The 5 best dog parks in Philly for people who don't actually have dogs

Bear4
Bear, a two-year-old Lab mix at Columbus, greets a visitor.

There are plenty of places for dog owners to socialize. From a casual conversation sparked by two curious pups meeting on the street to a playdate arranged at one of Philadelphia's many doggie day cares, the canine social scene is bustling. But what is one to do if one is a dog lover but not a dog haver?

There are plenty of ways to get in some quality time with an energetic pup or a full-grown hound. Pet-sitting, volunteering at the ASPCA and PAWS, or even strategically inviting yourself over to the homes of friends with furry companions are all valid options. But sometimes, you just want to be dog-adjacent. You just want to hang out with a dog, or a bunch of dogs, without commitment or obligation.

One might wonder, isn't it weird to chill at a dog park without a dog of your own? Sometimes. But there are a number of local parks that will welcome the dog-deficient with open paws.

Orianna Hill Park

900 N. Orianna St. 

Tucked away in an idyllic NoLibs neighborhood, this multiuse park is a gem. It has a huge woodchip-covered dog run with picnic tables, benches, and plenty of shade. Unlike many dog parks, this space was designed for owners and nonowners alike. The spaciousness and ample seating make it a great spot for those who get shy around really cool dogs. Orianna Hill is also adjacent to a lush community garden and right behind Liberty Lands, Northern Liberty's wonderful outdoor concert and event space.

Schuylkill River Park Dog Run

2500 Spruce St.

Part of the lavish redesign of the east side of the Schuylkill banks, this is the cool kids' table of dog parks. This is a place where they make fetch happen. But don't despair, you'll find a welcoming crowd here. Perhaps it's because of the sheer number of activities happening nearby - skaters, joggers, basketball players, and more frolic in the itinerant shadows of passing trains - but this dog park always seems the most inviting. With AstroTurf bedding and a smattering of benches, Schuylkill River Park Dog Run is comfortable but open; it's clearly designed with maximum freedom for dogs in mind. There are separate areas for large and small dogs, which is fantastic for them but potentially maddening for humans who have trouble making decisions.

Columbus Square Dog Park

1200 Wharton St.

Technically, you do need a dog to be in this park. So, this is not a space where you can simply hang out and not get strange questions, or even stares. That said, this gravel dog park is located at the corner of South Philly's beautiful Columbus Square Park and, as such, is ideally situated for catching the eye of a cool dog on its way to or from the park. Columbus Square is huge and busy, with a Little League field and plenty of grass for leisure activities. If you want to hang out with dogs but are still feeling shy about it, setting up a picnic lunch in the human-centric area of the park and waiting patiently may be a good plan.

Palmer Doggie Depot

35 E. Palmer St.

Just off the Berks stop on the El and located behind Kensington High School for the Creative Arts, this dog park is perfect for someone looking to have a peaceful, low-key dog interaction. A long, cobblestone dog run with a couple of wooden logs for human sitting - and dog frolicking - this park sits in the middle of a homey neighborhood, so it's easy to get caught up in conversations with the locals. Though the houses that abut the park are close together, this park is situated in the middle of a large open space that allows a rare Philly big-sky experience and some dramatic views of Kensington in the distance.

Seger Dog Park

1000 Lombard St.

Adjacent to a no-dogs playground and a set of busy tennis courts, this dog park is a dream. Located between South Street and Antiques Row, it's the perfect place to stop in for some quality dog time on a busy day. Though kids under 11 aren't allowed in the park, the fence that separates the dog run from the playground is a perfect de facto viewing area for little pet lovers. If you are over 11, you'll find yourself a welcome guest in Seger Park, a gravel and mulch area with plenty of benches and shade. Like many dog parks, Seger is member-run and supported, so if you're thinking of making regular visits, with or without a dog, consider purchasing a membership. What better way to show your furry fandom than to have a hand in the upkeep of friendly spaces like this?

Continue Reading