Pt. Isabelle – best dog park ever!

Pt. Isabelle – best dog park ever!
By Mickey Zeldes July 25, 2014
It’s kind of frustrating to be living near so much water and have so few options of places to take a water-loving dog to swim. What fun is it to have a Golden Retriever and not be able to take him swimming? Actually, I know about a couple of great places that I’ll share with you, and then hope you can expand my horizons by sharing back.

Have you been to Pt. Isabelle? It’s across the bridge in Richmond but well worth the drive. This 23-acre regional shoreline park is a treasure. It’s unlike any other dog park in that it’s not just a fenced area where owners sit around talking and ignoring their dogs while the dogs engage with each other or get in trouble. It’s a walking park, big enough that a hundred or more dogs can be there at one time, and it doesn’t seem crowded.

There is water access in one of the inlets and on the bay side if you and your dog are brave enough to deal with the waves. There are picnic tables here and there, but the crown jewel of this place is the Sit and Stay Café, featuring delectable treats for both you and your pup. Enjoy an espresso drink, smoothie or a full lunch on their dog-friendly patio (vegetarian options available).

Believe it or not, next to the café is a self-serve/or by appointment dog wash and tiny pet store. So after your dog gets filthy swimming and playing in the park you can bathe him or pay to have him bathed (while you enjoy a latte?) before putting him back in the car. Nice, huh? How many other dog parks can boast these kind of amenities?

Ft. Funston in San Francisco and Dillon are two more favorite dog places. In both, dogs are legally able to be off-leash as long as they are under voice command. They have large beach areas where you can walk for a long ways, and both have bathrooms near the parking area (Ft. Funston has Portapotties), which is a nice amenity when you drive so far to get there. Ft. Funston is free, but Dillon beach charges $7 for parking. The drawback to these two locations is the swimming is in the ocean, and I’m a chicken with the risk of riptides. People drown every year on our coast – some because they are trying to save their dog. So we stay splashing in the shallow areas and although Brandy has a great time, it’s not really swimming.

September is our favorite month, as Spring Lake opens to dogs every weekend in September with their Bark Swim. This is a small lake but is deep enough for a dog to really have to paddle if they go out any distance. They charge $5 per dog on top of the parking fee, unless you are a regional park member (free parking and just $3 per dog) and it’s very popular. If you come out there, you’ll see Brandy out in the center of the lake just swimming in joyous circles.

Do you know a good dog swimming location? We’re always looking for new experiences and love hiking and exploring our beautiful county. Let me know ( and I’ll share what you send in a future article.

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