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older couple walking a dog in woods

09 March . 2024

Wilmington is just a doggone friendly place

When our local coffee shop first put out a water bowl and dog treats for their four-legged customers, it was a rather new concept.  This is way back in the 1900’s.  Today, dogs are welcomed nearly everywhere, whether official service companions, or not.  And who can argue?  They’re just the sweetest, best, most lovable creatures in all the land…yes you are, yes you are!

In fact, Wilmington has now all but rolled out the red stain resistant carpet, with pet-friendly signs -- and bowls -- aplenty.

Designated dog parks are nicely scattered throughout the greater Wilmington region:  In mid-town, visit Long Leaf or Empie parks; further north, visit Ogden Park. All have water and pet waste stations, plenty of shade, and fenced-in areas for off-leash dogs. Long Leaf and Empie offer designated play areas for smaller dogs and larger breeds.  All are open and free from dawn to dusk.

Well-behaved-dogs-on-a-leash are also welcome at Greenfield Lake, Abbey Nature Preserve at Poplar Grove, New Hanover County’s Arboretum and Carolina Beach State Park. None offer dog parks, per se, but all welcome your furry pals as long as they are on a leash.

Historic Downtown is also a welcome doggie destination.  The Riverwalk offers dogs and their humans a two-mile trek along the Cape Fear River.  And several history-filled walks throughout downtown, guided by the Wilmington History app, allow you to take in our African-American, Civil War, early founding and other historical facets, while your pooch can explore the smells, the hydrants and the squirrels – Squirrel??

If your sweet patootie has been so so good, reward that perfect behavior with a stop at Unleashed Wilmington’s locally-owned dog (and cat) store full of treats and toys and such.

Taking your dog to the beach is also welcome, but only during the non-tourist-heavy months. The Town of Wrightsville Beach welcomes dogs from October 1 through March 31 and requires that they be on a leash and waste is disposed of properly.  Those same rules and dates apply on Carolina Beach, but dogs are also allowed during peak season, from April 1st through September 30th before 9 AM and after 5 PM.

Then there are just the very swell business establishments that make Wilmington uber dog friendly.  Satellite Bar & Lounge anchors Wilmington’s South Front District with a pet-friendly courtyard and offers the perfect spot to watch the pups play or the people passing by. Enjoy a Brussel Sprouts Taco (trust me, unbelievably delicious) from adjacent Bloc Taco (just order at the window). Nearby New Anthem Beer Project offers another dog friendly destination for an altogether fun family outing.

Venture to Wilmington’s Cargo District(*) and enjoy Ruff Draft, Wilmington’s only dog park attached to a full service bar.  Pups have an 11,000 square foot playground and people can wander over to neighboring Mess Hall for what is surely one of Wilmington’s best burgers. 

Not to be outdone, Riverlights also has its own brand new dog park open to residents only. It’s just one of many amenities already here and soon-to-be that make this community the perfect place to call home for pets and people alike. 

Drop by our sales center to learn more – you’ll find we have a water bowl and dog treats filled and waiting for your very best friend!