Seattle Off-leash Dog Park Review: Golden Gardens

When we visited Golden Gardens off-leash area, part of the park was closed off because it was so swampy. Still, this fully fenced park has plenty of space for the dogs to run around. Even though the closed end was all mud, the surface in main area the ground was moist, soft dirt with only minimal to moderate muddy areas.

There is one double gate to enter the park. The park has benches, a small covered area and a spigot with a hose and water dishes. There is a nice large bathroom right next to it. I didn’t notice any official poop bag stations but I do seem to remember a plastic bag hanging on the fence that may have had some in it. I would still come prepared and bring your own.


Does your dog like chasing the ball but you forgot yours at home? It looks like you might be able to find several muddy, nasty tennis balls on the ground. There were at least 20 when we were there but a lady was going around and picking them up and looked like she was going to take them home.

We initially spent our time in the larger area running around with all of the other dogs. That is until nervous-nelly Gretel wet nutso on a dog that almost trampled her. She started chasing the dog around barking in a high-pitched squeal. It was a total scene – us yelling at her to stop and chasing this fast, squealing dog around all crazy-like.

The people seemed friendly…or at least no one that we noticed gave us death stares or lectures after Gretel’s freak-out. After our little incident, we decided to go up to the small dog area to shame ourselves.

There is a separate entrance for this small dog area on the north end. You have to exit the main dog park to get to that gate. It’s not a double gate so I think it is on the outside so your little guys can’t escape into the big dog area. There is a gate on the inside but there is a sign strongly discouraging you from using it and apparently sometimes a lock so you can’t.

The small dog area is the nicest part of the off-leash park. The dirt was more like packed sand and there with virtually no mud. We were alone most of the time except for a brief moment when a beagle joined us and a big dog jumped the fence.

I can tell Gretel would have appreciated some company because she stood by the fence looking longingly at the other dogs like she wanted to play.

Inside Golden Gardens Park there are a lot of trails to explore and amazing views of the Olympic Mountains if you hike down to the beach. What seems to be the longest set of stairs in the world passes by the off-leash area. All I could think was what a great running workout….if I was actually in shape.

As far as the beach goes, it is a City ordinance that dogs are not allowed on any beaches in Seattle. Dogs are only allowed in the parking lot and along the concrete walking path.  I did hear a rumor that some people walk their dogs to the north end of the park and let them off leash on the beach. Being rule followers, wildlife lovers and water quality geeks like we are we didn’t go check it out. You might want to though if you go.

There is a parking lot immediately adjacent to the off-leash area that looks like it might hold 30 or 40 cars. You can also park near the beach and hike up the stairs to get there. Don’t expect to find any parking in the lot near the beach in the summer though. This is one of the City’s premier summer beach destinations.

This off-leash area is located at Golden Gardens Park in the Ballard neighborhood. There are no shops, restaurants or coffee shops immediately adjacent to the off-leash area.  In the summer there IS a little snack stand down by the beach.

You can find restaurants and shops on the way to the park if you take Market Street. One of the premier Seattle attractions, the Ballard Locks, is on this road. Be sure to stop at this dog-friendly destination if you haven’t been there to watch the ships and yachts being moved back and forth in the locks. Most of the time you can see salmon swimming up the fish ladder too.

The bottom line is parking is this is one of the most popular dog parks in the area so you will probably have lots of doggie friends to play with, the really big play area is a good place to tire your dog out and it is muddy but not overly so.  The amazing view from the beach makes this park a must-visit….especially to watch the sunset!

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. Sounds like a fun park. My fear in going to a dog park with the 2 brown dawgs would be uncontrollable chasing…lol.

    Pretty beagle in the small dog area. Didn’t the beagle want to play with poor Gretel?

    1. The beagle wasn’t much of a “player” anyway. It was just coincidence that him and Chester were in the same area. Gretel was too busy starting through the fence and the big dogs anyway 🙂

  2. Thanks for the great review – we’re anxious to get to the Pacific NW portion of our planning. We’ve only been as far north as Portland and can’t wait to see Seattle.

    We’re rule followers too, so good to know about the beach rules. Gus loathes the water anyway and would much prefer to view it from a distance. 🙂

  3. What a beautiful beagle! Too bad he didn’t want to play. One of my roommates in college brought a beagle back to our apartment right after winter break—he was a menace! I still have the holes in my pant leg to prove it. 😉

  4. It does sound like a fun place. I’m not allowed to be off-leash because I don’t always come when called.

    Nubbin wiggles,

    1. Gretel doeesn’t always come when called eather. She is not agressive just goes nuts barking and chasing dog’s sometimes. We do look like goons chasing her aoround trying to catch her but the great part is the dog park is fenced so we know we’ll catch her sometime 🙂

    1. Thanks. Funny you like that photo. It was dusk when I took it so that was the best I could do. Not my favorite of her but is a little different. It takes on a new perspective for me if you like it 🙂

  5. Nice park. I think that Kelly would enjoy a park like that with so much to see and sniff. She’s not dependably good with other dogs though. hmmm. Thanks for sharing and the great pix, I like the fish ladder!

  6. Hi Guys! It’s great to meet you. We really enjoyed your post and reading about the park, looking forward to reading more about your adventures – hiking sounds great fun. Dex & Lou

  7. Brisbane has a dog park in every burb (read neighbourhood), but that seems to be a city thing here. I don’t remember seeing any in Melbourne. Our parks are not as nice as yours. Yours truly look like nature parks, where are are fenced off areas of a park, so not a lot of running space. I do like that some cities have sections for small dogs. Ours are always lumped together.

    I liked the review. I wish someone did that here.

  8. Good review of my local Golden Gardens dog park. Just a couple of additions. For the coffee crowd, there is an excellent shop at the top of the road going down to the beach. 32nd and 8th Ave NW, and a couple minutes by car. I also believe there is a 2nd double gate, but it’s at the wet end, so you might not have seen it. The walks in the woods by the dog park are excellent and used by many of the same owners and dogs.
    There is a dog bag receptacle for those who forgot theirs as well. Keep those great reviews coming.

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