Best summer outings with your pup

Best summer outings with your pup
Frolick Dogs recent pack walk last weekend in Fort Ward Park. (Photo/Kim Jones Gilliam)

By Kim Jones Gilliam

The arrival of longer days and warmer weather is a great excuse to find fun ways to enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer. If you’re looking for something new to try beyond your standard dog park visit, walk or hike, here are some ideas.

Beach day

There are a number of dog-friendly beaches within a one to two-hour drive of Washington, D.C. with easy walking trails nearby. In Maryland, check out Matapeake Park Dog Beach and Terrapin Nature Park in Stevensville or Downs Park Dog Beach in Pasadena. In Woodbridge your dog can romp in the water at Leesylvania State Park.

Backyard fun

Set up the sprinkler, kiddie pool or splash pad in the yard and see how much fun your pup has. They can play fetch and run through the water to retrieve a frisbee or ball or you can load the kids up with water guns to instigate a game of chase. Better yet, check out to rent a pet-friendly pool by the hour and invite some friends.


Take the “x marks the spot” adventure to a whole new level and bring your favorite four-legged sidekick to help you search for hidden treasure. As of this year, there are more than 3 million geocaches scattered across the globe that can be found using a smartphone and geocaching app. A great spot to start locally is Burke Lake Park.

Farmer’s markets

Bring your pup along while you scope out fresh fruits, veggies and artisan wares! There are multiple dog-friendly farmer’s markets in Alexandria: Old Town North Farmers’ Market on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; West End Farmers’ Market on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Four Mile Run Farmers’ & Artisans Market on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Private dog park

Do you dislike the local dog park and wish for something private and cleaner? Sniffspot. com may be the answer. It enables you to rent land by-the-hour with the goal to provide safe spaces that allow dogs to explore their instincts while running wild and free.

Dog-loving breweries, wineries

There are over a dozen dog-friendly breweries in Northern Virginia, including Alexandria’s own Port City Brewing Co. where you can sit with your pup on the patio while enjoying a pint. And lists over 40 wineries that go above-and-beyond to make your best friend feel welcomed, even inside the tasting room.

Pack walks

Get your pooch’s pack together and take them on a stroll together in a nearby park to incorporate much-needed socialization into your outing. Need a pack to join? Frolick Dogs, an American Kennel Club Fit Dog Club, holds quarterly pack walks around Alexandria. We had more than 20 dogs at our recent walk in Fort Ward Park, such fun! Sign up to join future walks at frolickdogs. com/events.

Some safety reminders

• Remember that dogs don’t sweat all over like people do to stay cool in warm weather, so make sure they have access to water and shade.

• While these outdoor adventures can cause a lot of excitement, be careful that your pup doesn’t overdo it.

• Take breaks every once in a while to avoid overexertion.

• Check to ensure their microchip information is current. That way if you ever get separated while out and about, they can successfully make their way back to you.

The writer co-owns Frolick Dogs, a canine sports club in Alexandria.