2019 Best Big Cities for Outdoorsy Dog Owners

New York City makes the list as the 8th Best City for Outdoorsy Dog Owners and Their Dogs. Photo: Linh Nguyen via Flickr

Louisville, San Francisco and neighbor, Oakland, took the top three spots on our roundup of the Best 100 Cities for Outdoorsy Dog Owners rankings, which compares the number of dog parks and the distance to the nearest state park for the 100 largest cities in the United States.

What makes a city exceptional for outdoor adventures with your dog? We think it comes down to dedicated parks for dogs and reasonable proximity to public open spaces. Beyond the backyard, are their abundant opportunities for dogs to walk, run around, and play outside? Are there dog parks nearby for canine socialization and cavorting? Are there large public parks and preserves within easy driving distance so you can go hiking with your dog?

To determine which of the 100 largest cities in the US are the best for nature-loving dog owners, we ranked cities based on two criteria:

We then combined the dog park rankings and the distances to state parks to determine a city’s overall ranking. To narrow the field, we focused on state parks larger than 250 acres. The majority of state parks on the list are less than 50 miles from the city.

Dogs are allowed in most of the state parks on our map, though access for dogs can vary significantly. Some parks offer wide-open access to all trails, and others restrict dog access to specific trails. Designated service dogs are allowed anywhere visitors are in state parks. It’s wise to do your research ahead of your visit—most park websites include a section on pet and service dog regulations.

We invite you to explore this interactive table to find out where your city ranks for outdoor adventures with your dog, or how your city or town compares to the top 100 largest US cities. Perhaps you’ll discover a new destination for a trip with your best friend. We hope it’ll inspire you to research new parks and locales to visit with your dog—close to home and across the country.

Top 100 Dog Friendly Cities

 
Overall Rank
Dog Parks per 100k
Nearest Large State Park (250 Acres+)
Distance from city in miles
Louisville, KY 1 2.8 Falls of the Ohio State Park, Clarksville IN 2.5
San Francisco, CA 2 3.7 Angel Island State Park 6
Oakland, CA 3 3.8 McLaughlin Eastshore State Park 7.5
Jersey City, NJ 4 2.2 Liberty State Park 1.5
Albuquerque, NM 5 2.3 Rio Grande Nature Center State Park 4.3
Madison, WI 6 4 Governor Nelson State Park 10
Boise 7 6.7 Eagle Island State Park, Eagle, ID 12.2
New York, NY 8 1.6 Liberty State Park 6.3
Chula Vista, CA 9 1.9 Border Field State Park 9.8
Norfolk, VA 10 4.8 First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, VA 16.2
Glendale, CA 11 1.2 Rio de Los Angeles State Park 3.5
Anchorage, AK 12 2.3 Chugach State Park 13.1
Seattle, WA 13 2 Bridle Trails State Park 12.3
Boston, MA 14 1.2 Boston Harbor Islands State Park 8
Austin, TX 15 1.3 McKinney Falls State Park 9.7
Lincoln, NE 16 1.4 Pawnee State Recreation Area 11.3
Nashville, TN 17 1.2 Radnor Lake State Park 9
Minneapolis, MN 18 1.7 Fort Snelling State Park 13.3
Denver, CO 19 1.4 Cherry Creek State Park 13.8
Aurora, CO 20 0.8 Cherry Creek State Park 7.3
Detroit, MI 21 0.8 Belle Isle Park 4.9
Durham, NC 22 1.1 Eno River State Park 11.7
St. Petersburg, FL 23 2.3 Terra Ceia Preserve State Park 22.9
Tucson, AZ 24 1.5 Catalina State Park 16.4
Portland, OR 25 5.2 Molalla River State Park, Canby OR 26.9
Chesapeake, VA 26 2.1 Dismal Swamp State Park 20.9
St. Paul, MN 27 1.3 Fort Snelling State Park 15.1
Arlington, VA 28 3.5 Mason Neck State Park 25.7
Virginia Beach, VA 29 0.6 First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, VA 4.1
Pittsburgh, PA 30 2.3 Raccoon Creek State Park 23.9
Las Vegas, NV 31 4 Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, Blue Diamond NV 27.1
Lexington, KY 32 1.9 Fort Boonesborough State Park 22.8
Greensboro, NC 33 1 Haw River State Park 14.2
Indianapolis, IN 34 0.5 White River State Park 0.8
Riverside, CA 35 0.6 California Citrus State Historic Park 8.2
Henderson, NV 36 5.2 Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, Blue Diamond NV 31
Tampa, FL 37 3.5 Hillsborough River State Park 27.7
Orlando, FL 38 1.1 Wekiwa Springs State Park 16.7
Toledo, OH 39 0.7 Maumee Bay State Park 10.8
San Diego, CA 40 1.1 Border Field State Park 17.6
Long Beach, CA 41 2.1 Rio de Los Angeles State Park 26.5
Raleigh, NC 42 0.7 William B. Umstead State Park 11.1
Buffalo, NY 43 0.8 Beaver Island State Park 13.7
Miami, FL 44 0.9 Oleta River State Park 18
New Orleans, LA 45 0.8 Saint Bernard State Park 15.9
Honolulu, HI 46 0.4 Waʻahila Ridge State Recreation Area 5.7
Richmond, VA 47 1.3 Pocahontas State Park 25.2
Washington, D.C. 48 1.8 Mason Neck State Park 27.4
Atlanta, GA 49 0.9 Sweetwater Creek State Park 18.8
Milwaukee, WI 50 0.5 Havenwoods State Forest 10.8
Stockton, CA 51 1 Caswell Memorial State Park 22.4
Laredo, TX 52 0.4 Lake Casa Blanca International State Park 7.4
Cincinnati, OH 53 1.3 East Fork State Park 25.9
Chicago, IL 54 0.9 William W. Powers State Recreation Area 20.6
Fresno, CA 55 1.3 Millerton Lake State Recreation Area 26.7
Fremont, CA 56 2.6 Big Basin Redwoods State Park 46.1
San Jose, CA 57 1 Castle Rock State Park 23
Baltimore, MD 58 0.5 Patapsco Valley State Park 12.9
Memphis, TN 59 0.3 T.O. Fuller State Park 9.1
Arlington, TX 60 0.5 Cedar Hill State Park 15
Sacramento, CA 61 2.2 Caswell Memorial State Park 70.6
Chandler, AZ 62 1.5 Lost Dutchman State Park 31.7
Irvine, CA 63 0.4 Crystal Cove State Park 11.9
El Paso, TX 64 0.6 Franklin Mountains State Park 17.5
Newark, NJ 65 0 Liberty State Park 10
Bakersfield, CA 66 2.1 Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park 179
Gilbert, AZ 67 0.8 Lost Dutchman State Park 23.6
St. Louis, MI 68 1.6 Sleepy Hollow State Park 41.7
Reno, NV 69 0.8 Washoe Lake State Park 25.3
Houston, TX 70 0.7 Sheldon Lake State Park 21.2
Colorado Springs, CO 71 1.7 Eleven Mile State Park 49.1
Tulsa, OK 72 0.5 Keystone State Park 17.2
Columbus, OH 73 0.6 Alum Creek State Park Beach 20.4
Hialeah, FL 74 0 Oleta River State Park 12.5
Scottsdale, AZ 75 1.3 Lost Dutchman State Park 34
North Las Vegas, NV 76 0.8 Spring Mountain Ranch State Park 27.3
San Antonio, TX 77 0.8 Government Canyon State Natural Area 26.2
Philadelphia, PA 78 0.4 Neshaminy State Park 17.6
Dallas, TX 79 0.3 Cedar Hill State Park 18.3
Kansas City, MO 80 0.8 Weston Bend State Park 32.5
Winston-Salem, NC 81 0.4 Pilot Mountain State Park 22.6
Baton Rouge, LA 82 0.9 Tickfaw State Park 42.9
Fort Wayne, IN 83 0.8 Chain O’ Lakes State Park 28.6
Jacksonville, FL 84 0.6 Little Talbot Island State Park 26.5
Los Angeles, CA 85 0.3 Topanga State Park 20.3
Anaheim, CA 86 0.6 Chino Hills State Park 27
Irving, TX 87 0.8 Ray Roberts Lake State Park 54
Wichita, KS 88 0.8 Cheney State Park 32.7
Fort Worth, TX 89 0.6 Cedar Hill State Park 27.8
Corpus Christi, TX 90 0.3 Mustang Island State Park 23.6
Phoenix, AZ 91 0.7 White Tank Mountain Regional Park 32.9
Mesa, AZ 92 0.4 Lost Dutchman State Park 26.1
Cleveland, OH 93 0.5 Headlands Beach State Park 29.3
Charlotte, SC 94 0.6 Landsford Canal State Park 38.1
Oklahoma City, OK 95 0.5 Lake Thunderbird State Park 27.5
Omaha, NE 96 0.4 Eugene T. Mahoney State Park 30.4
Santa Ana, CA 97 0 Chino Hills State Park 29.6
Plano, TX 98 0.3 Ray Roberts Lake State Park 47.5
Garland, TX 99 0 Cedar Hill State Park 36.2
Lubbock, TX 100 0 Caprock Canyons State Park 95.8

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