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fun for dog parents
beaches-dog

The essentials

  • Beaches are a great place to enjoy the outdoors with your dog. — Not all beaches allow dogs, but plenty of them across the country do. A dog beach can be the perfect place for owners to bond with their pets. 
  • Oceans aren’t your only options — When searching for dog beaches, don’t limit yourself to oceans and coastlines. Several states are home to pet-friendly lakeside beaches.
  • Familiarize yourself with the rules — Always ensure a beach allows dogs before going, and be aware of any conditions, such as leash requirements, before planning a trip. Check pet ownership laws, particularly if you’re traveling from another state.

In some parts of the United States, any day can be a beach day, depending on the weather. The East Coast from Maine to Florida borders the Atlantic Ocean, and California is home to the sandy shores of the Pacific. However, beaches don’t always mean oceans, as many lakes also provide great places for pets to make a splash. 

If you’re looking to enjoy a day by the water with your pup, you’ll first want to figure out what beaches nearby are dog-friendly. Next, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with any rules or regulations for pets, such as the need to remain on a leash. Lastly, prepare to bring any necessary supplies to ensure a safe and happy day in the sun, sand, and surf.

Best dog-friendly beaches in America

Searching high and low for “dog-friendly beaches near me?” Look no further. We left no seashell unturned when getting the 4-1-1 on beaches in the U.S. that allow canine companions. Here’s how we narrowed down our list.

Seasonal vs. year-round beaches

We wanted to provide you with dog-friendly beaches you could take advantage of throughout the year. The Jersey Shore, for example, is a more popular spot from Memorial Day to Labor Day and may not be high on your itinerary in December. However, some places do not allow furry friends during high seasons. We eliminated those beaches and only included options that welcome dogs year-round.

On-leash vs. off-leash beaches

Leashes help keep everyone safe, but it’s understandable if you want your furry friend to have a little extra freedom during an outing. We also looked for spots that allow at least some off-leash time or space. At the popular dog beaches we chose, pups have opportunities to experience the joy of a game of fetch or some extra room to explore. Owners should always keep a watchful eye on their pets. Other dogs, people, or wildlife may not be as pet-friendly as the sandy beach itself.

Bonus points

To offer you the best of the best dog-friendly beaches, we handed out some bonus points to beaches that offered perks to owners. Poop bag stations, water fountains, and dog-friendly restaurants nearby can all make outings easier and more fun for humans and pets alike.

Dog-friendly beaches in the U.S

California Arroyo Burro County Beach Park, Coronado Island, Del Mar, Fort Funston, Huntington Beach, The Original Dog Beach
Connecticut Compo Beach
Delaware Dewey
Florida Fort De Soto Park, Jupiter, Panama City
Georgia Jekyll Island
Illinois Montrose Dog Beach
Maine Kennebunk Beaches
Michigan Tannery
New Jersey Wildwood
North Carolina Crystal Coast
Oregon Cannon Beach
South Carolina Hilton Head Island
Texas South Padre Island
Washington Double Bluff Beach, Grayland Beach

California

Arroyo Burro County Beach Park, California

This Santa Barbara beach, also called Hendry’s Beach, is full of beautiful bluffs and plenty of palm trees. Dogs are always welcome, though they must remain on a leash in most areas. However, if you and your pet are willing to walk a little, you’ll find a small creek. Head east, and you’ll come to an off-leash area. The beach includes self-service dog wash stations where owners can give their pets a warm bath post-playtime. 

Coronado, California

This walkable island bills itself as “doggie heaven,” and it’s one of a handful of dog-friendly beaches in the San Diego area. It’s home to a dedicated dog beach that allows pups to play leash-free. Pet parents are fans of the free parking on the streets surrounding the dog beach. Nearby, Wag’N Tails pet store boasts a self-service dog wash station and a chance to find a souvenir or treat for your furry friend. The spot also includes dog-friendly restaurants and bike rentals

Fort Funston, California

Once a harbor defense installation, San Francisco’s Fort Funston is now lauded for its Golden Gate Bridge views and ample spots for dog walking. Besides the Golden Gate Bridge, people and their pets can also take in views of bluffs (just be careful — pets can get stuck), sand dunes, and native plants. 

Huntington Beach, California

This California city has a dog beach that allows leashed pets. Dogs can cool off in the water, and pet parents can take advantage of the free poop bags if they leave theirs at home. The surrounding area is also a destination for four-legged friends. Huntington Beach has been voted one of the dog-friendliest cities in California. Many area restaurants and hotels allow dogs.  

Ocean Beach, California

Dogs are welcome to roam free (under the watchful eye of a responsible owner) at The Original Dog Beach in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood. It’s situated at the end of I-8 at the mouth of the San Diego River and is one of the first off-leash dog beaches in the country, established in 1972. On a sunny day, bring a shade or a small tent — either are permitted and will help keep you and your pup protected from hot sun. All dogs must be fully vaccinated, though, so it’s not a good spot for young puppies. 

dog-beaches

Connecticut

Compo Beach, Connecticut

Leashed dogs are permitted year-round at Ned Dimes Marina (Compo Beach) and E.R. Strait Marina if they are going to or from boats. From October through March, dogs have more options. They can be off-leash on the beach area south of the brick bathhouses. Pet owners should look for signs to find the area and always have a leash on hand, just in case. Pups always have to steer clear of the covered pavilion area of Compo Beach, boardwalks, playground, and volleyball courts.

Delaware

Dewey Beach, Delaware

Owners with a Dewey Beach dog license can bring their pups to the beach year-round. There are some seasonal rules and regulations to be aware of, though. From May 15 to Sept. 15, pups can enjoy the beach before 9:30 a.m. and after 5:30 p.m. They don’t have to be on a leash. During the off-season, dogs can come to the beach whenever it’s open. 

Florida

Fort De Soto Park, Florida

Fort De Soto Park is the only spot in Pinellas County that lets dogs on the actual beach. Doggies have a designated spot. Pups can also explore two fenced-in areas with water stations to help them stay hydrated near the beach. The dog’s handler must be at least 16 years old, and the park closes at sunset, making it a good choice for a day trip.

Jupiter Beach, Florida

This southeast Florida spot has an Instagram-worthy red lighthouse and is one of the only remaining dog-friendly beaches in the Sunshine State. Pets can run, jump, and sniff on a 2.5-mile stretch of shoreline from beach marker #26 at Marcinski Road to beach marker #57.

Panama City Beach, Florida

Panama City is a popular vacation destination, and it’s dog-friendly to boot, with a dedicated dog beach. Leashed dogs are welcome on the beach area on the west side of the Russell-Fields City Pier. There are also numerous dog parks and pup-friendly businesses, including the Jimmy Buffet-inspired restaurant, Margaritaville.

beaches-dog

Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island is considered one of the Golden Isles of Georgia barrier islands and a pet paradise. Dogs on leashes that are 16 feet or shorter in a portion of South Beach between South Dunes picnic area and St. Andrews Sound picnic area. Check signage, but dogs are typically allowed without leashes during off-peak seasons and in the early morning and evening during the summer. If you’ll be in the area a while, St. Simons is 30 minutes away from Jekyll Island and boasts two dog parks for off-leash fun year-round.

Illinois

Montrose Dog Beach, Illinois

This Chicago-based dog beach is a sandy oasis in the middle of a big city. A non-profit maintains it and sponsors clean-ups and fundraisers to keep the spot safe for dogs and people alike. Expect sandy shores, waterfront views, and plenty of other dogs for your best friend to meet and greet. Swimming is permitted as long as there are no red flags indicating a swim ban because of potentially hazardous conditions like poor weather. Bag dispensers are available. Non-Chicago residents are welcome, but all dogs need a special DFA tag.

Maine

Kennebunk Beaches, Maine

Gooch’s Beach, Middle Beach, and Mother’s Beach are all considered Kennebunk Beaches. These sandy spots allow dogs year-round. From Labor Day to June 14, dogs on a leash or under voice control are allowed to relax and play on the beach. They’re still allowed the rest of the year on a leash or under voice control but only before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.

Michigan

Tannery Beach, Michigan

This beach in Boyne City offers otherworldly views of Lake Charlevoix and a spot for dogs to swim. The surrounding area is known for its small-town charm and plenty for outdoor enthusiasts to do, from skiing to camping.

New Jersey

Wildwood, New Jersey

One of the most popular beaches in a state known for its miles of shoreline, Wildwood has a special spot for dogs. The Wildwoods Dog Park & Beach is the world’s largest dog park. It’s open to leashed dogs year-round. Businesses, including restaurants and other parks like Sunset Lake, also allow dogs, allowing families to make a stay here a true vacation.

North Carolina

Bald Head Island, North Carolina

Cars aren’t allowed on Bald Head Island, but dogs are. Consider putting your towel down and staying a while. The area is also home to several pet-friendly rentals that even welcome your dog with a gift box full of treats and a toy. After you’ve checked in, you can take your pet on leash walks. There are plenty of places to explore, including 14 miles of beach, marshes, and hiking trails. 

Crystal Coast, North Carolina 

Crystal Coast includes several different beaches, and some of them welcome pets with open paws. Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Atlantic Beach, and Fort Macon State Park allow doggies in select areas. Leash rules vary, so you’ll want to check them for the specific beach you want to visit.

Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

This hamlet on the coast of Oregon allows dogs on the beach that bears its name. But, they must be on a leash or under an owner’s voice control. The area offers travelers plenty of spots to stay the night with their pets, including hotels or rental homes for people who want more privacy. Several restaurants and shops also allow dogs if you need a break from the beach.

South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

This South Carolina town is a year-round destination for beach lovers, golfers, and dogs (and their people). Pets can enjoy the beach 12 months of the year, but there are some rules during the peak season. From the Friday before Memorial Day until Labor Day, pets are not permitted to come on the beach from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s typically very hot during those times in the spring and summer, so it’s a good idea to avoid the sun during those hours. Stick to cooler times of the day or plan a trip here in the late summer, fall, or winter.

Texas

South Padre Island, Texas

A favorite spot for spring breakers and dog lovers alike, South Padre Island boasts gorgeous weather year-round and several pet-friendly beaches. The entire family, including dogs, can enjoy the sand and sea at Padre Island National Seashore, Isla Blanca Park, Andy Bowie Park, and E.K. Atwood Park.

Washington

Double Bluff Beach, Washington

Double Bluff Beach’s mountain and waterfront views make it a popular beach. It also draws tourists and locals alike for its dog-friendly policies. Pups are permitted in the grassy area with picnic tables and barbecues. A doggie shower is available for leashed pets who aren’t afraid to get their paws dirty while having fun. 

Grayland Beach, Washington

This beach doubles as a seaside campground that welcomes pets. Situated on 7,449 feet of shoreline, Grayland Beach has hiking trails perfect for exploring with your best friend. They include chances to see (or sniff) grassy dunes and shore pines.

👉 Always keep your pet safe and secure at the beach. If your dog goes in the water, be sure to wash their ears after to prevent infection, and dry them thoroughly afterward. Avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day to protect against heat exhaustion.

beaches-dog

Other dog-friendly beaches in California

Some areas of California have warm weather year-round, so you can expect to see people regardless of the season. The warm, sunny weather provides prime opportunities for pets, but be sure to obey any local laws. It’s also important to keep your dog on a leash if they are wary of strangers and other pets and be mindful of wildlife. 

Besides what we’ve highlighted above, here are a few other dog-friendly beaches in California to consider visiting with your pup.

  • Carmel. This spot offers a white-sand beach, Cypress trees, and a dirt path perfect for exploring with your dog. Dogs can be off-leash on Carmel Beach if they do well under voice control. 
  • Lighthouse Field State Beach. This sandy state beach is home to beautiful sunrises and sunsets perfect for taking in with your pet. Dogs are welcome on leashes. 
  • Pismo Beach. Leashed dogs are always welcome on the beach here, but not on the pier. 
  • Staircase Beach  (Leo Carrillo State Park). Dogs are allowed in specific areas, including North Beach, north of Lifeguard Tower 3. They can’t explore backcountry trails or South Beach
  • Del Mar Beach. This San Diego suburb boasts a dedicated dog beach, but pet owners must keep pups on a leash during the popular summer months.

Other dog-friendly beaches in Florida

Like parts of California, Florida is a beach destination with miles of coastline and warm, sunny weather year-round. Expect a summer afternoon shower at least once during your stay, though, and keep in mind that the area experiences hurricane season between June and November. You’ll likely encounter people and other pooches at dog-friendly beaches, so make sure your dog is prepared and leashed as needed. You may also encounter wildlife, such as the American alligator or pelicans, on Florida’s beaches. It’s best not to approach any wildlife when with your dog.

These dog-friendly beaches in Florida are also perfect places to soak up the sun with your best friend.

  • Baker’s Cay resort. This luxury Florida Keys resort allows pet parents to take in waterfront views and watercolor sunsets with their furry friends. Doggie daycare packages, Yappy Hour celebrations, and special menus are among the perks. Two dogs per room are permitted.
  • Pensacola Beach. This spot is home to two special dog beaches, where pups can hang out from sunrise to sunset. Leashes are always required.
  • Davis Island Dog Park. This 1.5-acre dog beach is south of downtown Tampa and includes two areas where pups can play off-leash. Water stations are available. 
  • Key West Dog Beach. This beach features soft sands and is near the popular dog-friendly watering hole, Louie’s Backyard. 
  • Miami Beach’s Bark Beach. The only dog beach in the city, this spot allows leashed dogs. There are designated areas for off-leash fun. Pet permit fees and entrance fees for people are required.

Other dog-friendly beaches in New Jersey

Unlike much of California and Florida, New Jersey is home to cold seasons. Visitors and pet owners in N.J. should expect chilly weather and consider a coat and boots for dogs during the winter months. Be respectful of wildlife, such as falcons and ospreys, and be sure to check dogs for ticks at the end of the day.

 Here are some more dog-friendly beaches in New Jersey to check out if your travels take you to the East Coast. 

  • Asbury Park 8th Avenue Dog Beach. Dogs who were “born to run” can do so off-leash at this beach located in the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen.  
  • Island Beach State Park. Dogs are welcome to walk on a leash of six feet or less. Swimming is not permitted.
  • Sandy Hook. Dogs are permitted on a leash 12 months per year at Plum Island and Horseshoe Cove.

👉 Yes, dogs can get sunburns. Shade and sunscreen are two ways to protect your pet and yourself.

Other dog-friendly beaches in other states

Though California, Florida, and New Jersey boast some of the most popular beaches for dogs, humans, and both in the country, there are more options in other states.

Here are a few others across the country to add to your dog-friendly beach bucket list.

  • Montauk Point State Park, New York. The place known as “The End” is often hailed as a spot where relaxation begins. Located on the eastern tip of Long Island in New York, Montauk Point State Park is home to an iconic lighthouse commissioned by George Washington and a beach that’s open to the public year-round — dogs included. Pets must be crated or on a six-foot leash.
  • Downs Park Dog Beach, Maryland. Located in Pasadena, this park offers great views of the Chesapeake Bay and five miles of paved natural trails. Pups are allowed off-leash in the designated dog beach area.
  • Kettle Moraine State Forest, Wisconsin. This state park in Wisconsin boasts stunning views of Pike Lake. Leashed dogs are always welcome.
  • London Bridge Beach Park, Arizona. Don’t let the name fool you — this park with beach access is located in the Southwest U.S., not the U.K. Pups are permitted in the designated dog beach called Lions Dog Park, which overlooks the Bridgewater Channel.  
  • Harborfront Park, New York. The harborfront village of Port Jefferson has stunning vistas of the Long Island Sound and public beach access. Leashed dogs are permitted. Nearby, Main Street shops often leave water dishes and treats out for furry friends.

Frequently asked questions

Is there a beach I can take my dog to?

There are several dog-friendly beaches across the U.S.., including in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Florida, and Texas. Beaches come in various forms, including lakes and oceans. Some are open year-round, while others may be seasonal. State and local recreation and tourism websites are great places to figure out what beaches are dog-friendly in your area. You can also google “dog friendly beaches near me.” Take a look at the rules, regulations, and conditions for entry before packing a beach bag for you and your pet.

Are dogs allowed on the beach in New Jersey?

Your pet can join you for a Jersey Shore vacation at select beaches in the Garden State. Island Beach State Park and Wildwood are popular dog-friendly beaches in New Jersey. 

Are California beaches dog friendly?

Not all of California’s beaches are dog-friendly, but some allow pups to dig their paws into the soft sands by the Pacific Ocean. Ocean Beach and Huntington Beach are two year-round favorites. 

Where are the best dog-friendly beaches in America?

Dog-friendly beaches exist across the country and include spots with lake and ocean vistas. California, New Jersey, and Florida are home to some of the most popular, but they can be found in several states, including Michigan, Illinois, Washington, and Connecticut. 

Where can I take my dog on the beach?

Dog owners and their pets can have a fun time at several United States beaches from California to Connecticut and the Carolinas in between. Keep in mind that policies are subject to change. It’s always best to check the park’s website or call to get the most up-to-date information on the pet policy, including leash requirements and hours, before going.