Sarasota is a popular tourist town on the southwestern coastline of Florida. It is famous for its white sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay. You will find that almost every beach and park allow dogs on a leash, and there are some that have leash-free areas for your pup to run around without a leash. The city also boasts numerous dog parks inland with water features you and your fur baby can enjoy.
You will notice right away that Sarasota is fond of furry family members because of all the canines you see in stores, at restaurants, and at the beaches. If you are just in town for a weekend or if you have lived here a long time and just got a dog, this guide is what you need to find out where you can go with your pup.
From the scenic Siesta Key Beach to the historical Fort DeSoto State Park, you will find a nice collection of beaches and parks to pick from.
We found more than 50, but we have listed our top 15 fun dog-loving beaches in Sarasota to get you started. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Brohard Paw Park
Between the Venice Fishing Pier and Lake Venice Golf Club, Brohard Paw Park is the only dog-friendly beach in Sarasota County. It is a dog park that includes beach access that is fenced so pups can run around freely. The large stretch of white sandy beach includes doggie waste bags, drinking fountains for both canines and their humans, shaded seating, and showers to clean the salt water off after your swim.
Besides all that, the other part of the park is dog-friendly as well. Just keep your fur buddy on a leash. Inside the park, you will find pavilions, restrooms, picnic areas, and several acres of beautiful green space. Even though doggie bags are provided at the dog park, you should bring your own to clean up after your pet in the rest of the park. Also, the pier does not allow dogs so you will have to skip that area.
Fort DeSoto Dog Beach Park
Located on the Fort DeSoto island by the Hubbards Ferry, this beach is especially for dogs and has two fenced-in spaces to separate the large or boisterous pooches from the small or shy pups. As soon as you get in, take Fido off the leash so he can run and play with the other fur babies. The park includes water access to the Mullet Key Bayou on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
The play area includes benches with shade, restrooms, water fountains, and doggie bags. However, you should bring your own water and baggies, just in case. If your canine companion is a swimmer, he will love getting out and playing in the water, but it is best for him to wear a doggie life vest. If you have a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, you and your pup can get out there on the calm water and chill.
Fort DeSoto State Park
Outside the dog park, the Fort DeSoto State Park has over 1,130 acres of space to explore and enjoy with your dog on the leash. With white sands and clear turquoise waters, fishing piers, over a dozen picnic shelters, and restrooms, this family park is fun for everyone. It is the largest park in Pinellas County and includes seven miles of waterfront and three miles of white sandy beaches.
Made of five keys (islands) including Mullet, Bonne Fortune, St. Christopher, St. Jean, and Madelaine Keys, the 400-year-old park also surrounds Mullet Key Bayou, where the Tocobaga Indians lived from 1,000 AD to 1,500 AD. You can still find artifacts on the beaches, such as animal bones, pieces of pottery, and tools. Also located in Fort DeSoto State Park, the historic fort is a fascinating historical building built in 1898. Take a self-guided tour to see the batteries, wagon shed, stable, storehouse, and oil house.
DeSoto National Memorial Beach
To the south across Tampa Bay, the De Soto National Memorial also features interesting historical sites, memorials, and informational trails. The park encourages pup parents to bring along their fur babies as long as they are on a leash at all times. You can both enjoy the waters of Tampa Bay as well, with its stunning beaches. To the west of the point, there is a current from the Manatee River and waves from the bay, so life jackets are recommended for you both.
On the southern side of the point, the waters are calmer, with fewer waves and currents to worry about. Picnicking at the park is also available on a first-come, first-served basis. No grills or alcohol are allowed. Be sure to explore the nature trail that meanders through the mangroves and along the shoreline. The park also offers kayak tours led by rangers, but you will have to check with the rangers for information about bringing your pup.
Lawrence Chip Beach
On Beach Road along a large strip of sandy Sarasota Beach, Lawrence Chip Beach is a small park on the Gulf of Mexico. Between Public Beach Access 5 and Public Beach Access, the beach here is dog-friendly, and you can let him off the leash if he is voice-trained. Here you will find the casual comforts of restrooms and water fountains but no real amenities like showers or playgrounds.
Although the area by the road has been taken over by condominiums and other beachfront property, the sandy beach areas are still public and free for all. Your pup will need to be carefully watched in the water due to the waves and currents here as well as the presence of jellyfish and sharks. However, the latter does not come in too close as the waters there are too shallow. Be sure to bring along some doggie waste bags, treats, and water for both of you.
Siesta Key Beach
Just to the south, Siesta Key Beach was ranked as the number one beach in the United States by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2020. And once you see the pristine powdery soft white sand, you will understand why. The calm waters with just soft waves give you and your fur baby fun swimming opportunities as well. However, he will have to stay on a leash here. There are lifeguards and concession stands to make your beach day even better.
This is a huge beach, so the free trolley is a big bonus, but you will need to ask permission for your canine companion to ride. The large parking lot offers free parking, and there is plenty of beach space for everyone, including volleyball nets, showers, and restrooms. There are even two eateries in addition to the concession stands, including the Sun Pavilion and the Sun Deck, so you can get more than just snacks if you work up a big appetite.
Right next to Siesta Key Beach, Crescent Beach is smaller and less popular, but that can be a good thing. You and Fido will be within easy access to the amenities at Siesta Key without the crowd. Some of the beach areas are for condo owners only, while others are public. Just pay attention to the signs, and you and your canine companion can spend the whole day here having fun. Please keep your dog on a leash and bring doggie bags, snacks, and water for you both.
Crescent Beach runs from the Siesta Dunes to the point of Rocks Beach, with several condos and hotels in between. The good thing about this is that you can benefit from the eateries that have patio seating. But check with the management first. Many locals enjoy the area just to get away from the touristy areas up the beach and weekday mornings are particularly peaceful if you and your dog do not like crowds.
Situated between Roberts Bay and Big Sarasota Pass, you can find the small Boyd Park to the north of Siesta Key Beach. Here you will have access to several water features, including the South Coconut Bayou, as well as a few small ponds. Or you can take a dip in the bay or Sarasota Pass. The Big Sarasota Pass has a marina with many amenities, but some of them are private, while others may not allow dogs. You just have to ask first.
The great thing about this hidden gem is just that. It is mostly unknown to tourists, giving you and your fur buddy peaceful surroundings. Although it is only one acre, the beach is lined with stunning palm trees, a playground, and restrooms. While you are there, take a walk along the nature trail to see the bayou and get a chance to see some wildlife. Bring doggie waste bags and keep your pooch on a leash at all times.
South Lido Key Beach Park
At the southern tip of Lido Key, this is another less-frequented beach park that allows your pooch to join in on the fun. With white sand and a large expansive piece of water, you and Fido get beach access, picnic tables, barbecue pits, and fishing opportunities, among other amenities. There are restrooms, a playground for the kids, and a nice natural trail where you can take a hike through the mangroves and a lookout bridge.
The park next door, South Lido County Park, also has boat rentals, including kayaks and canoes, but you will need to ask about bringing your dog along. This place is a favorite with the locals as well as visitors for birding, with more than 50 different winged species calling the park home, like the brown pelican and great blue heron. There are 152 acres, including a paddling trail that takes you to the mangrove tunnels and several grassy lagoons where you may see otters and manatees.
Bird Key Park
Located on the John Ringling Causeway, you will find Bird Key Park. This is a popular place for bird lovers as well as dog lovers. Your fur baby will have to remain on the leash, but he can access the whole park with you, including the walking path, nature trail, picnic areas, and pavilions. The park is aptly named for its abundance of birds, especially water birds like pelicans, cranes, and herons. Please keep your pup on a short leash, and don’t let him aggravate the wildlife.
Inside Bird Key Park is another smaller expanse of beach called Ringling Bridge Causeway Park. It features 12 acres of sandy beach with excellent fishing opportunities and plenty of room for your canine companion to splash in the water and dig in the sand. But make sure you bring doggie waste bags to clean up after him. You will also need to bring extra water and treats for both you and Fido.
Sapphire Shores Park
Another dog-friendly park in Sarasota, Sapphire Shores Park, is in the middle of Sarasota Bay between the Sarasota Jungle Gardens and the Sarasota Bradenton Airport. What is different about this park is the public art displays that you and your fur baby can take some selfies with to share on social media. The most popular is a large concrete fish of turquoise and green titled “The One That Got Away.”
Take a walk along the walking path to see all of the artwork and enjoy the natural areas of the park as well. In addition to the water access and trail, you and your pooch can enjoy a picnic, toss a line in for fishing, or take a canoe or kayak ride. It is a peaceful park with a concrete path around the water that boasts several benches to sit and relax. Nearby, there are over a dozen eateries, including a pizzeria and sushi restaurant.
Arlington Park Dog Park
It may not be on the beach, but Arlington Park has a large lake as well as a dog park where your fur buddy can run around off the leash. This is a popular spot for locals as well as tourists because of all the features. There are a bunch of barbecue and picnic areas, a basketball court, bike trails, walking paths, fishing, an outdoor fitness center, and two pools. However, pups are not allowed in the pools.
The tennis courts in the park are a bonus because you can often find tennis balls around the grounds for a game of fetch. The park also has a playground, restrooms, water fountains, and, yes, there is a dog park. The fenced dog park used to be a baseball field and has drinking water for pups and beautiful landscaping. There is limited seating and no shade, but your dog will not mind that.
Gillespie Park Canine Club
Similar to Arlington Park, Gillespie Park loves dogs and boasts a large, fenced area for both big and little pooches to play in. No, it is not on the beach, but it has a pond that your pup can cool off in. The park was named after the first mayor of Sarasota, John Gillespie, and has a fitness trail, playground, and picnic tables, as well as basketball, tennis courts, and a bike trail. The pond is not inside the dog park, but your leashed pup is more than welcome.
Some of the other amenities and activities include pickleball, water fountains, a walking path, and barbecue pits. Also, like Arlington, Gillespie Park features 14 different sculptures to enjoy, including US Presidents Washington and Lincoln. Make sure you keep your fur baby on a leash in the main park areas and bring your own doggie waste bags to pick up after him. The park is not far from Sarasota Bay, so you can walk to the beach if you want to.
Lakeview Paw Park
Lakeview Park in Sarasota is not far from Arlington and Gillespie Parks and has about 16 acres that both you and your canine companion will enjoy. The park itself has a disc golf course, kayak and canoe rental, petanque (lawn bowling), and two lakes where your pup can splash around, and you can fish, play fetch, or wade in the water. It is a large park with plenty of shade and picnic areas with barbecue pits and picnic tables.
In the dog park, you will find a large space for the big dogs and a nice-sized side for smaller pups and shy dogs. There is a double-gated entry for safety and two other entrances from the park. There are picnic tables and benches, as well as drinking water and a clean-up station to clean your pooch before getting back in the car. Don’t forget to bring doggie waste bags and your pup’s rabies tag.
Woodmere Paw Park
Located in Venice just minutes from Sarasota, this popular park has a large 2.5-acre dog park where your fur baby can run around off the leash and play with other pups. The park provides mutt mitts or doggie waste baggies, numerous benches and several picnic shelters or pavilions, shaded areas for your pooch, and water stations for you and your dog to get a drink. However, it is best to bring your own water and doggie waste bags just in case because it is so popular.
Woodmere Park is also pup-friendly as long as he is on a leash. You will find tennis courts, picnic shelters, and grills, as well as playgrounds, basketball courts, and a walking trail. There is a recreation center with a gymnasium, but you have to ask for permission to bring your pup. But that is okay because there is plenty to do outside, like horseshoes and two large lakes to play in.
The Final Woof
After a day at the beach or playing in the lake, take your fur baby to discover some of the other pet-friendly attractions and activities.
You can go shopping together at St. Armand’s Circle, Sarasota Square Mall, Bone Appetite, or the Sarasota Farmers Market. Or take your canine companion on the water with Sarasota Boat Tours. When you work up an appetite, bring your pooch with you to the Old Salty Dog for a burger and beer, the Sunnyside Cafe for brunch, or Crab & Fin for all kinds of seafood.
The Red Bug Slough Reserve is another fun place to visit with its 70+ acres, and trails, and the Marietta Museum of Art & Winery welcomes dogs at the outdoor patio.