Florida is home to some of the most pristine white-sand beaches in the United States. The 1,350 miles of Atlantic coastline have seen many visitors, including canine companions! In the Sunshine State, traveling with your four-legged friend is easy, but there are a few things you need to know.
Although pets are almost always welcome, Florida dog beaches still impose policies to help keep their shorelines enjoyable for every type of visitor. In this guide, you’ll learn more about the best dog-friendly beaches in Florida and tips for taking your dog out to sea.
What You Should Know Before Going to A Florida Dog Beach
There are many on and off-leash dog-friendly beaches in Florida, but you can’t just jump into the water without being prepared! Below are a few things you need to know before getting wet and wild with your canine companion.
Dog Beach Policies
Ultimately, different pet beaches will impose individual policies, which might include the following:
- Some Florida dog beaches allow your pet to play off-leash, while others will require that you keep your dog on a leash.
- Visit during allowable hours for four-legged visitors – these are typically in the morning and late afternoon.
- Larger beaches might dedicate a specific location to pet owners, typically indicated by signage or a fenced area.
- Every beach will require that you pick up after your pet. Violations might even cost you a hefty fine.
- If you are visiting a dog beach with dunes or turtle nests, keep away from them.
Records & Documentation
Most pet-friendly hotels will require that you show proof of vaccination upon arrival. This ensures that your dog isn’t a hazard to other guests and can safely access hotel amenities.
As a rule of thumb, visit your veterinarian at least two weeks before traveling. Required vaccinations include:
- Canine distemper
If you are traveling by plane, your airline will require that you submit a health certificate seven to ten days before your flight.
Like its beaches, Florida boasts many pet-friendly hotels that are easy to book. If you plan to take your dog on a daily dip, booking a pet-friendly hotel close to the ocean is essential. However, some accommodations will charge a nightly pet fee. These fees typically range from $20 to $50, while hotels with a pet daycare charge roughly $30 a day.
Some resorts may impose restrictions, such as limiting the number of large dogs per guest. If you are traveling with multiple pets, you might want to consider booking a vacation rental instead.
Here are some of our favorite Fido-friendly lodgings near dog-friendly beaches in Florida:
Pet Daycares & Boarding
On occasion, you may not be able to take your dog along with you to the beach. In that case, you’ll want to know the best places to board them whenever necessary. Many reputable Florida dog daycares have trained and certified staff with ample experience.
A safe and comfortable pet makes for a carefree vacation, but unfortunately, bad things could still happen. Dog beaches are rife with coral, hooks, glass, rocks, and other hazards that can potentially spell danger for your pet. In case of an accident, it pays to know about nearby emergency veterinary services.
The 12 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in Florida
Now that you know you won’t find any shortage of pet-friendly beaches in Florida, it’s time to narrow down the twelve best destinations for you and your dog.
Fort De Soto Park
Fort de Soto Park in Tierra Verde, just west of St. Petersburg and Gulfport, is one of the most popular dog beaches in Florida. It has two dedicated fenced areas for large and small dogs, complete with water fountains, a nature trail, and even camping grounds. Here, dog owners can enjoy lush picnic areas while their pets run off-leash. Adventure-seekers can enjoy a few more activities outside of Fort De Soto’s dog beaches – these include kayaking and guided fishing tours.
Pet owners can bring up-to three dogs and must leash their canine companions upon entering and exiting the dog park.
Haulover Beach Park
A short ride north of Miami Beach is Haulover Beach Park, a 1.4 mile-long dog beach park famed for its white sands and lush vegetation. From 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, dogs can run off-leash between lifeguard towers two and three.
Other than the location of some of the best dog-friendly beaches in North Florida, Haulover is also home to Bark Park, where pet owners and dogs alike can enjoy a feast at one of its many picnic tables. The beach is also well-equipped with drinking water, poop bags, trash cans, and a cleaning station. On sweltering days, pet owners can rent beach chairs and umbrellas.
Bonita Beach Dog Park
Just outside of Lovers Key State Park is Bonita Beach Dog Park, an off-leash beach equipped with dog showers after a long day of swimming. At this Fort Myers Beach dog park, owners can also use the park’s free poop bags to pick up after their pet.
The calm and shallow waters are perfect for dogs who aren’t strong swimmers and prefer to wade. Owners and pets who can’t quite get enough of its soft, warm sand can enjoy an entire day under the sun – after all, parking is free!
Panama City Beach
If you’re looking for dog-friendly beaches in Florida, The Panhandle region has a lot in store for you at Pier Park. Leashed dogs who love to run will get ample exercise on this 400-foot Panama City beachfront with powder-white sands. After a morning of wading in its turquoise blue waters, you can rinse off your pet at one of its many dog wash stations.
If you and your dog love to eat, you can dine at one of Panama City’s multitude of outdoor pet-friendly restaurants. Finally, you can top-off your day at Panama City Beach with a stroll along Pier Park and even purchase something special at one of its pet-centric souvenir shops.
Key West Dog Beach
If you prefer a location outside of the city, Key West Dog Beach is the place to be. This quaint dog beach is an ideal destination for anxious dogs who appreciate the quiet when the weather allows for it. However, you’ll want to look up weather reports before driving down – high tides can get rough.
Key West’s beach doesn’t have facilities either, so you’ll have to pack your own doggie bags. Otherwise, this charming and rustic beach makes for an excellent getaway.
Smyrna Dunes Park
Eager to get to the beach as soon as you touch-down in Florida? Smyrna Dunes Park is just an hour’s drive from Orlando Airport and is perfect for athletic dogs who love the surf. If you make it before 10:00 am, you can even take your dog for a stroll along the boardwalk.
Adventure lovers can also enjoy nature trails along Smyrna Beach and quench their thirst afterward at the numerous water fountains. Keep in mind that the New Smyrna Beach Peninsula is a popular travel destination, so you’ll want to visit off-peak and during the early hours of the day.
Bayview Dog Park
If you’re staying at Pensacola, the Bayview Dog Park and Beach is a safe, fenced-in area where dogs run off-leash for hours of play. While not a typical soft sand beach along the ocean, there are many green spaces in the area that your dog will love.
This off-leash beach has plenty of shaded areas and picnic tables for snacking in between swims. Muddy dogs and their humans can wash off in one of its many fully-equipped showers.
Walton Rocks Dog Beach
Travelers visiting Florida’s Treasure Coast have to add Walton Rocks Dog Beach to their list of places to see. After all, it is the only dog-friendly beach in St. Lucie County! Bigger than most, this beach is 24 acres large– a haven for dogs who love to run.
Owners should be mindful of its many dunes, which house different types of delicate plant life. After a day of play, dogs and humans can rehydrate at this dog beach’s free water fountains.
One of the best dog-friendly beaches in south Florida is Jupiter Beach, home to 3.4 miles of soft, white sand, massive dunes, and beautiful mangroves. There is a designated dog-friendly space where pets can enjoy off-leash play, given that their owners pick up after them.
This sandy beach is also equipped with many water fountains where dogs and humans can quench their thirst. If you’re visiting Jupiter Beach in November, you won’t want to miss out on Pawchella or the Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic.
Brohard Paw Park
Located in Venice, Brohard Paw Park is a fully equipped pet-friendly beach with drinking water fountains, fire hydrants, leash posts, and picnic spots. Open from 7:00 am to sunset, this popular dog-friendly beach sees its fair share of thousands of tourists and their pets all year round.
Brohard Paw Park is the only dog-friendly beach in Sarasota County, so you won’t want to miss it!
Home to Gulfside Beach (also known as Algiers Beach), the dog-friendly beaches in Sanibel Island, Florida have picturesque white sand, colorful marine life, and picnic areas for dogs and humans alike. This pet-friendly beach is right next to a bustling row of luxurious hotels and the city center, so you’ll want to keep your dog on a leash at all times. The Gulfside City Park Beach is also next door to a nature preserve, perfect for pet owners and leashed dogs who prefer hiking with a view.
St. Augustine is the oldest city in Florida and brimming with dog-friendly restaurants and beaches. Whether you own large or small dogs, every single dog beach welcomes canine guests so long as they are on a leash.
After spending a day at the dog beach, you can take a walk along St. Augustine’s many historical landmarks. Alternatively, the Vilano Dog Beach is also just a short drive away.
Tips For Taking Your Pet to A Dog-Friendly Florida Beach
Deciding on pet-friendly beaches for your Florida vacation is one thing, being prepared is another. If you and your four-legged friend are spending your holiday in the sunshine State, below are a few tips for taking your pet to a dog beach.
Teach Swimming Basics
Some dogs are born for the water – others, not so much. If your dog isn’t a skilled swimmer, getting them acclimated to the water is essential. If you have the space for it, consider training them in a dog-sized pool. You can also enroll your dog in swimming lessons.
Pack The Essentials
While most of the best dog-friendly beaches come equipped with essentials such as fresh water and poop bags, not every destination will. A few things you should always take with you include:
- A leash and waterproof collar
- A pet water bottle
- Waste bags
- Food and treats container
- A life vest (if swimming in rougher waters)
Provide Sun Protection
Contrary to popular belief, dogs can be just as negatively affected by the harsh sun as humans. Especially if your dog has sensitive skin or short hair, they can get a sunburn without adequate protection.
You can protect your dog from harmful rays using pet-specific sunscreen or a sun shirt. Don’t forget their paws either – apply high-quality pet wax to keep their paw pads from burning. Alternatively, you can buy your dog a pair of beach-safe boots. Check out our article on pet sun safety tips.
Bring A First Aid Kit
When it comes to taking your pet to the beach, there is no such thing as being overprepared. You can’t predict everything, such as heat stroke or injury, but coming prepared will prevent injuries or conditions from worsening.
Essentials you’ll want in your first aid kit are:
The Bottom Line
With over a thousand miles of soft sand, clear blue waters, stunning wildlife, and lush vegetation, there is a beach in the Sunshine State for everyone – including your canine companion.
You can easily make the most of every dog park and beach in Florida by coming prepared. As a general rule, always do your research. You – and your dog – won’t regret it.
Learn more about what Florida has to offer with Outcoast. We give you the low-down on its hottest destinations – whether you’re a dog owner or traveling solo!
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.