Texas is a huge state surrounded by New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, Louisiana to the east, and Mexico to the south. In fact, it is the second-largest state in the United States, behind Alaska. It is also known as The Lone Star State because its first state flag in 1836 was one gold star on a blue background. And Texas is also the home of the first frozen margarita machine as well as the birthplace of two American presidents, Eisenhower and Johnson.
The state also enjoys warm weather all year long, although it can get really hot in the summer. But Texas also has more than 365 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, where you and your cuddly canine companion can cool off. And with 89 state parks that allow dogs, you are certain to find somewhere to spend a nice warm day with your pooch. Here are 17 of our favorite dog-friendly beaches in Texas.
Boca Chica Beach
Located on the southeastern edge of the state, minutes from the Mexican border, Boca Chica Beach is pup-friendly for leashed pups. The long and narrow stretch of sand can be found on the Gulf coast between the 10,680-acre Las Palomas Wildlife Area and Brazos Island Park. It is the last dog-friendly beach in Texas before you reach Mexico, but it is not very crowded because of its lack of amenities. If you want a beach where you and Fido can spend a peaceful day on the ocean, Boca Chica is perfect.
The hidden treasure may not have any restrooms, showers, or concessions, but it does have a golden patch of sand where you can take your canine compadre for a swim without a bunch of tourists. Because it is so secluded, you will often see a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles and peregrine falcons. So, pack a cooler full of food and water and head to Boca Chica.
Andy Bowie County Park Beach
Hop on over to South Padre Island, where you can find several dog-friendly parks and beaches, including Andy Bowie County Park in Cameron County. This park has a little more to offer than Boca Chica, including restrooms, showers, and water fountains, as well as two picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills, a swimming area where your pup can swim on a leash, and a fishing area for the anglers who want to give surf fishing a try.
If you forgot to bring food, don’t worry, there are concession stands and eating establishments nearby. Clayton’s Beach Bar & Event Venue is a popular spot for pup parents to grab a burger and a brew. But if you plan on spending the night (or longer), make sure you reserve a spot way in advance because they only have 20 campsites. Also, be sure to pack lots of doggie bags for picking up after your pup.
Adolph Thomae County Park Beach
Just about an hour up the coast, Adolph Thomae County Park has an awesome beach where your fur puppy is allowed to play. Named after the former commissioner, you will find this lovely park running along the Arroyo Colorado in Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge boasts over 110,000 acres of natural space that includes 60 miles of trails with access to the Laguna Atascosa, Laguna Madre, and several other bodies of water.
There is a lot to do with your canine companion at the park besides swimming and playing at the beach. You can catch some fish off one of the fishing piers, clean them at the cleaning stations, and then cook them up on one of the grills in the picnic area. Or just bring sandwiches. If you have any kids with you, they will love the playground, and the wildlife tower is fun for everyone. They even have 35 camping sites with full hookups so that you can stay a while.
Port Mansfield Beach
Port Mansfield is a small village about an hour north of Adolph Thomae Jr. County Park that is packed with fur-baby-friendly activities. The main attraction here is Port Mansfield Marina, which is part of the R&R RV Resort with 80 campsites with full hookups and internet. Nearby, Laguna Point Recreation Area lauds a huge fishing pier, waterfront picnic areas, and friendly deer. You may even get to see some dolphins playing in the water off the pier.
Fred Stone Park is another great spot in Port Mansfield to take your pup. There is another fishing pier as well as waterfront access on either side. It is best to keep your pooch leashed at all times because there are herds of deer that get up close and personal with you. If you have a kayak or other boat, you will find lots of places to get it in the water. Don’t forget the doggie bags!
Surrounded by Laguna Salada, Cayo del Grullo, and Baffin Bay, Loyola Beach is a tiny community in Kleberg County, about 90 miles north of Port Mansfield. There are about a dozen different RV parks, resorts, and campgrounds, including Loyola Beach RV Park & Campground, Seawind RV Resort, and Bayview Campground. Most sites allow leashed dogs but be sure to ask first. According to local anglers, the lighted pier at Kaufer Hubert Memorial Park is the best place to catch speckled trout in the entire state of Texas.
The park also has a huge grassy area that has picnic areas with grills and tables as well as some that are covered by pavilions. The little humans will enjoy the playground with swings, several slides, climbing equipment, and other fun activities. If you need to get ice, food, beverages, or even fishing bait, there are several shops nearby. But always ask before bringing your fur puppy inside.
Mustang Island State Park Beach
Hop over to Mustang Island to visit Mustang Island State Park Beach with your cuddly canine. This sensational recreational space has almost 4,000 acres of beautiful meadows and thick woods, as well as five miles of sandy beachfront. As long as you keep your poochie tethered to a leash at all times, he is welcome to join in on any of the fun. From swimming to sunbathing, boating, and fishing, water sports are all popular here.
If you happen to have a canoe or kayak, try the Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail. It covers 20 miles in three different areas, with some of the best fishing in the region. If you want to stay for a while, reserve one of the 98 campsites that cover two miles of beach. There are restrooms, a park store, and showers available for everyone as well. You can even have a barbecue or picnic at one of the picnic areas.
Port Aransas Beach
At the far end of Mustang Island, you will find one of the only off-leash beaches in the area. Also known as I.B. Magee Beach Park, Port Aransas has a few soft sandy spaces for you and your dog to enjoy. No leashes are necessary! It is so nice to be able to toss around a frisbee or play fetch with your pooch when he can run and chase it without dragging you along. Letting him swim in the Gulf on his own is fun, too, but make sure he is safe. Doggie life vests are recommended.
With the jetty on Aransas Pass, locals say there is excellent fishing on the Beach Street Pier, especially at night. If you plan to do some night fishing, why not reserve a campsite so you can stay over? There are 64 sites with full hookups, showers, and restrooms. You may need to put your pup’s leash back on in some areas of the park, such as the pier, showers, and restrooms.
Goose Island State Park Beach
Just a couple of islands away from Port Aransas, Goose Island State Park is a perfect place to spend the day, the night, or even the week. The park has a fantastic beach surrounded by Copano Bay, Aransas Bay, and Saint Charles Bay, with over 100 campsites, some with water and electricity. Pups are popular here, but they have to be leashed while in the park. However, you can still have plenty of fun swimming, playing in the sand, and chilling on the beach.
Another popular fishing spot is the 1,620-foot fishing pier, where they have a fish cleaning station so you can cook what you caught on one of the picnic area barbecue grills. You do not even need a fishing license to fish from the shore or pier. If you forgot your tackle, they have a tackle loaner program, so you can still toss out a line. Be sure to bring along your own baggies to clean up after your pup.
The pup popular Magnolia Beach is less than an hour up the coastline from Goose Island and the small town features several parks and a few lakes, including Powderhorn and Old Town Lake. Just before you reach Indianola Park, there is a large white sand area where you can camp for free for up to 14 days. Right on the beach! If that is full, there are a few other RV parks and campgrounds nearby. The whole area is just one big dog-friendly sandy beach!
According to the Calhoun County Parks & Recreation Department, dogs are allowed as long as they are under control by a responsible pet parent. That means you can have your cuddly companion unleashed as long as he is voice controlled. But be realistic. When it is too crowded, put his leash on anyway. And it gets really crowded during nice weather due to the free camping and parking.
On the other side of Matagorda Bay, about an hour and a half from Magnolia Beach, Matagorda Beach is another park that prefers pets. The whole city of Matagorda is a beach with 58 miles of water from the Colorado River, the Gulf of Mexico, and Matagorda Bay. However, only 23 miles of it is accessible by vehicle. For the other 35, you need a boat. This is another fantastic place to pitch a tent or park an RV.
Swimming is popular here as well, but stay away from the passes, piers, and jetties because the undertow and rip currents are dangerous. Also, the mouth of the river has a rough current. It is probably best to put your pup in a life jacket specially made for dogs if you are going past the shallows. There are covered picnic areas, outdoor showers, and modern restrooms as well as a marina and several shops and eateries nearby.
San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge
Another hour up the coast will take you to the humongous 45,700-acre San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. Besides the Gulf of Mexico, this outdoor wonderland has several lakes, including Cowtrap and Cedar Lakes, where you can let your pup cool off and play. Just be aware that there are alligators living here, so keep your canine companion close to you at all times. The area also has salt marshes, streams, prairies, and bottomland forests to explore and enjoy with your leashed doggo.
With four miles of beach, San Bernard is a great place to go fishing too. But remember, this is a wildlife refuge, so your pooch needs to stay on a short leash. There are many endangered animals here, including the piping plover, sea turtles, and black skimmers. The refuge also has 10 different trails to explore, from the easy half-mile San Bernard Oak Trail to the lengthier 2.7-mile Oyster Creek Trail in the Hudson Woods. Bring extra water, snacks, and doggie bags.
Follett’s Island Beach
Less than 30 miles to the northeast, Follett’s Island is found on the banks of the Gulf of Mexico. Pup parents come from all over to play here with their fur babies because a lot of the areas allow you to let them frolic without a leash. Although the main beach at Follett’s Island requires he is leashed, it can be as long as you want, so he may as well not be leashed at all! This is great for playing fetch but not so great when it is crowded.
This island is also perfect for those who want to stay the night because it has another free camping beach. Brazoria County Free Beach Camping is several miles long and you are welcome to bring your pup along. Even though there are no amenities here, it is well worth it because you cannot beat free! There are other beaches and parks nearby, including Seagull Avenue, Surfside, and Bay Avenue.
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
Just behind Follet’s Island Beach, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge has more than 44,000 acres to discover. Bordered by Christmas Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway, the whole place is dog-friendly except for some buildings. Some places even let Fido run around off the leash. But do not let him chase or get too close to any of the wildlife. It is a refuge for many birds, including the seaside sparrow, white ibis, and 10 different kinds of egrets and herons.
Because almost half of the refuge is wetlands, you will find lots of great beachfront spaces to enjoy with your fur baby. The 189-acre Canaan Bend Recreation Area has an awesome lake for fishing and splashing in the water as well as a nature trail, kayaking, and picnicking. Besides the lake, Oyster Creek runs all the way around the park. The Big Slough Recreation Area has a nice boardwalk where you can see alligators. No swimming there!
David Braun Park at Lake Nassau
Head inland to Nassau Bay in Houston to visit David Braun Park at Lake Nassau. It is sandwiched between Clear Creek and Lake Nassau, so there is plenty of waterfront space here. But it also has a leash-free dog park! The main park includes features like a playground, baseball fields, tennis courts, a covered pavilion, and dozens of picnic tables with grills for the public to use. It is also popular for its fishing in both the lake and the creek, so bring your fishing gear.
The dog park has two fenced areas. Once for big dogs and one for little pups. There is tons of space on each side with lots of grass and lots of shaded seating for pup parents to relax. Bring your pup’s favorite tug toy or fetch ball so you can share some one-on-one time with your best buddy. Before you head back to the car, you can even clean your pup at the dog rinsing station.
Back out on the bay, Stewart Beach was named one of the 10 Best Beaches for Families by Family Vacation Critic, and they allow dogs too! But your canine compadre will need to stay attached to his leash the whole time. Situated at the Seawall in Galveston, the historic wall goes 10 miles along the water, making it the longest sidewalk in the US. You do not have to bring much besides your dog, leash, and doggie bags for picking up after him.
Stewart Beach has all sorts of amenities, making it a much more pleasurable experience because you do not have a bunch of beach stuff to carry. You can rent chairs, umbrellas, beach supplies, and beach wheelchairs. The beach also has a snack bar with a variety of snacks and beverages. Also, there are modern restrooms, outdoor showers, and lifeguards on duty to keep everyone safe. Don’t bring any adult beverages, though, because they are not allowed.
RA Apfell East Beach
If Stewart Beach is too crowded for you (it often is during the summer), walk or drive a few miles to the end of the island, where you will find RA Apfell East Beach, also known as just East Beach. There are not as many families here, but there are often plenty of party animals. Yes, alcohol is allowed at RA Apfell East Beach, and so are leashed pups. This is the spot where Galveston holds several festivals and concerts, including the sandcastle competition in the middle of August.
You can also rent chairs, umbrellas, and wheelchairs at RA Apfell East Beach, and they have beach supplies, food, and drinks for sale as well. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer during daylight hours, and if you brought any little humans with you, there is a fantastic playground here too. Other features include a boardwalk to scout, pavilions and picnic tables, and the end of the Seawall.
Candy Cain Abshier Wildlife Management Area
The final spot on our list of dog-friendly beaches is Candy Cain Abshier Wildlife Management. It is about 90 miles from RA Apfell East Beach on the Texas/Louisiana border. The pup popular park has more than 200 acres and has water all around it, including the Port Author Ship Canal, Keith Lake, Shell Lake, Johnson Lake, Lost Lake, and Salt Lake. Also, you and your fur baby can explore one of the many trails in the 60 acres of live oak.
The park was named to honor a former Texas Parks and Wildlife associate who promoted wetland conservation. You will see many of the conservation efforts in action here including a hawk watch tower, observation platform, coastal woodlots, and prairie vegetation. One of the rare species the park protects is the Texas Diamondback Terrapin. Make sure Fido is on a short leash to protect the flora and fauna in its native environment.
The Final Woof
If you want to learn more about the flora and fauna of Texas, take your canine companion on a field trip to the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Your pooch is welcome as long as you keep his leash on. Another great place to learn is the Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin. The garden welcomes all fur babies on leashes. Another fun idea is to take your dog on a dolphin tour. There are many of these around Texas that are pup-friendly. One of these is BayWatch Dolphin Tours in Galveston. Their 45-minute tour of the harbor will almost always include dolphin sightings.