on a Guided Walking Tour: there are tour groups for everyone and every neighborhood in NYC, and most of them are dog friendly!
- Make Your Own Adventure: NYC’s department of parks has an interactive online map that lists current information about all permanent and temporary public art installations in the city! Check out what’s in your neighborhood with this interactive map.
4. Off-Season Beach Adventures
It’s the best time of year to go to the beach! During the fall, winter, and spring, the beach is a dog’s dream. The sand is cool and comfortable, the brisk wind is energizing, the crowds have dispersed, and most importantly, pups are permitted. From mid-September to mid-March most beaches in and around NYC are welcoming of dogs. It might sound surprising, but we can’t think of a better way to spend a November morning than making a trip to the Rockaways. If you have a pup small enough to fit in a carrier you can even take the A train there! The sensory experience of the beach for a dog is unlike any other: the feels, smells, and sights will make your pup totally silly. If it’s too chilly to swim, it doesn’t matter, the beach is still an exciting adventure.
- Queens Beaches: Fort Tilden, Jacob Riis, and the Rockaways: these three beaches span a beautiful stretch of NYC’s coast – a sliver of Queens sandwiched between Jamaica Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Fort Tilden is the most beautiful and remote, but hard to access. Parking is easiest at Jacob Riis, and the Rockaways are accessible by subway.
- Brooklyn Beaches: The Coney Island boardwalk is open to dogs from October 1-May 1, and it’s a great place to have a beachside adventure that can be reached by the Q train. Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach are a little farther from the subway, but also welcoming of pups during the off-season.
- Closer to Home: Prospect Park Dog Beach. We love this spot all year round. It’s small but lovely, and dogs are invited to play and swim off-leash here at any time of day or year. There is no sand or sea – it’s a pond – but it is always fun.
5. Go for a Hike
Did you know that you can take your pup for a 2-mile hike right on the island of Manhattan? Or amble through forest trails without crossing paths with another soul in the middle of Queens?
Hikes in the city:
- Inwood Hill Park, Washington Heights: If you think this city can no longer surprise you, think again. Take the A train to the Dyckman Street Station, hit the trails of Inwood Hill, and be awed by Hudson River views, glacial potholes, and a salt marsh. You can access the trail map here.
- Forest Park, Queens: While it doesn’t have quite the same geological drama, you will be surprised by the surprisingly remote feel of this park. If it weren’t for the sounds of NYC traffic, you might even be tricked into thinking that the wooded trails you are walking on are part of a rural nature preserve! Take the E/F Train to Kew Gardens, or if driving park near the “My Buddy Statue. You can find a trail map here.
Hikes outside of the city:
If you have a car, there are hundreds of hikes you can access within 1.5 hours of the city, but we are going to focus on the ones accessible by train because, guess what? You can bring your pup on Metro-North trains! She just has to be leashed and well-behaved. Get yourself to Grand Central and onto a train because your pup will thank you for giving her an incredible wilderness adventure (and you will love it too)!
- Arden Point and Glenclyffe, Garrison, NY: hop off the train and onto the trail! Easy-peasy. This beautiful 2.5 hour hike will not disappoint.
- Blue Mountain Reservation, Peekskill: You’ll have to walk or take a cab 1.5 miles out of town, but it is worth the trek. This reservation is vast and beautiful, one of our favorite places to take pups hiking.
- Breakneck Ridge: the train takes you almost directly to the trailhead, but be prepared for an intense ascent. It’s tough terrain but the views pay off. Bring packed lunches because you will not be getting off the train in town.
- Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain: seemingly endless trails, vistas, and lakes make-up a truly wonderful natural landscape here. You can take the train to Tuxedo, NY, but we really recommend driving here because it’s a bit of a trek from the train station.
There are so many ways for dog-lovers to engage with the city, and so many opportunities for being active with pups in and around New York. We hope these tips will encourage you to get out and about even as the weather continues to cool. Winter hibernation is tempting to many, but our city’s four-legged residents would rather be out on the town!