I am a dog person. I throw dog birthday parties, arrange puppy playdates and bake bone-shaped cakes from scratch.

I select vacation spots based on dog-friendliness and evaluate cities by the life they will provide not just for my children, but for the dog. And I am not alone.

Seattleites have more dogs than children and we’ve been named the best dog city in the country, year after year. There are a plethora of both dog-centric businesses and ways to frolic with our pups in nature — all of which makes this a great place for summer adventures with your pooch. 

I set off with my big, blonde, 2-year-old white shepherd Audrey, who I adopted from Seattle Humane, to have the best summer ever exploring old favorites and trying new tricks to share with you and your best friend. Happy trails, and happy tails. 

Head to “Doggie Disneyland” — aka Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park — for 40 acres of free-roaming, water-splashing fun. (Courtesy of Steve Schoenleber)
Head to “Doggie Disneyland” — aka Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park — for 40 acres of free-roaming, water-splashing fun. (Courtesy of Steve Schoenleber)

Dog park paradise 

Before I moved to Seattle, I had to make sure it would be a good fit for my aging bulldog. One visit to Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park in Redmond sealed the deal. 

The Seattle area has more than a dozen off-leash dog parks, but this one, dubbed “Doggie Disneyland,” is my favorite, with 40 acres of fields where dogs roam free and five access points to the Sammamish River where they can swim and retrieve sticks all afternoon. The park is open-gated, so your dog must be under solid voice control. Be sure to bring $1 cash for parking. 

A dog — and a human — taste-test doggie ice cream

When Audrey runs laps at Marymoor, she gets a great night’s sleep. She also gets filthy. Wash Spot at Marymoor saves the day — and the car — with an onsite, self-service dog wash that has hypoallergenic shampoo, organic dog treats, heat-free dryers, and towels for them and aprons for you. $11–$15 buys you 8–14 minutes in a tall tub with a harness to secure your pup. Cards only, closed on concert days. 

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Now that you’re all clean, toss down a blanket and stay for movie night. BECU Outdoor Movies at Marymoor Park welcomes canine friends for outdoor movies on a 40-foot screen at McNair Field. Screenings run July 10–Aug. 28 on select weeknights, with live entertainment before each movie. Dogs must stay on-leash. Pack a picnic or visit the food trucks. Admission is $5 cash or $6 on a card, and kids 5 and under are free. 

If you prefer to stay in Seattle, Magnuson Park Off-Leash Area in Sand Point is the largest off-leash area in the city. City dogs can cool off in Lake Washington, play on the beach and roam 8.6 fully fenced acres. A separate area keeps small and shy dogs comfortable. 

A Seattle Sports board pad adds comfort and protects your standup paddleboard when you’re out with your dog. (Courtesy of Seattle Sports)
A Seattle Sports board pad adds comfort and protects your standup paddleboard when you’re out with your dog. (Courtesy of Seattle Sports)

On-water adventures

Ready for a new adventure? SUP with your pup! 

Standup paddleboarding is a fun water workout that you and your dog can do together. K9 Fun Club owner Lindy Langum paddleboards with her two dogs on fresh and saltwater around Seattle and offers lessons ($65 per hour). She starts with basic obedience skills on land, then moves to the water, using her oversized board for extra stability. Owners should have experience paddleboarding and getting back on the board after falling off — since it’s a likely scenario once you add a dog. 

Practice locally with standup paddleboard rentals at popSUP Seattle on Lake Union, where well-behaved dogs are welcome ($18 per hour). Reserve in advance to ensure availability. 

If you already have a board, add a Seattle Sports SUP Dog Board Pad ($30 at REI) to provide cushion and stability, and to protect your board from dents and scratches. 

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And don’t forget a lifejacket: Ruffwear’s Float Coat Dog PFD ($80 at REI), out of Oregon, is made from buoyant material, with a strong top handle to lift your dog out of the water.

Dogwood Play Park in Lake City is an off-leash indoor/outdoor dog park where you can enjoy beer, wine and cider. (Courtesy of Dogwood Play Park)
Dogwood Play Park in Lake City is an off-leash indoor/outdoor dog park where you can enjoy beer, wine and cider. (Courtesy of Dogwood Play Park)

Yappy hour

You bring your dog to work, why not happy hour? 

Norm’s Eatery and Alehouse in Fremont is Seattle’s oldest dog-friendly restaurant. For 16 years they’ve welcomed “all ages and all breeds,” as long as your dog stays on-leash and on the floor. Norm’s has a dog menu with items such as chicken feet and bacon pupcakes. A chilled marrow bone ($4) for Audrey arrived in a square metal bowl. She worked on it quietly at our feet while we enjoyed our human food.  

Another option is Dogwood Play Park in Lake City, a 21-and-over off-leash indoor/outdoor dog park where you can enjoy beer, wine and cider, including local brews from Hellbent Brewing Company across the street. Stash your leash in a cubby and set your dog free to explore 16,000 square feet of play space complete with giant tires, gravel, AstroTurf and a kiddie pool. Brightly painted dog murals, patio umbrellas and string lights make it feel like a friend’s really, really big backyard — that’s full of dogs. 

Towels, poop bags and cleaning spray are provided, and there are separate areas for active and gentle play. A wood bar lines the perimeter, offering socialization for you as well. Seattle Barkery is onsite for treats, and a gumball-style machine dispenses tennis balls for 50 cents. 

Get half-price entry all summer ($6 per dog) when you buy a boozy drink. Membership and punch cards offer return visit discounts. Dogs must be spayed/neutered with current vaccination records. Email them in advance to save time. 

Dogs get VIP (Very Important Pet) status at the luxe Willows Lodge in Woodinville, which provides dog-bed turndown service. (Courtesy of Willows Lodge)
Dogs get VIP (Very Important Pet) status at the luxe Willows Lodge in Woodinville, which provides dog-bed turndown service. (Courtesy of Willows Lodge)

Road trip

Skip the pet sitter and take your dog with you on the road this summer.

Blue Fox Drive-In Theater, in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island (about two hours from Seattle), is fun for the whole family — including the dog. It seems everyone has a pooch perched on an inflatable mattress in the back of their pickup. Just keep them on leash and out of the snack bar — though they will love the fresh burgers as much as you will. Let them keep you warm when it gets cold (the double feature starts at dusk, around 9:30 p.m.). 

The box office opens at 4 p.m. Go-karts, an arcade and frisbee with your dog will keep you busy while you wait. Admission is $6.50 cash, $7 on a card for ages 11 and older; $1 cash, $1.50 on a card for kids 5–10; free for kids under 5 — and dogs.

Celebrating a special occasion? Willows Lodge in Woodinville (25 minutes from Seattle) has a VIP (Very Important Pet) program that rolls out the red carpet for its canine guests. For $75 (plus the room rate), your dog can join you at the stunning resort, and will receive a doggie room-service menu, bottled water, a copy of Citydog Magazine and a dog bed with turndown service that includes a bedtime dog biscuit. I’m pretty sure Audrey enjoyed the luxury as much as we did.