Tons of travelers set out for the bright rays and blue waters of Florida’s shores annually, during all seasons. And lots of folks bring their pets to take part in the family beach break. Pleasant weather year-round and a laid-back atmosphere make Florida one of the most dog-friendly vacations you can take in the country.
If families plan to bring their pups along, scouting the best dog friendly beaches in Florida is essential. Beyond your neighborhood dog park, these pet-friendly beaches combine the state’s famous stretches of shoreline with protected areas for your dogs to play and take part in the vacation fun.
Florida: A Great Dog Beach Destination
Sun, sand, surf—all the things that attract pet parents to a vacation in Florida appeal to their dogs as well (perhaps even more so). So it’s no surprise that Florida dog beaches attract pups from all over the world. The Sunshine State has some stellar offerings along the panhandle and throughout its coasts. We’re not just talking about Florida beaches that allow dogs, but ones that embrace them with pet-friendly playgrounds, splash areas, and wide stretches of soft sand where they are free to run.
Of course, not every sandy stretch will welcome your pooch to mingle with its two-legged beachgoers. For example, there are surprisingly no dog friendly beaches in Destin, Florida, despite being a popular family getaway. Knowing where your pup might not be welcome is nearly as important as a list of where they can roam.
Top 11 Dog Friendly Beaches in Florida
We’ve compiled nearly a dozen of the most dog friendly beaches in Florida, and what to expect when you’re there. From Miami to the Keys and everywhere in between, these are our picks for the top pet-friendly beaches in Florida.
Fort De Soto Park, St. Petersburg
Florida-dwelling friends rave about this dog beach, and for good reason: TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice awards routinely votes St. Pete’s as the top beach in the United States. Add to that its 3-acre Paw Playground, with areas for small and large dogs—as well as an off-leash dog beach area where sandy paws can swim—and it’s an ideal day for humans and hounds alike. Hoses provide a quick cool-off and water fountains will keep pups hydrated.
Costs: Parking is $5, but the beach is free
Rules: Outside of the Paw Playground, a 6-foot leash is required.
New Smyrna Dog Beach, New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna prides itself on being a family retreat—fur family included. The 73-acre Smyrna Dunes Park, located an hour from Orlando airport, is the only dog beach in New Smyrna Beach (NSB). Dogs must remain leashed here at all times, but the payoff is a gorgeous beach day for the whole clan. Heaps of dog-friendly restaurants and accommodations nearby mean that your best friend can be a part of trip-planning, from pet-friendly bed and breakfasts to a local Dairy Queen that offers doggie sundaes on the menu.
Costs: $10 per vehicle to drive on the beach.
Rules: Dogs must remain leashed at all times. Pets are not allowed on elevated boardwalks after 10 a.m.
Hobie Beach, Miami
While there are dog friendly beaches in Miami Beach proper, our pick for a dog day afternoon in Magic City is Hobie Island Beach Park, off the coast on a narrow strip along the Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne. Our sources say that most areas require you to walk rather far out to reach deep water, so doggos can easily splash about in relative safety. Just be sure to check the conditions before visiting to ensure your pup won’t strut back from a swim covered in seaweed. Dogs can explore off-leash but watch for the windsurfers who flock here as well.
Costs: Free parking.
Rules: Dogs are allowed off-leash in most areas.
Bonita Beach Dog Park, Fort Meyers Beach
Set back from busy roads, Bonita Beach welcomes curious dogs to sniff about off-leash. Water-loving pets—and the parents who chase after them—will enjoy the warm, clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Located to the west of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve and east of Sanibel Island, this location offers serene vistas and soft sand for the whole party. Shower stations and waste bags are convenient touches in an otherwise remote paradise.
Costs: Parking and beach use is free.
Rules: Dogs are allowed off leash, but pet owners are required to pick up waste and obey litter laws.
Davis Islands Dog Beach, Tampa
If you’re in the Tampa area and in search of a place for your dogs to scratch about, look no further than Davis Islands. A 20-minute drive from the airport will reveal a fenced 1.5-acre dog beach paired with a fenced 1-acre dog park for stress-free fun off-leash. This location can get busy, but amenities like water stations and waste bags make it well worth the visit. Tampa is renowned for being a pet-friendly destination and has more pet hotels per capita than most.
Rules: Dogs must be leashed in non-dog-designated areas.
Canova Dog Beach, Brevard Country
This expansive 9.1-acre park offers ample attractions, but also a few rules for Fido; they must be leashed, with proof of up-to-date shots and current tags. It’s Brevard County’s only dog beach, so if you want to let your fur babies enjoy a beach day on this part of the Space Coast, you’ll have to adhere. Located a half-hour south of Cocoa Beach, Canova Dog Beach offers water stations, showers, restrooms, and even a pavilion with grills and a picnic area.
Rules: Dogs must be leashed at all times and pet parents need to have proof of up-to-date vaccinations and tags.
Anne’s Beach, Islamorada
Mile marker 73.5 in Lower Matecumbe will bring you to Anne’s Beach, named after local environmentalist Anne Eaton. It’s a small, natural beach, but free of charge and a calm place to bring the four-legged companion on a road trip through the Florida Keys. Leashing and clean-up are required, but shallow turquoise waters reward the effort. An elevated boardwalk connects the north and south parking lots with views of the wetlands and mangroves; public restrooms and a shower are located at the north end.
Rules: Dogs must be leashed.
Jupiter Dog Beach, Jupiter (Palm Beach County)
For more than 30 years, Jupiter has offered dog friendly spaces. The two-and-a-half miles of sand from beach marker #26 at Marcinski Road to #57 at Carlin Park are reserved as Jupiter’s dog beach. Dogs are not required to be on-leash in these areas, so it’s recommended that only well-socialized pets that respond to voice commands be allowed to run free, and proper tags and licenses are required to be worn visibly. All rules aside, pet owners in the Palm Beaches area will have a blast here with their dogs.
Rules: Dogs should be leashed when walking from the car to the beach. Pet owners should be conscientious of other visitors and clean up after their pets.
Bayview Park Pensacola Dog Beach, Pensacola
The dog beach at Bayview Park is a hotspot for pet owners on the Panhandle, and one of the many beaches in Florida that are dog friendly. Located on the bayou of Pensacola Bay, Bayview welcomes canines to run and swim in their own fenced-off area of the beach. After dog and owner have worked up an appetite, a number of pet-friendly outdoor restaurants await nearby like Shaggy’s in Pensacola Beach, a 15-minute drive away.
Rules: Dogs are allowed off leash in the fenced in area at the beach.
Dog Beach at Pier Park, Panama City
Of the dog friendly beaches in the Panhandle, Panama City has one of the best for busy families. Leashed pets are welcome on beach #56 near Russell Pier. If the crew is looking to do a little shopping and dining at the adjacent Pier Park, leashed companions are allowed in outdoor areas of the complex and nearby public parks.
Costs: Parking is $1 per hour up to 6 hours or $6 for 24 hours.
Rules: Dogs are expected to stay within the designated dog beach area and should be wearing updated tags and have proof of vaccination. No more than 3 dogs per person are allowed. Dogs must be kept on a leash.
Honeymoon Island State Park Pet Beach, Dunedin
Rave reviews from returning pet parents mean the honeymoon phase isn’t over for Honeymoon Island dog beach. Idyllic conditions on this natural barrier island mean white sand, clear waters (it is near Clearwater, after all), and a private dog beach at the southern tip of the island. A 6-foot handheld leash is required, but for those looking to stretch their legs, pups are allowed on the Pinellas Trail nature walk, as well.
Costs: The entrance fee to the state park is $8 per vehicle.
Rules: Dogs are required to be on a 6-food, handheld leash.
Florida Dog Beach Travel Tips
When it comes to caring for your dog on a Florida beach day, be sure to see through their thick fur and enthusiasm to make sure they are staying properly hydrated and cool. Thanks to the Town of Jupiter for these safety tips:
Don’t skimp on the water. Make sure your pooch has plenty of fresh water and do your best to make sure they are not ingesting salty sea water while they play in the surf.
Provide sun protection. The sun is fun, but even dogs sometimes need shade. Make sure they have a cool spot to rest in order to avoid serious problems like heat stroke. And be on the lookout for sunburn (it can happen!). Consider a pet-safe sunscreen for their ears and nose, applied 30 minutes before sun exposure.
Be careful of hot surfaces. Avoid prolonged exposure to hot sand or asphalt, which can burn their paws.
Check ocean conditions. Check conditions to reduce the chance your canine will be exposed to jellyfish or sea lice.
Rinse dogs thoroughly. The salt and minerals in ocean water can irritate your dog’s skin and coat so be sure to rinse them off after their swim.
Always supervise. Never leave a dog unattended in the water, or unattended period.
And a reminder to never leave your pet in a hot car. It’s illegal to leave an unintended motor vehicle running in Florida, and even with windows open and shade, temperatures can spike quickly. Under Florida State law, it’s legal to forcibly enter a vehicle if someone believes your pet is in distress.