Connecticut is located in the northeastern section of the United States surrounded by New York to the west, Massachusetts to the north, Rhode Island to the east, and the Long Island Sound to the south. The state gets its name from the river with the same name that was revised from the Indian word Quinnetuket, which means long tidal river. The city was founded in 1630 by European Dutchmen, but the major settlement did not happen until a few years later when Thomas Hooker set up a homestead there.
Although winters are cold in Connecticut, outdoor sports and entertainment are popular with the locals as well as tourists. From huge parks like 4,016-acre Mohawk Forest/Mohawk Mountain State Park to the two-mile beach at Hammonasset Beach State Park, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to finding an outdoor space you like. And since it can be hard to know which beaches and parks allow dogs, we listed 17 of our favorite pup popular beaches in Connecticut here.
Barn Island Wildlife Management Area
Located in the southeastern corner of Connecticut, Barn Island Wildlife Management Area welcomes leashed dogs anytime of the year. You can find it in Groton between the Little Narragansett Bay and Wequetequock Cove, just minutes from the Rhode Island border. With over 1,000 acres, the park includes several trails in and around the woods, hills, grassland, shrub, marshes, and the beach where you and your fur baby can enjoy a walk together.
Although it is not protected by a lifeguard, swimming is popular here and they also have several volleyball nets set up on the sand. You can also have a picnic or barbecue at one of the picnic tables. One thing the park is known for is its birds. There are over 500 shorebirds and many of them are unique or rare. You may see herons, terns, egrets, and ibis during your visit. But keep your pup from getting too close and always pick up after him.
Esker Point Beach
About 10 miles to the east, Esker Point Beach is another dog-friendly spot where you and Fido can go swimming right on Esker Bay. The man-made beach has 600 feet of golden sand on the bay, where you can always find an abundance of hermit and sand crabs as well as seashells and pebbles. There is no lifeguard here, but the water is shallow and very calm. It is perfect for paddle boarding.
You may want to wear water shoes because of the rocks. The park also has a small boat launch for canoes and kayaks, as well as several volleyball nets to play or watch a game. Next to the picnic area, the parking lot typically has one or two food trucks with snacks, ice cream, and other treats. The only time you cannot bring your fur puppy to Esker Point is during concerts and other events, so check their schedule before heading to the beach.
Rocky Neck State Park
Rocky Neck State Park is about a half hour from Esker Point Beach in Niantic and features 710 acres of recreational space to enjoy with your canine compadre. This park has one of the largest beaches in the area, with soft white sand instead of rocks, making it perfect for sunbathing and running around with your pup. As long as he is leashed, he is welcome to join you on the beach and in the water.
During the summer season, the park has concession stands with snacks and beverages and restrooms with showers. It is also a great place to spend the night with 160 campsites with picnic tables, fire rings, and showers within walking distance of the beach. Besides the oceanfront beach, there are also some prime waterfront areas on Fourmile River and Bride Brook. Just make sure you bring enough puppy poo baggies to pick up after your pooch during your stay.
Ferry Landing State Park
Ferry Landing State Park is found in Old Lyme, about 15 minutes from Rocky Neck State Park. The park may be small, with just a half mile of beach, but it is a pup popular place due to its hidden value. This means your fur puppy can be off his leash while he is in the water here as long as you are with him. However, you have to put his leash back on when you are in the rest of the park.
Located on the Connecticut River, the current can be strong so it is a good idea to keep your pooch on a lead and wearing a doggie life jacket anyway. One really cool thing about this park (besides the beach) is the boardwalk that starts at the end of the sand and ends around the corner on Lieutenant River. Fishing and crabbing here are also popular activities, with flounder, shad, and perch being the most caught.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
Hammonasset Beach State Park is located in Madison, about 16 miles west of Ferry Landing State Park. Leashed dogs are welcome from October until April at the beach and in all the public areas of the park except for the campground. This is one of the few campgrounds that do not allow pets of any kind. But that is okay. If you want to stay more than one day, there are plenty of pup-friendly hotels, Airbnbs, and other rentals nearby.
The park boasts 936 acres of space with two miles of golden sand beach on the Long Island Sound for you and your fur puppy to enjoy. It is the state of Connecticut’s largest shoreline and is very popular with locals as well as visitors. It is also popular for scuba diving, fishing, boating, picnicking, and hiking. You can also rent bikes so you and your canine companion can bike on the trails here.
Long Wharf Park
About half an hour down the beach from Hammonasset Beach State Park in New Haven, you can find Long Wharf Park on the New Haven Harbor, where the Quinnipiac River empties. The park allows dogs to visit with their pup parents any time of year as long as they are on their leash at all times. And be sure to pack plenty of puppy poo baggies to pick up after him while you are visiting the park.
Recently, the park and downtown area have undergone many improvements, including a visitor center, bike trails, hiking, a wildlife refuge, and a newly cleaned sandy beach. There is also a boat house and a wharf, as well as several nearby eateries. But one of the best upgrades is the new Food Truck Paradise, where they offer over a dozen trucks selling everything from American barbecue to Thai food. No need to pack a cooler. Just grab what you want and eat on the beach.
Seaside Park Beach
Seaside Park is just 15 miles east of Long Wharf Park and has been a community favorite since the late 1800s. Within its 326 acres, the park has quite a few memorials and statuary, including the Cannon Statue, Perry Memorial Arch, Statue of Elias Howe, and the Soldiers Monument, as well as a PT Barnum statue, Navy Memoria, and the Fayerweather Island Light. But your pup will probably really enjoy the three miles of beautiful coastline.
Just keep your pup on a leash, and he can join you to play on the sand or in the water any time of the year. Although it gets too cold here in the winter. Other amenities include restrooms, bathhouses, and several volleyball nets, as well as a ball field and picnic areas with tables and grills. Due to seawall, dykes, and irrigation, many areas of the park that were previously underwater are now great places to play.
About five miles down the coast, Jennings Beach has 27 acres of sand and water for you and your leashed canine companion to enjoy from October until April. This is the largest beach in the city of Fairfield and has awesome views of the Long Island Sound. You will also find a concession stand, the South Benson Boat Marina, a skate park, volleyball, and bathrooms with showers. There are also two popular playgrounds for the human kids called the Sand Castle Playground and the Puzzled Giraffe.
It may be too cold for swimming during the off-season, but your fur puppy will love sniffing around the edges of the water and may even get his paws wet. Over on the eastern end of the beach, where Ash Creek flows into the ocean, your pup is welcome any time of the year, so if he wants to swim, take him over there.
Southport Beach is a small and peaceful hidden gem just minutes from Jennings Beach on the Long Island Sound, where Sasco Creek meets the ocean. There is no official law for dogs, so most residents consider it a leash-free beach as long as there are no crowds, which there never is. If you want a beach where your pooch is free to run in the sand and frolic in the surf, Southport Beach is a wonderful choice.
Lifeguards are on board from Memorial Day until Labor Day, but you should keep your pup away from that area so the lifeguard can concentrate on watching the water. Before jumping in the water with your pupster, grab a bit of breakfast from The Tasty Yolk right on the sand between Pequot Avenue and the water. Bring extra doggie bags, and if you do not have a beach sticker, park along the street so you do not get towed.
Sherwood Island State Park
Not even three miles to the southeast, Sherwood Island State Park has a lovely beach right on the Long Island Sound. It was the first state park in Connecticut and remains one of the most popular with residents and tourists alike, with over a mile of oceanfront to explore. The only drawback here is that pets are not allowed between April 15th and September 30th. It can be cold in Connecticut during the rest of the year, so you will probably not be swimming here.
However, just across Compo Cove to the southwest, Compo Beach allows pups to play in certain areas off his leash from October 1st through March 31st, which is very exciting for your fur puppy. The rest of the year, he is welcome but must be on his leash. So, spend your time in Sherwood Island during the spring and fall, but you can bring your pup to swim off his lead at Compo Beach!
Taylor Farm Dog Park Beach
Seeing as you are looking for a dog-friendly beach, why not try a dog park? Taylor Farm Dog Park is less than six miles to the west in Norwalk, and your canine compadre is always welcome there! The park has almost five acres of space for dogs to run free between Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach Park. There are no fences, but the trees mark off two sections so small dogs can have their own space.
The southern side of the park has a small pond for your doggo to cool off when he gets hot and both sides have shaded picnic tables for the pup parents. If your dog does not have good recall, you should probably keep him on a lead since there are no fences. It is not far from the ocean and you do not want to have to swim out to sea to get him back.
Cove Island Beach
Cove Island has not one but two beaches to enjoy with your fur baby this summer. It is only 10 miles down the coast from Taylor Farm Dog Park in Stamford, sandwiched between Holly Pond and Cove Harbor. The park has more than 80 acres of space to explore with your pupster including almost a mile of soft golden sand between the two beaches. As long as your pup is leashed, you and he can stay all day!
Besides the awesome beaches, you can also see a lot of unique birds here in the wildlife sanctuary. There are more than 300 species of birds and 29 kinds of butterflies. The park also lauds a one-mile nature trail, a large lawn with tables and grills, ball fields, tennis courts, and restrooms with changing rooms. You can also go boating or fishing here but make sure you have a Connecticut fishing license.
Mianus River Park
Head northwest into the mainland to find Mianus River Park, where your poochie is welcome all year long. There are close to 400 acres with two miles of waterfront on the Mianus River. Right between Stamford and Greenwich, the woodsy park is known for its trails, wildlife, and vernal pools that you and Fido can explore. Just make sure you keep him leashed at all times. However, the dog rules may vary in different areas of the park, so check the park guide first.
Mianus is like three parks in one because it is separated into three areas. These include 187 acres of Stamford City park, 94 acres of state park, and 110 acres of natural city park. You will find over a dozen different trails, too, from the Cabin Trail at the northern tip of the park to the Indian Rock Trail at the southern end. Make sure you bring doggie waste baggies to pick up after your dog.
Greenwich Point Park Beach
Just a short drive back to the coast from Mianus River Park, Greenwich Point Park Beach boasts almost 150 acres in Old Greenwich. It is also known as Tod’s Point by the locals because it was the home of John Kennedy Tod who was a well-known banker from Glasgow, Scotland living in Old Greenwich until he died in 1925. Your canine companion is welcome to enjoy the park, too, but he has to be on a leash that is 10 feet long or shorter.
There are still numerous historic buildings in the park, including the Chimes Building, Cowbarn, and Seaside Garden, and there are trails to help you discover them. The park includes the whole peninsula that offers water fountains, shelters, showers, restrooms, and picnic areas with tables and grills. They also have a clambake every year when you can camp for a weekend. If you get hungry, don’t worry, there is a concession area with all kinds of snacks.
Bruce Park Beach
Also known as Wood Road, Bruce Park was donated by Robert Moffat Bruce in 1908 and is the oldest park in Greenwich. It features ball fields, tennis courts, two ponds, several playgrounds, and the Bruce Museum. Your leashed canine companion is welcome to join you anywhere except for inside the museum, but there are 100 acres of space to explore. He can even sniff around and splash in the Davis Mill Pond for a while.
There are several trails as well where you and Fido can check out the woods, fields, and along the Indian Harbor and Greenwich Creek. Across the creek, be sure to get some selfies with the Millennium Sundial to share on your social media pages. The large park has so much to do, you can spend all day there and not run out of fun. Be sure to pack lots of doggie waste baggies to pick up anything he drops.
Grass Island Dog Park
Just across Greenwich Harbor to the east, the Grass Island Dog Park is definitely worth the visit as one of the only fenced-in off-leash dog parks in the area. It is very large, with about an acre for each side. One fenced section for small dogs and another for the bigger pups. Your fur baby will have plenty of room to run around and play with other pooches while you watch from a bench in the shade.
The ground has both grass and cedar chips to keep your doggo from getting too dirty. But even if he does, there is a hose and swimming pool just outside the fence where you can clean him off before getting back in the car. You can also find a few poop bag dispensers but bring your own just in case. And do not forget to bring your canine compadre’s favorite fetch toys so you can play.
The Final Woof
Want to take your pup on a shopping adventure? Olde Mistick Village in Mystic has more than 30 shops and eateries, including Raining Cats & Dogs, where you can get dog food, treats, toys, and whatever else you need for your pooch. While in Mystic, stop at the Mystic Seaport Museum where you can learn more about the lives of commercial fishermen. After working up a thirst, stop at the Land of Nod Vineyard & Winery in East Canaan, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and your pup can have a snack. If you would rather have a beer, head to Labyrinth Brewing Company in Manchester. They have a variety of local brews and food trucks too.