Did you know that 67% of U.S. households, or about 84.9 million families, own a pet?
[according to the 2019-2020 APPA National Pet Owners Survey. The Survey monitors consumer habits on an ongoing basis in order to identify trends in data on pet ownership, preferences in product and service consumption, and lifestyle and media habits.]
Let’s face it … dogs are a part of our family and it’s awesome when we can take them with us on a day trip or a longer vacation. We are so fortunate to live in Authentic Florida where we have so many dog-friendly beach options. Hanging at a dog park is a great way to spend a few hours or a day. It’s always fun to see all the different breeds of dogs interacting and 99% of the time the dog-owners are friendly people, too.
Since we are big fans of our furry family members, we have put together a list of some of our favorite Authentic Florida dog-friendly beaches/parks.
Please remember to practice social distancing and check with each park before venturing out to see if they have any specific COVID-19 restrictions.
First on our list of dog-friendly beaches is Algiers Beach. Located off Casa Ybel Road on Sanibel Island, this beach is known as Algiers Beach to the locals and Gulfside Beach to everyone else. There is a parking fee of $5.00 per hour between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm. However, the beach is free after 7 pm. It’s cost-effective and memorable to pack a picnic dinner and bring your furry companion to watch the remarkable sunset. Please keep in mind all pets in Gulfside Park must be leashed and you must clean up after them.
If you are looking for other things to do in the area, check out: Sanibel, Captiva, and Cayo Costa Islands
Known as Dog Beach Park, this is an awesome dog-friendly beach with a good amount of loyal regulars. A doggie poop bag dispenser, trash cans, and a freshwater rinse station are located near the beach path. Parking is free. Although there is a no-leash policy, it’s good to note that the park does not have any fences to keep your dog within park limits. Also, you’ll definitely want to visit during low tide, otherwise, you may be forced to walk in the water. The water rises significantly when it rains and leaves almost no dry land to sit on. It’s good to plan accordingly. It’s also a prime spot for dolphin sighting.
Brohard Paw Park is the ONLY dog-friendly beach in Sarasota County, so it’s a very popular spot to visit. In fact, it’s one of the most popular leashless dog parks in Florida. We highly recommended getting there as early as possible, especially on weekends. Brohard Paw Park opens at 7 am and closes roughly at dusk. The park offers drinking fountains, showering facilities for dogs only, and picnic tables to enjoy during your visit. The parking is free. It’s an excellent spot to bring your dogs to socialize and have endless fun. There are always hundreds of dogs running free. Owners do an excellent job cleaning up after their dogs.
Want to plan a getaway to Sarasota County? Check out: Ten Awesome Things To Do in Sarasota
Cape San Blas is located on St. Joseph Peninsula, a narrow stretch of land extending out from Port St. Joe and curving around St. Joseph Bay. The “Cape” has some of the most stunning sunset views in all of Florida. This area of the Panhandle is often referred to as “The Forgotten Coast” and many people want to keep it that way since it still has that wonderful Old Florida feel. As long as you keep your dog away from the State Park land, the rest is theirs to roam.
Looking for other areas of this part of the state to explore? Check out our article on Apalachicola, only 30 minutes away: Getaway to Authentic Apalachicola
Photo Credit: David Knight Photography on Facebook.com/Capesanblasdunes
Davis Islands Dog Park allows dogs on the beach, plus they have their very secluded dryland park. There’s a no-leash policy, so you can let your dog(s) run free. They have water fountains for you and your dog, and a wash station for dogs when it’s time to leave. With new roadways and landscaping, this is a dog-friendly beach you do not want to miss. It’s small compared to some of our other favorite dog parks, but it’s well-maintained. You may want to bring a chair since seating is limited.
Trip Advisor, Dr. Beach, and many others have named Fort De Soto Park (which is connected to Fort De Soto Paw Playground) as America’s #1 Beach, which has made this destination very popular. For your dog’s safety, they have two fenced-in areas designed for big and small dogs. The dogs are allowed to be unleashed once they are on the inside of the fenced-in portion, otherwise, they must remain on a six-foot leash. This is the only area dogs are allowed, with the exception of the dog beach area. Park in the Bay Pier parking lot. Drinking water and water hoses for cooling off and cleaning up your dog are available.
Looking for other ideas for fun things to do in this area, check out: A Getaway to Culturally Savvy St. Pete
You can see the Miami skyline from across the Biscayne Bay at Key Biscayne Dog-Friendly Beach. Dogs of all sizes are welcomed, in fact, they have two separate fenced-in areas for small dogs (less than 35lbs) and large dogs (more than 35 pounds). The parking fee is only $2 a day. Parking is ample and there is usually a vendor or two nearby offering hot dogs and other snacks. They also have lots of trash bins. The park is known for its cleanliness and the regulars take great pride in keeping it that way. There are also kayaks for rent that makes for a unique adventure.
If you want to plan a Miami getaway, check out: Adventures in Awesome, Authentic Miami
Ocean Cay Park, located in Jupiter, FL was the location for the hit film “Marley and Me” (remember the scene where Marley loses the leash and breaks the rules?). Make sure to keep your dog on a leash at all times to prevent yourself from getting banned from the park! There are plenty of activities to do while bringing your dog to the park. Volleyball, picnicking under the pavilions, or fishing are just a few. It’s a great area with convenient street parking just feet from the ocean. It can be super-crowded on weekends, but that’s the case with all nice dog parks.
For more ideas on things to do in this area, visit: A Weekend Escape to Stuart, An Authentic Treasure on the East Coast
Panama City Beach is located in the Florida Panhandle, a slice of Paradise known for its crystal clear waters, and sugar-white sands. The dog-friendly beach requires leashes while roaming the 400 feet of white sand. This is an ideal spot to soak up the sun and watch the sand get caught in between your toes (or paws). Once you are done playing, be sure to stop by one of the pet-friendly restaurants in the park!
Not every dog likes to splash around, that’s why Paws Dog Park has an area to splash around along with an area to simply frolic. Paws Dog Park highly recommends every dog has up-to-date shots to prevent any problems that may arise (this is a good idea for all dogs visiting any dog park). There’s a designated area for large and small dogs. They also have water for drinking and benches to sit.
For more ideas on things to do in St. Augustine, check out: Step Back in Time in Charming St. Augustine
Smyrna Dunes is located on the northern tip of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula. This park is a public park with a parking fee of $10 per vehicle, per day. Dogs are more than welcome as long as they remain on a leash at all times for safety purposes. The park consists of five ecosystems (ocean, river, dunes, scrub zone, saltwater marsh). To protect the sensitive sand dunes from foot traffic, two miles of elevated walkways, picnic areas, pavilions, and an observation tower were built.