15 of the most Pawpular Dog-friendly Beaches in Pensacola FL

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You and your canine companion are going to love Pensacola. Located in the panhandle of Florida, it was the first Spanish settlement in the United States in 1559 and is still today a popular tourist attraction. Although the beaches are the major hangouts in Pensacola, there are other important places here, including Historic Pensacola Village, Seville Square, Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, and the Pensacola Museum of Art. Unfortunately, many of the indoor attractions do not allow dogs, but there are some great outdoor activities here too. 

In fact, there are over a dozen dog beaches in and around Pensacola, from the Bayview Dog Beach on Bayou Texar to the Pensacola Dog Beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. The Perdido Key River Road Park is another great beach where your pup can wander around off the leash. Some of the parks are less well-known and can often be found practically empty during the off-season. Whether you want to find a secluded spot for your shy dog or let your pup mingle with the dogs in a more popular place, you will find one you like among these 15 dog-friendly beaches in Pensacola. 

Bayview Dog Beach

The Bayview Dog Beach has one acre of waterfront for you and your fur buddy to enjoy along the Bayou Texar, which is a popular paddling spot for locals as well as visitors from all over. The main park, Bayview, is not just about the water and beach. Here you can find fishing spots, hiking, and picnicking among the 35 acres of space. There are green pastures, wooded paths, a pier, playgrounds, and picnic tables with barbecue grills. They even have a fitness area and tennis courts. 

But of course, the most important spot in Bayview Park is Bayview Dog Beach. In fact, this is one of the only dog beaches in the city of Pensacola. Located in the southwestern corner of the park, your dog can go leash-free in this fenced area with separate sections for large and small pups, a dog washing area, and plenty of seating for pup parents. And the beach where you can both swim. 

Bay Bluffs Park 

Just northwest of Bayview Dog Beach on Escambia Bay, Bay Bluffs Park is a stunning place to take a hike, go swimming, or just hang out on the water. Just a little larger than Bayview, with over 40 acres, this is a nature preserve with several great trails where you can see all sorts of flora and fauna from the area. These bluffs overlook Escambia Bay, where you and your fur buddy can swim, go boating, or try to catch some fish. 

You will have to walk down a lot of stairs to get to the beach, but it is worth it. Once you go down the steps and cross the train tracks, you will have a humongous sandy beach that is almost always empty. Not too many people (especially tourists) know about the beach, and many of those who do would rather go to a beach that is easier to get to. But it is perfect for you and your canine companion to spend the day. 

Floridatown Park Beach

Located in Santa Rosa north of Bay Bluffs Park, also on Escambia Bay, Floridatown Park Beach is dog friendly to friendly dogs on leashes. The historic beach in Pace, Florida, has a living shoreline that has been restored to create a seawall to protect the coastline and the marine creatures that live there. The six-acre beach is not as elaborate as other Florida or Alabama beaches, but it has plenty of beachfront to enjoy. 

Your canine companion will have to stay on a leash here, but he is welcome to join you on the sand and in the water, as well as on the pier, pavilions, and picnic areas. The park has more than 15 picnic tables and four pavilions to enjoy a meal with your pooch. The water is warm and inviting year-round but is not crowded since tourists and locals prefer the more popular sand beaches with more amenities. 

Naval Live Oaks Beach

Just a few miles from Pensacola on Fairpoint Peninsula, you can find a stunning park where you and Fido can explore the woods and play on the beach. Between Gulf Breeze and Oriole Beach across from Escambia Bay, the Naval Live Oaks area boasts over seven miles of hiking trails between Pensacola Bay and the English Navy Cove. The place got its name from US President John Quincy Adams, who started the first federal tree farm in the country in 1828.

To access some of the beaches, try taking a walk along the one-mile Fishing Trail along the Santa Rosa Sound or the short ½-mile Pine Scrub Loop, or the ⅓-mile North Bay Trail. They both take you to Pensacola Bay. Also, at the park, you can find several picnic areas, but you will need to bring your own food and water because there are no concessions here. Remember to keep your pup on a leash and bring doggie waste baggies.

Pensacola Beach West Dog Park

Pensacola Beach West Dog Park is a dog beach, but your dog does have to wear a leash at all times here. Along Fort Pickens Road at Parking Lot B, you and your fur buddy can use the 21E walkover bridge to get across to the beach. It is a nice clean beach with signage to let you know that you are in the right spot. You may also notice the doggie cleanup baggies and handy wipes next to the disposal cans too. But bring your own dog poo bags, just in case. 

It is not a very large beach and can get crowded during the hot days of summer, but it is typically peaceful, and everyone is friendly. Your pooch will also need to have a rabies tag on their collar, too, and bring along some toys and extra water. There is very little shade, so you may want to bring a beach umbrella and be sure to bring sunscreen for both you and your dog. 

Pensacola Beach East Dog Park

Head east past the Pensacola Beach Toll Bridge, and you will find the second Pensacola dog beach aptly named Pensacola Beach East Dog Park. This one is on Via de Luna Drive past the Portofino Island Resort at Parking Lot E, where you can use the 28B beach walkover bridge to get over to the waterfront. This dog beach is open from sunrise to sunset except for during turtle season, which is May through October. Then it does not open until 7 AM. 

Like the other dog beach, there are stations with handy wipes, doggie bags, and trash bins, but you should still bring your own. You never want to get stuck without a doggie bag! This end of Pensacola Beach is more isolated, so if you are looking for fewer people, this one is the best one for you. But bring water because there is nowhere to get any nearby.

Perdido Key River Road Park Beach

On Perdido Key, there are a few beaches that are pup-popular, including the Perdido Key River Road Park. It may be a small narrow strip of sand, but it is fenced, so your pup can enjoy the beach and the water without his leash! It is always nice to let your dog swim freely but make sure your pup is voice-controlled. You do not want him swimming away. Since it is a small park, you will not find any amenities here, like restrooms and drinking water. 

There is a pavilion to enjoy some shade and maybe have a bite to eat with your pup but bring your own food too. There are no restaurants or concessions here. Also, there are no doggie bags here so you will need to bring your own. There are a few trees down on the sand so you can also get some shade there. Just remember the sunscreen for you and your canine companion. 

Fort Morgan Historic Site Bayside Beach

Cross over into Alabama to visit this nearby beach. The bayside area of the beach of Fort Morgan Historic Site in Gulf Shores is dog-friendly, from the Old Fishermans Wharf to the Fort Morgan Pier. There are several beaches along this area on the gulf side where you and your fur buddy can play in the water as long as you keep him on a leash the whole time you are there. The beach is located just before the entrance to Fort Morgan and past the ferry to Dauphin Island.

On the other side of the island/peninsula is the fishing beach. You and your pup are allowed to fish as long as you have a valid fishing license, and you keep your canine companion from bothering other anglers. The fort also allows your pooch to see the place, but you are not allowed to bring him inside. And please pick up after your pup at all times. 

Pirates Cove Beach

Also in Alabama, Pirates Cove has a beach that your fur buddy is sure to love. This corner of Roberts Bayou in Josephine can be found across from Bear Point Harbor in Amica Bay. The whole corner of this cove is pirate-themed and fun for everyone, from dogs to kids and adults alike. The beach here is small but pup-friendly, so you can grab some grub and a beer while you let Fido play in the water or dig in the sand. 

This is a popular spot for activities all year long, like regattas, festivals, and concerts, as well as sailing, fishing, and other water fun. In fact, they have live music every weekend with bands like the Hollis Sellew Duo and Tangerine Station. And their menu is great but simple, with choices like burgers, fries, onion rings, and fried chicken. They even serve hot dogs, but don’t tell your pup. 

Gulf State Park Dog Beach

With a lake, ocean, and almost 30 miles of trails, My Gulf State Park is perfect for a day of fun with Fido. The park features freshwater fishing and saltwater angling, where you can catch whiting, mackerel, flounder, drum, sheepshead, and many more varieties of marine creatures. If you did not bring your gear, don’t worry, they have rentals and bait as long as you have a fishing license. And do not let your pup get too close to other anglers. 

The park also has over three miles of white sand beaches to enjoy with your canine companion. As long as you keep his leash on while you are there, he is welcome to play in the sand or in the water. There are six beaches in all, starting at the pier and ending at Perdido Pass. If you want to let your fur baby run around off the leash for a while with the other pups, visit the Lake Shelby Dog Park in the southwestern corner of the lake. 

Big Lagoon State Park

This massive park on Big Lagoon has over 700 acres of natural space between Perdido Key and the mainland. Not only does it have some awesome swimming spots, but it also has miles of trails both on and off the land. Big Lagoon State Park is part of the 1,515-mile Florida Saltwater Paddling Trail that takes you on a trip around the whole state. But that is a long trip. For now, you may want to stick around the lagoon, where you and your canine companion can spend the day playing. 

If you want to stay longer, you and Fido are welcome to camp, but you should book your spot in advance since this is a popular campsite. There are 75 sites with fire rings, picnic tables, water, and electricity. You will need to keep your fur baby on a leash at all times, and be sure to bring plenty of doggie bags. Other fun activities here include biking, fishing, birding, boating, geocaching, and picnicking, to name a few.

Perdido Key State Park Beach

One really fantastic island that you have to explore with your canine compadre is the Perdido Key State Park Beach. Just to the west of Pensacola Beach, you can find rolling dunes and white sandy beaches dotted with sea oats where you and your pup can enjoy swimming and playing as long as you keep him on the leash the whole time you are visiting. And remember to bring your own supply of doggie poop baggies so you can pick up whatever he drops. 

You will also need to keep him away from certain areas of the park with endangered animals like the Perdido Key beach mouse and loggerhead sea turtles. These areas are clearly marked so you won’t have a problem. Besides swimming and playing in the sand, you and your fur baby can enjoy fishing, shelling, and hiking. They also have picnic areas, restrooms, and showers for your convenience. 

Tarklin Bayou State Park 

At over 4,000 acres, Tarkiln Bayou Preserve, is in western Pensacola on the mainland sandwiched between Perdido Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The bayou also has endangered plants and animals, including one of the most endangered in the country, the white-topped pitcher plant. With this in mind, it is important to keep your fur baby on a short leash at all times and keep him from nosing around on the trails. Always stay on the marked trails to prevent accidental harm to this important flora. 

One of the rare animals in the park includes the alligator snapping turtle, which is not a great place for your pup to be sticking his nose anyway! With so many acres, there are plenty of spots to fish, swim, boat, and hike so you can stay safe. The Perdido Bay Trail is a challenging 6.5-mile hike that takes you and your pup to some of the secluded beaches and streams but make sure you wear some good shoes for the rugged terrain. 

Dauphin Island Beach

Dogs are welcome all year on Dauphin Island as long as you keep them on a leash the whole time. The only place you and your fur baby cannot hit the beach is West End Beach, where dogs are prohibited due to certain bird nesting habitats. Located in between Mobile Bay, Pelican Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, Dauphin Island has several parks and beaches known for being dog-friendly for friendly dogs as long as they are leashed at all times. 

One such spot is Shell Mound Park, where archaeologists found evidence of prehistoric sites from more than 4,000 years ago. You can get some awesome selfies here! East End Beach is one of the best spots for pup parents to take their furry friends. It is found near Fort Gaines on a rocky beach and is much less crowded than the others. You will often get to see dolphins and pelicans near the beach. 

Liza Jackson Dog Park

Just a short drive to the east on the mainland, Liza Jackson Dog Park in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, can be found in Liza Jackson Park. Across from Okaloosa Island, the park features over 1,000 feet of waterfront to enjoy whether you and your fur buddy want to swim, go boating, or toss in a line to go fishing. The main park is full of fun things to do, including hiking and picnicking, and it even has a playground for the kids. 

Perhaps the best place in the park for pooch parents is the leash-free Liza Jackson Dog Park. Not only does it have a special section for small pups, safe fencing, and water fountains for everyone. There are benches for the humans and plenty of room to run for the pups. There is even a section of beach space for dogs to play off the leash. However, you will need to make sure your dog is voice controlled because there are no fences in the water, of course. 

The Final Woof

After a long day at the beach, you may just want to sit back and have an adult beverage. There are several breweries in Pensacola that have outdoor sections where dogs are allowed to join you. The best, according to local pup parents, is Pensacola Bay Brewery, right on the bay because dogs are allowed inside as well as outside here. If your dog needs some agility training, head to Kiwanis Dog Park on West Romana Street. This place has it all, including ramps, hoops, weave poles, and jumps. If you are hungry for some seafood, Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar is the place to bring your pup for some food and fun. 

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.

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