Downs Memorial Park Dog Beach

With "dog" in its name, you know this park has to be canine friendly. For pups that love to swim, this is the perfect five-mile stretch of off-leash heaven. If you're trying to teach your dog how to swim, the soft currents and mild waves make Downs one of the kindest places for novice swimmers. After a long swim, you and the pooch can dry off by taking on the park's perimeter trail, play a game of catch along one of the grassy areas or let loose in one of the large wooded natural areas.

If you're heading to the area via Baltimore, take State Route 10 going south for about 24 miles toward Pasadena. The park is located along Locust Cove Road.

Assateague National Seashore

Although this island is most well known for its wild horse population, many dogs take up "residency" during open hours. Unfortunately, fido is not allowed to traverse Assateague Island's nature trails with you, but we bet that you'll have more than enough fun hanging out seaside anyways! Play a game of fetch along the long stretches of smooth golden sands here, or watch as the native horses run near the surf - be careful about keeping your dog on the leash (leashes are required at all times on this national seashore) when wild horses are near, though, as they can spook at times. Also, be aware of when the Maryland part of the island ends - Virginia's section of Assateague prohibits any pets from entering, so you could end up paying hefty fines if you decide to take your pup beyond any state lines.

However, the national seashore isn't the only dog-friendly attraction in the area - to let your dog roam a little more freely, head to the Ocean City dog playground. Split into two sections - one for dogs under 28 pounds and one for dogs over that weight - the park will let every pooch feel comfortable socializing and enjoying some free time in this seaside town. You'll probably enjoy the views just as much as well!

Matapeak Park

Located near Kent Island, this free beach provides public access to you and your dog at a number of amenities. The dog-friendly section of the beach allows dogs to roam off leash, allowing canines to really  let loose while they enjoy the surf and other dogs for the day. While your four-legged pals cool off, you can enjoy views of the sparkling bay or the local bridge, which, during the early morning hours, is sometimes shrouded in a nice mystical fog. Of course, feel free to join your pooch for a dip in the cool waters as well!

Best of all, Matapeak is close to a number of dog-friendly restaurants, so everyone can enjoy a delicious meal together after a fun-filled day at the beach. If you and your pooch are fans of seafood, you can head to Kentmorr Restaurant and Crab House at 910 Kentmorr Road in Stevensville. Although dog-friendly tables are limited to outdoor seating, on a nice summer, spring or fall day, it's likely all of you will want to be out there anyways! Rustico is perfect for pasta fans, no matter if you're human or canine! Enjoy your ravioli or spaghetti "Lady and the Tramp" style at this Love Point Road standout.

Terrapin Nature Park

At Terrapin, the beach is only one part of a dynamic dog-friendly nature area. Enter the park through the entrance near Log Canoe Circle, then wind your way through tide pools, marsh and woodlands, as well as along the dynamic sandy shores of Chesapeake Bay. Most areas along the beach allow you to let your best friend off leash - just be sure to double check before you go for too many miles. Encompassing 270 acres, you and your family will be able to enjoy great beachside attractions for days.

Located outside of Chester (near Chestertown and Kent Island as well), this park is a quick 44 miles from the center of Washington, D.C., and a cool 42 miles from Baltimore, so even the most citified of dogs (and humans) will find this vast natural area accessible.