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The Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in Florida


Looking to enjoy a bit of fun in the sun with your canine companion? Head to the Sunshine State! There, you’ll find stunning white sand beaches and balmy fall weather. Witness your pup come alive as they frolic in the surf, whether it’s the first time they’ve been to the beach or the hundredth. You might even be treated to the precious phenomenon that is a big, goofy dog smile.

Florida is blessed with over a thousand miles of coast, providing plenty of options for you and Fido to explore. We’ve done the research to help narrow down your search for the best beaches in Florida to visit with man’s best friend.

Top 10 Dog Friendly Beaches in Florida for Van Lifer’s

Our ten picks are a combination of off-leash and leashed beaches. Off-leash beaches are great for well-behaved and larger dogs to run free and burn off extra energy. You can also play a tail-wagging game of fetch more easily at these locations. If your pet is not fully trained or is on the smaller side, you might opt for a leashed beach for safety. Leashed beaches also tend to be cleaner. 

What all of our selections have in common is plenty of amenities for both you and your pup, such as picnic tables, drinking fountains, dog waste bags, showers, and nearby restaurants with pooch-friendly patios. 

We organized our picks in order from the Florida Panhandle, down the west coast of the state, and up the east coast, just in case you want to string together multiple options into an epic coastal road trip. 

Dog Beach at Pier Park Panama City Beach

Where: Panama City Beach

Why we love it: This popular leashed dog beach is exceptionally well-maintained. Long sand bars and mellow waters create a safe and gentle environment for pups of all sizes. This is the perfect beach for leisurely strolls between the sand and water.

Cape San Blas Beach

Where: Cape San Blas

Why we love it: Often rated as one of the top ten beaches in the U.S., Cape San Blas Beach boasts sparkling white sand and clear turquoise water. Your leashed pet can accompany you as you lounge, watch the sunset, and make a campfire. Check out nearby Salinas Park for another leashed dog-friendly beach.

Picnic Island Beach Dog Park

Where: Tampa

Why we love it: Dogs can run wild and free in this natural coastal area, while pet parents get to enjoy picnic tables, lots of shade, and free parking. A plus for both fur babies and humans? Hoses to rinse off before getting back in the van.

Fort De Soto Park Paw Playground

Where: St. Petersburg 

Why we love it: This beach-adjacent dog park is thoughtfully designed with separate enclosed areas for large and small dogs so everyone can get in on the off-leash fun. There is also an unenclosed dog beach where you can let your pup explore off-leash as you keep an eye on them. Explore other parts of the scenic Fort De Soto Park with your pal on a 6-foot leash.

Brohard Paw Park

Where: Venice

Why we love it: This small-but-mighty off-leash dog beach has tons of convenient amenities–parking, showers, restrooms, picnic tables, drinking fountains, and water hoses. With all of these creature comforts, you can stay and lounge all day while your dog socializes. 

Bonita Beach Dog Park

Where: Fort Myers

Why we love it: The shallow waters of this tucked away off-leash beach on the Gulf of Mexico mean even smaller dogs can play in the water easily and safely. The beach is a three-minute drive from Lovers Key State Park, where you and your leashed canine companion can explore breathtaking coastal scenery.

Gulfside City Park Beach

Where: Sanibel

Why we love it: Mother Nature shines at this location near a preserve. Dogs have to stay leashed because of protected species in the area, but both you and Fido will enjoy walking through the lush nature, boardwalks, and beach. Then grab lunch at Island Cow, a nearby pet-friendly restaurant, or DIY a meal with the beachside barbeque grills.

Hobie Island Beach Park

Where: Miami

Why we love it: While you enjoy the shade provided by palm trees and a unique vista of the Miami skyline, your pal will have a blast roaming off-leash in the calm waters of the bay. Pro tip: catch a sunset here for next-level views.

Jupiter Dog Beach

Where: Jupiter

Why we love it: Dogs can wander off-leash on this uncrowded 2.5-mile stretch of Jupiter Beach. The beach is also open 24/7 in case you prefer to visit at night. Free parking and dog waste bags just sweeten the deal. 

Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches

Where: Palm Coast

Why we love it: Enjoy this area’s laid-back beach town feel and plenty of dog-friendly activities on top of the leashed beaches. Try paddleboarding with your pooch or explore the wild Princess Place Preserve with a leashed pet. Multiple beachside restaurants encourage your buddy to accompany you for a tasty bite.

Whichever beach you choose to adventure at with your pup, make sure to keep them well hydrated. That means packing extra water if the beach doesn’t provide a source of H2O. Booties can also be helpful to protect your dog’s feet from sharp items and hot sand. 

For options on the other coast, check out “California’s Best Dog-Friendly Beaches.” Looking for more tips on van travel with a dog? Read “Van Life with Man’s Best Friend.”

If you’re a pet owner ready to start your van life adventure, visit Rec Van. We offer a wide range of new and used camper vans from industry-leading brands. To narrow down your search for the perfect home on wheels, check out “The Best Class B Vans for Pet Owners.”