Located on the Manatee River south of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa, Bradenton is a hidden gem that is also along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. What started as a Maroon city called Angola in the 1700s with 600 to 750 residents is now packed with over 55.6 thousand. And with temperatures in the 90s during the summer and middle-70s in the winter, outdoor activities are popular with everyone, including pup parents.
Some of the points of interest in Bradenton that you and your fur puppy can enjoy together include the Bradenton Riverwalk, DeSoto Square, and the Village of the Arts. Just be sure to ask permission before bringing your canine companion into any establishment. The city also has some outstanding parks and preserves on the water, like the Robinson Preserve, De Soto National Memorial Park, and Emerson Point Preserve.
We found 15 dog-friendly beaches in and around Bradenton where you and your canine companion can play.
G.T. Bray Park Beach
Right in the middle of Bradenton, G.T. Bray Park is a huge park and one of the largest in Manatee County. The place is packed with fun things to do, many of which are dog-friendly. You can play a round of disc golf or horseshoes, have a picnic, or watch a softball or soccer game. They also have pickleball and tennis courts as well as a skate park tee ball, and a trail. The rec center has a pool and fitness center, but dogs are not allowed in at this time.
On the northeast corner of the park, you will find Happy Tails Canine Park, which features three acres of fenced space for dogs to play off the leash. There is a special section for small and shy dogs, drinking fountains, benches, picnic tables, a washing station, and free puppy poo bags. However, it is always good to bring your own bags, just in case.
There is something for everyone to do along Bradenton’s 1.5-mile Riverwalk on the Manatee River. The park itself has five acres of space that includes features such as a splash pad, playgrounds, an amphitheater, and a skatepark. Although you and Fido can start at either end, most people start on the western end by Green Bridge and the South Florida Museum and head east past the waterpark to the beach. You can both enjoy the white sandy beach and blue water all day.
You can also take a walk out on the fishing pier to try and catch some trout, redfish, or snook or just watch for manatees and dolphins that frequently play here. You and your canine companion can stretch out on the Great Lawn and have a picnic or watch the people play. Sometimes, there are concerts and other entertainment along the water. There is so much to do here, you will never get bored.
De Soto National Memorial Beach
Five minutes from downtown Bradenton, you can bring your fur baby for a swim in Tampa Bay at De Soto National Memorial Beach, where dogs can play as long as they are on a leash. And there is plenty of water to play in here! You have your choice of the Manatee River or Tampa Bay here on the tip of the peninsula across from Snead Island. Your pup and you can spend the entire day in the water and on the beach here, swimming, fishing, and just relaxing.
Boating is also popular here, and there are several places to launch a kayak or canoe. When you get hungry, grab something from the concessions or bring your own food and have a picnic in the picnic area. You can also explore the park through the nature trail that meanders through the mangrove forest and along the water’s edge. Be sure to bring puppy poo bags to pick up after your pup.
Palma Sola Causeway Beach
Also known as The Redneck Riviera by the locals, Palma Sola Causeway is one of the only dog-friendly beaches that allow dogs to swim and play on the beach. Between the Robinson Preserve and West Bradenton, you can get to this fun sandy space in just a few minutes from Bradenton. Bring a cooler with food and drinks so you can spend the day with your dog swimming, paddling, and playing in the sand. If you did not bring a board or kayak, they rent them right there by the beach.
You will also see a lot of horses, most likely because there is a horseback riding center where you can go for a ride if your fur buddy is not afraid of horses. There is limited parking and you will be on the side of a busy road, so make sure you are prepared for that. Keep your pup on a leash and pick up anything he happens to drop.
Fort De Soto County Park Beach
Across the bay in Pinellas in the Mullet Key Bayou, Fort DeSoto County Park is a pup-friendly park with white sands and crystal clear blue waters. The popular park is just over 1,135 acres covering the entire island. There are several beaches along seven miles of waterfront to choose from, where you can enjoy different waters. North Beach is a calm space with lots of nature, the pier on the gulf is open to all the waves, and the dog beach area on Tampa Bay is just perfect.
There are 15 picnic shelters, several restrooms, a multipurpose trail, two nature trails, a canoe trail, playgrounds, and two fishing piers. If you want to stay longer, book one of the 238 campsites in advance. The swimming area on the east side of the island boasts concession stands and there is also a souvenir and bait shop. And the best part is the off-leash dog park where your pups can enjoy the beach leash-free!
Pass a Grill Dog Beach
Pass A Grill Beach covers an entire section of St. Petersburg Beach, where you will find a beach town with quaint shops, eateries, and bars. And many of them are pup-friendly. You and your pup are welcome at many of the outdoor dining areas, including the Paradise Grille, where you can enjoy an adult beverage while your canine companion fills up on delicious food. The Berkeley Beach Club, Sea Critters, Hurricane, and Shadrack’s Bar are also pup-popular.
After you get your fill of food and drink, head to the dog park on 16th Avenue, where your pup can play off the leash. To swim, you can visit the dog beach at the end of the island. South of Merry Pier, between First and Third, welcomes dogs as long as they are leashed at all times. Your fur buddy can splash and play in the bay but remember that dogs are not allowed on the gulf side.
Nathan Benderson Park Beach
Head southeast a few miles inland, and you will find a fantastic park for you and your fur puppy to hike, bike, and swim. The 600-acre Nathan Benderson Park has a three-mile nature path where you and Fido can explore the whole 400-acre lake. Along the way, you can stop and let your pooch cool off in the water and sniff around the waterfront for a while. If you bring a pole and some bait, you can toss in a line and see what you can catch.
While you are there, take some time to watch the remote-control sailing races. The Sarasota Model Yacht Club started here in 1995, and it is the largest class in the United States. Check it out Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 PM to 3 PM or Saturdays from 10 AM until noon. Be sure to keep your canine companion on the leash at all times and bring doggie bags to pick up after him.
A few minutes south of Bradenton, Bayfront Park is a fun place for you, your pup, the kids, and whoever else wants to come along. Situated on the bay in Sarasota, this bioswale park is popular with the locals and is a hidden gem for tourists who want something a little quieter than the crowded beaches all over the place. As long as you keep Fido on a leash, he is welcome to join in the fun, whether it is swimming, fishing, boating, playing, or just relaxing.
The bioswale, which is a biological basin retention center for nature protection, boasts a variety of flora and fauna with mangrove spider lilies, railroad vines, and cabbage palms, as well as all sorts of birds, butterflies, and bugs. The park is an artist’s dream, with several art installations and stunning views. You can also picnic, go boating, and take a walk on the nature path.
Lido Key Beach
Right across Sarasota Bay from Bayfront Park, Lido Beach is a pup-popular park on Lido Key Island that gets millions of visitors every year. There are a few hotels and condo rentals along this stunning stretch of sand, but much of it is public beach space where you and your pup can enjoy the sun and surf as long as you keep him on a leash at all times. Also, remember to bring a good supply of puppy poo bags to pick up after him.
Although it is popular, it is not as crowded as the nearby Siesta Beach and is much more laid back. You will find all the amenities like restrooms, showers, water fountains, and a snack bar as well as several eateries. Many of the outdoor bars and restaurants welcome your leashed pup but make sure you ask first. You could also just grab something to go and eat at one of the picnic tables.
Venice Dog Beach
Also known as Brohard Paw Park, Venice Dog Beach is just minutes to the south of Bradenton. Although it is a few minutes further than most of the beaches on this list, it is also the only one in Sarasota that is truly a dog beach. The park has been set up for the whole family, including the four-legged furry kids. Between South Brohard Park and Maxine Barritt Park on Harbor Drive South, you will find it right next to the reservoir.
The beach boasts picnic tables for enjoying lunch, showers, restrooms, and water fountains for both pups and their pup parents. The dog park section is fenced so you can let your pup run leash-free there anytime. But if your fur buddy is not used to the water, keep him on a leash just for safety reasons. The park is very popular with local dog owners so bring your own doggie doo bags.
E.G. Simmons Regional Park
Whether you and your fur puppy want to swim, hike, fish, or camp, E.G. Simmons Regional Park has all that and then some. With more than 250 acres of mangroves and waterways, you and your pup can enjoy all sorts of activities here. Bring a kayak or canoe, or rent one to paddle along the calm waters of Tampa Bay here. You will also see a lot of wildlife as it is part of the 5,723-acre Balm Boyette Scrub Nature Preserve. Be sure to keep your canine companion on a leash.
You can find this fantastic park about 15 minutes from Bradenton to the northeast, just about 25 miles south of Tampa. It has 103 campsites, many with waterfront views, and all have electricity, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is plenty of beachfront space to play, two playgrounds, a boat launch, and a trail that will give you a great tour of the whole area.
Picnic Island Beach Dog Park
Picnic Island Beach Dog Park in Tampa allows dogs both on and off the leash all year long just south of the boat ramp. This is a leash-free oasis to swim, splash, and dig in the sand for dogs that are voice-controlled and familiar with the water. You can toss around a frisbee, play catch, or just enjoy sticking your toes in the warm white sand while you watch Fido play. Be sure to grab some sunscreen and pack a cooler with some cold drinks and food so you can have a picnic on the sand. After all, it is called Picnic Island.
In the rest of the park, there is so much more to do! But you will have to put your canine companion’s leash back on while you are outside of the designated dog beach area. There is a fun playground for the human kids, numerous picnic areas with shelters, a volleyball court, and a disc golf course. And, of course, there are restrooms and showers for your convenience.
Joan M. Durante Park Beach
Joan M. Durante Park is located about 14 miles from Bradenton on Longboat Key Island. As one of the few properties remaining on the island, this park gives everyone access to both Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. And pups are welcome throughout the 32 acres as long as they are leashed at all times. The park had previously been built up with cabins and other structures, but the town has brought it back to its natural state for the preservation of flora and fauna here.
It is named after the wife of James Durante, who instigated the restoration of the park with a $750 thousand donation in 1994. Since then, many native florae have been replanted, such as gumbo limbo, sabal palms, and green buttonwood. You and your fur baby can enjoy a picnic, splash in the water, or take a walk on the sand. However, you should keep your pup away from protected plants and animals.
At the end of Skyway Bridge, which is the longest fishing pier in the world, you can find Maximo Park. The 70-acre waterfront park boasts a covered playground, boat ramps, and is the largest of four archaeological sites in the area. The park also has boat rentals and tours, bait and tackle shops, and several eateries. Although dogs are not allowed on the bridge, you and your fur baby can fish or swim on Frenchman’s Creek or the Boca Ciega Bay as long as you keep your pup on a leash.
Take a walk along the boardwalk to the 50-foot observation tower, or enjoy one of the nature trails while you are there. You can find quite a few informational signs throughout the park telling you about the Native Americans who lived there dating back to 12,000 BC. Besides all that, you can also enjoy the 18-hole disc golf course with your pooch. The beach is perfect for swimming, playing in the sand, and having a picnic as well. Just bring doggie waste bags to pick up after your pup.
North Shore Park
Also in St. Petersburg just 15 minutes from Bradenton, North Shore Park has more than 33 acres that include a dog park where your pooch can play without his leash. The park is located on Tampa Bay just north of Maximo Park next to the St. Pete Pier. The main beach for enjoying the ocean waters is by the 11th Avenue Pier in front of Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum. There is a large sandy area where you can stretch out with your fur buddy and enjoy the beach all day.
If you want to stretch your legs, take a walk on one of the park’s many trails. Some of them take you to other parts of the park while others give you a self-guided tour of the natural areas. One of these walking paths will take you to the North Shore Dog Park in the southwestern corner of the park where it meets the Vinoy Park. So, swim, fish, boat, and play before taking your pup to the dog park to run off the rest of that energy.
The Final Woof
Take a break from the beach to grab an adult beverage at The Dog Bar where you can get a little tipsy while your pup plays off the leash. Some of the fun includes tunnels, ramps, and swimming pools. They even have dog watchers on staff to keep an eye on the pups while you enjoy yourself. You and Fido can also go see where some of the best beer in Bradenton comes from at Motorworks Brewery and Beer Garden. If you want to get out on the water, Little Harbor Watersports offers dog-friendly tours along the Little Manatee River in Ruskin. Whatever you decide to do with your pup in Bradenton, it is bound to be fun!