As the daylight hours dwindle, it can be a challenge to get your dog out for a nice walk in the sunshine, especially if you work until 5 or 6 p.m. Since you can’t venture out into the James River Park System at night, here is a list of places in the city that are well lit and not super busy. These destinations can provide an opportunity for your dog to get some exercise and for you to take in some of the interesting sights our fair city has to offer.
Jefferson Park is a small greenspace in Church Hill. Although it’s not that large, what makes it a great place to walk after dark is the beautiful view of the city. There is plenty of grass for dogs to enjoy and it is pretty well lit throughout without any dark patches. The nearby streets are also well lit so a longer walk is definitely possible.
Main Street Station
Downtown and Shockoe can be fun to walk at night. If you and your dog start at 9th and Cary streets and walk down Cary through the cobblestones to 15th and then cross over to Main St, you can check out Main Street Station and the empty 17th St Farmer’s Market. Walking that route is a bit over a mile, and it’s easy to continue on as long or as short of a walk as you want. This route is well lit and has a good amount of foot traffic.
The VMFA is one of my favorite places to walk at night. It is really pretty with all of the outdoor sculptures, fountains and a reflecting pool. As you walk up the stairs up the hill, there is water flowing down the other half of the stairs, and it is always funny to see dogs’ reactions to it. If you bring a long leash, it’s also a nice place for dogs to get to run around in the grass. I like to start at Monument Avenue and walk down Boulevard to the VMFA down to Grove and then come back, which is about a mile.
Around VCU can be a great place to walk around later at night because it’s not as busy as it is during the day or early evening. The wide walkways are great for dogs that prefer having more space in passing by people. I often walk my reactive dog around VCU because I find that we’re less likely to see a bunch of dogs. The bonus of walking around VCU is that my dogs always get complimented for being cute!
These are just a few options for city dog walking after dark, but the possibilities are endless! Carytown can also be a nice place to walk around at night, and Forest Hill Park is decently lit, although with some dark patches, so it can be great to walk closer to dawn or twilight. Get your dog out for some fun urban adventuring and they will be so grateful!