Located in the southeastern United States, Florida has some of the most popular beaches in the world. There are the most well-known, like Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale but the unfamiliar hidden gems, like Honeymoon Island State Park, Pass A Grille Dog Beach, and Fort DeSoto Paw Playground, are definitely worth the trip. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida, you will find plenty of ways to cool off in this sunny state.
Founded by Ponce de Leon in 1513, the state was first known as La Florida, which means floral in Spanish, he knew right away that this southern state would be a great place to live with its lush flora and clean turquoise waters. And with 825 miles of shoreline, you and your pooch will have no trouble at all finding where to play in the surf. Here are 17 of our favorite dog beaches in Florida for you and your pup to visit.
Pensacola Dog Beach
In northwestern Florida, along the panhandle on Santa Rosa Island, you will find Pensacola Dog Beaches. Yes, there are two dog beaches on this island, so you guys can take your pick or enjoy both of them! Pensacola Beach West Dog Park is located at 21E Parking Lot on Fort Pickens Road, where you cross the bridge to get to the sand. He will have to keep his leash on, and this is a small beach with not much parking, so if it is full, head east.
The Pensacola Beach East Dog Park is larger and has a bigger parking lot at 28B. In fact, this beach is huge, and the sand is so white it looks like snow. Your fur puppy will love it because it gives you the opportunity to let his leash out a bit more so he can run and play ball. Be sure to pack baggies and keep him away from the wildlife.
Pier Park Dog Beach
Two hours down the sand, Pier Park Dog Beach in Panama City is more than just a patch of sand. Sure, it has a stunning beach with gorgeous blue water, but it also has a pier and a shopping center (Pier Park) that welcomes fur babies as well. That means you can bring your pup with you to grab a bite or a drink at Margaritaville, Hook’d Diego’s Burrito Factory, or Salty Sue’s. And right next door, Frank Brown Park has more than 100 acres with ponds and THREE DOG PARKS!
At the beach and the shopping center, you will need to keep your dog leashed and bring enough cleanup baggies to pick up after him. He also has to have a collar with ID tags, all his shots, and be over four months old. At the dog beaches and parks, he can play off his leash, but you should keep him under voice control. Also, watch out for alligators and snakes.
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Beach
Keep heading east about 125 miles, and you will come upon St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, which is also pup popular. Located on the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachee Bay, this place has over 83,000 acres of space in Taylor, Jefferson, and Wakulla Counties to explore and enjoy with your leashed pooch. It is a popular park for nature lovers of all kinds. Being a wildlife refuge means there are thousands of animals here too.
There is plenty of water fun, including swimming, sunning, boating, surfing, and fishing, as well as fun on land like hiking, biking, and picnicking. You can even see the second-oldest lighthouse in Florida here. St. Marks Lighthouse was built in 1842 and is the perfect spot for some awesome selfies with your best furry friend. Just make sure you keep your dog on a leash at all times and bring puppy pickup bags to clean up anything he drops.
Crystal River Preserve State Park Beach
To get to Crystal River Preserve State Park, you have to go about 150 miles to the southeast along the Gulf of Mexico and Crystal Bay. Besides the oceanfront space, this pup-friendly park has river access as well, so your pup can play in freshwater too. Like the name says, Crystal River is a beautiful clear blue river where you can see the bottom like looking through glass.
The park also boasts almost 28,000 acres of biologically diverse space, from salt marshes to mangrove islands. Where the spring-fed river meets the Gulf of Mexico, you can actually see the two kinds of waters mixing with each other. And as long as your pup is leashed, you can let him play in the water and along the beaches. You can go boating, hiking, do some fishing, or have a picnic as well. There is something for everyone to do at Crystal River.
Fort De Soto Dog Beach
Down past Clearwater is another pup-popular dog beach. Fort De Soto Park Dog Beach is in the middle of St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. This place has it all from seven miles of waterfront property with three miles of white sand, a boat launch with floating docks, a campground with 238 sites, 15 different picnic areas with over 50 picnic tables and grills, trails to explore, two fishing piers, and playgrounds for the human kids.
Fort De Soto has the only beach in the Pinellas County Park System where your fur puppy is allowed on the beach in a special area. They also have two fenced areas near the beach for small and large dogs with water fountains and play spaces. The dog beach entrance is in the southwestern corner of the dog park. After your day at the beach, head back to the Paw Playground to wash all the sand and saltwater from your canine companion’s fur.
Brohard Paw Park Beach
Across Tampa Bay and keep going 65 miles until you get to Venice, and you will find Brohard Paw Park just past Venice fishing pier and in front of the Venice Airport. This is the only fenced dog beach in Sarasota County, so it is a busy place. Bring your own supply of doggie doo-doo baggies to pick up anything he drops, and make sure you keep him on his leash until you are in the dog beach section.
There are signs that clearly state where the dog section ends, so keep an eye out for them. Enough about the rules! Let’s get to the fun! This fun place is open every day from 6 AM to 10 PM and has tons of clean white sand to run around and play ball, dig holes, and splash in the water. You will also find benches, drinking fountains, and showers to clean up before getting back in the car.
Lee County Parks Beach
Just about 100 miles south of Brohard Paw Park, past Fort Myers and Estero Island, the Lee County Parks Beach Is sandwiched between Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. You can reach the small island from the Bonita Bay Causeway, and the whole island is your playground! The rules say you are responsible for your dog and yourself, but he can be on or off his leash, whichever you prefer. But remember to check the tides before heading out.
The beach has free parking, free showers, and free doggie bags, but no glass bottles or alcohol are allowed. And your pup is free to swim, play, and run around all day long as long as he is voice controlled and has a collar with tags. Bring along a cooler with some food and drinks, and you can stay all evening too. Just remember to pick up after your pup.
Canine Cove Dog Park Beach
Only an hour to the south, just past Naples, Canine Cove Dog Park has a lovely beach on Marco Island and another in Mackle Community Park. There are also five public beach access points along the western coast. The one in the middle at the end of San Marco Road is private, for residents only, so skip that one. The main dog park is Canine Cove in the southeastern section of the island by the public works department.
Your fur doggie is welcome off his leash here, and there is access to the small lake here too. It is fully fenced and has a separate section for small dogs. The dog park at Mackle Community Park is pretty awesome too. Not only does it have two sections, but it also has agility equipment in each one. Your pup can run up and down ramps, through the tunnels, and around the poles.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park, also known as The Glades, is the largest subtropical wilderness in the country with approximately two million acres about two hours from Canine Cove. This includes the ocean, tropical hammocks, swamps, grasslands, pine forests, bedrock prairies, lowlands, and freshwater sloughs. With so much public space, it is important to note that although there are no leash laws in many areas, there are alligators, panthers, bears, and other dangerous animals to protect your pup from by keeping him on a short leash.
In fact, there are an estimated 1.4 million alligators in Florida! Stick to saltwater and avoid freshwater swamps, rivers, and streams. Starting at the northwestern tip of the Glades, there are over a dozen sandy beaches with campsites all along the coast, including Chickee Camping, where you can sleep in Miccosukee structures made of palmetto and logs. Always be on alert when near the water and make a lot of noise to keep the wildlife away.
Higgs Beach Dog Park
Time to head for the keys! But it will take you several hours to get there by car, maybe longer by boat. Higgs Beach Dog Park is a 16.5-acre park with a pier, monuments, and a nice sandy beach for dogs to play off-leash. Named to honor Clarence S. Higgs, a black rights activist, the beach also has a Civil War Fort, an African Refugee Memorial, a cemetery, and a cafe on the sand.
Higgs Beach is found at the very end of the keys, where you can actually see Cuba if you have binoculars. In fact, it is the southernmost point of the United States! But Fido does not care about all that. He just wants you to take off his leash and let him run. So go ahead! The water is clear and cool, the sand is warm and soft, and there is a separate space for small and shy dogs.
Hobie Island Beach
About 170 miles to the northeast in Miami by Biscayne Bay, you will find Hobie Island Beach Park. With its calm shallow water and white sandy beach, this is a favorite for families with kids and dogs. Swimming without a leash is always more fun, and that is what your pooch can do here. In fact, everything is more fun! At the end of Powell Bridge on the Rickenbacker Causeway, it is also known as Windsurfer Beach because this is where the locals go windsurfing.
Pack a lunch and bring some toys along, as you can toss a frisbee or ball around on the beach or in the water for your fur puppy to chase. Just make sure he is a good swimmer before you let him dive in. And keep his leash handy just in case you need it. You should also bring along some doggie baggies to pick up whatever he drops.
Pooch Pines Dog Park at Okeeheelee Park Beach
Located inside Okeeheelee Park, Pooch Pines Dog Park is a hound-heaven about an hour to the north of Hobie Island Beach Park. It is not on the ocean, but this park in West Palm Beach is more water than land, so it is the perfect spot for water-loving dogs. This place has about 1,700 acres of space featuring lots of water activities, bike tracks, a horse center, and disc golf. But Pooch Pines Dog Park is what your dog is interested in!
At the north end of Okeeheelee Park, this special fenced dog recreational space is the highlight of your trip. There are three sections. Two for big dogs and one for smaller pups. It is a popular spot with the locals, too so it can be extremely crowded on weekends. Make sure you pack enough puppy doo-doo bags to clean up after your pup the whole time you are there. Although they have Mutt Mitt dispensers, they often run out.
Jupiter Dog Beach
Go ahead and put the leash away because you are not going to need it here, either! Not unless your pup is not a good listener or swimmer. Jupiter Dog Beach boasts almost three miles of sand, beginning at Dune Crossover 26 across from Ocean Cay Park and ending at marker 57 by Carlin Park. From sunup to sundown, you and your canine companion can frolic in the water, dig in the sand, and play fetch til you drop.
The only places you have to avoid are the spaces with lifeguards. No dogs are allowed in those areas. Besides the sand, both of these parks also allow dogs, but they have to be back on their leash. Carlin Park has picnicking, playgrounds, and tennis, as well as two lakes. Ocean Cay has a nice nature trail and several picnic areas. Do not forget to bring your doggie bags wherever you end up.
Walton Rocks Beach Dog Park
You only have to drive about 60 miles from Okeeheelee Park Beach to get to Walton Rocks Beach Dog Park. In Port St. Lucie, this dog beach has 24 acres to explore and enjoy without a leash! That is a pretty big off-leash dog park! Sandwiched between Herman’s Bay Beach and Blind Creek Beach, Walton Rocks is on Hutchinson Island. Whether you want to swim, play ball, or take a hike, you can do all that here with your pup – no leash required.
Many of the locals enjoy coming here to fish, so bring along your tackle and try your luck if you are an angler. Be sure to have a Florida fishing license, though. And bring lots of cleanup baggies to pick up after your pup. The park also has picnic tables, pavilions, free parking, water fountains, and restrooms. What they do not offer is lifeguards, so you will be swimming at your own risk.
Lori Wilson Park Beach
To get to Lori Wilson Dog Park in Cocoa Beach, you will have to drive about two hours north of Walton Rocks Beach. With more than 32 acres of maritime hammock, dunes, surf, and sand, you and your fur puppy can stay busy here all day long. Although he will need to be on a leash while you are in the open area of the park, there is an off-leash dog area where your pup can run free.
There is a beach in the main park, too but inside the fenced dog area is where your pooch will want to be. That way, he can chase balls, toys, and whatever else you have handy into and out of the water. Let him dig in the sand (but fill it back in), romp in the waves, and explore the many scents of native wildlife while you relax and watch. Be sure to get some pictures to share on Instagram!
Smyrna Dunes Park Beach
Smyrna Dunes Park has over 180 acres of space where the ocean, Ponce de Leon Inlet, and Indian River meet about an hour north of Lori Wilson Park. However, dogs are only allowed on the Ponce de Leon shoreline and Indian riverbanks. Your pooch will have to be on a leash here, too, but with 184 acres, you and your fur baby will still have a lot of fun. From nature trails to picnic areas and playgrounds, families enjoy spending the day here.
There is a fishing pier on the western side and miles of trails, and the northern tip has the best beach of all, New Smyrna Dunes Dog Beach. Fido will still need to stay attached to his leash, but having his own swimming space is worth it, and the water is calm enough for you both to take a swim. You can still play fetch if you let the leash out a little bit longer, and they even have a dog rinsing facility so you can wash off the sand.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Back in northern Florida, two hours north of Smyrna Dunes in Jacksonville, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is a three-acre heaven for dogs who love to swim. Besides having 1.5 miles of oceanfront, this park also has a large 60-acre lake and several small ponds where your pup can play. However, no swimming is allowed in the lake. But you can fish, rent a kayak or canoe, or just let him splash around on the bank as long as he is leashed.
If you want to stay for a while, book one of the 300 campsites in the woods with picnic tables, fire grills, and a camp store with everything you need, from bait to snacks. There are also about 13 miles of trails for hikers and bikers to explore. Your leashed pup is welcome in all outdoor areas except for cabins, shelters, or Dolphin Plaza, but make sure you pick up after him and pack plenty of doggie bags.
The Final Woof
If you just need a break from the beach, there are many other dog-friendly activities in Florida to enjoy with your furry friend. There is the pup-friendly Dinosaur World in Plant City with more than 100 huge dinos. Some of them even move, including T-Rex. Or you can take a tour or rent a boat at Lazy Dog in Key West. Also, in Key West, Captain Sheri’s will take you out to see the dolphins on one of their boats. Another cool place to visit with your canine companion is the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine. It is the site of where Ponce de Leon found the city, and you can even drink from their fountain of youth!