Dog-Friendly Places in Washington, D.C.

Human friends can be unreliable. Dogs, on the other hand, are never resentful, always thankful, and can be really great at cuddling. Yep, sometimes dogs really are our best friends; it's no wonder that we want only the best for them. Whether you're Bo Obama or the mutt next door, Washington, D.C., is a great place to be a dog. Check out the best places for dogs to play, eat, relax and spend the night.

Updated: June 02, 2010

Best Dog-Friendly Activity

Potomac Riverboat Co

3 Cameron St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Ever wish your pooch could be your main boating companion? Set shore with your pooch on a Potomac Riverboat Company Canine Cruise. The 40-minute tour of Alexandria's seaport departs from the Alexandria City Marina at 7pm and 8pm every Thursday between May 28 and Sept. 3. Dogs aren't required--so if you're the apartment-dwelling type who relies on the kindness of strange dogs, you can jump aboard and pet someone else's. Pups ride free, but adults are $15 and children are $9--tickets can be purchased online or at the Alexandria ticket booth (advance reservations not required). If you do bring your dog, note it must be on a six-foot flat leash.

Best Place to Stay With Your Dog

Helix, A Kimpton Hotel

1430 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005

Need a break but wary of traveling too far in this economy? Consider a luxury staycation at the Helix hotel. This Kimpton-owned property in Logan Circle will treat your pet as well as it treats you. All pets under 200 pounds are welcome--there's no limit on the number of pets--and pet treats, feeding bowls, a mat, bed, bottled water and pick-up bags will be provided. The "doggie style" package for pup owners is even better; snack together from the honor bar (he'll get his own treats), relax side-by-side (he'll get a complimentary pet robe) or enjoy dual in-room spa treatments (his mani-pedi is on the house). In warm months, the hotel bar also hosts a doggy happy hour.

Best Place for Doggie Spa Treatments and Treats

Doggie Style LLC

1825 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

This bakery, boutique and pet spa is perfect for the eco-conscious canine. Voted one of D.C.'s best pet shops by Washingtonian magazine, the boutique carries all-natural pet foods (even the dog chews are made with human-grade ingredients) that use free-range and pesticide-free meats and vegetables. The pet spa--in which all dogs are treated to an oatmeal and aloe bath--uses only chemical-free shampoos and grooming products. But customers love the bakery the most: The owners bake everything from doggy birthday cakes to everyday treats using fresh ingredients and whole grains.

Best Dog Park

S Street Park

S St NW & 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

One of Northwest D.C.'s most popular doggie meeting grounds, the S Street Park was an unofficial dog park for years until the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided funds to build it out with Astroturf, fencing--complete with double-entry doors to prevent lost pups--doggy water fountains with ground-level bowls and even benches for the humans. Prime hours are in the evening after work when the park is overrun with happy, off-leash dogs making friends, though you're bound to see at least a couple at any hour during the day--just don't come after the park closes at 8pm.

Best Doggie Day Care

Happy Paws

4904 Wisconsin Ave Nw, Washington, DC 20016

This luxury pet boutique in upper Northwest is one of the area's best bets for doggie day care; two playrooms provide cage-free boarding options for working or traveling pet parents. Each room is designated for specific dog ages and energy levels, and the service includes an on-call vet as well as streaming video of the dogs at play. While you can count on bringing home an exhausted pooch at the end of a stay--which means no guilty feelings leaving him for a trip or long work day--Happy Paws is careful not to overcrowd. Another perk: The place is so clean (and lacks those tell-tale dog smells) that you'd never suspect it was more than a pet boutique.