Explore Washington D.C.

Unleashed: Dog-Friendly D.C.

A breezy riverboat ride, frozen treats and going nose-to-nose with a presidential pooch

With four-legged White House residents who often steal the spotlight from their mighty masters, D.C., it seems, has gone to the dogs. And those of us with canine companions (mine pictured above) couldn’t be happier. We sightsee, dine and even cruise the Potomac with our BFFs—best furry friends.

Potomac Riverboat Canine Cruise
Cruisin' the Alexandria seaport (Courtesy Potomac Riverboat Company)

Morning: Riverside Romps

In Old Town Alexandria, aka Hound Haven, dogs frolic in the many parks and hop aboard Potomac Riverboat Company’s 60-minute canine cruise around the seaport. Eight miles south, George Washington’s Mount Vernon invites paw-bearers for “All the President’s Pups,” a walking tour through the estate of the founding father who’s also considered the “father” of the American foxhound.

Canine Cruise: Monthly through October. $15. Cameron & Union sts., Alexandria, Va.

All the President’s Pups Tour: Saturdays through June 29. $5 plus estate admission $18. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon, Va.

Dog at Mount Vernon
Getting patriotic (Courtesy George Washington's Mount Vernon)

Midday: Chilling Out

The Dairy Godmother in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood dishes out frozen custard (think toasted almond, Mexican chocolate) for bipeds and fro-yo (pumpkin, banana) for dogs. Bo Obama’s gotten his licks here.

2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.

Afternoon: Playing Ball

During Washington Nationals “Pups in the Park,” the ball-obsessed of both species take in an MLB game on the state-of-the-art home field. Tickets, benefiting the Washington Humane Society, come with pet-sitting services. Go for that fly ball, Fido!

Roughly four times a season. $25 human, $10 dog. 1500 S. Capitol St. SE

Dogs with Fala
Meeting a former DOTUS (©Brooke Sabin)

Early Evening: Photos with Fala

The National Mall’s expanse of grass, paths, and reflecting pools makes for a relaxing dog walk with sights galore: the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and more. For a wag-worthy photo op, head to the west bank of the Tidal Basin and snap a shot with Fala, the Scottish terrier immortalized in bronze at the FDR Memorial.

All free. FDR Memorial: West Potomac Park along Basin Dr. SW

Art and Soul patio
Chowing down (©Moshe Zusman, Courtesy Art and Soul)

Nighttime: On the Patio

While many restaurants allow dogs on their sidewalk real estate, some actually cater to canines. In Alexandria, Jackson 20’s “yappy hour” has become an institution, drawing locals and travelers to its brick courtyard Thursday nights for cocktails, light bites and free dog biscuits. Namesake Andrew Jackson, known for relishing a good party, would surely approve. At Capitol Hill’s Art and Soul, Obama pal and ex-Oprah chef Art Smith gives hounds the star treatment with a muzzle-watering “Pooch Patio” menu that includes a six-ounce grilled steak, beef tips with rice and a (nonalcoholic) beer.

Jackson 20, 480 King St., Alexandria, Va.

Art and Soul, 415 New Jersey Ave. NW