Stafford Township treats canine citizens like kings. The small township encloses three unincorporated towns, Manahawkin, Ocean Acres, and Beach Haven West, and boasts three separate veterinary hospitals, some including emergency service. Stafford Township also offers some of the best parks in the area for dogs who like to feel the dirt between their toes. Nautilus Park is one of these places; it’s fun for the whole family rolled into one place. Set the kids on the playground and walk the paths with your dog’s wagging tail leading the way!
If your dog needs something a little longer to get tired out, you want to head to Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area. This 1,600+ acres wildlife retreat welcomes dogs as long as they’re on leash. We wouldn’t want the pups to upset the wildlife they’re trying to manage!
Stafford Township is, confusingly, also the name of a park inside of Stafford Township. This may be the locals’ attempt to keep this gem secret. This park has a great view of the water and is less focused on playground equipment and sports, making it a great place to walk your dog and relax in nature. Stafford Township is a great place to get back to basics: clean air, good walks, and great views!
The Doc Cramer Sports Complex is a large, sprawling place in the heart of Stafford Township. It’s a great place for you to hit the walking paths with your dog. Your dog has to stay on leash in the area, but there are plenty of great places to walk. You can play disc golf through an 18 hole course, or just walk the course instead. Wind around the sports fields to work up a sweat or enjoy the bleachers and picnic areas instead. If you’re looking for a convenient place to rest, the Doc Cramer Sports Complex is the place to go! Afterwards, catch a bite to eat at TGI Fridays at one of their dog-friendly, outdoor tables.
Manahawkin is practically crowded with great parks to take your pup to. Start with Manahawkin Lake Park III, a grassy place right near the water. You can find events like community concerts there on summer evenings, and every day your dog can find fun things to sniff and paths to walk on and explore. If you need something else, try A. Paul King County Park right next door. This park gets down to the water for swimming, and has plenty of BBQ grills pots for mealtime. Your dog can paddle around as long as he stays on leash! At the end of the day, grab an outdoor, dog-friendly table at the Mud City Crab House. Perched right on the water, it’s a great place to catch a pawsome seafood meal with your best friend in tow.
Ocean Acres is a residential community that’s split between Stafford Township and it’s neighboring Barnegat Township. It’s also home to Lighthouse Park, a small place where you can walk your dog. There is a half mile walking and jogging path in the park that’s perfect for quickly burning up some doggy energy. Locals can visit the park morning and evening to easily get the level of daily exercise most dogs need. If you have a pup who needs to cover a lot of ground to stay calm and happy you may have to branch out, but in a pinch this park works great as a quiet, natural place you and your dog can visit.
If you’re up for the all day adventure your dog dreams about, get in the car and drive 15 minutes north to the town of Forked River. The Forked River Mountain Wildlife Management Area is over 6,000 acres of fun exploration for tough hikers and strollers alike. You can pick up trail maps and create the perfect day for you and your dog. Take it easy and enjoy the woods that are frequently populated by migratory birds, or turn up the difficulty and gain some elevation for amazing views of the surrounding area. Remember to bring your own water and a doggy bowl, because this area isn’t cultivated.