Family Travel, Day Trips and Places to Visit in Maryland

Updated September 2015

Hate seeing those sad puppy eyes when you leave the house for some well-deserved fun and adventure? Take heart! There are a ton of dog-friendly places and activities throughout Maryland, from Annapolis to Howard County to the Eastern Shore!

dogparkAnne Arundel County

Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis offers canine heaven. Leashed dogs are welcome all over the park, including the playgrounds and trails. Two fenced parks offer a safe off-leash play area for small or geriatric dogs that don’t enjoy the occasional rough play of larger, younger dogs. There are benches in shaded corners and two refillable kiddie pools for cooling off. Children younger than 6 are not permitted in the larger park.

The best feature of Quiet Waters – an off-leash doggie beach! It’s not fenced in, but it is isolated and the dogs are having too much fun with each other to plot escape routes. There’s no way you could use a leash safely – at least not with weekend crowds. Dogs hurtle back and forth on the sandy beach and race each other to fetch sticks, balls and toys from the water. Older children join in the fun – wee ones watch from a safe distance.

Downs Park in Pasadena offers a dog park, along with playgrounds, trails, handball and basketball courts. The dog beach is currently closed due to erosion.

Several community parks in Anne Arundel County offer fenced dog parks so that Spot and Fido can run and play while the children enjoy the playground! Other dog-friendly parks include Bell Branch, Broadneck and Maryland City Parks and Flag Ponds Nature Park.

Howard County

Worthington Park in Ellicott City offers a fenced-in, off-leash area and separate spaces for large and small dogs, as well as a water faucet for dogs and a seating area for owners. Handlers must be 18 or older, and children under 12 are not allowed in the off-leash area. There is a $5 daily admission fee. Due to maintenance, the lower area of the Dog Park will be closed from Dec. 19 to the end of March 2015. The upper large dog and the lower small dog are are both open.

Columbia DogPark is Howard County's newer park. The park's 2.7 acres is divided into two separate fenced sections: a .7 acre area for dogs weighting under 25 pounds and a 2 acre section for dogs weighing over 25 pounds. There are benches for weary owners, water stations for worn-out dogs, and waste-disposal containers with a supply of pet waste bags. The park gets busy during the mornings and late afternoons Monday through Friday, and is crowded all day Saturday and Sunday.

Eastern Shore

The Kent Island Dog Park is located behind the Kent Island library on Route 18. Go Friday night or Saturday morning if you want to play with other dog lovers – the park can be deserted at other times. This park rates high – with two fenced dog parks, benches, shade, agility equipment, water fountains and more! The big dogs have plenty of room to run – and the kids love running with them. The kids also seem to enjoy the agility equipment even more than the dogs. Adults will enjoy the shaded benches and great conversations with other dog lovers. There’s no fee to use the park – just clean up after your pooch (and kids, if necessary). The nearby library offers bathrooms and water when open.

Terrapin Park is also on Kent Island, off of Route 8 just north of the Bay Bridge. It’s tricky to find – parking is off of the large industrial and business park area. You’ll have a hike to the beach, but families and dogs swim together while looking at the beautiful Bay Bridge. It’s not secluded – if your dog’s not under voice control you’d better leave the leash on. This isn't the place for a dog free-for-all.

Matapeake Park is just south of the Bay Bridge with splendid views of the bay and bridge. There’s a mile trail to get to the sandy beach, where dogs are welcome to romp off-leash.

Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area is located between the Wye River and the Wye East River. The area offers trails, wildlife, bathrooms, picnic areas and a small sandy beach the whole family will enjoy! Pets are allowed off-leash in the forest, but they must be kept under control.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is just south of Rock Hall on the Chester River and offers hiking, crabbing and fishing activities. There is no charge to enter the park, but dogs must be on a leash.

Claiborne is in Talbot County, just off of Route 33 on the way to St. Michaels. This historic town offers a small off-leash dog beach that the locals love!

If you’re a nature lover, take the dogs and kids for a leisurely stroll through Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The arboretum offers self-guided nature walks, a visitors center, miles of trails and an entire world of exploration. Entrance is $5 adults, $2 children (under 5 free). Leashed dogs are welcome.

There’s no reason to leave your furry friends home alone anymore!  If your dog isn’t well-behaved enough to pass muster, invest in some dog training classes and then hit the road — just be sure to have your head hanging out of the window.

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Cyndi Paxton Johnson and her husband write and publish Mid Shore Life and build interactive websites. They also homeschool three children, train three dogs, and share space with two cats and sixteen chickens.  Learn more at


Updated September 2015

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