Jacksonville Beach is a stunning tourist town on the northeastern coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The small city is also part of the larger city of Jacksonville and has a humid subtropical climate with an average high of 78 degrees F, perfect for hanging out at the beach with your fur baby. The city of Jacksonville Beach allows leashed dogs at all city beaches at any time from October through March but only from 9 AM to 5 PM the rest of the year.
Your pooch will love splashing in the water and digging in the golden sand in Jacksonville Beach, even if he is on a leash. However, you can find some beaches in this sunny city where you can let Fido off the leash. Some of them are on the ocean, while others are in town around lakes and other water features.
We found 15 fun dog-friendly beaches in and around Jacksonville Beach where you can take your fur buddy to play.
Jacksonville Beach City Beach
The main beach in Jacksonville is popular with everyone, so do not plan on being alone here… ever. The rules state that your pup can visit before 9 AM and after 5 PM from April until October and anytime the rest of the year. But if your dog does not like crowds, come extra early in the morning. It seems like there is always something going on here, from festivals to concerts, but these are mostly during the summer season.
Here the sand is golden, and the water is turquoise blue with gentle waves for you and your fur baby to enjoy. You can also play on the beach, dig in the sand, or just take a walk along the water and look for shells. Your canine companion will love sniffing around on the beach. Also, there are restaurants nearby, like Pinto Thai Bistro, Burrito Gallery, and Wonderbird, in case you get hungry.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park
Also known as Hanna Park, this pup-popular beach park is full of fun things to do, from swimming to picnicking. You do not have to leave Spike at home when you go to the beach because he is welcome as long as you keep him on a leash. You will find Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park about five minutes north of Jacksonville Beach between Seminole Beach and Atlantic Beach. The park boasts 1.5 miles of golden sand beach and azure blue water to enjoy.
But you can do more than swim and play on the beach here. The park also has 20 miles of trails, a 60-acre lake, and a campground if you want to stay the night. The lake is the perfect spot for kayaking, and there is a kayak outfitter store right near there where you can rent a kayak or a bike. If you brought the kids, they will love the splash park and playgrounds. You can have a picnic at one of the picnic areas too!
Atlantic Beach Dog Park
Just to the south of Hanna Park and to the north of Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach is a three-acre haven for dogs who love to play off the leash. In fact, the rules state that your pup must be off the leash as soon as you enter the park for safety reasons. Besides having a small and large dog section, the park also has a swimming pond your pooch can enjoy leash-free, so he can swim and splash all he wants. So, who needs the beach?
There are also water fountains for both you and your canine companion, Mutt Mitt doggie poop bag dispensers, and a dog rinsing station so you can clean your pup before getting back into the car. You will find ample seating here, too so you can watch your fur baby play. You will have to fill out an application and turn it in at city hall along with your dog’s shot records and a small fee.
Just like Jacksonville Beach city rules, your fur buddy is only allowed on Neptune Beach during certain hours. Your leashed pup can play here anytime before 9 AM and after 5 PM during the busy season and until 8 PM any other time. You will need to have a current rabies tag on his collar, and the leash must be no more than 12 feet long. One good thing about this beach is that if you are swimming with your dog, he does not have to be wearing a leash.
However, there is a lot your pooch can do with a 12-foot leash on. You can toss him the ball or frisbee, let him splash in the shallows, and play in the sand with him. Go ahead and build a sandcastle so he can knock it down. It’s fun! Be sure to bring your own doggie cleanup bags and extra water for you both.
Burney Park Beach
North of Jacksonville Beach on Amelia Island, Burney Park Beach is a hidden gem that many visitors pass by on their way to the larger and more popular beaches. But this pup-friendly park is just as nice as those other beaches and less crowded, so that is a win-win for everyone. The beach is clean with soft golden sand, and the water is clear blue, perfect for swimming and splashing all day with your fur buddy.
In the park, you can find pavilions, picnic tables, and barbecue grills so you and your pooch can enjoy a meal while you are there. They have restrooms with running water as well as water fountains and both indoor and outdoor showers. You can bring a pole to do some fishing or a ball to play fetch. Just remember that your dog needs to be on a leash at all times, and you need to bring your own doggie waste baggies.
You and your pup will have plenty of water features to choose from at Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island from the ocean to Amelia River. It is on the northern end of the island not far from Peters Point, and has a large expanse of sand large enough to give everyone their own space. In Fernandina Beach, there are 40 beach access points from North Beach to Seaside Park, and they all allow leashed pups to play in the water and on the beach.
This includes Main Beach Park, which is a large park with all sorts of features like a Putt-Putt Fun Center, a skate park, volleyball, and playgrounds. However, you will need to ask first before entering any establishment with your pooch. The waterfront is very inviting, with a level sandy shore and sparkling blue waters. Make sure you keep your fur buddy on a leash and bring your own doggie bags to clean up after him.
South Ponte Vedra Beach Recreation Area
With the ocean on one side and the Guana River and Tolomato River on the other, there is no limit to the fun water activities you and your fur baby can enjoy at South Ponte Vedra Beach Recreation Area. The sand stretches for 2.5 miles from the GTM Reserve to the SPV Fire Station. One important thing to note: There is a steep incline as soon as you enter the water, so be careful and keep Fido on a leash.
If you want to go and check out the reserve, your pup is welcome there, too as long as you keep him leashed. Here you can see a vast array of different habitats like estuarine lagoons, sand dunes, salt marshes, and tidal wetlands. Make sure you do not let your canine companion get too close to any wildlife you happen to see. Also, be aware that alligators live in some of these areas.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Ponte Vedra Beach was listed as one of the 22 beaches you cannot miss in the United States by CNN, and you will see why once you get there. Just to the south of Jacksonville Beach, this place has white sand that glitters in the sun. In fact, the whole area is so clean and peaceful due to the seaside resorts here. The staff at these resorts make sure the whole beach is gleaming to make it attractive to all. So, make sure you bring doggie cleanup bags and use them.
Your pooch will have to remain on his leash, but that should not make your beach experience less fun. Between the ocean and Lake Vedra, your canine companion will have plenty to do, including swimming, digging in the sand, sniffing all the new scents, and playing catch with you. When you get hungry, stop at the Surf Deck Grille for a burger or seafood. They have outdoor seating so your pup can join you.
Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park
This popular surfing beach just south of Ponte Vedra Beach and north of Guana River Preserve has a gorgeous coquina sand made from crushed shells, giving it a unique pink color, unlike most other beaches. Mickler’s Landing was the first public beach in Ponte Vedra and is the favorite of locals who frequent the beach for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. You will enter the beach on a wooden boardwalk over the 20-foot sand dunes, and your pooch is always welcome on a leash.
The water is warm and inviting all year so pack enough towels and sunscreen for both of you. On the beach, you will find showers, water fountains, and restrooms, as well as information signs about the local endangered wildlife. Please keep your pup away from the turtle nesting space, and do not let him aggravate the animals. You can also walk over to the Guana River and Lake Ponte Vedra to let Fido sniff some unique animal scents. But keep him close because there are alligators here.
A short drive down the beach from Mickler’s Landing, Vilano Beach is part of a section of beach that is perfect for surfers but a little dangerous for swimming. However, that does not mean your fur baby cannot play in the shallows as long as you keep him on a short leash. The current and waves here can be fierce, which is why local surfers love it. You can spend all day sitting on the sand watching surfers tame the waves.
The Vilano Beach Pier is also dog-friendly as well so you and Fido can walk out and enjoy the view or try your luck with a fishing pole. The city of St. Augustine also hosts special events here, including live music and food festivals. You will also find a variety of shops and eateries along the beach, including Aunt Kate’s Seafood Spot, Fire Wok, and the Vilano Grill 180. Be sure to ask permission before entering with your dog.
Frank B. Butler County Park Beach
Frank B. Butler County Park is a dog-friendly coastal park in St. Augustine on Anastasia Island. Just to the south of Fernandina Beach, this quiet beach is one that many visitors skip over to head to the more well-known beaches. Your fur baby is welcome as long as you keep him on a leash and clean up after him. There are restrooms, showers, and pavilions here for your convenience as well.
This is a historical site where its namesake, Frank B. Butler, established the first African American beach in Florida in 1927, and it is said that this beach was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the beach is open to all, as are the other beaches in the state and across the country. After working up an appetite, you can grab a bite from one of the several restaurants nearby, including Redfrog & Mr. Toad, Back 40 A1A, Viola’s Pizza, Pasta & Seafood, and Paladar Cuban Eatery.
Located just three miles south of St. Augustine Beach, Crescent Beach on Anastasia Island offers plenty of sand and surf for you to enjoy with your pup as long as he is on a leash at all times. This stretch of beach starts at Crescent Beach Park and runs almost four miles to Fort Matanzas National Monument at the southern tip of the island. It gets its name from the curved shape of the land it is on.
You and your fur baby will have access to the Matanzas River as well as the ocean here. However, you will need to be alert and keep an eye out for alligators at the river. They typically do not bother people or pets, but you do not want your canine companion sticking his nose in the water at the river’s edge. Besides the beach, the park also has showers, restrooms, a dune walkover, and covered picnic tables for picnicking.
Fort Mantanaz Historic Site Beach
Right next to Crescent Beach, also on Anastasia Island, Fort Mantanaz Historic Site is dog-friendly and has an awesome beach to enjoy. Mantanaz Beach runs about a mile to the end of the island and then curves around on the Matanzas Inlet to another stretch of beach on the Mantanaz River. That means there is approximately two miles of beach to enjoy with your canine companion. Be sure to keep his leash on at all times and bring enough doggie poo bags to clean up after him.
You can see a variety of marine animals in each of the waters here. On the ocean side, there are jellyfish, leatherback turtles, mullet, tarpon, and bonnethead sharks. It is wise not to let your fur baby go out too far and check the water for jellyfish first. The river has its own creatures, including dolphins, octopuses, spotted eagle rays, southern flounders, oysters, clams, and blacktip sharks.
Old Salt Park Beach
Another terrific park just south of Fort Matanaz, Old Salt Park Beach, is a pup-friendly paradise with coquina rock formations and sand that has all sorts of scents from the sea. It may not be the best swimming beach because of the water conditions, but your canine companion is welcome to play in the shallows where he is safe. And so are you! Go ahead and get your feet wet and play with your pup in the water.
This is the perfect spot for shell collectors, and you may even be able to find a shark’s tooth. You will need to bring your own cleanup baggies for cleaning up after your pup. There are restrooms and a shower but bring extra water anyway. When you get hungry, try the Ocean Bar Grill, Atlantic Grill Oceanfront Restaurant, or the Sushi Bar at Hammock Beach Resort. Just be sure to ask permission before bringing your dog into any establishment.
River to Sea Preserve
Continue south along the shoreline, and you will find the River to Sea Preserve just past the Marine Dolphin Adventure. This preserve has 90 acres of different ecosystems, from the natural scrub environment to the local salt flats. This is a fairly new place, so some of the amenities are still being constructed, but you and your fur buddy will have plenty to do. Just keep him leashed while you are there, and do not let him bother the protected environment or wildlife.
The golden sand beach is perfect for spending the day soaking in the sun and playing in the water. Your pooch can enjoy digging in the sand and wading in the waves. There are five trails here to explore as well. The Matanzas Hammock Loop is the most popular. It is 1.1 miles and features woods and wetlands all along the north side of the park. It has spectacular views and interpretive displays along the way.
The Final Woof
Besides swimming and playing on the beach, Jacksonville Beach has many more pup-friendly activities to do. For example, you can visit the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine to learn about the first colony in America. Or enjoy a day at San Sebastian Winery, where you can get some delicious samples. And your fur baby would love to join you at the Rype & Readi Downtown Farm Market, where you can find some locally grown fruits, veggies, and homemade items. For a special treat, take your canine companion to Paradise Poochie Dog Supplies and Bakery, where he can get a free sample.