What could make a day at the beach, already one of life’s greatest treasures, even better? How about being there with your (four-legged) best friend?
Here in Florida, there are many spots where you can do exactly that. Grab some sun and surf while your dog gallops through the gulf waters or chases down a wayward seagull.
All you need to do is plan ahead. There are plenty of beaches and parks that are dog-friendly in Florida. We’ve narrowed down the list of hundreds to these five below. With special amenities for pups, and plenty of room to play, you’ll definitely want to bring your dog along on your next Florida vacation.
** Remember to always 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. Also consider your dog’s medication against mosquitos.
Florida dog-friendly beaches:
1. Fort De Soto Park, Dog Beach and Paw Playground
Sail along Florida’s west central coast and stop in to Fort De Soto Park. Consistently ranked one of the top dog parks in Florida (including on THIS list!) Owners can enjoy picnics and bring their dogs to swim and play off-leash in the smooth surf. Explore the rest of the park, including historic Spanish fort with your pup on-leash. 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. It offers two fenced areas on the beach—one for large dogs and the other for small dogs, both with water stations. There are a few rules: Owners must not bring more than three dogs at a time, dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting the parks (though no leash is required inside the parks), and owners must carry a leash at all times.
2. Davis Islands Dog Beach, Tampa
The Davis Islands Dog Beach is 1.5 acres with 200 feet of waterfront access for dogs and their owners to enjoy in Tampa. There are two parks—a grassy one and one on the beach—and dogs are allowed off of their leash at both. Next to the beach 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. The entire park was recently restored and now features artificial reefs as well as a breakwater and improved roads and landscaping.
3. Bonita Beach Dog Beach
Head outward from Fort Myers and you’ll come to Bonita Springs, where this particular dog park stands right outside Lover’s Key State Park. 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, and it’s open from 7am to dusk. The best part? It’s leash free. You can’t see if from the main road, but follow the signs around the trees and a clearing will open up to Dog Beach. During high tide you may have to wade through some water to get to it so be prepared. The shallow, calm waters offer great opportunities to see a manatee or dolphin.
4. Key West Dog Beach
Key West Dog Beach, located near the southernmost point of the US, is a fantastic backdrop for a puppy play day. Keep an eye on your pups paws as the beach is known to be a little rocky. 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.
5. Miami Beach’s Bark Beach
If you’re a dog in Miami, you want to head to Bark Beach. Right next to North Shore Park, this off-leash park costs $5 for entry but it’s worth it for the new friends you’ll make. Stroll through the park or splash around in the water together. There are jogging trails and picnic pavilions for guests. The adjoining North Shore is a charming neighborhood filled with tropical mid-century modern buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places – which provides a great place to dry off with an evening stroll after your swim. Cool down after the day playing outside by grabbing a drink at any of the delicious restaurants nearby.