OFF LEASH! Paw-Play Dog Parks

We’ve gathered together a list of places near Jacksonville where your pup can play, unfettered, with a little info on the flavor of each place.

Free To Play Dog Parks

Paws at Davis_photo bringfido.comPaws Dog Park at Davis Park
2455 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
This park, when last I went, featured a terrifying sign that said Beware of Alligators. Don’t be scared, because that’s pretty much the sign they should hang on the entire state of Florida. My dog can’t read, so he had a great time splashing about in the water. This is a city-run park, and is sometimes a little uneven on maintenance. Consider yourself far more likely to be bitten by mosquitos than an aquatic reptile. You can hose your beast off, post-playtime, at their dog wash area.

St. Johns Town Center Dog Park
4663 River City Dr. Jacksonville, FL, US 32246
It’s a tiny park tucked away at the St. Johns Town Center near Dick’s Sporting Goods. It’s cool because it feels like a secret, but you’ll know that it’s not because you’ll have to watch your step. If your dog’s a digger, she’ll probably love the sand there.

TillieFowlerDogPark_photocrTillie K. Fowler Regional Park
7000 Roosevelt Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32244
Located across from NAS on Roosevelt, this is a wooded park, beloved by dogs and owners alike, even before it had a dedicated off-leash park. Folks with high-energy dogs take their dogs on a leashed walk of  the Tower Trail  to wear them out before setting them loose in the dog park proper. Do keep your dog on leash if you walk your dog outside of the fenced-in dog park: the fine is steep and the area wild. The large dog area is just heavily wooded enough that it’s possible to come in and not know that there are other dogs in the park. There’s not much in the way of seating, so on busy weekends expect to stand or walk with your dog.  There’s enough shade that you won’t need sunscreen, but you may need insect repellent for the Florida’s state bird. Do bring your own poo bags, as it’s hit or miss on whether they will be provided. Get water from across the street by the park benches at the Island Trail, or bring your own water gallons. If you are yearning for a more natural woodland experience, this is the dog park for you. It can get muddy when it rains, and there isn’t a dedicated dog wash hose, so be warned. That’s nature y’all.

OceanWay Park
12246 Sago Ave W Jacksonville, FL, US 32218
Great on shade and space, but not always maintained. It’s a pretty quiet park with lots of room. Roosters occasionally visit to taunt the dogs, never to be caught by them. Bring your own water, bowl, baggies, and bug spray. There is a pond nearby.

Confederate Park 2_photo bringfido.comConfederate Park
956 Hubbard St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
Since the Confederate Park Dog Park lies in the heart of Springfield, just adjacent to Downtown, there’s a great sense of community here. Know that when it rains, it will flood. In an especially relentless period of rain, surrounding streets are better navigated by pontoon than by car. This park is right next to a fenced-in tennis court that is hardly ever occupied, so owners sometimes use it for doggie time outs, to calm an excited pup or to throw a ball around. (These courts are not for dogs, so if anyone shows up with a racquet in hand, dogs immediately vacate). Drainage is a bit of a problem, so if it has rained, there will be lots of mud, but there’s a dog wash station. There’s not much in the way of shade and seating, but there is a concrete sidewalk that goes all the way around the park.

Ed Austin Park
11751 McCormick Rd Jacksonville, FL, US 32225
Does your dog love to chase squirrels? Normal squirrels who live in a dog park occasionally dart about, but most learn not to come down as much when dogs are present. Not so for the brazen Ed Austin squirrels.  They want to be chased, and are living their lives as though they’re the protagonist in a Warner Brothers cartoon, minus the magical ability to create anvils out of thin air. Seems like great fun for both the squirrels and the dogs.
This four acre dog park is the result of citizen action. Using community volunteers, they cleared the heavy brush by hand to make room for the park inside the vast Ed Austin. It sits right next to the skateboard park, so do hold onto your pooch if he has a tendency to chase after people on wheels. Parking is across the road. It’s wooded, but has easily navigable paths, plenty of seating and water stations. The thoughtful, simple design and easily makes this the best free off-leash park in Jacksonville. They encourage other areas of the city to follow in their footsteps to build community parks in their neighborhoods.

Pay to Play Dog Parks

Nassau Humane Society Dog Park
641 Airport Rd. Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Spring/Summer (EDT)
9-7 Monday-Friday
9-5 Saturday & Sunday
Closed Tuesday
This is definitely a resort for dogs, and does attract tourists passing through North Florida, especially because it’s on Amelia Island. Rules and requirements are pretty stringent, so do go to the website. It’s about two and a half acres or so, decent sized, but packed with amenities, including a dog bone shaped pool and lots of seating for dog owners. See the website for more on the rules and application, which must be filled out, even for a day pass rather than a membership. It’s $10 for a day pass, and you can ask for more info on site for  memberships.

Poochie’s Swim & Play Park
21 Fountain Dr. Orange Park, FL 32065 or (904) 272-4545
Office Hours: Mon – Fri 7am to 7pm; Saturday & Sunday 9am to 5pm.
Poochie’s has the advantage of a pond on site, so water dogs will love it. It’s 4 acres, so there’s room for your dog to play. They have fairly stringent requirements when it comes to the dogs they allow on site. Not there’s any guarantee, but if you worry about your dog getting ill, have a young dog, or have a sensitive pooch, their health requirements will help put your mind at ease. All dogs must be vaccinated against Rabies and Bordetella. As well as the all in one vaccine, DHLPP or DAPPL (Distemper, Hepatitis (or Adenovirus), Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza). If your dog doesn’t have those (and they should!) you can always get them updated at Black Creek Pet Clinic next door. They also ask that dogs be kept current on flea & tick prevention. Like most Pay for Play dog parks Poochies asks that your dog is spayed or neutered after 7 months. See their website for the full litany of rules. The first visit is free, but you must have vaccination proof. After that, its $10 per household for a day pass to the park.

Paws Park at Wingate Park
South Penman Road, Jacksonville Beach
$50 per year ($25 for each additional dog after the first). MEMBERS ONLY. or (904) 513-9240
This Jacksonville Beach dog park used to be free, but the City of Jacksonville now has an application process, to better ensure that all dogs are current on shots, the area maintained, and everyone understands the rules. See their application for the full rules, but know that your dog must be neutered or spayed to play.

Atlantic Beach Dog Park
268 Aquatic Drive, Atlantic Beach
Memberships $50 annually. MEMBERS ONLY. Limited guest & visitor access but you must pay at Atlantic Beach’s City Hall, with Members. or (904) 247-5800
This is run by the City of Atlantic Beach. See the website for application requirements.

Julington Creek Animal Walk
12075-300 San Jose Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32223 or (904) 338-9480
Pretty much, this place is like a country club for dogs. There’s a pool shaped like a bone. All memberships and the day pass include use of pools, splash park, nature trails, fields, and wash stations. A day pass is $16 (daily unavailable on Sundays). Membership pricing: annual $330, 6-month $215, and monthly $70. One membership card per family is included with all memberships except the daily pass. An additional card is $10. Dogs past 8 months must be fixed to play. Vaccines required for dogs are Rabies, DHPP and Tracheobronchitis. They also require a negative intestinal parasite/fecal test and results of a heartworm test.

Dogwood Park_photo k9livesjax.comDogwood Park
7407 Salisbury Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256 or (904) 296-3636
Office hours: M-F 10-4; Sa/Su 9-5
At a huge 25 fenced acres, this is the largest off-leash dog park in Jacksonville, and likely for several states. It frequently makes it on top 10 lists for best or most notable dog parks in the nation. There are four main areas open to all dogs. First, there’s the field, which is lit and members use after hours when daylight is scarce in the early eve. The advantage is that it doesn’t have a pond, so unless it’s been raining or the turf is wet, it’s a good place to take your dog for a quick constitutional and ball throw. Visitors to the park generally ignore the field, as they are after something more than the usual spot of grass and space most parks have to offer. The Barkem Woods are a favorite for hounds and other dogs that like a romp in the woods. You can stick to the main trails, or find winding little pathways for your dog’s enjoyment. Visitors also head straight for the big pond area, for dogs that love a swim or a frisbee toss into the water. The park is large enough that if your dog has a problem with another dog, you can just move along to somewhere else–within an area (they are certainly large enough) or by going to another part of the park entirely. The small dog area also has a pond, but it is not very large. If your dog has taken agility classes with them, you will also have access to the agility course. Barring a medical condition, all dogs must be fixed after the age of  7 months. Non-members welcome after showing proof of vaccination. $11 for the first dog and $1.25 for each additional dog. Park membership starts at $35 per month or $289 for an annual membership. Children under 4 ft tall are not allowed out of a stroller, except in the kids & dogs playground (they ask that you only bring kid-tested dogs into this area).

As you can tell, Jacksonville has no shortage of fun places to take your pooch. When you post pictures of them gallivanting around, be sure to tag us @eujacksonville or #eujax.

About Erin Thursby