Panama City Beach is a popular tourist attraction in Florida known for its snow-white sand beaches. In fact, it is known for having the world’s most beautiful beaches, according to many. It is located in northern Florida in what is referred to as the panhandle and was the film spot for MTV Floribama Shore in the first two years. However, it is also known as having some of the most dangerous rip currents and has been the site of many drownings too. So, be careful if you or your pup get in the water in this area, and always check the water safety flags.
Being Florida, you know the summers are hot, and winters are warm, so people spend a lot of time outdoors here. In fact, January averages about 65 degrees F for the high. There are dozens of parks and beaches in Panama City Beach, and many of them allow leashed dogs. But there are also some that have sections where your cuddly buddy can run around off the leash. Here are our favorite 15 dog parks in Panama City Beach, Florida
Aaron Bessant Park
Although there is no off-leash dog park here, Aaron Bessant Park is a dog-friendly neighborhood park just seven miles up the coast from Panama City Beach with two lakes and a huge amphitheater where they hold events. Your fur baby will need to stay attached to a leash at all times, and you will need to bring your own supply of doggie bags, but there is no reason why you cannot have an awesome time at this spacious 70-acre park.
There are several soccer fields where you can watch a game, a few grassy lawns for running around, and a paved walkway to meander along and enjoy the scenery. The lakes are gorgeous, and there is almost always something going on here. During the summer, they have a concert series on Thursday nights from 7 to 9 PM, and it is free to the public. Other events include the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, Oktoberfest, and the Hot Air Balloon Glow.
Al Helms Dog Park
Al Helms Dog Park is just nine miles from the beach in Panama City and features three separate fenced yards for different types of dog. One is for cuddly buddies 30 pounds and under, one is for dogs over 30 pounds, and another is for shy or elderly dogs that cannot keep up with the other dogs. There are double gates for safety and tons of space for each. The large dog section is the biggest, of course, with about an acre.
Although there is no agility equipment here, there are natural obstacles and hills for your canine companion to explore and a lot of room to run around. Bring a ball or frisbee for a game of fetch or just have a seat on one of the shaded benches and watch your pup chase the other fur babies. The park provides doggie bags and water fountains, but it cannot hurt to bring your own.
Al Kinsaul Dog Park
A few miles to the north of Al Helms Dog Park, you can find Al Kinsaul Park located in Lynn Haven on North Bay. The fenced pooch paradise is on the eastern side of the park in what used to be the baseball field. It is right on the water, so you get some stunning views, especially at sunset. There is a special section for small fur buddies to make sure everyone feels safe while they are here.
There are about a dozen benches with some shade structures and several palm trees that make some good shade too. The park has a variety of canine play equipment, like a unique tug pole that the poochies love yanking on and several jump-overs, climb-on, and fire hydrants to pee on. There are water fountains so you can rehydrate your pup, and waste stations with poop bags for easy cleanup. But bring your own anyway, just in case.
Alaqua Unleashed Park
Also known as Walton County Dog Park, Alaqua Unleashed is Walton County’s largest secure, off-leash pup park. You can find it about 25 minutes up the coast near Santa Rosa Beach on the edge of Point Washington State Forest. Between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay, the pup play area is near beaches no matter which way you go. Like the Al Kinsaul Dog Park, there are three sections here, but they are divided by size.
The small dog area, Sky’s Courtyard, features a couple of really cool handmade dog houses, some picnic tables, and lots of grass. The medium dog park is called Milo’s Shade and is a thickly wooded area with space to roam and another dog house or two, as well as a doggie tunnel. The large dog area is Monte’s Pond because it has a small pool or two and a deck for pup parents. Then there is Milo’s Hill, where dogs of all sizes play with each other.
Cain Griffin Park
Pack up the pup, his leash, some water, and plenty of doggie bags, and head to Cain Griffin Community Park in Lynn Haven. You can find this fun family park about 20 minutes from Panama City Beach and two miles south of Al Kinsaul Dog Park on the corner of Iowa Avenue and East 16th Street. The park has recently undergone a transformation after the damage from Hurricane Michael in 2018 so you will see a lot of brand-new and well-cared-for facilities and equipment.
For example, the ball fields are completely revamped and just reopened a few years ago with new seating, a concession stand, and a picnic area. The new playground is awesome, with modern play equipment, a climbing wall, and even a splash pad to cool off in. Dogs are not allowed on the playground or in the splash pad, but they can join you anywhere else if they are leashed.
Camp Helen State Park
Even though Camp Helen State Park does not offer an off-leash pooch park, it is still a pup popular spot to take your best friend for a fun day of water sports, hiking, and running around. The awesome recreational space is only 10 miles up Highway 98 between the Gulf of Mexico and Powell Lake. The lake is one of the biggest dune lakes in the state and lauds 180 acres of enjoyment for fishing, swimming, boating, and beachcombing.
If you did not bring a boat, that’s okay, you can rent a kayak or even a paddleboard to take your fur puppy out on the water. But keep your pooch leashed, and do not let him get too close to the wildlife. You may even see a dolphin here! There are also several trails from a half-mile to 1.8 miles long where you and Fido can explore the park. Be sure to bring doggie bags and water.
Conservation Park is a huge natural area about 10 miles northwest of, with more than 2,900 acres between Camp Helen State Park and Scott Field Park. The main activity here is the 24 miles of trails, and your fur puppy is allowed to join you on any or all of them as long as you keep him on a leash that is six feet long or shorter. You will also need to pack lots of water and doggie bags.
With close to 3,000 acres, you know there have to be some sensational trails throughout the park, and there are. From short and easy trails of about a half mile to long strenuous hikes of 11 miles, there is a path for every type of hiker. Twelve different choices await you and your little buddy. If you choose one of the longer walks, bring along some food and treats as well as water for both you and Fido.
Dog Beach at Pier Park
Being in a beach town, of course, you have to take your canine compadre to the beach at least once. And the Dog Beach at Pier Park is the hot spot for hot pooches who want to play in the water and on the sand without a leash. The dog beach was named one of the top 30 dog beaches in the United States, according to US News and World Report. The beach begins on the west side of Russell Fields Pier and stretches 400 feet along the Gulf of Mexico.
If your fur baby is not voice controlled, you should keep him on a leash. The surf can be dangerous for both dogs and people here, so it is also a good idea to have (and use) life jackets for both of you. Bring plenty of water for your pooch, and make sure he does not drink the saltwater. It will make your cuddle buddy sick. You should also bring cleanup baggies as the beach does not provide any.
Dogs & Drinks Dog Park Bar
Just about nine miles east of Panama City Beach and one mile east of Al Helms Dog Park, you can bring your pupster to Dogs & Drinks where you can enjoy some beer or other adult cocktails while your little buddy plays. There is no need to leave your fur baby behind when you go out for a drink with Dogs & Drinks nearby. The fun place is not just a place to go, it is a way of life. They even have events like movie night, speed dating, and trivia.
If you are just visiting or want to check the place out, you can get a day pass for ten bucks. For those who are staying, you can get a monthly or annual membership. Proof of vaccinations and rabies shots are required, and your dog must be spayed or neutered if they are eight months or older. They have a covered area outside with water misters to keep everyone cool and rufferies to help keep the peace, as well as beer, wine, and other beverages.
Frank Brown Dog Park
Seven miles up the coast, right next to Pier Park, Frank Brown Park is the largest in the city at more than 100 acres and includes ball fields, tennis courts, a few playgrounds for the kiddos, picnic areas with tables and barbecue pits, and even shuffleboard courts. And if you get hungry, they have concession stands and food trucks. For those who like to walk, there are several trails that are dog-friendly as long as you keep your pup leashed.
The Frank Brown Dog Play Area is in the northwestern corner of the park, right next to the fishing lake. The large space has three separate enclosures. One is for large active dogs with a lot of energy, one for older and more mellow dogs, both small and large, and another enclosure for all with a sensational lake view. The terrain is both sand and grass, with shade structures and water fountains, waste bag dispensers, and doggie pools to cool off.
Your four-legged furry family member is welcome at Padgett Park too, but you will have to keep him on a leash six feet in length or shorter the whole time you are there. You can find this community recreational area about 25 miles up Highway 98 less than a half mile north of Walton County Dog Park (Alaqua Unleashed). This is a popular spot for locals as well as visitors, as it has several fun playgrounds, picnic areas, a splash pad, and ball fields.
There are pavilions with barbecue grills for a picnic or get-together with restrooms nearby for your convenience. They have water fountains and running water in the restrooms as well. It is all located in Santa Rosa Beach, where you and your fur puppy can walk to the shoreline if you want to. But you will have to pack waste bags and lots of water for both of you and follow the signage for areas where dogs are not allowed.
Sharon J. Sheffield Park
Sharon Sheffield Park can be found on Ohio Avenue, about 13 miles northeast of Panama City Beach. Located behind the City Hall of Lynn Haven, this popular park is a top spot for city events such as the Christmas Tree Lighting, the Farmer’s Market, and the Summer Concert Series as well as Trunk or Treat and Winter Wonderland. It is surrounded by other city buildings like the animal shelter and library, but dogs are not allowed in most of the buildings.
It is not a huge park with a bunch of flashy amenities or a beach, but it is a nice family place with a modern playground, a small pond, and lots of benches to have a seat and relax. The little pond is always a fun attraction for dogs to sniff around and look for wildlife like frogs and turtles. Little humans will enjoy the swings, slides, and monkey bars, as well as the bridge over the water.
Shell Island Beach Park
Jump on the pet-friendly Shell Island Shuttle to visit an unspoiled white sand island with no noisy resorts or parks. Your canine companion will need to be on his leash at all times, but he is welcome to join you on your adventure along the soft sandy beach at Shell Island. Just do not forget to bring plenty of cleanup baggies and lots of water. You will not find restaurants, bars, or shops on the island either, so you need to be prepared.
The sparkling clear water stays that way because of the lack of touristy places, so if you are looking to be pampered with lounge chairs, fancy umbrellas, and waiters bringing you cocktails, you should choose a different island. This one is for seeing wildlife like deer, crabs, turtles, and a variety of birds. They do have boating and tours available, and you can always grab a snorkel and go see the underwater world, but make sure you and Fido have life jackets because the surf can be dangerous.
St. Andrews State Park
Just about five miles down the coast, you will find a state park with all sorts of adventures for you and your fur buddy to find. Although there is no off-leash dog section here, St. Andrews State Park is pup popular for all sorts of sports. With St. Andrews Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, there are lots of water activities to enjoy. There are over a mile of clean white-sand beaches as well as dunes and pine forests here to explore.
The campground here is still going through reconstruction from Hurricane Michael, but a lot of the campsites are open. Be sure to reserve a spot well in advance if you plan to stay. Fishing is also popular here on the jetty and from the beach. You will need a Florida fishing license, but you can catch bluefish, flounder, sea trout, flounder, and more. There are also two short trails that are pooch-friendly, but bring lots of water and doggie bags.
Zollie Young Dog Park
Zollie Young Dog Park has been named one of the best off-leash pup play areas in Brook Forest by locals and tourists alike. It is part of the Zollie Young Community Park, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Panama City Beach. But to be completely honest, it is the only dog park in the area, so that explains why a plain old fenced yard is a favorite. The main things that make it the best are that it has a solid new fence, a play area just for little pooches, and there are no drainage areas for standing water.
However, the downside to that is there is no water here at all. That just means you need to bring your own water for both you and your cuddly canine companion. You should also bring your own poop bags because it is not clear whether they have dispensers or not. The larger dog park with agility equipment was just next to this new space, but it was permanently closed due to storm damage from Hurricane Michael.
The Final Woof
With so many fantastic dog parks and beaches to explore and enjoy, it is doubtful that you and Fido would ever get bored in this sunshine city. But if you want to get into the water with your fur pup, Coastal Wildlife Adventures Dolphin and Snorkel Tours on Thomas Drive will help you with that. Captain Lorraine supplies the snorkel, fins, mask, life jackets, and even the music and food for this five-hour tour. Dogs are welcome as long as they are well-behaved. If you would rather hit the water without a guide, Lagoon Pontoons rents boats and jet skis that are pet-friendly too. Or take your pooch to dinner at Margaritaville Restaurant on Front Beach Road, where they have burgers, steaks, seafood, and dog-friendly food.