Just outside the I-285 perimeter due north of downtown Atlanta, Dunwoody has been a comfortable bedroom community for generations of well-heeled Atlanta commuters. With tons of nearby shopping and dining options, including the bustling Perimeter Mall area with more than a dozen dog-friendly restaurant patios waiting to welcome your whole fur family, it is easy to overindulge.
Fortunately, northern metro Atlanta is rich in natural beauty, and the many local, state, and national parks within easy reach will keep your pup in tip-top form. It doesn’t hurt that there are 5 veterinary practices in Dunwoody. Serious hikers, boaters, and puppers will probably want to invest in an annual parking pass for the many riverside parks that make up the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Dotting the river over 48 miles through the northern suburbs, the CRNRA parks offer trails and swimming holes that will delight the outdoorsy dogs in your pack, along with convenient boat and raft launches if you want to float downstream with your very best friends. With Red Top Mountain State Park, Sweetwater Creek State Park, and the Kennesaw Mount National Battlefield Park all within an hour's drive, you won’t run out of weekend adventures anytime soon.
It’s easy to get a good workout without leaving Dunwoody, too. Be aware that the city is serious about its leash and pooper-scooper laws, but be sure to enjoy the 2 miles of nature hiking trails at Dunwoody Park. Hardcore hikers should bring plenty of water and take on the 12-mile Dunwoody Trailway, which leads from the southern corner of Brook Run Park south to Pernoshal Park and Georgetown Park.
One of Dunwoody’s most pawpular hotspots is the Brook Run Dog Park, an off-leash play place for your furry friends to frolic. You can scope out all your cutest neighbors (but brace yourself for some butt sniffing). If you really want to feel like part of this fuzzy community, sign up to volunteer for the dog park’s maintenance and clean-up projects on their webpage. The dog park is part of the 102-acre Brook Run people park that also welcomes leashed dogs on the 2 mile loop trail. With a treetop zip line course, a skate park, and a community garden, there is always plenty of excitement at Brook Run: curious pups will love the action, but anxious dogs may want to avoid the busiest parts of weekend days.
Just over Dunwoody’s southern border is the haven of Murphey Candler Park. In the city of Brookhaven, this 135-acre green space is an inviting spot on any sunny Sunday. A beloved dog-walking spot, Murphey Candler is a place where your on-leash pack is guaranteed to make new friends. Some of those friends might be ducks, geese, or even beavers you encounter on the 2-mile loop trail that circles the park’s man-made lake. Just a mile south is Blackburn Park, where a paved exercise trail leads through trees and picnic pavilions. At the southern tip of Blackburn, you’ll find a cluster of dog-friendly restaurants with patio seating: whether you’re in the mood for classic pub grub, Mediterranean food, tacos, or just a frozen treat, you can bring your best buds along to dine.
The main commercial hub of Sandy Springs surrounds Roswell Road, and you and your fur family can splurge at any of the 20-plus dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating areas. A surprisingly lush bit of parkland, the Abernathy Greenway stretches between Roswell and Johnson Ferry along Abernathy Road. Though narrow, the greenway is a great way to walk off the calories. Since the Dog City Bakery, with pup-approved handcrafted baked goods, is just up the road, that’s probably a good thing. Also on Roswell is a branch of the local chain, the Whole Dog Market. Not only can you browse their selection of premium foods, but you can use the self-service dog wash station and then bribe your way back into your pup's good graces with their in-house rawhide treats and toys sourced from Georgia-raised cattle.
Just north of Dunwoody city limits, the North Springs neighborhood of Sandy Springs contains some of the best hiking in the metro area. The Chattahoochee River scenery and dense forest can make you forget how close you are to the state capital. On the western riverfront, you’ll find the Morgan Falls River Park, split into two parts. The northern Overlook Park offers walking paths and peaceful swings for enjoying the scenery, and the southern River Park gives a view of the dam and Bull Sluice Lake from the fenced, off-leash dog run. A couple of miles to the east is the 30-acre Big Trees Forest Preserve, a wooded network of trails that invite you to bring your on-leash dogs. A few miles further east is the Island Ford Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, with trails, a boat launch, and fantastic wading and splashing opportunities.
Got dogs? Like history? If so, the Sope Creek Trail is your perfect afternoon adventure. Catch this dog-friendly 3.2-mile loop trail at the Sope Creek Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. It leads to the ruins of a massive paper mill built in the 1850s before being destroyed by Union forces during the Civil War. Though the initial walk to the ruins is moderate, the trail becomes fairly rugged and remote. If your pups are up for a longer journey, you can make it an 8.5-mile roundtrip by connecting via a side trail at the mill ruins to hook up with the Cochran Shoals Trail. This smooth and level trail follows the river to the Cochran Shoals Unit of the CRNRA.