Sit. Stay. Play.

A quick primer on dog parks across the state.

Photo courtesy Scott Rowan

dog park

Your dog will be lucky to visit any of the dog parks below. 


Barker Field at Byrd Park

1300 Blanton Ave, Richmond, VA 23221

The oldest dog park in Richmond is arguably its best. After all, there’s a reason why it won our Best of Virginia 2020 contest for dog parks. Located near the famous Carillon and Dogwood Dell amphitheater in Byrd Park, Barker Field is a large dog park with several obstacles and engagement structures built into the ground (ramps, tires, etc.) to give every dog something to enjoy. Plenty of shade from towering trees and benches help complete a comfortable visit for the humans too. When you’re done playing in the park, the grounds of Byrd Park are a great place to visit with your dog on the leash.

Other Central region parks from Best of Virginia 2020:

Church Hill Dog Park at Chimborazo Park, Richmond,, 804-646-5733

Dorey Dog Park, Richmond,, 804-652-1440


Bea Arthur Dog Park

501 Front St, Norfolk, VA 23510

There are 13 dog parks in Norfolk, but there’s only one that has its own island and a 24/7 webcam. Approximately 1 acre in size, Bea Arthur Dog Park offers water access that is rather unusual for public dog parks. In addition to the fenced area near Front Street that has some limited seating for humans, there’s a second area that opens up to the Elizabeth River. A ramp allows dogs to walk into the water for a swim or they can jump from the ledge if they prefer to make a splash. The highlight of the park is the small island built with ramp access for dogs who can swim over and enjoy their own “private” getaway. All of this lavish attention is due to the fact that the park is managed by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has its headquarters next door. Before she died in 2009, actress Bea Arthur was an honorary PETA director.

Other Eastern region parks:

Ironbound Park, Williamsburg,, 757-259-5360

Windsor Castle Park, Smithfield,, 757-542-3109


Shirlington Dog Park

2710 S Oakland St, Arlington, VA 22206

At nearly 30 years, Shirlington Dog Park claims to be the oldest dog park in northern Virginia and offers 2 acres of leash-free play area for the nearly 200,000 visitors that use the park annually. Shirlington Dog Park is open year round but the park’s website has a list of many rules so you may want to check out their website before visiting. Popularity of the park has led to it being named by the American Kennel Club as one of their top parks in the country to visit.

Other Northern region parks:

Vint Hill Dog Park, Warrrenton,

K-9 Gunner Memorial Dog Park, Lake Ridge,


Fairview Park

716 W North St, Woodstock, VA 22664

The next time you’re visiting the “string of pearls” towns along U.S. Route 11, you’ll have a place to let your dog run free along the way. Starting just south of Winchester, the “string of pearls” begins with Strasburg and continues south along Route 11 through to Edinburg, Mount Jackson, and finally New Market. In Woodstock, Fairview Park offers dogs ample room to run around in a setting all people can enjoy. A former farm, Fairview Park has two areas for large and small dogs. Both areas have dog engagement obstacles to run in, on, and under. Covered benches provide protection from any sudden storms. 

Other Shenandoah region dog parks:

Gypsy Hill Park, Staunton,, 540-332-3945

Smithland Road Dog Park, Harrisonburg,, 540-433-2474


Salem Rotary Dog Park

1301 Indiana St, Salem, VA 24153

Open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, the Salem Rotary Dog Park offers visitors two dog areas and ample room in each section. Both the large and small dog areas have benches for humans and engagement activities for dogs, like obstacles and water to play with. There’s a 24-hour camera on the park’s website that allows dog fans anywhere to watch the four-leggers play.

Other Southwest region dog parks:

Blacksburg Dog Park, Blacksburg,, 540-443-1100

Highland Park, Roanoke,, 540-853-2236

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