New York City is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you and Fido have to spend a bundle to enjoy it. It’s an incredibly dog friendly city, with dog parks in all five boroughs and an estimated 500,000+ pet dogs living here. There are plenty of things to do with your pup that won’t cost you a dime. Here are 10 free things to do in NYC with your dog.
Psst… if you’re looking for more dog-friendly NYC and don’t mind paying, check out 11 dog-friendly activities in NYC.
10 Free Things to Do in NYC With Your Dog
1. Central Park
Central Park is heaven for dogs. It’s 843 acres of urban park that runs right down Manhattan. It’s the most visited urban park in the United States, with over 37.5 million visitors annually. The park has everything, from rocks to climb, to ponds, to a carousel and even a castle. There are free events held nearly every day, with free guided tours and walks through various parts of the park. Official off-leash hours are between 9PM and 9AM, during which time the park belongs to the dogs, who are free to run and play to their hearts’ content. There’s even a dog group called Central Park Paws that runs the annual My Dog Loves Central Park event, meets monthly for coffee and bagels (Bagel Bark!), and organizes hound hikes!
2. Brooklyn Brewery
Nothing’s better than pups and pints. The Brooklyn Brewery tasting room allows leashed dogs in their tasting room, so you can sample Brooklyn beer on tap with your pup at your side. There’s no cover, no reservations, and plenty of tables to sit back and enjoy a free sample. Bring some water for your pooch because the beer is for humans only.
3. Dog Park
Dog parks are large, fenced-in areas for dogs to exercise and play in while off leash. They’re a great way for dogs to exercise and be social. There are over 65 dog parks in New York City, with multiples in each borough. Many have special features, like sprinklers, bathing areas, benches, and rocks to climb on. There are even specialty ones, with some parks offering small dog parks for pups 25lbs and under. Find the dog park closest to you and head over for some playtime.
4. Staten Island Ferry
When the Staten Island Ferry first opened, it cost 25 cents a ride, but today it’s free! The ferry shuttles back and forth from lower Manhattan to St. George Terminal in Staten Island, and runs 24/7 with views of Governors Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. The five mile, 25 minute ride allows leashed dogs that are caged and/or muzzled, however, we’ve noticed that if you ask a ferry worker politely, they might let you remove the muzzle or get out of the cage. Hop on the ferry, feel the breeze and check out the NYC skyline – it’s a must.
5. Off Leash Hours
Off leash hours are opportunities for your pup to run and play off leash in one of NYC’s parks. They’re typically from open until 9AM, and from 9PM until close. There are 75 parks that have off leash hours in NYC, with multiples in each borough. Let your dog stretch their legs and meet some of the dog packs that frequent each park for daily socials.
6. Coney Island
Coney Island is the city’s playground. It has an amusement park, the beach, and a vibrant boardwalk full of fun. Leashed dogs are allowed on the boardwalk at Coney Island year round, and allowed on the beach from September 30 – April 30. Visit Nathan’s hot dogs for a bite, buy a ticket to a Brooklyn Cyclones Bark in the Park game, or check out Coney Island Walls, an “Outdoor Museum of Street Art.” You can even catch a free movie at Coney Island Flicks on the Beach. Don’t forget the sunblock! Get there on the D, Q, N, or F train to Stillwell Avenue.
7. Take a Hike
There’s no better exercise than a lovely hike through nature. Luckily, there are many trails and parks that allow dogs to join in on the fun. Let your pooch wander the forest while feasting on the sights and smells of the woods! Inwood Hill Park is the only forest left on Manhattan Island. It has three trails, various rock formations, and a view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. It’s also home to tulip trees, oaks, and maples, as well as Manhattan’s last salt marsh. Be sure to check out Shorakkopoch Rock while there, the alleged place where the “selling” of Manhattan, between Peter Minuit and Native Americans, took place. It’s only a subway ride away! Take the 1 train to 215th Street.
8. Dog Beach
Located at Long Meadow in Prospect Park, Dog Beach is a swimming hole for our four-legged friends. It was recently renovated in 2016, with rocks brought down from upstate New York and new fencing. Dogs are able to swim, run, and play freely during off leash hours in the dog days of summer. Prospect Park is a haven for dogs, offering acres of dog friendly green space in addition to Dog Beach. You can connect with other Prospect Park dog owners through FIDO, New York City’s largest off-leash community. They host events throughout the year, like Coffee Bark, a monthly get together for dog owners to meet, socialize, and exchange information while enjoying coffee, pastries, and dog biscuits.
9. Brooklyn Bridge
There’s nothing like a walk across the historic Brooklyn Bridge. Soak in views of the Statue of Liberty, enjoy the spectacular skyline of downtown New York, and admire the beautiful architecture. The bridge has a 1.3 miles long pedestrian walkway that will keep you and your pup far from vehicles. It’s a great way to burn some energy while sightseeing. Make sure to go early morning or late at night to avoid huge crowds. We recommend entering on the Manhattan side, and enjoying Brooklyn Bridge Park when you exit the bridge. The waterfront park has tree lined pathways, a great lawn, and even a carousel. Stop in to check out the various piers and enjoy the gardens. Be sure to check out their list of free events beforehand to see what’s happening. Want more bridges? You can also walk over the Williamsburg Bridge!
10. See a Movie
NYC comes alive in the summertime, when people ditch indoor activities to spend most of their time outdoors. Every summer, movies are shown under the stars – and for free! – all over the city, on lawns, in parks, and even on rooftops. Check out Central Park Film Festival, Movies with a View, Summer Screen, Summer on the Hudson, and more. Pack a blanket, your pup, and some popcorn, and enjoy a night out.
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