Most pet owners can relate to this: you’re headed out to the beach or your friend’s summer BBQ–and you desperately want to bring your dog along. It’s a bummer when pet owners want to spend time with their four-legged friends and are forced to leave them behind at home. In crowded cities like New York, it’s really tough to find dog-friendly places where both you and your pup are welcome.

As a kid in New York, it was so exciting when my family and I were allowed to bring our dog Eddie with us somewhere. It didn’t matter what we were doing or where we were going–having Eddie in tow would make any activity or event more fun. Unfortunately, some NYC locales just aren’t suitable for dogs–it wouldn’t be safe or practical to have them around.

Lucky for us, New York City has plenty of dog-friendly spots (if you know where to look). Looking to spend time with your pup in the park or for a dog-friendly brunch spot? I’ve got some recommendations. Here are my favorite dog-friendly places to visit in New York City. Let’s face it: life is better with your dog by your side.

1. Central Park

There are 23 dog-friendly areas throughout Central Park and most of the park’s open green space can be enjoyed off-leash before 9AM and after 9PM. The Ramble, a secluded section of the park located above 74th Street, offers lots of space for long walks and exploring.  A Central Park Conservancy program called Central Park Paws also organizes tours, hikes, and other local events where fellow dog owners (and dogs) can connect.

2.Chelsea Waterside Park

This dog run is interesting because of the man-made cement formations and large boulders that dogs can run on and between. It’s not a huge dog run, but it’s big enough not to be too crowded and to have some space for dogs to run. It’s way west, but once you are over there you can walk up and down the Westside Hudson River Parkway, which goes from battery Park City up to at least 59th Street.

3. Mission DoloresWell-behaved, leashed pets are welcome inside Mission Dolores in Park Slope, so bring your dog along with you. At this Brooklyn establishment, it’s not uncommon to see a pup perched with his human at the counter. While Mission Dolores does not serve food, people and dogs can order delivery, or bring treats of their own to enjoy.

4. Boat Basin Cafe

This iconic Riverside Park cafe is a scenic place to grab a bite with your dog. With its shoreline view of the boats bobbing along the Hudson, the Boat Basin Cafe is great spot to watch the sunset after a walk in the park.

5. Ludlow Hotel

If you’re visiting NYC, the Ludlow Hotel on the Lower East Side offers great amenities for smaller dogs (up to 25 lbs.), including a front desk fully-stocked with dog biscuits, in-room pet food bowls, and onsite dog walking services. Many guests like to hang out with their dog at the hotel’s “secret” garden outside.

Annual Human/Dog Events in NYC

  1. Bark in the Park – each summer, the Brooklyn Cyclones invite fans to bring their dogs to the annual Bark in the Park baseball game at MCU Park in Coney Island.
  2. BarkFest – BarkFest is Bark & Co’s annual outdoor doggy extravaganza in New York City. At BarkFest, dogs and their humans can play interactive games, eat tasty food, and splash around the kitty pools. It’s like Coachella–but for dogs.
  3. NY Mets Dog Day(s) – The Mets will host two Dog Days at Citi Field in 2017: Sunday, April 9 and Monday, September 4. Bark At The Park is spearheaded by the Mets and North Shore Animal League. Baseball fans can bring their canine companion to the ballpark and support the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world.