I like to call Astoria the city’s most underrated neighborhood. The perfect mix old New York flair, fresh small businesses, and literally every world cuisine you can imagine, I honestly can’t believe anyone chooses the L train over the beautiful views that the N, W, and 7 offer. To make it even better, Astoria is a dream for dog people — even those with big dogs. Although there is only one, albeit lacking, dog park in this part of Queens, the tree lined streets, green spaces, and pet-friendly businesses give dogs and their people everything they could want.
Here is your dog-friendly guide to Astoria, New York City.
* Please note: some rules and restrictions may apply due to COVID-19. Please review locations’ policies, social distance, and of course, always wear a mask.
The largest green space in the neighborhood, Astoria Park is a popular location for daily off-leash hours — designated on the main lawn from 6am – 9am. The park is an obvious hit for Queens residents because of its waterfront views and recreational activities. During the summer, the park association hosts outdoor movie screenings as the sunsets. New Yorkers can gather their blankets and dogs to relax and enjoy a double feature on the giant screen that is set up in front of the East River. For those dogs needing some exercise, Astoria Park is a great location for dog training sessions. Personally, this space has allowed us and our trainer to practice long-leash recall without being in the way of other park-goers. Plus, all of the squirrels help teach our dogs to listen past distractions. He’s working on it, at least.
Socrates Sculpture Park
Probably the second best-known Astoria park is Socrates Sculpture Park, which, although a hub for artist showcases, is completely dog friendly. This park is small, but its waterfront loop leads right to Astoria’s famous dog cafe: Chateau le Woof (which we will sing praises of later). Socrates also is the location of the weekend farmers market, which is a great destination when taking your dog on a morning walk, and a quick walk to the Astoria ferry line. The ferry is an often overlooked option to get to Brooklyn or Manhattan; the newly-added Upper East Side stop can get you to Central Park in minutes. That sure beats hopping three different trains or absurd Uber prices.
Possibly one of the most overlooked parks in the neighborhood is Rainey Park. Nestled behind Costco, Rainey has walking paths alongside the river and morning off-leash hours (also 6am – 9am). This park is the middle-sized between the other previously mentioned green spaces, but the view of the Upper East Side is unparalleled. Because this park is relatively lesser-known, there is actually the benefit of not being as many dogs for off-leash hours, which is a less anxious environment for both the dogs and humans. As my closing argument for Rainey Park, I will add that you can smell the bread baking in the Costco bakery. Hopefully, that seals the deal.
I would be remiss not to note the caution that should be held during off-leash excursions. Please remember that once this time frame is up, or if you leave the designated area, your dog must be on leash. Additionally, if your dog does not have absolutely solid recall, is overly dominant, or doesn’t play well with others, do not take your dog off leash. My dog does not have consistent recall and for this reason, we do not participate in off-leash hours. Although he is extremely friendly, the possibility of him running off or running up to a non-friendly leashed dog is not safe. Instead, we opt for the leash for his safety and others.
Chateau le Woof
If you live in New York, you’ve definitely heard of the East Village’s Boris and Horton dog cafe. What you may not know is that Queens has its very own dog-friendly cafe — and it actually opened a few years earlier! Chateau le Woof is located across the street from Socrates Sculpture Park, making it a great place to take a break after a park walk. This place has it all: coffee, vegan snacks, a dog play area, an in-house groomer, and tons of dog goodies. It’s hard to swing by Chateau and get a latte without snagging a cookie for your dog too. My Saturday morning routine often includes getting a coffee to sip while my dog has a romp in the play area. Chateau le Woof is a local staple that supports neighborhood musicians, artists, and brands, frequently hosting pop-ups and events that bring everyone together. Definitely check their Instagram for what’s happening your next trip.
Tom’s Pet Supply
I will go as far to say that this is the best pet store in New York City. Formerly a Petland, the original franchise shut down and was bought by former employee — Tom himself. The story is incredible, really, and immediately attests to the passion and dedication behind this store. My first visit to Tom’s was in preparation for my potential dog’s adoption only a few months after the grand opening. I was immediately blown away by the customer service: I was given thoughtful product recommendations, honest feedback, and a promise for any product we could possibly need to be ordered to the store. Tom has worked in the pet industry for years and doesn’t just cover dogs and cats: he can install aquariums, save rescue birds, and curate the perfect environment for your chameleon. He only carries the highest quality food, treats, and toys out there, and his store is one of the only ones in the borough that sells live insects for reptiles.
As a bonus, if you’re in Western Queens, Tom’s will deliver whatever your pet needs for free the same day. Honestly, there isn’t any better service out there.
With three storefronts in Astoria, one in Jackson Heights, and one in Greenpoint, Lockwood is a neighborhood staple — and not just because they always have dog treats on hand. (My dog literally cries if we walk by and they’re closed.) Lockwood is primarily a home and gift store, also featuring clothing, stationery, and goods by local artists. Shopping with your dog in-store is welcomed, and they always carry the cutest things for dogs and dog people. Nearly all of my dog-themed home decor is from Lockwood — from Christmas ornaments to a flower pot that poses a striking resemblance to my dog. In case you couldn’t tell, this is one of my favorite shops in Astoria, and definitely at the top of my dog’s list thanks to treat bribery.
The Brass Owl
Another impeccably stylish home, gift, and lifestyle shop in Astoria, The Brass Owl is located in the Ditmars Astoria area. Another popular dog-stop for treats and pets from the employees, it is definitely worth the walk to the quieter, more residential side of Astoria. They are only a short walk from Astoria Park, but if it’s too cold for the trek, they got you covered with their online store.
Mom’s and Halsey’s Tavern
Prior to the major expansion of outdoor dining (unfortunately due to COVID), Mom’s Astoria and Halsey’s Tavern were some of the most dog-friendly restaurants in the neighborhood. They share a building, kitchen, and a spacious outdoor area that makes dining with your pooch easy and comfortable. The food is definitely great (and their boozy milkshakes), but my favorite part of Mom’s and Halsey’s is the Dogs of Mom’s Astoria Instagram. The staff is self-proclaimed “dog enthusiasts” and with how many dogs hang out for brunch, the account is worthy of a follow.
This one isn’t technically in Astoria, but close enough. Hidden behind the high rises of Long Island City, Fifth Hammer is one of the many popular NYC breweries. However, this one is especially dog-friendly. Bring your pup to sit back with some brews, and take a pack to-go. At one point, I believe they had a dog-toy version of their beer cans. Doesn’t get more dog-friendly than that, right?
Queens Craft Brigade
Unfortunately, due to COVID, the Queens Craft Brigade hasn’t been able to host their craft fairs this year but still serves as a network of local artists and makers. During “normal times,” QCB held monthly markets and dogs are strongly encouraged to attend. People and their dogs in one space supporting local artists is a dream come true
Local Dog Brands
The borough of Queens is also home to a handful of dog brands to support. Holi Chow was founded in eastern Queens and makes holistic, freeze-dried dog food and treats. It’s great for dogs with allergies, and available online and in stores, including Tom’s Pet Supply and Chateau le Woof. New to the scene, Zero Waste Dog Treats are homemade, small batch dog cookies with an emphasis on creating as little waste as possible. These treats are exclusive to Astoria, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick them up here and take them wherever you are! Finally, Rifruf founded Long Island City is the hottest new dog shoe brand. Seriously… these are like dog Yeezys. The Rifruf team saw a need for actually-functional dog shoes that weren’t just balloons stretched onto paws. New York is a unique place where dogs sometime need shoes all year round, thanks to the icy, salted, winter streets to the dangerously hot summer asphalt. One of the co-founders came from the human shoe industry and took his skills to the dog world, creating “the first design-driven dog shoe brand.”
Shopping small is hugely important, especially within this last year. If there are any more dog-friendly businesses in Western Queens, especially Astoria, that you think should be featured, feel free to message @jonathans.journal on Instagram.