Welsh Corgi cardigan puppies playing (credit: Thinkstock)

Many San Franciscans have a four-legged family member, but with dense population and backyards a rarity, finding a place for Fido to stretch his legs can prove challenging. The city has a number of dog parks, several of which have off-leash areas. Those looking for the best parks for a puppy play date have in-city options that include beaches, lakes, forests and hills. Here are five of them. For even more options around the Bay, see Best Dog Runs In The Bay Area.

Fort Funston National Park
Fort Funston Road
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 561-4700

Located at the southernmost end of the beach in San Francisco, Fort Funston is one of the city’s most frequented off-leash dog parks. Energetic puppies will love frolicking in the more than 35 acres of varied terrain that includes everything from sandy dunes and rocky cliffs to open beach and groves of trees. At the northern end of the park owners will find a water fountain and also bowls for thirsty pups to drink from. Off-leash rules at Fort Funston are currently under debate, so make sure to check the website before visiting.

Bernal Heights Dog Park
Bernal Heights Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 695-5051

Bernal Heights Park offers some fantastic panoramic views of the city as well as 39 acres of hilly grass perfect for energetic pups. While the park is somewhat lacking in sheltering trees, there are plenty of dirt trails winding throughout. Heavily frequented, Bernal Heights provides a great spot for Fido to not only stretch his legs, but also to socialize with other dogs. For owners with less energy than their four-legged friends, there are several benches located around the park offering a welcome respite to tired dog parents.

Alamo Square Park
Hayes and Steiner
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 218-0259

Alamo Square Park is situated in front of San Francisco’s row of ever famous Painted Ladies and surrounded by several famous city buildings. While the entire park is open to dogs, only the western half is designated as specifically off-leash. Being nestled in a dense residential area, Alamo Square is often packed with pooches and provides an ideal spot for socialization and making new doggy friends. The park has plenty of shade, picnic tables and gently sloping grass areas.

Ocean Beach
Point Lobos Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 561-4323

Located at the opposite end of the beach from Fort Funston, Ocean Beach is at the northernmost side of San Francisco’s western coastline and offers plenty of open beach and water for frolicking. While currently the entirety of Ocean Beach is dog-friendly, only the area between stairwells 1 and 21 is designated for off-leash play. To enter the off-leash area, use the entrance at stairwell 21, across from and south of the Beach Chalet restaurant and windmill. Like Fort Funston, the off-leash regulations for Ocean Beach are currently in dispute, so make sure to check for updates before visiting.

Pine Lake Park
Sloat Blvd. and Vale Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 242-5200

Just off of Highway 1, and with steep slopes and shady forests, Pine Lake Park surrounds a naturally occurring lake. Puppies will enjoy the activities of a number of migratory bird species that frequent the park’s wetland environment. Take Fido for an on-leash stroll around the perimeter, or for some fun in the off-leash doggy play area near the parking lot. Sitting benches are available in the off-leash area.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.