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Top Dog-Friendly Vacation Spots In Florida

Dog Beach Destin Florida

Florida has long been on the map for travelers and their pets when it comes to pup-centric vacations. The Sunshine State’s year-round sunny skies and temperate weather are ideal for holidays with canine companions. Here, you’ll find no shortage of pet-friendly parks, beaches, vacation rentals, and even museums! 

If you love a holiday by the sea and can’t bear the thought of leaving your four-legged friend behind, Florida is the place to be. In this guide, you’ll learn all about dog-friendly vacation spots in Florida to visit, and how to make the most of your dog-centric tropical vacation. 

Top Pet-Friendly Cities In Florida

39.8% of Florida households own a dog, so you can rest assured that the state is bustling with them! However, some cities are more welcoming of canine travelers than others. Before booking your vacation rental, look into these dog-friendly vacation spots in Florida first.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is rife with dog parks such as the Golden Isles Park, Happy Tails Dog Park, and Bark Park, where your pet can enjoy hours of exercise and free play. Depending on where you plan your stay, some destinations allow for off-leash adventures. 

This bustling city is also home to many dog beaches, such as the Dog Beach of Hollywood, Bark Beach at North Shore Open Space Park, and Fort Lauderdale Beach. Some beaches are even equipped with a complete set of amenities, including dog showers, waste bags, water stations, and more. 

Tampa Bay Region

If you prefer a food-focused vacation, the Tampa Bay region should be on your list of dog-friendly vacation spots in Florida. Here, you can dine al fresco at hundreds of dog-friendly restaurants and even share an artisanal ice cream cone with your pets at Let it Be Ice Cream in Gulfport, Florida.

Not to mention, Tampa is also home to twenty dog parks – the highest number in Florida. Even more if you include the cities of Clearwater, Sarasota, Dunedin, St Petersburg, and Bradenton.

You can even top off your evening with a drink at one of the multiple dog-friendly beer gardens like the Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Tampa or The Dog Bar in St Petersburg.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville is home to the best dog park in Florida: the 45-acre Dogwood Dog Park. This place is like a resort for dogs and humans! Pups can roam off leash and enjoy Frisbee and ball throwing, swimming, relaxing in the shade, walks along nature trails, and pup playground equipment. If you run into any trouble with this park’s hundreds of visitors per day, you can easily make your way to the low-cost First Coast No More Homeless Pets clinic (and even lend a hand or two). 

If you’re shopping for souvenirs, you won’t have any trouble visiting malls in Jacksonville – nearly all of them are dog-friendly! Plus, you can retire at any of its 200 pet-friendly hotels for a nightcap after a long day. 

Orlando

Orlando is the site of dozens of dog parks and the Sunset Paddle at the Waterfront for the more adventurous at heart. Here, you and your water-loving dog can enjoy a sunset kayak – just don’t forget to rent a dog-specific life jacket!

Dogs that love to socialize will enjoy one of Orlando’s many annual events and pet-friendly stays. On Howl-O-Ween, for instance, you and your dog can enjoy a night of trick or treating and even compete in the pet costume contest. 

Miami

Those who love a combination of beach fronts and luxury should pick Miami as their top vacation spot. This island paradise houses the famous Art Deco district, where guests can enjoy a laid-back afternoon with their dog. 

If an afternoon swim is one of the things on your to-do list, dogs can wade in the Rickenbacker Causeway, which neighbors many pet-friendly restaurants and cafes. Guests looking for accommodation won’t have any trouble finding a pet-friendly vacation rental on the beach in this well-loved place! 

What To Do In Florida With Your Dog

Now that you know where to book a pet-friendly vacation rental during your stay in Florida, it’s time to plan your itinerary of things to do.

Beaches

Florida is famed for its consistently sunny weather and beautiful white-sand beaches. On top of that, many beach accommodations and dog-friendly vacation rentals in Florida openly welcome four-legged guests. If you’re taking a trip to Florida for its stunning shorelines, below are a few dog-friendly beaches where your pet can frolic and run along the sand. 

Fort De Soto Park Paw Playground

This off-leash sandy beach is one of the most impressive dog-friendly seaside destinations in the state. Located south of St. Petersburg, this dog beach even has dedicated spaces for big and small breeds. 

Pet owners can enjoy picnics and three acres of a fenced, grassy section right beside the beach. Forgot to take along a bottle of water? This beach has dog-dedicated water fountains to quench your canine’s thirst!

St. George Island

St. George Island is a public, pet-friendly beach with dedicated picnic tables, playgrounds, and many opportunities to watch the sunset with your canine travel companion! According to the July 2017 Franklin County Animal Control Ordinance, pets must be kept on a leash on this beach. Still, they can enjoy many pet-centric activities as this island’s beach houses many Florida pet-friendly rentals. 

If you and your dog are feeling peckish, pay a visit to Paddy’s Raw Bar, where you, your family, and your canine can take in the view over a delicious plate of food!

Panama City Beach

With over 400 feet of white sand at Panama City Beach, your dogs will have plenty of room to chase frisbees and bob for tennis balls. Just don’t forget to pick up after your pet, or you may have to pay a cleaning fee to help keep this pristine dog beach spotless! 

Afterward, you can hose down, stretch your legs, and take a stroll along the beach boardwalk, keeping an eye out for dog-friendly culinary destinations.

Dog Island

Also known as Barrier Island, this beach bordering Apalachicola in the Gulf of Mexico is an excellent opportunity for tourists looking to birdwatch with their curious hound. Coastal hiking activities and other natural attractions are perfect for pets and vacationers who prefer a unique, tranquil place away from the inner city. 

Pets are permitted on the public beaches if they are on leash or under voice control.

Note: this remote island is accessible only by boat, ferry or airplane.

Dog Parks

If your pup isn’t a fan of sun and sand, Florida is home to many pet-friendly parks. At these places, guests can take their adventure-seeking dogs on ambitious hikes or socialize with other pets. 

Anna Maria Island

Home to the Holmes Beach Dog Park, dogs can enjoy the sand and the grass. Its small dog pen and large dog run are perfect for keeping multiple pets safe and entertained. 

Alternatively, you can take your more athletic pup on a 7.3-mile long pet-friendly loop trail at the Robinson Preserve. Don’t be surprised if you run into some exciting Florida wildlife on this picturesque stretch of land!

Lazy Dog Adventures

Located in Key West, the Lazy Dog Adventure is a private island dog park where you and your family can rent kayaks for an afternoon along the channel. Your pet can meet an abundance of local Florida wildlife on its many nature trails, such as birds and marsh rabbits. You can even take your pups on a guided tour of Stock Island – no pet fee required!

Bars & Restaurants

Some dogs love a good run along the beach. Others prefer to chow down with their owners or sip on water while you sip on brew. If your four-legged friend enjoys dinner with a breathtaking ocean view, check out some of these pet-friendly bars and restaurants!

C.1949 Florida Beer Garden

This pet-friendly establishment in Tampa has an extensive craft beer menu of 40 tap brews and over 100 bottles and cans of Florida favorites at an excellent price. Did we mention the staff is a big fan of dogs? Here, you can enjoy a drink at their outdoor patio seating while your pet goes people-watching! 

Bo’s Ice Cream

If your pet is a fan of Starbucks Puppucinos, they’ll love a cup of ice cream at Bo’s by the beach. This beloved ice cream parlor has been around for over 60 years and has welcomed thousands of four-legged friends since! 

Three Birds Tavern

This century old farmhouse offers the quintessential Florida experience. Three Birds Tavern is about enjoying the company of family, friends and neighbors (including pups) in a setting that provides comfortable surroundings. This popular St Petersburg restaurant serves up brunch, lunch and dinner every day but Tuesday.

Hotels

You’ll be happy to know that there are many pet-friendly hotels and vacation rentals in Florida. Whether you prefer to stay in the city or along the beach, you’ll find many options in the Sunshine State.

St. Augustine 

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and famous for its many historical sites. It also has over 300 pet-friendly vacation rentals! If you’re hitting up destinations like Crescent Beach, you can book a room at the Smart Stay Inn. For a motel-style property, the reviews are fabulous. Large dog breeds are allowed, however, extra pets will cost you $10 a night and a cleaning fee.

Palm Beach 

Palm Beach houses the only beachfront boutique hotel for dogs – the Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa. Here, human guests and their dogs can enjoy bedrooms by the sea and even take up free wine offers with a pup in tow! 

Delray Beach

Delray Beach is home to the pet-friendly Aloft Delray Beach. This trendy hotel blends sleek design, modern style and technology for the savvy traveler. They even have an entire wall dedicated to puppy photos!

Miami Beach 

In Miami, the Ritz-Carlton is one of the go-to dog-friendly vacation rentals in Florida, housing up to two pets per guest. One thing to keep in mind about this luxury beach hotel is that it only accommodates dogs below 25 pounds and charges an exorbitant cleaning fee of $250. 

If you prefer a vacation rental with a dedicated menu for your pets, consider booking the Mandarin Oriental. In its posh rooms, you can order unique culinary choices just for your hound – definitely worth its price! Dogs embarking on their pet-friendly vacations in Florida also receive complimentary walks from the hotel’s certified trainer.

St Pete Beach

While St Pete Beach is not dog-friendly, the Postcard Inn on the Beach welcomes Fido and friends. Fortunately pet-friendly Fort De Soto beach is only a few miles away and several restaurants in town welcome furry friends. A one-time $75 fee applies.

Gulfport

Step back in time to the charm of the Historic Peninsula Inn where you’ll be greeted by resident fur baby Coco. The top-notch modern amenities of this twelve room bed and breakfast will make you and your pup feel right at home. Situated in the waterfront community of Gulfport there are plenty of dog-friendly places to stroll, dine, and relax.

Additional Pet-Friendly Accommodations in Florida

For a complete list of pet-friendly hotels, motels and Bed & Breakfast properties in Florida, check out BringFido.com.

Events

Florida isn’t just popular for its pet-friendly accommodations – it also offers a host of dog-centric events and occasions. Mark your calendars for some of these dog-friendly festivals and happenings!

Bark On The Ark

Held on the second Saturday of every month, Bark on the Ark welcomes guests and their water-loving dogs for a fun-filled afternoon at the famous vacation spot Keewaydin Beach in Naples, Florida. The fee begins at $49 but generously includes water bottles, pet toys, waste bags, and organic treats. 

Bell Tower Yappy Hour

If you’re in town for a drink or two, stop by the Bell Tower Yappy Hour, which occurs monthly between March and December in Fort Myers, Florida. This pet-friendly must-try is also a host to musical events and food that your dog will surely enjoy. 

Dog Days of Summer

Although dog friendly all year long, every July the Resort at Canopy Oaks in Lake Wales, Florida hosts The Dog Days of Summer. On this special day, this luxury RV and cottage resort spoils guest pups by hosting a clinic with vaccinations, dog grooming, pup cups, pawdicures and more!

Dog Jog

Need to stretch those legs? Then head to Tampa for the Summer Dog Jog in partnership with Sparkman Wharf and The Modern Paws. Registration is $5. Jog with your pet and celebrate with Yappy Hour.

Photo by Stas Svechnikov via Unsplash

The Bottom Line

Turning Florida vacations into dog-friendly holidays is easy – you just have to find the right vacation rental and activities. If you want to plan your pet-friendly stay ahead of time, read through our other travel guides on the OutCoast website


**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by our publisher, writers, and community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She is the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization, and CEO of OUTCOAST, an online marketing and concierge platform marketing the Gulf Coast as an LGBTQ-inclusive place to VISIT, CELEBRATE, and LIVE.

Rachel is also an avid event photographer and has captured photos for LGBT organizations around the world, including the IGLTA, NGLCC, NLGJA, and Out & Equal.


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