Doggy Play Date

San Antonio's best dog parks for off-leash fun

San Antonio's best dog parks for off-leash fun

Dog goes swimming at the park
Take your four-legged friend to one of these dog parks. Photo courtesy of Diana Oates

Most dogs go absolutely bonkers once they realize they're heading to the dog park. Where else can they run around without their owners tugging them by a leash?

San Antonio has a host of parks for a doggy play date — some are small and packed with agility features and tennis balls, while others boast water features and separate areas for small and large dogs. For extra kisses and a lot of tail-wagging, take your four-legged friend to one of these spots. 

Madison Square Park
More people are working (and living) downtown, and more companies are allowing employees to bring their dogs to work with them. If you're looking for a basic dog park that has a fenced-in grassy area, a doggy water fountain, and a few benches to sit on, check out Madison Square Park. While there's a teeny, tiny dog run at Travis Park (closer to the Tech District), Madison Square Park is where your dog can get some off-leash exercise. It's usually not packed, so bring a ball or Frisbee to play fetch.

Size: .65 acres
Separate areas for large and small dogs? No.
Location: 400 Lexington Ave.

Pearsall Park
Parents of kids and canines love this spot. The dog park, which is tucked away from the rest of Pearsall Park, is quite spacious and somewhat shaded (for South Texas, at least). You'll find a bunch of agility and obstacle course equipment for dogs, and benches and picnic tables for dog owners. With 1.5 acres of fenced-in area, there's more than enough space to play fetch, but it does get crowded in the evenings and on cooler days. Dogs are not allowed inside Pearsall Park's amazing splash pad, but there are trails where pups are welcome on-leash.

Size: 1.5 acres
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 4838 Old Pearsall Rd.

Tom Slick Park
Located off the Texas Highway 151 access road, this dog park is always filled with adorable pups running around and a few tennis balls. The enclosed area is stocked with agility equipment, doggy and human water fountains, and even a doggy shower (a little pool filled with water) for cooling off. There are also pavilions that offer some shade, picnic tables, and benches for the humans. While not a part of the actual park, if you take the trail just past the main dog park gate, you will come to a small pond where your pup can take a dip in the water. There is a second fenced-in dog enclosure on the Timbercreek Drive side next to the playground, but at 0.25 acres, it's basically a dog run.

Size: 1 acre
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 7400 Hwy 151 

Nani Falcone Community Park
One of the newest dog parks in San Antonio, this place has become a popular neighborhood spot for dogs in the northwest part of town. The space is smaller than nearby dog parks, but it has the basics and a fenced-in area, which is making a lot of tails wag. There's not much shade here, but it is open until 11 pm — just bring a head lamp if you come when it's dark, because the park doesn't have any lights.

Size: 1 acre
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 8701 Mystic Dr.

Bark Park of Alamo Heights
Located near the baseball fields off La Jara and Alamo Heights boulevards, Bark Park is spacious, with shade from the sprawling oak trees and a water trough for drinking (or cooling off). Dogs have a blast running around and chasing each other in the mixture of grass and mulch. It's not located within a larger city park, but you can easily walk through the shaded streets of the Alamo Heights neighborhood. It's located in the flood zone, so if it's raining or it just rained, chances are the park is going to be closed.

Size: At least an acre
Separate areas for large and small dogs? No.
Location: 103 La Jara Blvd.

Phil Hardberger
Hardberger is one of the most popular parks in San Antonio, not just for its natural trails and bird-watching, but because it's super dog-friendly and has two dog parks. One of the dog parks is located at the east entrance (13203 Blanco Rd.), and the other is at the west entrance (8400 NW Military Hwy.), totaling 3.3 acres. Open from sunrise to sunset, these dog parks are stacked with agility equipment, enough space to play fetch, a few shaded areas, and doggy water fountains. There are miles of shaded trails in the park if you want to get out and hike a bit, and the Salado Creek Greenway runs right past the Blanco Road side.

Size: 3.3 acres
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 13203 Blanco Rd. The park is divided by Wurzbach Parkway until the footbridge is installed.

Panther Springs Park
For the Stone Oak folks, this park is open from sunrise to sunset. The agility equipment was built and donated by a young Life Scout and the fences are 6-feet-high, preventing any escape artists from going over. Panther Springs also has paved and natural trails, plenty of parking, and mulch to help with the mud factor during the rainy season. Consider the time of day before heading here, especially if your fur baby gets hot quickly, as the park is lacking in shade. It's always a good idea to pack water for you and your pup. 

Size: 1.5 acres
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 22635 Wilderness Oak Rd.

McAllister Park
This park is one of the favorites among dog owners in the city. It's stocked with agility equipment where dogs can run, jump, climb, and act like they're preparing for the Westminster Dog Show. There are also water stations throughout the area and a decent amount of shade. While there is a separate section for small dogs, there's really not much on that side besides some space to run and ample sniffing opportunities. There's a walking path inside the dog park for you to use as your high-energy pooch parties with his peers. Just outside the park is a large grassy open field that's typically sprinkled with families flying kites or doing lazy Sunday afternoon things. Pro tip: If you want to park next to the dog park, go in the Wurzbach Parkway entrance and take your first left.

Size: 1.5 acres
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 13102 Jones Maltsberger Rd.

Lady Bird Johnson Park
As a recipient of a $20,000 donation from the Beneful Dream Dog Park Project, Lady Bird Johnson Park has undergone a bit of an upgrade. New additions include more agility equipment, like the adorable Doxie tunnel (perfect for playing "king of the park"); 1.2 acres of space for running; and spots for fur parents to sit.

Size: 1.2 acres
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 10700 Nacogdoches Rd.

Universal City Dog Park
Most dogs sprint up the wooden clubhouse structure and then back down, but the occasional pup realizes it's a great spot for some shade and stays a little longer. This 1.3-acre park is divided into two sections for large and small dogs, and both sides have water stations on concrete pads, drinking fountains, and enough space for getting out some energy. When the park first opened in 2011 there was more grass than dirt, but with the years, weather, and amount of playing, most of the grass is gone. Besides the agility equipment, there are a few large rocks and metal picnic tables with shade from an overhead canopy.

Size: 1.3 acres
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 134 Athenian Dr.

Schertz Dog Park
Nothing quite says "dogs welcome" like the sight of a red fire hydrant. One of the low-key dog parks in Schertz, this park never seems to be packed (at least not like the others). With a little over an acre of land, there are two areas for small dogs and one large area for big- and medium-sized dogs to run, jump, play fetch, and socialize. A few trees on the grounds offer shade, and the green benches give humans a place to sit. Water fountains come in handy on hot days, and the park boasts grass, not the mulch that most other dog parks have.

Size: A little over an acre
Separate areas for large and small dogs? Yes.
Location: 1730 Schertz Pkwy.

Coming soon: Southside Lions Dog Park
Southside residents are getting a dog park later this summer. The already popular Southside Lions Park will soon have a 0.2-acre area for dogs to run around in. With plenty of shade, benches, and drinking fountains, this will be a welcome addition. Parking will be located near the new senior center just off Pecan Valley Drive.

Size: 0.2 acres
Location: 4600 Pecan Valley Dr.