Our Favorite Dog Parks in Tampa

There are few places more favored by a playful pup than the dog park. Opportunities abound for making new fur friends, chasing a beloved ball or Frisbee, and sniffing absolutely everything.

And with a bouncy Boxer of my own at home in Tampa, Florida, dog parks are also a haven for tired pet parents like me to unleash their furry wild child and let them expend ALL of their energy.

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As a working dog mom (because dog toys don’t grow on trees – except for sticks, obviously), I love a good dog park. What makes a good, quality dog park, you may ask? Here’s a few of my top priorities:

·      Separate Large and Small Dog Areas: Big dogs like to play hard and fast, and sometimes little ones can get caught up in the scuffle. As a puppy, we took Bailey to the small dog areas, before she eventually graduated to the big pup club.

·       Shady Spots: Living in Tampa – where our average annual high temperature is ‎81.7°F – it’s critical to have a covered area to prevent overheating for pups and sunburns for pup parents.

·      Seating for Pet Parents: While I love to be out in the park playing with my Bailey girl most of the time, I don’t want to cramp her style too much around her friends, so it’s great to have a nice spot to sit back while she plays.

·      Artificial Turf: While there is certainly nothing wrong with natural grass parks, I personally prefer ones with artificial turf. Natural grass parks run the risk of dead grass, dirt piles, and mud pits, which leads to messy pups. While a little dirt never hurt, I find the artificial turf parks easier and cleaner.

Beyond that, there are certain must-haves you want to look for in your own local dog park, like: pet waste stations, water fountains, double gated entries (for those elusive escape artists), and overall cleanliness. 

So, with those parameters in mind, I recently set out to find some of the best dog parks in Tampa. Each park has its own unique quality, is centrally located to downtown Tampa, and marks off a majority of my top priorities. Check out my Tampa favorite dog parks below, and let us know which Tampa dog park is your favorite in the comments section!

 

Julian B. Lane Riverfront Dog Park

Nestled on the north end of the 25-acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park are two enclosed areas for Fido to run free. Newly opened in May of 2018, this waterfront park offers a gorgeous view of the Hillsborough River, which skirts through downtown Tampa touching major monuments such as the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Tampa.

Because of it’s location within the much larger Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, this spot also makes a great option for leashed dog walks, in addition to off leash play time in the dog park. Since Boxers tend to have puppy-like energy for life, we like to take a stroll along the river before going to the dog park to help get some of our pup’s jitters out.

As one of the newer dog parks in Tampa, the dog parks at Julian B. Lane are well kept and clean. The ground is a mixture of artificial turf and concrete, with new trees planted throughout. Because the trees are young, they’re not large enough to provide shade just yet – but in a few years they’ll come into their own. There is no alternative shade beyond the trees, so in the meantime we prefer to visit this park during the early evenings when it’s cooler out. 

In both the large and small dog areas, the artificial turf is broken up by an adorable concrete paw design. Within the central part of the paw are several ground water fountains that shoot up to the sky with the push of a button, much to the delight of puppers in search of a cool drink (or shower, for that matter).

Of all the spots on our list, the dog parks at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park offer the most seating for pet parents, with bright blue metal chairs and wood benches and stools a-plenty.

     

 Queenie’s Dog Park at Waterworks Park

Located in the Waterworks Park on the outer edge of downtown Tampa, Queenie’s Dog Park is a mixed dog park, where large and small dogs play together in one area. While this tends to be a non-issue for pet parents with larger dogs, those with smaller dogs may want to keep this in mind. However, on each of our visits to Queenie’s, we’ve seen dogs of all shapes and sizes playing nicely together.

My favorite part of Queenie’s is the shade. There’s an abundance of oak trees throughout the park, providing plenty of coverage from the Florida sun (and a few occasional leaves scattered on the ground). Plus, there’s a covered pavilion with picnic table seating beneath, for even more shady spots.

The ground is made from multiple materials, with the majority of the park covered in artificial turf and bouncy crumb rubber (recycled from tires), but also some natural grass spots.

Parking can be limited at Queenie’s, as there is only street parking. So, once you find a good parking spot – make an afternoon of it by taking a walk along the Tampa Riverwalk down to the Ulele restaurant or Armature Works food hall for a quick bite and drink in their outdoor seating areas.

 

 Tampa Dog Run at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Sensing a theme with our favorite Tampa dog parks yet? Of course most of them are along the water, we Floridians love that H2O!

The Tampa Dog Run at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is small, simple, and gets the job done in a beautiful setting. Nestled between the Tampa Museum of Art and the Hillsborough River, you couldn’t ask for a lovelier setting for a dog park. Like Queenie’s, the Tampa Dog Run is also a mixed dog park, with one general area for pups of all sizes.

The ground covering is comprised of concrete and artificial turf, with fun concrete installations scattered throughout the play area. These installations come in varying shapes, with tubes and circular stands for pups to interact with. A few benches sprinkle the outer edge of the park, with one shaded area over some of the benches.

One of the best parts of the Tampa Dog Run is actually the people watching. Since the park is surrounded by the art museum, the Tampa Riverwalk, and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, there are always humans hustling and bustling around the park – on foot, bike, or blade (the roller kind!). Our Bailey loves to patrol the outer fence of the dog park, observing the humans and secretly hoping for a nice pat pat from a new friend.

 

 

Deputy John Kotfila, Jr. Memorial Dog Park

We saved the biggest dog park for last on our list: the Deputy John Kotfila, Jr. Memorial Dog Park. We could not think of a more beautiful way to memorialize the legacy of Hillsborough County Deputy John Robert Kotfila, Jr., who sadly lost his life in the line of duty in 2016. The park features a monument at the front, to honor Kotfila and his close relationship with his German Shepherd, Dexter.

 

Located underneath the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, the park is completely shaded by the roads above – making it an ideal location during hot (or rainy) Florida days. The park offers two large play areas, one for large puppers and the other for small dogs.

 

Because of its size, the park attracts quite a few fur friends, which is great news for pet parents looking to socialize their pups. For that matter, it’s also lovely for pet parents looking to meet other locals who are as equally obsessed with their fur babies. New friends for everyone!

 

Seating for humans is limited at the park, but concrete installations scattered throughout offer play areas and spots to sit for both pets and their parents. The ground covering is artificial turf (hey, I warned you that I like it!) edged with concrete in some spots.

Dog parks can be a great way to exercise your pup and teach them strong social skills. Whether you’re looking to let your dog stretch their legs after a long workday, or just want to give your pup an exciting change of pace, dog parks can be an excellent option for any pet parent.

When we bring our Bailey to a dog park, we always like to pack some key essentials: a water bottle and collapsible bowl (she’s got a sensitive tummy and can get sick from the group fountains), extra waste bags, and our smart phone for taking pictures of her being her adorable self.

Besides the parks we’ve listed for you here, Tampa has a whole host of parks available to pet and their parents, so get out there and check them out! Then, let us know which ones are your favorites in the comments below.

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Jenna Greco is a Tampa native and the founder of    Dear Bailey   , a pet-focused business that creates unique art prints and pet accessories to help pawrents celebrate what makes their fur babies truly special. To learn more, visit    dearbailey.com   .

Jenna Greco is a Tampa native and the founder of Dear Bailey, a pet-focused business that creates unique art prints and pet accessories to help pawrents celebrate what makes their fur babies truly special. To learn more, visit dearbailey.com.