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8 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in NJ

Dog footprints on a beach in Cape May New Jersey
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Those who know New Jersey’s shore towns know that they offer salty air and charm year-round—even when the snow mingles with the sand. But can our dogs also enjoy Jersey’s beaches and boardwalks? The answer is both yes and no — it depends heavily on the time of year.

When Bruce Springsteen sang about being born to run, he might not have been referring to canines, but all the same there is something magical about life at the Jersey Shore. That is why we found all of the best dog-friendly beaches in NJ, along with information on how and when to visit for the absolute best day with your pup. 

Are Dogs Allowed on New Jersey Beaches?

Two dogs running on a beach in New Jersey

In short, yes dogs are allowed on many beaches in New Jersey, but with seasonal and city-by-city restrictions. It’s helpful to know that in this all-seasons East Coast state, beaches are considered “in season” late May (Memorial Day) through early September (Labor Day). The rest of the time, or October through April, is considered the “off season” for the Jersey Shore. 

Even when dogs are allowed on a beach in the off season, it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be able to romp around with two-legged, swimsuit-clad beachgoers during the busy summer months. Be sure to check each beach’s regulations before promising a shoreside frolic to your fur baby. 

The following are our picks for the most dog-friendly beaches in NJ. 

8 Best Dog Friendly Beaches in NJ

Happy dog playing in the beach in New Jersey
  • Wildwood Dog Beach
  • Asbury Park Dog Beach
  • Brigantine Dog Beach
  • Cape May Dog Beach
  • Longport Dog Beach
  • Manasquan Dog Beach
  • Sandy Hook Dog Beach
  • Island Beach State Park

Wildwood Dog Beach

The Wildwood Dog Park and Beach, located between Glenwood and Maple Avenues, is hard to miss — there is a monumental red fire hydrant sculpture along the fence. In that vein, this amusement park-adjacent dog beach is the closest thing you might find to an Instagram attraction for your pups. Giant tires and a massive beach chair provide fun for climbing and great photo ops. There are designated areas for larger and smaller breeds. Local pet parents agree that this is a prime place for dogs to stretch their four legs and socialize.

Dog-Friendly Features: Fresh water and cleanup bags are offered on site.

Hours and Rules: The park is open daily, dawn to dusk, and dogs can roam free within the fenced area. However, canines on the dog beach must be leashed. It’s worth noting that dogs are not allowed on the bustling Wildwood Boardwalk during the prime summer season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

Asbury Park Dog Beach

Better known as the 8th Avenue dog beach by locals, Asbury Park’s dedicated stretch of shoreline is a hound haven. Well-behaved pooches are welcome off leash to splash and zoom around within view of the town’s historic Convention Hall. While daytime hours are limited during the summer months, most dog owners know that dawn and dusk are ideal times to take the dog for a walk. You might even catch an epic sunrise over the Atlantic. 

Dog-Friendly Features: If you’re visiting the Asbury Park dog beach in the evening, consider checking out Wonder Bar’s Yappy Hour, a local bar’s dog-friendly outdoor happy hour along Ocean Avenue. 

Hours and Rules: In the seasonal summer months, dogs are prohibited from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The same rules are in effect for the hip Asbury Boardwalk. But dogs are allowed to be off-leash on the beach anytime of day between September 15 and May 15. Dog owners must immediately pick up after their dogs or could face up to $1,000 in fines.  

Brigantine Dog Beach

The Brigantine North End Dog Beach is close to the Absecon Wildlife Management Area as well as the scenic Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Bring your wild pup to this dog beach just outside Atlantic City for a romp year-round on a 6-foot leash. The area offers free parking and stretches from the beginning of the sea wall to the nature preserve. Be wary of horse flies and other beach bugs that are more prevalent in the humid summer months, especially once the wind dies down. 

Dog-Friendly Features: Dogs are allowed on this beach all year, as long as they are leashed. 

Hours and Rules: Dogs must be kept on a 6-foot leash and are only allowed in the nature area in the off season from September through May. 

Happy dogs walking on the beaches in New Jersey

Cape May Dog Beach

Cape May is known for its fine beaches, and at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area, canines can appreciate them too—from dawn to dusk. A half-mile stretch of sand welcomes friendly, leashed dogs from September through April. Humans know all too well how fantastic this resort town is in the summer months, so parking areas near Higbee might be closed to their usual pet patrons from May through August. 

Dog-Friendly Features: Water is shallow enough for dogs to romp and play. 

Hours and Rules: The beach is open from dawn until dusk. Dogs should be leashed at all times.

Longport Dog Beach

Located in Egg Harbor, Longport Dog Beach is also known as Somers Point Dog Beach or Malibu Dog Beach. Whatever you want to call it, this beach at Ocean Drive Bridge, across from the fishing pier, offers open space for pups looking for a place to roam. There are no trash receptacles or bathrooms on site, so be prepared to carry out your own trash — and potentially your pup’s waste. Also, be advised that parking is tricky here and tickets are enforced, so pay attention to signage. But if you come prepared, your dog might benefit from a beautiful day at this Atlantic County beach, leash optional.

Dog-Friendly Features: Dogs of all sizes can be off leash at this New Jersey beach.

Hours and Rules: Open year round from sunrise to sunset. There are no waste receptacles, so you will have to clean up and carry out your dog’s waste. Parking rules need to be obeyed and they do ticket for parking violations. 

Manasquan Dog Beach

The Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area is a tract in the Manasquan Inlet and one of NJ’s beaches that allows dogs, with a dedicated area welcoming leashed pets. More commonly referred to as Manasquan’s dog beach, well-behaved pups will enjoy the views and the surf, especially at low tide. The beach can be a bit rocky, but many pets and parents still enjoy the friendly ambiance of this Jersey Shore spot. 

Dog-Friendly Features: There is an on-site hydration station for thirsty pups. The nearby Riverside Cafe — open seasonally — is uber pet-friendly with patio seating and fresh water and treats for your canine companion.

Hours and Rules: Dogs are welcome with a leash during the day on the east portion of the beach. The west side of the beach is reserved for other beach activities and dogs are not allowed. 

Happy dog on the beach in New Jersey at sunset

Sandy Hook Dog Beach

Sandy Hook Gateway National Park is a federal park protected by the National Park Service, and it offers the country’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse, plenty of marine and bird life, and spectacular views of Manhattan across the bay. Luckily for your pup, it also offers some of NJ’s top beaches for dogs, with accommodations for pets to join in your explorations. Dogs are allowed on the bayside beaches of Plum Island and Horseshoe Cove year-round if they are on a leash. 

Dog-Friendly Features: In addition to the beautiful bayside beaches, there are also ample paths, sidewalks, and paved roads for long walks around the peninsula. 

Hours and Rules: Dogs must be kept on leashes at all times. There are certain areas, especially from March 15 through September 15 where the doggos won’t be allowed, but for good reason—Sandy Hook is home to many delicate habitats, including piping plovers who nest during the spring and summer months. Entry to Sandy Hook is free in the off season, but once Memorial Day has passed, expect to pay a $20 entrance fee for your vehicle until Labor Day.

Island Beach State Park 

A popular NJ destination for humans, Island Beach State Park is a narrow barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay that also welcomes leashed dogs (at a maximum length of 6 feet). Canine companions are welcome in the summer months, but not at any of the swimming beaches (where you’ll find lifeguards). Not to fear, as there are more than a dozen other options. 

Bring some trash bags to make sure you’re picking up after your pet; waste receptacles aren’t abundant on Island Beach. However, there are dumpsters available for public use at parking lots 6/7 and 23. Be vigilant of ticks, especially if you are hiking with your fur baby. 

Dog-Friendly Features: Pet parents rave that multiple parking lots make it easy to gain access to what might feel like their own private beach. There are plenty of non-swimming beaches that are perfect for dogs. 

Hours and Rules: Dogs are welcome on non-swimming beaches even during the summer, but they must be kept on leashes no longer than 6 feet. There is an entrance fee, and the amount depends on if you are an NJ resident, if it is the on or off season, and if it is a weekend or holiday. The amount ranges from $5 to $20. 

Tips for Visiting Dog Friendly Beaches in New Jersey

Dog running happy on the dog beach

If you are planning to visit a New Jersey beach with your dog this summer, keep these things in mind before traveling:

Make sure to review (and follow) the rules. As with almost any dog beach you’ll find in the country, New Jersey dog beaches require that your dog is licensed, supervised, and that you pick up after them. If law enforcement discovers that is not the case, you could be subject to four-figure fines on behalf of you and your dog’s doo-doo. It’s a safe bet to keep plastic bags in your car at all times, just in case they aren’t available at the dog beach or park. 

Protect your pet from the elements. Just like you would with a human child, dogs also need sun protection (in the form of shade, mostly), frequent hydration breaks, and supervision at all times while they are near the water. If your pup rolls in sand, salt water, or anything else, be sure to rinse their fur in fresh water to prevent irritation—salt can be drying on the skin. Also be aware of wide swathes of hot sand that might burn little paws.

Review enforcement of leash laws. Many dog-friendly beaches in NJ formally require leashes, but the adherence to that rule depends on the beach. If your dog does not do well with off-leash pups, consider a beach that offers lots of sand to roam or is stricter when it comes to enforcing their 6 feet of space.  

Watch out for bugs and parasites. Especially during the warmer months, be wary of bugs, ticks, and those pesky biting flies. If you don’t want to lather up prior to arriving at the beach, at least bring bug protection just in case — ideally for you and your dog. Flies tend to be less of a problem in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.  

Be aware of summer and peak-season restrictions. Don’t forget that New Jersey can be tricky when it comes to planning a beach day with the dogs in tow. You might be tempted to bring the whole fam—fur kids included—for a July afternoon of sun and sand, but dog access is very limited on both beaches and boardwalks during the summer. It’s probably best to leave the dogs at home for a long day and treat them to dedicated dog beach days or walks in the morning or evening. And, of course, never ever consider leaving them in a hot unventilated car for any length of time.