By Dalia Colón
With more than 70,000 annual visitors, the Orlando area is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. And where travelers go, their pets often follow. Here are some dog-friendly things to do in Central Florida.
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES WITH DOGS
Cosmopolitan canines will enjoy downtown Orlando’s signature greenspace, whose picnic areas, amphitheater and people-watching are popular with dogs and humans alike. The park is also home to the weekly Orlando Farmers Market, which offers fresh produce, prepared foods, craft items, plus a selection of pet clothing, treats and supplies for sale. 512 E Washington St, Orlando, (407) 246-4484, orlando.gov.
Part historic landmark, part idyllic garden, this oasis is a perfect fit for both you and your four-legged friend. Leashed dogs are welcome on the paths and lawns for a fee of $5 per dog (free for members). 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales, (863) 676-1408, boktowergardens.org.
Treat your pet to a romp around this 23-acre greenspace in Winter Park, a suburb northeast of Orlando. The park features a sandy beach, and dogs can run off-leash from 8 a.m. to sunset. 2000 S Lakemont Ave, Winter Park, (407) 599-3399, cityofwinterpark.org.
You pet will have a pawsome time at this off-leash dog park located about 25 miles north of Orlando. The play areas for large and small dogs include agility obstacles; there’s also a dog wash and dog fountain. 427 S French Ave., Sanford, (407) 688-5000, sanfordfl.gov.
Grass, pet water fountains and even a pet shower make this Greater Orlando dog park popular. There’s even a pet memorial bridge to honor dogs that have crossed the rainbow bridge. 21 N Highland Ave., Apopka, (407) 703-1700, apopka.net.
SHOPPING WITH DOGS: RE-TAIL THERAPY
Posh pups will feel right at home strolling through Winter Park, an upscale enclave just north of downtown Orlando. Park Avenue is the neighborhood’s destination for shopping, restaurants and culture. In addition to the area’s Central Park, leashed dogs are welcome on restaurant patios and inside many stores. (407) 644-8281, winterpark.org/park-avenue.
Leashed pets are welcome at this outdoor shopping plaza that’s a stone’s throw from Walt Disney World. Be sure to swing by Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming to treat your pup. 610 Sycamore St., Celebration, (407) 566-4007, celebrationtowncenter.com.
On Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of this pet-friendly outdoor market. From fresh produce and flowers to live music, this event is a feast for the senses. 701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland, (407) 539-6268, facebook.com/maitlandfarmersmarket.
This local business is a pooch’s paradise, with homemade dog treats, rawhides and even doggie birthday cakes. Also check out the assortment of dog bandanas, LED collars and dog-themed picture frames. 4307 Vineland Road, Orlando, (407) 345-9999, barkavenuebakery.com.
DOG-FRIENDLY BREWERIES: WE'LL DRINK TO THAT
This organic brewery is known for hosting fun events like drum circles, trivia nights and even a cookie and beer pairing class. So it’s no surprise that such a fun-loving brewery hosts a weekly “Dogs’ Day Out”—on Sundays, dog owners get special “yappy hour” discounts. And well-behaved pets are always welcome in the taproom. 1301 Atlanta Ave., Orlando, (407) 872-1117, orlandobrewing.com.
Sanford’s first microbrewery offers more than a dozen house-made beers on draft for you, plus Wop-Sicles and non-alcoholic Bowser Beer for your pet. 419 Sanford Ave., (407) 878-7819, Sanford, wopshopsbrewing.com.
MORE FOUR-LEGGED FUN FOR DOGS IN ORLANDO
This stop is more than just a place to use the restroom and stretch your legs. It’s also your resource for discounts on attractions, restaurants and hotels. And tere’s no need to leave Fido in the car while you collect brochures and coupons. There are waste stations around the property, and dogs are even allowed inside the building. (Ask about bandanas and other dog-friendly swag.) The center also hosts seasonal events that are pet-friendly, including a weekly farmers’ market from December to April, as well as photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus during the holidays. 101 Adventure Court, Davenport, (800) 828-7655, visitcentralflorida.org/visitor-information-center.
Orange you glad leashed dogs are welcome at this Old Florida attraction? Pick some fruit in the citrus grove, embark on a monster truck tour of a working cattle ranch, feed the farm animals and cool off with a frozen Creamsicle in the open-air country store. 5010 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont, (352) 394-4377, showcaseofcitrus.com.
For more pet-friendly things to do in Central Florida, check out visitcentralflorida.org and visitorlando.com. And if you’ll need overnight accommodations, check out this list of dog-friendly hotels and this guide to doggie daycares from Visit Orlando.
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