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Dog-Friendly Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia Tour Guide

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The National Mall
The National Mall

Washington DC was carved out of Maryland and Virginia when President George Washington selected the sight on the Potomac River. The city was designed and laid out by Pierre L'Enfant with numbered streets going north and south, lettered streets going east and west and Avenues named after the states criss-crossing these streets. The city was divided into four quadrants, Northwest (the largest quadrant today), Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. The land that Virginia donated for the nation's capital was returned to Virginia. Only the land donated by Maryland remains as Washington. Since Washington is a Federal district, its borders cannot expand and thus much of the activity has moved to Northern Virgina and Suburban Maryland, or the Suburbs. The vast greenways of the capital city are great for people with dogs and almost all are open to leashed dogs. The monuments make for very scenic walks and there are quite a lot of dog-friendly activities in the Washington area.

Washington D.C. is filled with luxurious hotels for people traveling with and without dogs. The Park Hyatt in fashionable Georgetown is dog-friendly and host a number of after work "Paws at the Park" doggie happy hours. There are a number of pet-friendly Kimpton Hotels in the city such as the Palomar Washington, The Topaz and the Monaco Washington. At Lafayette Square across from the White House is the Sofitel. Ther are also a number of dog-friendly Westins and the Washington Hilton. If you are planning to stay a longer time and need more living space for you and your dog then there are a few Residence Inn Extended Stay Hotels.

When people visit Washington they want to to take in the major monuments and view the awe inspiring buildings that make up the Federal Government. With a dog you can do much of the same. Leashed dogs are allowed throughout the National Mall so you can walk with your dog past the Capitol, Smithsonian, Archives, Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the White House. This can make for a number of scenic pictures of you and your dog to send to relatives. As far as getting close up pictures at the Lincoln Memorial dogs are allowed at th memorial except underneath the dome. This means you can get pretty close to Mr. Lincoln's statue. The same is true at the Jefferson Memorial. The FDR Memorial is completely outdoors and your four legged friend can take in the whole thing with you. If you would like to sit and watch Washington go by then take the dog-friendly tour boats from Capitol River Cruises which leave from 31st and K Street. This is a very scenic one hour water tour of the Potomac and Washington.

There are other places to hike in Washington with your dog. The longest trail by far is the C&O Canal Towpath which starts in Georgetown and travels 184 miles to Cumberland Maryland. You can also walk along most of the Potomac River and in Rock Creek Park. Dogs are allowed in the National Arboretum at 3501 New York Ave NE where you can see miles of beautiful gardens and all kind of plant life. Dogs in carriers that you can carry are allowed on the Washington Metro trains and buses.

Across the river from Washington Alexandria and Arlington may be the most dog-friendly area of town. In particular, Alexandria Virginia is one of the more dog-friendly towns on the East Coast. There is a doggie happy hour at the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria which is also a dog-friendly hotel. It is held between April and October on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm. In Alexandria you can also take the Potomac Riverboat Company Canine Cruises which offer 40 minute cruises of the Washington Skyline. They are held every second Thursday in May to September. You can walk the grounds of George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Woodlawn Plantation, view the Iwo Jima Memorial and visit Arlington National Cemetery. The carriage rides in Alexandria also welcome dogs as riders.

Alexandria and Arlington are the best places to find dog-friendly restaurants. A number of years ago Alexandria was having trouble with their local health department about dogs sitting at outdoor restaurants. The city passed an ordinance authorizing the practice and many restaurants are dog-friendly. Pat Troy's Irish Pub was one of the restaurants that pushed for this ordinance and now offers a special doggie menu. Jackson 20 New American Tavern also offers a dog menu. There are many other dog-friendly restaurants in Alexandria and now throughout Arlington County which also passed a similar ordinance recently. Other dog-friendly dining can be found in Reston Virginia near Dulles International Airport at the Reston Town Center, a dog-friendly outdoor shopping area. Georgetown in Washington also is a great place to shop with a dog.

You can hike in Northern Virginia with your dog along the Mount Vernon Trail from Alexandria to Mount Vernon. This is a 13 mile trail. If you asked a dog which presidential monument is their favorite they would probably say the Theodore Roosevelt Island Park and Memorial. This island is accessed by a foot bridge from a parking lot on the George Washington Parkway and has hiking trails and the Roosevelt Memorial. There are a lot of fenced off-leash dog parks in Northern Virginia.

Day trips from Washington with your dog may take you to Harpers Ferry West Virginia, Annapolis Maryland, Williamsburg Virginia, Charlottesville Virginia and Shenandoah National Park, one of the most dog-friendly National Parks in the U.S.

Mount Vernon



Before you visit an establishment or place, please contact them and verify that they are still dog-friendly and available, as policies and management change frequently. All places listed on require your dog to be leashed and under your direct control unless specified  otherwise by an establishments (including parks and beaches) management. Please be aware of local Breed-Specific Laws that may be in place where you are visiting. The information on this site is not a recommendation., Inc. makes no warranties or representations of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation of the site or the information, content, materials, or products included on this site. If you find an establishment that no longer allows dogs, please let us know so that we may remove them from our list. For full Rules and Regulations for Use of This Site, including the legal disclaimer and copyright notices,  click here before using the site

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