15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Florida

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.
dog is having fun ia dog friendly vacation in Florida

In the southeastern United States, Florida is a popular tourist state surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. There are more than 21 million people living in the sunny state, and millions more visit every year. With approximately 2.4 million fur babies living in Florida and millions more coming to the state annually, you will notice that there are lots of pups hanging around in the parks, at the beaches, and even at restaurants. 

If you measure the coastline from one end to the other, you will find 1,350 miles of waterfront on the ocean and the Gulf with 200+ beaches. A lot of the beaches allow dogs, either on or off the leash, so pack some water toys and sunscreen for both of you. 

You will have lots of choices where to stay with almost 30,000 dog-friendly rental properties in the state. They also boast 6,575 restaurants that welcome canine companions, 350 dog parks, and 75 official dog beaches. Don’t forget to pack plenty of doggie bags too. You never want to be out and about without a baggie to pick up what your pup drops, especially at the beach. These are the top 15 dog-friendly cities in Florida.

Saint Petersburg 

As a pup parent, you may have already heard that St. Petersburg is the most popular dog city in the US. Located in midwestern Florida on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, this coastal town has more vets, groomers, and pet stores than any other city in the country. And your pooch is welcome at over 15 malls and 130 restaurants, and they have more than 40 dog parks. 

St. Petersburg is the perfect place for a summer vacation, with 11 beaches that welcome fur babies. Fort De Soto and Picnic Island Park are two of the most pup popular because the fenced beaches allow for playing off the leash. Sunset Beach Park also allows your canine companion to be off the leash, but there are no fences to keep him in. 

After your swim, you and your cuddle buddy can take in a flick at the Ruskin Family Drive-In Theater, where they have been playing since 1952 when they showed Singing in the Rain. Grab some popcorn and hot dogs at the concession stand for both of you, and do not forget the doggie bags.

Cocoa Beach 

Cocoa Beach is fond of fur babies. There are an estimated 1,500 dogs living in the small beach town, and there are lots of places you can stay when you visit. In fact, there are 193 vacation rentals that allow pets, including Four Points By Sheraton, where you are just three minutes from the beach. Speaking of the beach, the city has some of the best pooch beaches in the world! 

With more than 20 dog-friendly beaches, you will have no trouble finding the perfect one for your pup. However, the only off-leash beach in town is Lori Wilson Park Beach with 32 acres, a boardwalk, lifeguards, and outdoor showers. You can also go fishing so bring some fishing gear along and do not forget to get a license.

If you plan to bring the kids with you, Cocoa Beach is the perfect spot because it is just a short drive to all the amusement parks, including Disney World, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. Although pets are not allowed at these attractions, you can drop off Fido at one of the reputable doggie daycares like Bow Meow Boarding or the Dog Spot Hotel


Are you into hiking? Take your poochie to Tampa to hit the trails. The dog-friendly city has over 100 pup-popular hikes you can explore and enjoy. For an easy walk with a gorgeous lake view, try the 2.7-mile Piney-Z Lake Loop at Lafayette Heritage Trail Park. For a more challenging hike, try the 4.5-mile Bell Creek Preserve Trail or the 6.2-mile Blackwater River Trail. Remember to bring extra water and baggies. 

After your hike, take Fido to Picnic Island Beach, where he can run around off the leash for a while. Swimming off the leash is always fun. Pass-A-Grille Dog Beach is another great off-leash swimming spot. If you would rather play in the river, the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park has a fenced dog park as well as a riverfront area for dogs. 

You and your fur buddy will have a plethora of awesome restaurants to choose from, with 266 dog-friendly spots to pig out. Mad Dogs & Englishmen is an English pub that serves some delicious fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie. And your pup can join you on the patio.


When you want to get away from the cold and snow during the winter, head to Destin with your cuddly buddy, where the temperatures are always nice and warm. You will be happy to know that there are 1,480 fur babies living in the coastal city, and they are welcome in many establishments like hotels, restaurants, and stores. But if you are here for the heat, you probably want to find a dog-friendly beach

Liza Jackson Dog Park has over 1,000 feet of waterfront on the Santa Rosa Sound across from Okaloosa Island. It is safe to let him off the leash, too, because there are fences to keep him in. Or try Garniers Beach, where they have playgrounds for the kids, and you can play fetch or frisbee. Destin Dog Park is another fun place to bring your canine compadre.

What’s more, you will have tons of places to choose from for your stay! There are 550 different vacation rentals in Destin, including hotels, motels, resorts, and even campgrounds. Have fun!

Fort Lauderdale

On the southeastern corner of Florida between Pompano Beach and Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale welcomes dogs big and small in thousands of locations. And with over 600 hotels, motels, and other vacation spots that allow pets, you will have a wide variety of choices. For example, the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort has a fitness center, restaurant, and pool, pets are free, and it is just a short walk to the beach. 

The city has approximately 34,000 fur babies in residence, and thousands more visit every year. With so many pups, there has to be lots of pooch places. If you want to hit the beach, there are a dozen dog-friendly beaches. The Fort Lauderdale Canine Beach is the favorite, where your fluff buddy can swim without a leash. 

Or you can take your fur baby to one of the many off-leash dog parks in Fort Lauderdale so your pup can run amok with his furry friends. Then, stop by Backyard N Brews to have an adult beverage with other pet parents while your canine companion plays. 


Jacksonville has almost a million residents, including over 337 parks covering 80,000 acres of space. With warm weather all year long, it is a popular vacation spot, especially during the winter when people are trying to get away from the cold. Many people bring their dogs, too, adding to the 115,000 already living there. Winter temperatures are often in the 70s, so it is a popular place for outdoor activities with your pooch.

The city has over 15 off-leash dog parks, including the Leonard Abess Dog Park, which has a loop trail to explore, and the Davis Park Dog Run with its agility equipment like tunnels, ramps, and jumps. If it is the beach you want, Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park has 1.5 miles of sand, and Atlantic Beach Dog Park boasts three acres of off-leash fun!

You will have nearly 400 dog-friendly vacation rentals to choose from, too. Whether you want a cozy cottage or a large luxurious resort, you can find it in Jacksonville. While you are in town, be sure to stop by BurgerFi, where you and Fido can enjoy a burger.


At the western end of the panhandle in northern Florida, you will find Pensacola on the Escambia and Pensacola Bays. The residents love dogs as much as we do here! In fact, there are more than 7,500 pets in the city, from tiny Terriers to huge Hounds. If you and your furry friend love to camp out under the stars, this is one of the best cities to do it since they have so many pup popular campgrounds. 

Big Lagoon State Park has 75 sites with utilities, showers, and restrooms, as well as picnic tables, grills, and a huge lagoon to enjoy. Pensacola RV Park also has full hookups as well as a laundry, kitchen, and showers. If you want a campground with a boat launch and marina, Playa Del Rio RV Resort & Yacht Club has 26 elite sites and a dog park!

Speaking of boats, Bay Bluffs Park has a pup-friendly beach and a place to launch your kayak or canoe at this 42-acre park. Or you can visit Gulf State Park Dog Beach, where he can play without a leash. 


Sarasota is another dog-friendly city in Florida on the Gulf Coast. You can take your cuddle buddy just about everywhere with you in town as long as you check first. Thousands of pet parents bring their pups to Sarasota every year because of the low prices. In fact, there are 620+ rental properties that allow pets, including the Comfort Inn & Suites, which has a pool, barbecue area, and gym for just about $100.

Taking your fur baby to the beach in Sarasota is also cheap. In fact, it is free if you know where to go. Brohard Paw Park is an off-leash, dog-friendly beach that includes water, doggie bags, and a white sandy beach for no cost at all! Or you can take him to Arlington Park, where they have a huge lake and a fenced dog park for free. 

If you want a place for cheap eats, head over to Freddy’s where you can get a burger, fries, and a drink for less than 10 bucks! Or you can go to Mad Dogs, where they have hot dogs with the works for under five dollars. Bring your own doggie bags.

Jacksonville Beach

For a romantic vacation with your best fur buddy and significant other, Jacksonville Beach has some of the most romantic date ideas for dog-loving couples. First, reserve a suite at One Ocean Resort & Spa where they have oceanfront views and couples’ spa visits. You and your pup and your loved one can take a romantic stroll on the beach. Jacksonville Beach City Beach is dog-friendly and is right outside your hotel door.

Or, take your honey for a candlelight dinner at Savor Restaurant, where they have cozy wraparound sofa seating. However, you cannot bring Fido to the restaurant, so you will have to get a pet sitter like Beach Bark or A Friend In The Woods Dog Daycare. 

After, you can take your fur baby and your lover to BrewHound Dog Park and Bar to enjoy some adult beverages while your canine companion plays with other pups. Or go to Green Room Brewing, where they allow dogs on the patio beer garden. Then, take a trip to Paradise Poochie Bakery for a special doggie treat. 


While you will not find any oceanfront beaches in Ocala, you will find lots of pooch-friendly places and activities to enjoy. Right in the middle of northern Florida, Ocala is the horse capital of the world, and you can find more than 400 thoroughbred farms in the city. Your pupster is even welcome to join you at the World Equestrian Center as long as you keep him on a leash. 

The city is also known for its many family parks, such as Tuscawilla, which has two lakes, hiking trails, and a boat dock, as well as picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills, playgrounds for the kids, and some awesome fishing spots. If you want to let Fido off the leash, go to Bark Central Dog Park. It has 15 acres of fenced space for pups to play leashless, and both the small and large dog sections have their own pond. 

For something different, take your cuddly canine to the Museum of Drag Racing, where you can visit the antique car museum and the drag strip. Then, stop by the Ocala Drive-In to watch a movie before heading back to the hotel.

Key Biscayne 

You can find Key Biscayne on an island just southeast of Miami between Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. The city has some of the best summer activities to enjoy with your canine compadre such as beaches on both sides of the island, a dozen dog parks, and an array of restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. First, for the best place to enjoy the beach with your buddy, check out the Ritz-Carlton, which is the only hotel on the beach, and they allow all dogs.

Speaking of the beach, there are quite a few dog-friendly beaches, including Hobie Island Beach, which is on the tip of Virginia Key Island, or Virginia Key Beach Park, right next door. Also, there is a beach at the end of Enid Drive, simply named Beach Park, where dogs are allowed to join their pet parents.

If you want a boat ride, Club Nautico rents them, or you can enjoy a Duck Tour amphibious bus ride in Biscayne Bay. Afterward, share a meal with your poochie at Tutto Pizza & Pasta where they have a lovely patio. 

Panama City Beach

Known for its white sand beaches and calm blue waters, Panama City Beach in northwest Florida is a pup popular spot to take your fur baby for a weekend getaway. No matter what month you choose your weekend trip, Panama City Beach is always warm and almost always sunny. Pack your dog’s favorite water toys because there is lots of pet-friendly oceanfront space here. 

The most popular dog beach is The Dog Beach at Pier Park between public beach access sites 55 and 58. Dogs are allowed to play without a leash, but make sure he is voice-controlled. Be sure to bring doggie bags and sunscreen because you won’t find those here. You can also take him to Pier Park and Margaritaville, where dogs are welcome on the patio. 

If you want to get out in the water with your fur baby, talk to Coastal Wildlife Adventures Dolphin and Snorkel Tours. Or you can rent a boat from Lagoon Platoons. 

Miami Beach

Of course, just about everyone has heard of Miami Beach. But did you know that there are more than 20,000 fur babies living in the famous resort city? With winter temps in the upper 70s, you can take your canine compadre there to hide from the cold and snow of winter. The city boasts 30+ beaches, with many that allow pups to join in the fun. 

Lummus Park has a mile of white sand for leashed dogs, along with a 26-acre park to explore. For some off-leash swimming, head to Haulover Beach or Hobie Island Dog Beach. With 280 dog-friendly vacation rentals, you and Fido will have your choice of beaches to stay by. Some of these include SLS South Beach, The Savoy, Trump International Beach Resort, and Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club.

If you want to do some shopping, you can take your leashed fur buddy to Bayside Marketplace. They have dozens of outdoor shops and eateries with a grassy dog park. 


If you are looking for a place in Naples with a lake instead of the ocean, Naples has a few. Freedom Park Beach has several lakes as well as creeks, but you should keep him on a leash and keep an eye on him because there are alligators in the park. K-9 Corral at Estero Park also has four lakes as well as 55 acres of fun space. 

You will not have any issues finding a pet-friendly hotel either because there are more than 700 vacation rental properties in Naples. Gulfcoast Inn has a pool and restaurant and is just across the highway from Freedom Park, so you can walk there. Embassy Suites by Hilton is just a few minutes from K-9 Corral, and it has a gym, restaurant, pool, and hot tub. 

Those who want to paddle the lake can rent a pet-friendly kayak or canoe from Nauti Exposures or you can take your pup for a cruise at Bark on the Ark. 

Saint Pete Beach

Get ready to get away at Saint Pete Beach with your fur baby. The beach island is pup popular with over 100 vacation rentals, dozens of dog friendly restaurants, several dog parks, and a dozen dog beaches. So your getaway will be filled with furry fun no matter what you are into. Want to see some dolphins? Take your pup on a St. Pete Beach Dolphin Tour, Shell Key Shuttle Cruise, or Tampa Bay Sunset Eco Tour. 

You can stop by Nikko’s Dog & Sports Bar, where you can get some brew while your cuddle buddy plays in the yard. Also, there is the Dog Bar in nearby St. Petersburg, where pup parents can mingle while the pooches play in the fenced dog park. Nearby, take your pupster to the Devil’s Elbow, and your happy hound can play in the water at St. Pete Beach Dog Park

While you are in town, make sure you check out some of the great off-leash dog parks. It is always a good idea to let your canine companion run around with some other pups off the leash. 

The Final Woof

Florida is a large place with lots of sun and warm winters to boot. Whether you are going for a family trip, a romantic getaway with the honey, or just taking a weekend with your best furry friend, there is a city in Florida that will match what you are into. St. Petersburg has been voted the best dog-friendly city in the United States, and it has a variety of malls, restaurants, dog parks, and beaches to enjoy. If you want to do some hiking, head to Tampa. For a soft, white, sandy beach, you can go to just about any city that runs along the coast. If you are on a tight budget, try Sarasota. 

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