15 of the Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in Ocean City, MD to Take Your Pup

Published on
Fluent Woof is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Ocean City is a tourist attraction and beach resort in Maryland along the east coast. More than 8 million visitors come here every year, so you know it must be a fantastic place. During the summer, it is one of the most popular spots in the state. With temperatures in the low 80s from July through August, these are the times when everyone wants to hit the beach. Although the winter days can be quite chilly, with highs in the upper 40s, it is still a nice place to enjoy walking on the sand. 

The entire city is on Fenwick Island, which is a barrier spit with water all around it. The beachfront is 10 miles of golden sand and azure waters to enjoy, with piers, parks, restaurants, and shops to enjoy. 

Although there are only a handful of “official” dog beaches in Ocean City, you will find plenty of parks and public spaces on the water. We found 15 of the best dog-friendly beaches in Ocean City for you to check out. 

Ocean City Beach

Known as one of Trip Advisor’s top 10 beaches in the United States, the main beach in Ocean City, Maryland, is awesome. The whole city is one big beach with 10 miles of continuous golden sand and fresh, clean blue water. You can bring your pup along to any of the Ocean City beaches between October and May, but they must remain on a leash. You also have to bring your own doggie bags to pick up any messes he makes. You and your pup can swim here, but it can be quite cold during these months. 

The downtown beach stretches from the inlet to the end of the boardwalk at 27th Street and has most of the entertainment for tourists. In this stretch of sand, you can find over 30 eating establishments, including the Bad Ass Cafe, Shenanigan’s Irish Pub, and Barracuda’s Bar & Grill. Midtown beach goes from 27th to 62nd Street and has about a dozen shops and eateries. The final stretch of the beach has many resort properties and hotels.

Herring Creek Nature Park

On the Isle of Wight Bay and the Ocean City Inlet just north of Homer Gudelsky Park, Herring Creek Nature Park has almost 44 acres for you and your fur baby to explore and enjoy. While most of the park is forested, you will also find some open areas where you can have a picnic with your pup, toss a Frisbee around, and let him play in the waters of the bay. There is a lot of open water here consisting of ponds, creeks, and lakes where you and your fur baby can watch the wildlife.

The parking lot is made of broken seashells that your dog will love sniffing around like it is a beach (which is not far away), so keep him on a leash, and it will be easier to get him into the park. You will see old-fashioned water fountains, a restroom, and a large gazebo where you can sit and enjoy the view. The park is full of different ecosystems, including a wildflower field, a new forest, meadows, a salt pond, freshwater wetlands, and a tidal pond. Make sure you bring poo bags to clean up any messes your dog makes. 

Homer Gudelsky Park Beach

With about one acre of beach space, Homer Gudelsky Park is happy to let you and your canine companion play here all year long. You will have to use a leash and bring your own doggie poo bags. Located across the bridge, this is a beautiful sandy beach the locals call Stinky Beach because the local commercial fishermen would stop there to clean their fish before heading back to the ocean. However, today you will not find any of the stinky fish. Now it is a fun place to picnic, play in the water, and play fetch. 

It is less popular with tourists so that you can enjoy a peaceful day on the water here. Although the current is strong here, you can let your pup splash in the shallows but keep his leash short. You will not find many people swimming here, but you will see some families relaxing on the sand or in the grassy area for a picnic and many anglers looking for flounder, bass, and bluefish.

Sunset Park Beach

Across from Homer Gudelsky Park on the southwest corner of Ocean City Island, Sunset Park is a large grassy space on the water with a promenade, interpretive exhibits, and sensational views of the ocean, harbor, and Assateague Island. There are restrooms and water fountains for your convenience and a stage where they hold concerts and other gatherings. Your pooch is allowed to join you on a leash any time of the year, but please be respectful of those enjoying the events. 

You can also enjoy the water here year-round but keep your dog’s leash on at all times and make sure you pick up after him. Fishing and crabbing are also fun activities here. Right next to the park, you will find the Pet Beach between the Oceanic Fishing Pier and the amphitheater. Your fur baby can be off his leash as long as he is voice-controlled. For those dogs that want to swim, you may want to consider a canine life vest for safety.

Fenwick Island State Park

Located across the border in Delaware, Fenwick Island State Park makes up three miles of beachfront property from Lewes Street to Logan Street. This is where everyone goes swimming. The only problem with that is you can only bring your fur baby to the swimming beach between May and October, so it is usually too cold for humans to get in the water. However, your pup will not mind getting his feet wet and splashing in the waves. 

There are pedestrian dunes by the north parking lot and other pedestrian crossing spots north of the swimming beach where you and your fur baby can swim during the summer, though. These are considered seashore parks, so your pooch is welcome on a leash. Follow the signs to know where you can and cannot go. You will not be able to use the bathhouses, picnic areas, or park buildings at any time of the year.

Assateague National Seashore 

Assateague is a huge island running from the Ocean City Inlet into Virginia and all the way to the Assateague Island Hook. The state park begins at Verrazano Bridge, but you are permitted outside of the park. You can bring your pup with you on a leash anywhere on the Maryland section of the island. This includes the marina, campgrounds, and trails. Dogs are not allowed on the Virginia section of the beach. 

One of the most unique things about the 37-mile barrier island is the wild horses. There are 300 wild horses and ponies that live here, and you are almost guaranteed to see them on your trip. It is important not to approach them or let your dog get close. It is better to watch them from afar. Besides swimming and horses, you can also rent a kayak to get in the water or take a sightseeing cruise. There are several that allow dogs.

James Farm Ecological Preserve

On the back side of Fenwick Island in Delaware, James Farm Ecological Preserve is a dog-friendly beach and park where you can hike, bike, fish, and swim together as long as your canine companion is on a leash. Surrounded on three sides by the Indian River Bay, there is plenty of water to splash around in, and you do not have to worry about currents or waves. From salty marshes to the clear Beach Cove, you and your pup can cool off anytime. 

The park also has seven different trails totaling more than three miles featuring three observation spots, gardens, beach crossings, and a boardwalk. Be sure to bring cleanup baggies to pick up after your pup. The most popular trail is the 1.6-mile James Farm Loop Trail, which is an easy hike that takes about 30 minutes. You may see some of the local wildlife if you are quiet. But please do not let your dog harass them. 

Delaware Seashore State Park

Just northeast of James Farm Ecological Preserve you can find the Delaware Seashore State Park, with 20 sandy miles of shoreline. Although your pooch can only visit the swimming beaches from October until May, that is the best time for peace and quiet. If you see this park during the summer, you will know why dogs are restricted. It gets extremely crowded and loud with all the tourists. But you can go to the other areas of the park not designated for swimming.

The areas you need to avoid during the summer are clearly marked. The North Inlet Beach is one of them, another is at Towers Beach on Tower Ocean Road, and the other is on the South Inlet. Besides swimming, you and Fido will have a lot of activities to choose from. You can enjoy a picnic, go fishing, hunt for clams, or go surfing if you are able. There are also nine trails you can explore from .8 to 2.5 miles long. 

Bethany Beach

From Cedarwood Lane to Fifth Street, Bethany Beach has a lot to do for you and your furry family member. You can start on the Bethany Beach Boardwalk, which runs from Parkwood Street to Second Street, where you can find all sorts of restaurants, cafes, and pubs where you and your pup can enjoy a meal or a drink. Most of them are located between Hollywood Street and Central Boulevard. There are also quite a few shops where you can get souvenirs and other fun items. 

If you came to swim, you might just want to let your pooch get in the water. Only being allowed beach access from October until May 14th means the water is pretty cold. However, late April and the beginning of May would not be too bad. Pack your own litter bags to clean up after your canine companion, and do not bring adult beverages or glass bottles. 

Ocean City Dog Playground Beach

Who needs a beach when you have your own pool? Located in Little Salisbury Neighborhood Park, the Ocean City Dog Playground is a fully-fenced area made to give your fur buddy a safe spot to run and enjoy the outdoors without a leash. The dog section includes sectioned-off space for little and big dogs as well as Mutt Mitt stations, a double fence for safety, and benches for the pup parents. 

The turf grass is thick and soft for Fido’s feet, and there are a bunch of agility obstacles like tire hoops, bridges, ramps, and hurdles that adjust to your dog’s size. The pool is probably the most enjoyable part of the park, though. It is not very large, but dogs can cool off or get a drink with the freshwater spigot used to fill the pool. Your dog needs to have a current rabies vaccine tag and be over four months old. You will also need to register your dog online or at the Northside Park main office.

Northside Park 

Ocean City’s most popular and largest park is Northside Park, located on the northern end of the island. The park faces Assawoman Bay, which is a premier swimming and fishing spot for locals as well as visitors from all over. With 58 acres, you and your pooch will have a hard time getting bored here. You can take him for a swim in the bay or enjoy a walk as long as he is on a leash and you clean up after him. The beach is not huge but has some excellent sand and access to the water. 

Also, there are ball fields, a playground for the kids, a footbridge, two piers, and several short paths to explore, with a large outdoor exercise area. During the summer season, you will find concession stands to get food and drinks as well as other items you may need, like ice and tackle. If you want to rent a kayak or board, there are several rental spots on the beach and nearby.

Jamestown Park

Just south of Northside Park, Jamestown Park is a small green space running along one of the canals off Assawoman Bay with easy access to the marina, a walking path, and a promenade. There are quite a few restaurants and other eateries, as well as boutique shops to browse around. Many of the places with outdoor seating and shopping are dog-friendly but be sure you ask permission before bringing your pup into any establishment. 

If you and your fur baby are really wanting to take a dip in the ocean, cross the highway to the public beach area, where you can walk down to the water. In the mood for some quiet time? Grab a bench along the water’s edge at Windwards Landing South at the end of the park or anywhere along this grassy space. Wherever you go, take plenty of doggie waste baggies, water for both of you, and some snacks. 

Ocean Pines Dog Park 

Located in Manklin Meadows Park, Ocean Pines Dog Park is a happy place right by Manklin Creek. Completely fenced for safety, small and large dogs have their own spaces here. Both sections are full of tall pine trees for plenty of shade, lots of space to run around, and a drinking fountain. For the pup parents, there are doggie poo baggies, water access, and several benches for seating. Even though they have baggies, it is nice to bring your own, just in case. 

Your pup is welcome in the rest of Manklin Meadows Park, too, as long as you keep him on a leash. This 21-acre park features picnic tables, a community garden, basketball courts, and a ball field as well as a playground for the kids and a gazebo to have a meal out of the sun. The park also has a few trails you and your canine companion can explore at your leisure. 

Worcester County Veterans Memorial Park

Just to the west of Manklin Meadows Park, Worcester County Veterans Memorial Park is a 15-acre park with a 30-acre pond. South Gate Pond is a great place to go fishing, enjoy a kayak ride on the water, or let your fur baby cool off in the summer. Even during the rest of the year, your canine compadre will love exploring the waterside and running along the bank. 

While you are there, take a walk in the Ocean Pines Fairy Woods. This 2.2-mile trail features adorable homemade fairy houses and figures in the woods as it takes you around the pond and through the park. Besides the fairies, you will also likely see some of the native wildlife like rabbits, squirrels, and all sorts of bird species. There are no concessions here, but there is a public restroom. If you really need to eat, cross Manklin Creek Road for an array of eateries like Southgate Grill, Southside Deli, and The Hungry Donut. 

Stephen Decatur Park

In Berlin, just a few minutes from the coast, Stephen Decatur Park is a nice-sized leisure space with trails, lots of greenery, and a pond your pup can splash around in. Located on Tripoli Street, this park has over 20 acres with all sorts of activities to enjoy. Pups are welcome as long as they are on a leash, and you have to bring your own doggie bags to pick up their messes. If you like disc golf, try your skills at their course. 

This park is also a fine place for a picnic, with numerous picnic tables and a pavilion you can rent if you have a lot of people with you. There are also tennis and racquetball courts, so you are likely to find a runaway ball around the park. Take the nature trail to the pond, and you may see some shorebirds and other wild critters that call the park home. 

The Final Woof

Ocean City is a mecca for tourism, and you will find tons of attractions, many of them dog-friendly. There are dozens of hotels that allow fur babies, including Dunes Manor, The Safari Motel, and Paradise Plaza Inn. One of the fun places you can enjoy with your fur baby is Viking Golf. This mini-golf venue on Fenwick Island allows small leashed pups to join you while you play 19 holes. 

After that, take your pooch to Bethany Brewing Company where he can join you on the outdoor patio while you try some brew. Looking for something sweet? Head to Salty Paws at Bethany Beach Boardwalk. They serve dog-approved ice cream, doughnuts, cakes, and cookies. Or you can have a nice meal at Fish Tales, The Hungry Seagull or Bayside Skillet. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

Leave a Comment