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12 Dog-Friendly Beaches Your Pooch Will Love

Pack up your beach umbrella, water bowl, and leash—it's time for some fun in the sun.

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Fort De Soto Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

One of the most dog-friendly beaches in Florida, Fort De Soto State Park not only welcomes pets on the sand, but also has special Paw Playgrounds for big and small dogs with shade and water stations. Dogs must be leashed when they enter and exit the beach, but can enjoy the water and sand off leash with their owners the rest of their visit. In a recently released survey, Fort De Soto was one of Invitation Homes Top 10 Dog Beaches, where factors such as leash laws, whether pets can go in the water, what times of the year pets are allowed on the beach, and whether there is a pet-only section were evaluated. “For anyone who lives near the beach or takes their pet on vacation, there is nothing like seeing the joy of your ‘best friend’ frolicking in the sand,” says Marnie Vaughn, vice president of operations in Florida. Flying south? These are the best beaches to visit during the winter.

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North Beach, Del Mar, California

Proudly dog- friendly since it was founded in 1959 (they even have a blog written by a dog named Scooter extolling their friendly virtues), Del Mar, near San Diego, extends a friendly paw to dogs and owners, with pets allowed on all two miles of shoreline nine months of the year, and all year on North Beach, usually referred to as “Dog Beach” by local pet owners. This pup friendly seaside locale can be found north of 29th Street, stretching up to the border of Solana Beach. Dogs can be off leash and under “voice command” from Labor Day through Memorial Day, and on leash during the busy summer months.

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Wildwood, New Jersey

This Jersey Shore town is best known for its amusements filled boardwalk and expansive free beach is now also a dog-friendly beach getaway thanks to a stretch of sand dedicated to pups and their owners marked by a 25-feet-tall, fire-engine red hydrant (a gift to the city from Morey’s Piers) decorated with bones, dog paws, and a squirrel perched on top. “During warmer days, remember to keep your pet hydrated; bring a collapsible bowl and fresh water,” reminds Kurt Venator, Chief Veterinary Officer, Purina.

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Nags Head, North Carolina

Dogs are allowed on the sunny shores of this resort area 365 days a year as long as they’re on a leash not longer than 10 feet. Most importantly, both the town and other beach goers are happy to see pets enjoying the beach here, including in the water. Even the local ice cream stand keeps dog-friendly frozen treats on hand.

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Jekyll Island, Georgia

Most of the ten miles of white sand beaches on the Georgia coastline here are dog friendly, with the exception of Glory Beach, which is a bird sanctuary. Great Dunes Beach, Jekyll Island’s most popular beach for families, is our top pick here; the 20-acre, beachfront park is easily accessible with ample parking, public beach access, and several picnic pavilions. Dogs are welcome year-round on leashes no longer than 16-feet.

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Long Beach, California

If you’re looking for dog-friendly beaches in the Los Angeles area, Rosie’s Dog Beach can’t be beat for off-leash sand fun (the only beach in the L.A. where dogs can run free). The beach is open daily 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach, on Ocean Boulevard between Roycroft and Granada avenues. (If you’re looking to head further West, these are the best beaches in Hawaii.)

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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

One of our favorite national parks for dogs is also one of the best beaches for pets in the San Francisco area. Trails, beaches, and open spaces are accessible to dogs off leash who respond to voice commands.

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Warren Dunes State Park, Sawyer, Michigan

The 2 1/2 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan include friendly beaches that allow dogs where Rover can swim in the lake waters and walk and play on the sand on a 6-foot leash.

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Hollywood, Florida

This retro cool beach is home to the Broadwalk which runs 2 ½ miles along sun-kissed beach. You can bike, stroll, people-watch at outdoor cafés, or check out one of the most dog friendly beaches in Florida. If it looks familiar, it’s where part of the dog beach scenes in the movie Marley & Me were filmed.

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Provincetown, Massachusetts

Named “Dogville USA” by the Dog Channel, this charming Cape Cod beach destination an easy ferry ride from Boston is the ideal vacation spot for your furry friend with countless pet friendly restaurant patios, dog parks, and leash-free beaches. Check out these happy dogs in Cape Cod.

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Kew Balmy Beach, Toronto

Toronto is only a 90 minute trip from 60 percent of the United States, making it a popular summer destination for its beautiful “Beaches” neighborhood just east of the friendly city’s bustling downtown. Kew Balmy Beach, one of four city beaches, is not only a pet-owner favorite, it’s also earned a Blue Flag Beach designation for its high water and environmental standards. At the Silver Birch dogs off-leash dogs can run and play in the sand and water every day of the year.

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Double Bluff Beach, Whidbey Island, Washington

A nature lover’s paradise, this wide sandy beach has views to the south of Mt Rainier, bald eagle sightings, bathrooms and showers, and a long stretch of off-leash dog beach for pet-filled days of fun.

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.