When I initially moved to Port Orchard, I made it a point to figure out where all the best spots were for dog training and dog-friendly recreation in town. Coming from a suburb ten or twenty minutes outside of Seattle, the small town feel and immediate access to public beaches was a new territory I was excited to explore.
Over a few years of living here and training dogs here, I’ve managed to find a lot of wonderful spaces. You could say I’ve got the insider scoop. So whether you’re visiting Port Orchard, WA for a weekend or you’re a resident looking for new things to do and places to go with your dog, you’re in the right place.
Here are some of my favorite dog-friendly places in Port Orchard, as well as things to keep in mind while bringing your dog along. Featuring Grimm, my own personal partner-in-crime.
Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Areas
Port Orchard Waterfront
The “Port Orchard Waterfront” is actually a series of parks and outdoor sights. From the marina to Port Orchard Waterfront Park and down the seaside path to Etta Turner Park and more, the waterfront is a perfect mild scenic walk for humans and dogs of any age and ability.
Start at downtown Port Orchard by the foot ferry to Bremerton, where four-hour free parking is usually available. Take the boardwalk down past the picnic tables and playground (Mary Ann Huntington Children’s Park) and you’ll find multiple outlets down to the beach itself where your dog can sniff or swim during low-tide.
Continue past up the pavement walkway parallel Bay Street, and you’ll quickly find yourself on a lovely path following right along the water.
Continue on this steady paved trail for a leisurely scenic walk adorned with wildlife and offshoot walks to many local businesses. Go far enough and you’ll reach the bridge and Etta Turner Park, complete with gazebo and seating areas.
Eventually the trail ends at a pair of bus stops; take your ride home from here, or turn around and continue your walk back to the marina if you started downtown.
The waterfront is dog-friendly both on paper and in practice. The parks all welcome on-leash dogs, and make many accommodations for pet owners.
There are multiple bag dispensers and waste cans along the path, and most dog owners seem to keep their dogs on-leash at a respectful distance. While the waterfront trail does weave alongside Bay Street, it is also safely separated from the main road and safe for pets.
Manchester State Park
The Manchester State Park beach and waterfront is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to see and do with your dog in this historic area turned public park. Enjoy long winding trails, Naval history exhibits and features, and various other buildings and attractions.
This park is huge, and really has it all; I even attended a friend’s wedding last year at Manchester State Park at one of their lovely rentable outdoor spaces.
And the history of the park is really part of the allure. Once a coastal defense spot set up to defend the Bremerton shipyard, it now hosts several historic exhibits and remains of its past life as a military installation. Among these are the gun battery tower (now a popular lookout point to view surrounding areas like Bainbridge Island), a mining bunker, and even a retired torpedo storage (now a rentable venue and picnic spot). All of these spots are registered as National Historical Monuments at NPS.gov.
South Kitsap Regional/Jackson Park
When I first moved to Port Orchard, I had the hardest time finding “Jackson Park” that all the locals were talking about. Turns out Jackson Park is the unofficial name of Kitsap Regional Park, which was easy walking distance from my home, and where I had been many times before!
Jackson Park is one of the busiest public recreation areas in town, and for good reason. With a skate park, batting cages, children’s park, bike area, sports field complete with two baseball fields, gravel track/walking path, several wooded trail areas, a horseshoe park, and even children’s train rides during spring and summer, Jackson Park has it all.
Most of Jackson Park is very pet-friendly. Save for a couple marked areas where dogs are not allowed, most of the space is welcoming to on-leash and under-control pets. Come by at any time and you’re sure to see at least a few dogs out at any given time.
Keep in mind that, because of the park’s popularity and wide-open spaces, the South Kitsap Regional Park is often frequented by rule-breakers with dogs that are not under control. While it’s very dog-friendly on paper, I’ve had many off-leash dogs (the park’s rules are on-leash only) run up on me with owners yelling after them, to various outcomes.
This is not the fault of the park itself! Just keep in mind who else might be there, practice spatial awareness, and always remember to contribute to the leash rules that keep these kinds of spaces accessible to dogs in the first place.
Howe Farm is the place to be for dogs. On any given day, you’ll find dogs frolicking through the open fields of the historic farm-turned-public-park.
Howe Farm is the only dog park in Port Orchard, making it a favorite spot for off-leash play. With a designated off-leash area and plenty of room for leashed activities, as well, this spot in south Port Orchard is often heavily-populated and teeming with activity.
As trainers, we have our reservations about dog parks, which I talk about in my article, Why We Don’t Recommend Dog Parks (and what you can do instead) but I also can’t deny the benefits of having public spaces constructed specifically with dogs in mind!
At Howe Farm, you can choose to engage with the off-leash “dog park” area or partake on a one-on-one adventure with your dog through fields of wild grass or into the wooded trails beyond. There’s tons of options!
Places to Stay
If you’re traveling and planning to stay in Port Orchard with your dog, look no further. There are a few options for hotels, campsites, and more.
Manchester State Park Campground
The aforementioned Manchester State Park also has a campground with over 50 campsites. These forested spots are available for reservation during peak months, but you can also try your luck for a spot during off-season on a first-come basis.
Set up camp and enjoy the wooded trails and the rest of the park, the lovely beach, all while staying a stones-throw from the rest of the town.
Pet Stores and Other Dog Spots
Cookie’s Pet Corner & Wash
Cookie’s Pet Corner and Wash (or, just “Cookie’s”) is one of two amazing pet stores local to Port Orchard. Located off Bethel Ave, Cookie’s carries an impressive selection of healthy pet foods and other supplies.
Dog lovers will also rejoice at the store’s special self-serve wash rooms, where dog owners can rent a calm, private space to bathe their own dog, regardless of size. I know how difficult bathing a large dog can be at home, and Cookie’s wash rooms are the perfect answer for locals who don’t want their home bathrooms drenched in wet dog smell! The baths are easy for dogs to get in and out of, and you can even purchase soaps and other bathing supplies on-site during your time there!
A little ways across town off Lund is Pet Town, where you can find a plethora of nutritious pet foods, toys, training supplies, and even products for exotics like fish, birds, and reptiles. I regularly come in to Pet Town for healthy cat food, toys, training tools for my clients, and to sometimes let my dogs pick something out of their wide assortment of natural chews and bully sticks. You’ll find a refrigerator/freezer for raw food, and a wide selection of dog supplies.
The staff is always friendly and helpful, and have even coordinated food pickups for my fosters with local rescues. When I’m in the store, they sometimes ask to pet a dog or give it a treat; I usually decline, but your dog may love the opportunity!
So, locals: did I miss anything? What is your favorite spot to take your dog in Port Orchard? If I missed a great place, leave it in the comments. I’ll check it out, and may add it to the list!