9 Dog-Friendly Beaches in Florida
When reclining on Florida’s sandy beaches, there’s no need to feel that tug of guilt about your best friend back home, left in a kennel or the care of strangers.
Your dog could be right here with you, frolicking in the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic, or fetching a ball or Frisbee on one of Florida’s dog-friendly beaches.
While “No Dogs” signs may have been plentiful along the Sunshine State’s extensive coastline in the past, with some planning you can find plenty of dog beach space carved out by parks, local municipalities and residents.
In fact, you can map out your whole vacation and fun activities with Fido in mind, thanks to Florida’s bevy of pet friendly hotels, dog parks, eateries, trails and dog events that cater to visitors’ four-legged friends.
Remember to alway have plenty of water on hand for your pets to avoid dehydration, which can sneak up on humans and dogs alike in Florida’s heat all year round. Seek out frequent breaks for your dogs in the shade while visiting dog-friendly beaches in Florida, and consult with your pet’s veterinarian before leaving about special sunscreen for dogs and heartworm medication as a buffer against Florida’s pesky mosquitoes.
To get you started, here’s a list of some of the best dog-friendly beaches in Florida:
1. Fort De Soto Park, Dog Beach and Paw Playground
A gorgeous and serene place for humans and dogs alike, this location on Florida’s west Central Coast in Pinellas County was voted America’s Top Beach in 2009 by Trip Advisor and also one of the top five dog parks/beaches in the South by Southern Living magazine in 2010. Owners can enjoy picnics and bring their dogs to swim and play off-leash in the smooth surf. Next to 300 yards of beach area are 3 acres of fenced-in grassy park space separated for both large and small dogs to run free. Afterward, there are water fountains to help quench your dog’s thirst, and hoses to help cool and rinse them off. The beach is free and parking is $5.
2. Davis Islands Dog Beach, Tampa
Just south of downtown Tampa, at the southernmost point of Davis Islands, this 1.5-acre dog beach is one of two fenced-in play areas for dogs to romp about unleashed. The dog beach has more than 200 feet of waterfront access. Next to it is a 1-acre fenced-in dry dog park. Water stations are available to rinse off and to help keep your pooch hydrated, and bag dispensers are there to help you pick up after your dogs.
3. Sanibel Island & Captiva
This piece of paradise with 15 miles of beaches on Florida’s Southwest Coast about 20 miles from Fort Myers has many of Florida's dog-friendly beaches. Gulfside Beach (known as Algiers Beach) is one of them. Dogs are allowed if on a leash, and owners must clean up after them. The beach includes picnic tables and access to a nature trail. Parking is $3 per hour.
4. Bonita Beach Dog Beach
This Dog Beach near the Fort Myers/Bonita Springs line is an off-leash beach just outside Lovers Key State Park on the west side of the foot of New Pass Bridge. Here dogs of all sizes romp free in the calm, low-lying waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A portable toilet is on site along with doggie shower stations. Parking is free.
5. Key West Dog Beach
Your dog will have a blast playing with other dogs in the soft sands of this small beach at the nation’s southernmost point. After visiting, you could grab a beer or other beverage next door on the patio at Louie’s Backyard, a popular pet-friendly, ocean-front Victorian home-turned-restaurant.
6. Rickenbacker Causeway Beach, Miami
Just off the causeway on the way to Key Biscayne is Miami’s popular dog-friendly beach at Hobie Beach. Located between downtown Miami, Key Biscayne and Brickell, it offers beautiful skyline views while dogs play in the shallow waters. Parking is free.
7. Miami Beach’s Bark Beach
The only dog beach in the City of Miami Beach, this dog beach sits adjacent to North Shore Open Space Park, which is also pet-friendly and a great place for a stroll after a swim in the ocean. There are also plenty of outdoor pet-friendly restaurants nearby. At the beach, dogs must be on a leash except in the designated area. Proof of your dog’s vaccinations is required. Daily permit fees per dogs: $5 for city residents; $25 for non-residents.
8. Jupiter Beach (off-leash dog beach
Dogs are welcome on a 2.5 mile stretch of beach on this coastline at A1A and Marcinski Road in northern Palm Beach County. The cost is free and so is parking along the beach. Free dog bags are provided by Friends of Jupiter Beach.
9. Panama City Beach dog playground
This Northwest Florida beach offers more than 400 feet of beachfront space on powder-white sands in turquoise waters for leashed dogs to enjoy, located at the southern beach end of Pier Park, west of City Pier. A hose on the boardwalk is available to help rinse off dogs following playtime. Afterward, stroll through and stop at any number of outdoor pet-friendly restaurants throughout Pier Park. It's one of the best dog-friendly beaches in Florida.