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Dog Walks in the City: My Top 4 Dog Walks + Finding Murals Featuring Canines

Is this a wolf in leopard-unicorn clothing rather than sheep? A treat walking in San Francisco, with or without a dog, is our many murals

You find yourself surprised again, and again, with what people draw on buildings, or next to a window. The Mission District has many large and colorful drawings along alleys that are wonderful. Each week you can find a new piece of art, and this summer I've been seeing more organized walking tours taking visitors to the best exhibitions.

Not having my dog Cleo to take on walks, I enjoy coming across these various murals featuring canines. I feel like strangers are reminding me how much this city loves dogs. They are as fascinated by the different shapes and personalities of dogs as I am. These are often unexpected visual reminders on my walks that tell me I made the right choice all those years ago to call San Francisco home. 

Though I currently don't walk or hike some of my favorite city trails as often as I did with my dog, here are four of my favorite places to take a dog in the city:

  1. Fort Funston, Lakeshore: (Fort Funston Road/Skyline Blvd just south of Ocean Beach, Lake Merced, SF. Size about 35+ acres. Plenty of parking. Dogs are allowed off-leash under voice control.) Our personal favorite every time.
  2. Mount Davidson Park, Sherwood Forrest: (Dalewood Way & Myra Way, Mt Davidson. Approximately 40 acres with a few nice trails. Dogs are allowed on-leash.) Beautiful views, narrow trails in a large eucalyptus grove. It can be a quiet retreat in the middle of the city.
  3. Upper Douglass Park, Noe Valley: (Douglass St/27th St, Noe Valley, SF. Not far from Glen Canyon Park) It's a large green space that is fenced well with a gate, an off-leash free for all for dogs. For us, Cleo liked it best off hours when the number of dogs were fewer and she had some space to hang out without them crowding her.
  4. Alta Plaza Park, Pacific Heights: (Steiner St/Clay St, Pacific Heights, SF. Size about 12 acres. A big square block with 5 stairways and some flatter space at the top. Very dog-friendly park with off-leash areas.) Wide open grassy spot in the center of a very dense urban area. Known for its pug get togethers, we liked it because Cleo loved little dogs the most.

The Presidio is wonderful but currently there is still a lot of construction going on, and a lot of wildlife your dog can get tangled up with. With a big dog like Cleo, she would be more frustrated than happy because of the noises and cramped paths due to the park rangers rerouting trails to avoid endangered birds or newborn foxes. I wouldn't take a dog there right now.

Fort Funston is truly my favorite because it was Cleo's favorite. Between the sandy beach, the trails, the wide space between dog encounters, and her opportunity to chase shore birds, Cleo was the happiest here. I have the best photos and video of her here and though she never liked riding in the car, if the pay off was arriving here for an hour or two of fun, I knew she'd tolerate 15 minutes in the "moving bed."

  image from

Here she is thrilled that the moving bed has stopped, and let her off at this wide open space where she can run, smell a million odors and be a DOG. 

Does your dog have a favorite dog park? How do you decide on where to go? 

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