Just to the south of Daytona Beach and less than an hour from Orlando with its famous theme parks, New Smyrna Beach in Florida is a hidden gem on the eastern coast. It is a small town with a little over 30,000 residents beside the Indian River and Lagoon and filled with streets lined with palm trees. The Canal Street Historic District is full of museums, art galleries, shops, and eateries to explore, and more than two dozen parks with miles of trails.
New Smyrna Beach has quite a few fantastic beaches, and it is popular with surfers, both local and from around the world. However, you will not be able to find many beaches that are dog-friendly in this coastal city. According to the city, it is illegal for dogs to be on public city beaches in New Smyrna Beach, whether they are leashed or not. There are a few beaches nearby that have their own special dog rules, though, and your pup is welcome at those. We also found over a dozen more pup-popular beaches nearby for you and Fido to enjoy.
Lighthouse Point Park Beach
Lighthouse Point Park is a great place to relax with your canine companion as long as you keep him on a leash while you are there. The park has more than 50 acres of coastline, and you have awesome views of the lighthouse from wherever you are, with no condos, hotels, or highrises to spoil the scenery. What you will find is several miles of white sand beaches that wrap around Ponce Inlet to the Halifax River.
The historic lighthouse, built back in 1880, is the focal point of the park, but you and your furball will have to view it from outside. They do not allow dogs inside. However, the beach is full of fun things to do, like swimming, playing in the sand, and picnicking. There is a nature trail as well as several eateries nearby, including Hidden Treasure Rum Bar and Lighthouse Ice Cream. There is even an unofficial dog beach on the southwestern corner of the park.
Smyrna Dunes Park Beach
Smyrna Dunes Park has 73 acres of natural space where the Indian River, Ponce Inlet, and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It is surrounded by water on three sides, but you and your fur baby can only play on the riverfront and inlet. All of the waterfront beaches have white and golden sand with a lot of space to move around. 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.
It is not a leash-free fenced park but a vast open space with both sand and grass, as well as a whole lot of water to play in. There is no lifeguard, and your pup has to be on a leash, but they do have their own swimming section where they can play without the worry of complaints. There is an admission fee of $10 per vehicle, so be sure to bring money with you, and don’t forget the doggie doo bags.
It may not be the ocean, but Riverside Park is just as fun for you and your fur baby. Southwest of Smyrna Dunes Park Beach across the Indian River, this eight-acre park boasts a lovely riverside view with calm waters and a palm tree-lined boardwalk. And your fur baby is welcome to enjoy it with you as long as he is leashed at all times. Also, bring doggie bags to pick up after your pup while you are there.
One nice thing about this park is that it is free and has a large parking lot, which is also free. There is a playground for the kids, restrooms, and a picnic area, as well as a fishing pier and a walking trail. You can often see manatees and dolphins out in the water and a lot of different water birds around on the beach. Take some time to visit the AHEPA Odyssey Memorial before you leave and get some pics to share on social media.
Indian River Lagoon Park Beach
The 91-acre Indian River. Park is a pup-popular park on Sandpiper Avenue to the south of New Smyrna Beach, about two miles. It is surrounded by all sorts of water sources, including Indian River, Browns Bay, Callalisa Creek, Big Snapper Cut, Little Snapper Cut, and Snake Creek. But most of the action happens in Browns Bay. That is where the fishing and swimming dock is. Although your pup will need to stay on his leash, you can both enjoy the whole park, including the trails, picnic area, restrooms, and fishing pier.
There is also a dock over the Indian River estuaries where you can launch a kayak to enjoy the Valusia County River Trail. This paddling trail meanders through the waters of Mosquito Lagoon as well as the Canaveral National Seashore, including Turtle Mound. You will often see dolphins, manatees, egrets, herons, and pelicans from one of the docks or playing nearby while you are on the water.
Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park
Less than 10 minutes south of New Smyrna Beach, Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park is a pup-friendly park along the coast. Smaller than many of the other parks in the area, this one only has six acres, but that is plenty of room for you and your canine companion to play. Although it may seem like just a small patch of sand, it actually has about a quarter-mile of oceanfront on the eastern side and a quarter-mile of riverfront on the western side.
The park was named after the founder of Bethune Cookman University, Mary McLeod Bethune, and features restrooms, showers, picnic tables, a boardwalk, and a playground, as well as a fishing pier, basketball, pickle ball, and tennis courts. Along the river, you could spot some cool marine life, such as dolphins, manatees, and pelicans. Just keep your pup on a short leash, and do not let him chase any of the wildlife.
Frank Rendon Park Beach
Frank Rendon Park is just a few miles up the coast in Daytona and is named after a community leader who passed away. The white sand beach is perfect for you and your fur baby to enjoy some splashing in the waves on the ocean and digging your toes in the sand. It is right next to Daytona Beach Shores as well as several resorts and other hotels, but the park itself is public and open to dogs as long as you keep him on a leash and pick up after him.
The park also has sheltered picnic areas with grills, a playground for the kiddos, restrooms, and showers. It is the perfect place to spend the day in the Florida sunshine without the crowds of the other more popular beaches. And with so many resorts and hotels nearby, you can find plenty of eateries to grab a bite. Just be sure to ask permission before bringing your pup into any establishment.
Sun Splash Park
Just a few miles north of Frank Rendon Park, past Castaways, Oceanside, and Catalina Beach, Sun Splash Park is a quaint little four-acre community park with a patch of grass as well as a white sand beach. It is also absolutely free and has plenty of free parking too. But not only does this park have over 600 feet of beachfront, but it also has a splash pad open all year except December through February.
Besides all that, you can also find picnic areas with concrete tables, a shaded playground, a Coca-Cola Cool Zone, and outdoor showers. Right next door, Sun & Sea Rentals is available to rent you some beach gear like surfboards, boogie boards, and snorkeling equipment. You will also find several places to grab a bite to eat. Just remember to bring puppy poop bags and keep your canine companion on a leash the whole time you are there.
Andy Romano Beachfront Park
Andy Romano Beachfront Park is a four-acre park located a few miles north of Sun Splash Park. As long as you keep your pupster on a leash, he is welcome to play with you in the sand and water. This is a beautiful family park with all-new picnic tables with grills, a sensational playground, and even a splash pad where the kids (and you and Fido) can dodge the fountains. You will also find a snack shack so you can get something to eat if you did not bring anything to barbecue.
The large gazebo is a pretty place to get some fun selfies too. Or just sit on the sand and build a sandcastle for your fur buddy to knock down. Be sure to bring some puppy poo bags to pick up anything he drops while you are there. The palm trees are really pretty, and there are many spots around the park where you can get some awesome views of the Atlantic Ocean.
To the west of Andy Romano Beachfront Park, less than 20 minutes from New Smyrna Beach, Central Park boasts tons of fun in and out of the water, where your fur buddy is welcome as long as he is on a leash. The 149-acre space features four parks in one that you can explore by strolling along the 3.2-mile Ormond Beach Central Park Loop with benches and picnic tables along the way to enjoy.
There are five lakes and one pond in the parks, one of them with a fishing pier and observation deck. You can also find two community gardens, restrooms, playgrounds, and picnic areas, as well as a tennis court, basketball court, and several canoes and kayak launches. In the northernmost section of the park, there is a labyrinth where you and your fur buddy can find your way through the maze. Be sure to bring some doggie bags to pick up after your pup.
Tom Renick Park
This small park can be found northeast and across the river from Central Park between the Ormondy Condos and Ormond By the Sea Condos. Tom Renick Park was named after the safety director of Volusia County, who was also a lifeguard in 1969. Set into the natural landscaping of the Atlantic coastline, you can see all sorts of flora here, including cabbage palms, sea oats, and sea grapes. Keep your dog on a leash, and he is welcome to join you here picnicking, swimming, hiking, and biking.
There is a nice playground for the kids and free parking, as well as free admission. There are restrooms and showers for your convenience, but you will have to bring your own doggie doo bags for picking up after your pup. The park also has three pavilions with two tables each where you and your pooch can enjoy lunch with a waterfront view.
Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park
Located in Ormond Beach, just a short walk from Andy Romano Park, Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park is not just dog-friendly. Still, it also has a huge four-acre dog park. It is a fenced park with lots of sand instead of dirt, so your pups do not get all muddy if it rains. There are separate fenced play areas for large and small dogs, drinking fountains, and shaded benches for the pup parents. There is a Mutt Mitt doggy bag dispenser but bring your own just in case.
You will also want to bring your pup’s leash so you can play in the rest of the park. There are 37 acres to explore, including the white sand beach. There is also a nature walk, boardwalk, playground, picnic tables, a fishing dock, and ball fields. They even have shuffleboard, racquetball, and tennis courts. If you have a kayak or canoe, bring it along. If not, you can rent one nearby. But don’t forget the life jackets for both you and your pup.
Tomoka State Park
Across the Halifax River from Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park, you will find Tomoka State Park where you and your canine companion can enjoy the river swimming, boating, fishing, or just playing all day long. And if you want to stay the night, you can do that too because this park has 100 campsites with grills, tables, electricity, and water. Your dog is welcome in the park and campgrounds as long as he is leashed at all times.
Tomoka is a historical park at the connecting point of the Halifax River and the Tomoka Basin where researchers found evidence of a Nocoroco Village from 5000 BC. There are 12 miles of shoreline where your pup can get his paws wet and over 2,000 acres of oak hammocks, Spanish moss, and ferns, as well as tons of wildflowers and other flora. You will often see wildlife on the beach and in the rest of the park, like fiddler crabs and over 160 species of birds.
Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area
Just a few minutes up the coast from Tomoka State Park, the Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area was named after a man who died here in 1991 trying to save a swimmer who was drowning. Gamble was a longtime resident of the area who frequented the park. There are 145 acres between the Halifax River, Matanzas River, and the Atlantic Ocean, with trails, beaches, and natural space to explore with your leashed pup. Do not forget the doggie bags.
There is also a campground with 34 sites right on the beach with picnic tables, fire rings, electricity, and water. You can also go paddling on the river. If you did not bring a kayak or canoe, you can rent them right in the park. There are spots to picnic, a half-mile of beach, boat ramps for larger boats, and great fishing sites. You will also find hot indoor showers, outdoor beach showers, laundry facilities, and concessions.
Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park
See the 150 acres of sugar and cotton plantation from the 1800s at this park just west of Gamble Rogers. Your pooch is welcome here on a leash along the trail, where you will meander past the ruins of the sugar mill and other historic sites. There is also a picnic area by the interpretive center where you can learn about the history of the place. Besides the trail and historic sites, there is plenty of other fun to have here.
Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park also has a boat ramp for kayaks, canoes, and other small boats on Bulow Creek, as well as a trail along the Halifax River where you will no doubt see some wildlife such as deer, raccoons, manatees, dolphins, and water birds. Fishing is also great here, whether you are on the river or the creek. Although there is a museum, dogs are not allowed inside.
Gemini Springs Park Beach
The 210-acre Gemini Springs Park is located about 30 minutes southwest of New Smyrna Beach on Mullet Lake in DeBary. Your canine companion is welcome as long as he is kept on a leash the whole time you are here. And you should be aware that there are alligators that live in the lake here. They are often seen in the water and on the banks, so keep your pup close to you. If you want to let your pup off the leash, take him to the 4.5-acre dog park.
You are welcome to fish from the dock while you are here, but you have to have a Florida freshwater fishing permit. The park also has five different trails you and your pooch can enjoy from 650 feet to one mile. Campsites are available as well for those who want to stay longer than the day. They have fire rings, picnic tables, a grill, and a lantern pole. Be sure to visit the two bubbling springs, which is where it got its name.
The Final Woof
While you are in New Smyrna Beach, be sure to stop by one of the most pup-popular places in town. Silly Willie’s Pet Boutique on Flagler Avenue welcomes all leashed pets, where you can shop for toys, treats, and other pet items. Or if you want your fur buddy to get some exercise off the leash while playing with other pups, head to Halifax Humane Society, where they can play on the agility equipment. If you want to get something to eat with your canine companion, Norwood’s Restaurant & Treehouse Bar serves tacos, seafood, sandwiches, and a variety of other foods, and their patio is dog-friendly.