With the arrival of Spring and the lessening rain, most of us are eager to get back outside! If you have a four-legged furry family member who enjoys the outdoors as much as you do, finding a great place for them to run and play is important. Santa Cruz's beaches are becoming off-limits for off-leash pets, one by one banning off-leash dogs and handing out stiff penalties for offenders. Luckily, there are many great dog parks in Santa Cruz county. Many factors go into finding the right dog park for both you and your dog; the amenities, location, maintenance, safety and disposition of other regular visitors all play a huge role in finding the perfect fit. Here is our guide to three of the best dog parks in Santa Cruz county.
Chanticleer Dog Park
Chanticleer is rumored to be one of the county's best dog parks, and it's no wonder why. Chanticleer is privately owned and both the parking areas and the park itself are well kept. Chanticleer Park Neighbors, a local volunteer group, work hard to maintain the park and are always improving it's features and adding in new amenities such as sitting areas, picnic tables and well-shaded areas. The park and its' dedicated volunteers make sure to take care of their furry frequenters with free poop bags, toys, tennis balls, water bowls and water fountains. Located on the East Side of Santa Cruz, right down the street from the beach, we recommend you check out Chanticleer dog park where you are likely to see your pup happily roaming free.
Aptos Dog Park
Aptos Dog Park is unique in the fact that it is actually two dog parks in one. With a mini park for smaller dogs, and a larger main park for bigger dogs, this dog park is perfect for furry family members of any size. Located in the Polo Grounds of Aptos, this park is well maintained and full of great amenities for both two and four legged visitors. Aptos Dog Park is equipped with plenty of trash cans, clean restrooms, water pumps, benches, fountains, sitting areas, and secure gates. Visiting pups will often find a multitude of toys and tennis balls donated by park regulars, volunteers and the Santa Cruz County Parks Department. With a great local community and friendly neighborhood vibe, this dog park is a favorite of many local Santa Cruz residents.
Mitchell's Cove Beach
If you are looking for a beach play-date with your pup, Mitchell's Cove Beach is the place to go! Officially a State Park, Mitchell's Cove is the only beach left in Santa Cruz County where your dogs are permitted to run around leash-free. Even their off-leash perks have some limits, requiring dogs to be on leashes during the day but permitted to run free before 10am and after 4pm. Some things to consider regarding Mitchell's Cove is that it can get pretty crowded during the off-leash hours and there is no separate area for smaller dogs and larger ones. But if crowds of beach lovers and a healthy mix of pups don't bother you, we recommend you check out Mitchell's for a fun-filled afternoon of sand, water and leash-free fun.