Like most dog parents, I have a special place in my heart for dog parks. In fact, I even met my fiancé and his beloved dog, Fritz, at the local park over three years ago. While your dog park stories are probably quite different from mine, you and your dog have probably created a world of memories at your local dog park. In addition to the fond memories this unique setting has a knack for sparking, there are plenty of other reasons you should take your pup to the dog park as often as you can.

While your dog may be the best-behaved pup, other dogs may need to work on their social skills. There is always a friendly community of dogs at the dog park for your dog to learn to greet and play with. And the wonderful pet parents you’ll meet have a wealth of knowledge they’re willing to share with new pet parents.

Our dogs can appear pleasantly plump with a little extra padding, but canine obesity is a real problem. The dog park can make burning off those extra pounds easier and more enjoyable if your pooch has a paunch. If your dog is rounder than you want her to be, try using a Fi Collar to keep track of his activity, and watch her frolic with other pups at the dog park.

Dog parks also let your dog revel in a bit of off-leash time. When you live in a city, this can be hard to come by. Letting your dog run leash-free is extraordinarily beneficial for your dog and builds a stronger bond between you two.

Most importantly, at the dog park your dog breaks free from being part of her human’s world and lets you see how much fun she can have with a bit of freedom. As a pet parent, you’ll want to check out some of the best dog parks where your pup can run freely, bark freely, and make long-lasting relationships with other canine buddies.

Our list takes into account how unique a dog park is, how crowded, and how much the pet parents that go to the park enjoy their time there. Next time you’re planning your vacation, or if you live nearby one of the pup-tastic places, check them out!

1. Cherry Creek State Park, Aurora, CO

Talk about room to roam! The Cherry Creek State Park Dog Off Leash Area is a 107-acre fenced in prairie. It also boasts a wetland preserve where your dog can wade into the water or dive into the creek. With so much room to run, your dog is sure to tap into her wild side and get a great workout. Unlike other dog parks, this park presents a great way for you to stretch your legs or bicycle and enjoy some fresh air.

Cherry Creek State Park, Aurora, CO

2. Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, IL

This beach is reserved just for dogs and those that love them! At Montrose Dog Beach, you can play fetch or frisbee in the sand or swim alongside your dog and other happy doggos. This dog-friendly locale was established by a group of dog-lovers, wanting to protect their space and right to enjoy the shoreline with their pups. This beach ensures that pups and their people can enjoy splashing in the water year-round, sunup to sundown, free of charge.

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, IL

3. Shawnee Mission Off Leash Dog Area, Shawnee, Kansas

If you love to hike, you’ll want to check out Shawnee Mission Off Leash Dog Area. This great dog park is open year-round, so your pup always has a place to run, fetch, and swim. This dog park has several hiking trails that wind through the 44-acre dog-friendly area. This great park is one of the biggest in the country, and with lakefront shoreline, your dog can cool off on hot summer days or paddle. And you can take in the lovely prairie and woodland scenes.

Shawnee Mission Off Leash Dog Area, Shawnee, Kansas

4. Thousand Acres Dog Park, Portland, OR

“Thousand Acres” is actually 1,400 acres of dog-friendly outdoor fun. There are trails throughout this great park where you can let your dog take a dip in the river or say “hi” to some horses. With the changes in seasons and such a vast area to explore, you’ll never experience the same adventure twice. Portlanders and visitors to this happening city find themselves returning time and time again to explore every inch of this thousand-acre park.

Thousand Acres Dog Park, Portland, OR

5. Newtown Dream Dog Park, John’s Creek, GA

“Dream” is the perfect word for this park. Your dog will feel like she’s living the dream if you get the chance to visit this one-of-a-kind dog paradise. While not the largest on our list, this park is more like a puppy playground with all of its great amenities.

Along with tunnels, bridges, and hoops, this park has dog-friendly artificial turf to help your dog keep her traction while playing fetch. And you don’t have to worry if you have one of those dogs that loves to roll in the mud. The turf keeps your dog clean, even after a good rain. Your dog can also cool off in one of the spraying hydrants or sprinklers. And on sunny days, you’ll be thankful for the shelters and benches.

Newtown Dream Dog Park, John’s Creek, GA

6. NOLA City Bark, New Orleans, LA

City Bark is a great way to let your dog unwind and take in the Big Easy. This great dog park, located in the famous City Park, will keep your pup’s tail wagging for hours! This 4.6-acre bark park has a big dog area and a place where the petite pups can play, too. And when the summer sun starts to take its toll, you can seek shade under one of the pavilions. They also have a water play area and pup pools, so your pooch can keep cool, too.

NOLA City Bark, New Orleans, LA

7. Tompkins Square Dog Run, New York, New York

This community-run and funded park is a wondrous place for dogs to play and run. This park features 3 swimming pools, picnic tables, and a pooch bathing area. One of the coolest characteristics of this unique park is its granite sand and drainage system: these keep dogs squeaky clean. And if your dog has a flair for the dramatic, you can dress her as a pumpkin and bring her to the Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade!

Tompkins Square Dog Run, New York, New York

8. Beau’s Dream Dog Park, Lancaster, PA

Who’s Beau and what was kind of park would he dream of? Well, according to his owner, Angela Bauman, he dreamt of a puppy amusement park. Luckily, Beau’s dream became a reality when Angela’s dog park design won the Beneful Dream Dog Park contest in 2012. Beau, and your dog, now gets to live it up with water features, a rollercoaster bridge, and some awesome tunnels.

Beau’s Dream Dog Park, Lancaster, PA

9. Jackass Acres K-9 Korral, New River, AZ

Jack Ass may have one of the silliest names for a dog park in the United States, but there’s no fooling around when it comes to how exciting this park is! It was the first sustainable dog park in the U.S. Artists chipped in when it can to creating this K-9 Korral. And while this park is green when it comes to environmental impact, there’s no grass. This park’s desert motif helps save water while its solar-power water fountains save energy! Find some shade, grill some chicken, and have a picnic at this unique park.

Jackass Acres K-9 Korral, New River, AZ

10. Dog Wood Park, Jacksonville, FL

Variety is the key to Dog Wood Dog Park’s popularity for Jacksonville Dog parents. This 42-acre park can be described as a country club for pups who want to swim, hike, and socialize. There are plenty of tunnels, swimming ponds, and trails to keep you and your dog busy. Your dog can paddle around in Lake Bow Wow on humid summer days or shower off the mud after chasing the frisbee in one of the open field areas. At Dog Wood, you can even throw your pup a party or enjoy one of the many events this place hosts!

Dog Wood Park, Jacksonville, FL

If you haven’t been to the dog park in a while, make sure you make time this week to bring your pup for a bit of play and fresh air. Even adult dogs need to refresh their social skills and partake in some exercise. Even if your dog park doesn’t have water features, you can be sure there are plenty of other friendly pet parents waiting to spark up a conversation or compliment your canine on how cute she is!

Best Dog Parks Across the Country