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Best Off-Leash Dog Areas In San Francisco

San Francisco is a dog-friendly town, and having parks and dog play areas where dogs can run free is an important issue for many folks. Fortunately, San Francisco has quite a few dog-friendly parks and play areas. California leash laws are strict, with laws in place to protect everyone and preserve park access for all. So when visiting the parks, always have your dog leashed when entering and leaving the area and obey leash rules. Also remember to clean up after your visit, so you will be welcomed back. Look for the neighborhood dog park that is most convenient for you.
GoldenGatePark dog park

Golden Gate Park
Ocean Beach to Stanyan
Between Fulton and Lincoln Way
San Francisco, CA 94117

Golden Gate Park is San Francisco's largest and best-known park, and pretty user-friendly too. Everyone is definitely welcome in this huge multi-use park, and that includes dogs that want to run free, much to the delight of their owners. Though the park's off-leash areas are not the biggest or the best, within its boundaries are four dog areas spanning east to west for dogs to run and play freely. Remember to leash your dog again before heading out to explore the park further, and keep a tight eye on your pet. Visit the website for a map link that shows the park's designated off-leash areas.

Photo Credit:

Mission Dolores Park
Between Church and Dolores and
18th and 20th Sts.
San Francisco, CA 94114

Mission Dolores Park is a popular city oasis that attracts a full mix of visitors, not surprising since the park is situated in a district well known for having some of the warmest and sunniest weather in town. The San Francisco skyline views are some of the best here of all the city's dog parks. Along with great weather and the park's open areas, picnics and friendly people watching are naturals here, so everyone can enjoy a great time outdoors. Keep a close eye on your dog too as this is high-traffic park in a densely populated area, so be sure to be in control at all times.

Related: Best Dog Parks In San Francisco

Buena Vista Park
Haight St. and Buena Vista Ave.
San francisco, CA 94101

Buena Vista Park is actually the oldest park in the city, founded in 1867. Due to an extensive tree planting effort by John McLaren, the superintendent of Golden Gate Park from 1887-1943, Buena Vista Park is one of the most wooded areas in San Francisco. Appropriately named, the views from this park are terrific and it is worth going to the top of the hill for its breathtaking views, including some of the Golden Gate Bridge. Buena Vista is a wonderful off-leash park and guarantees a good workout for both you and your pet. Although there is no large, open area for dogs to run free, the park boasts steep paths and winding wooden stairs, plus numerous trails circling down the hill, which are great for dogs to run freely and play. Be careful as the thick underbrush and winding trails have been known to separate a few dogs from their owners, so always keep a controlling eye on your pooch.

view of bernal hill from noe valley
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Bernal Heights Dog Park
Top of Bernal Hill
San Francisco, CA 94107

The acres of grass and trails that cover the top of Bernal Hill form a large expanse that seems to call out to all neighborhood dogs. While there is not much vegetation and no dense tree areas, Bernal Heights does have panoramic views of the city, including vistas that take in the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, the downtown skyline and the Bay Bridge – pretty impressive indeed. Several strategically placed benches offer welcoming spots to sit and take in the views as your dog runs and plays.

Painted Ladies
'Painted Ladies' of Alamo Square (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Alamo Square Park
Fulton St. at Scott St.
San Francisco, CA 94115

Alamo Square is in a classic San Francisco postcard setting, highlighted from this hilltop park. The western half of the park is off leash and a popular place for dogs drawn here from the dense surrounding neighborhoods. The off-leash area is not large at all, but with its sloping grass field and some bushes scattered around, it makes for a pleasant neighborhood stop for dogs to run about and socialize for a while. Dog owners will enjoy the chance to gaze at some nifty architectural views encircling Alamo Square, including Westerfield House, a city landmark built in 1889, the Archbishop's Mansion, and an impressive view of City Hall's Beaux Arts sparkly dome, the tallest dome in the United States. There are lots of dogs at this park and heavy street traffic just outside, so make sure you are in control of your dog at all times.

Related: Best Dog Parks On The Peninsula

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at

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