The 18 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in the U.S. Part 1


Bring your pet along on an unforgettable beach vacation.

You and your pet will have a doggone good time at one of these dog-friendly beaches.

Pack up your pup, grab your sunglasses and hit the beach for a paws-itively fantastic trip that you’ll never forget. Many beaches in the U.S. offer special amenities to accommodate beachgoers who bring their BFFs (best furry friends) with them. Travel to the rugged shoreline of the West Coast or splash in the warm emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You can also beach hop through Florida and then venture up to Maine along the East Coast. No matter where you choose, there’s a perfect beach getaway awaiting you and your furry pal.

Carmel Beach: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

This iconic stretch of beach located along California’s central coast is known as one of the most dog-friendly beaches in the U.S. Your canine friend can run off leash and play with other dogs on the beach and in the surf, but he must be under voice command. He’ll need to be on a leash when you hit the Scenic Road, which meanders along the beach and affords spectacular views of the coastline, the town’s famous Cypress trees and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Many restaurants offer “yappy hours” and come complete with pup-approved cuisine. What’s more, hotels like the Cypress Inn feature VIP treatment with amenities like pet blankets and bowls, doggie pick-up bags and an area to wash off after playing on the beach.

Surfside Beach: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Surfside Beach, located on Nantucket’s South Shore, is very family- and pet-friendly, featuring changing facilities, lifeguards during the summer season and a restaurant. It’s popular with pet owners since it’s a wide beach with plenty of room to roam. There can be strong winds and big waves, but pups enjoy frolicking along the water’s edge. You’ll find most dogs on a leash on this beach and other beaches around the island, which are all dog-friendly. (Keep in mind, dogs are allowed to be on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. in the summer, and any time in the offseason.) For transportation to the island, both Cape Air and Hy-Line Cruises’ ferry are happy to transport your furry pal to Nantucket. For a real treat, stay at The Woof Cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin where they feature beds, doggie turndown service and other amenities for your pooch. Be sure to say hello to Bailey, the hotel’s pet concierge.

Dog Beach: Jupiter, Florida

Bring your furry pal to one of the few off-leash dog beaches in the state of Florida. This more than 2 mile stretch of sand sits along southern Florida’s Atlantic Coast and runs from beach marker No. 25 at Marcinski Road to marker No. 59 at the south end of Carlin Park. While dogs can run free once on the beach, they should remain on a leash when walking to and from the car. Nearby Ocean Cay Park, another beach, is also doggie-friendly. Make reservations at Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, where your canine pal (30 pounds or less) will be just as pampered as you. Then, head to Harbourside Place, a waterfront shopping and restaurant complex, where you’ll find several outdoor pet-friendly options for dining.

Willard Beach: Portland, Maine

Many of Portland’s beaches welcome four-legged friends, including this 4-acre sandy stretch in South Portland. This beach affords picturesque views of Spring Point Ledge Light and the harbor’s sailboats moored offshore. Your pup will enjoy frolicking in the gentle waves, especially during the extended off-leash hours from Labor Day to Memorial Day, which occur around sunrise and sunset. You and your buddy can also visit the most photographed lighthouse in the U.S., The Portland Head Light. For VIP treatment, book the INNcredible Pet Package at the stylish Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth. The inn goes to the dogs every October when only pups are permitted to swim in the pool before it closes for the season.

Cannon Beach: Oregon

Cannon Beach is a very dog-friendly vacation spot, so it’s hard to find a place where you can’t take your furry friend with you. Dogs are free to roam the beach with their owners as long as they stay within sight and voice command. They do, however, need to be on a leash at the Haystack Rock tidepools. Plan your visit over Labor Day weekend during Muttzanita, an annual dog festival held just south of Cannon Beach, when you can show off your pup’s unique ball-catching skills or other canine talents. In the fall, you can also enter your dog in the Annual Dog Show on the Beach. Proceeds from both events support local animal shelters. For accommodations, make reservations at either of these pet-friendly beachfront properties: the Tolovana Inn or Surfsand Resort.

Kiptopeke State Park: Cape Charles, Virginia

Kiptopeke State Park is situated along the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Pets on a leash are welcome and can play at the south beach where their humans can go swimming, fishing, crabbing and boating. What’s more, there are more than 5 miles of trails to hike with your furry friend. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with a $7 admission fee per car to enter. For an overnight stay, book rustic cabin accommodations in the park or head into town where you and your pal can “ruff it” at Sunset Beach Hotel. This beachfront hotel offers access to the off-leash Sandy Paws Dog Beach and the Beach Bark Dog Park, both perfect for relaxing during “yappy hour.”

Huntington Dog Beach: Huntington Beach, California

Bring your pooch to play in the surf on this 1.5-mile stretch of beach along Southern California’s coastline. The off-leash section extends between Goldenwest and Seapoint streets and features a picnic area with tables and drinking fountains for pups. The beach is open year-round between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Visit in September when Huntington Dog Beach hosts the McKenna Subaru Surf City Surf Dog event or in May for Corgi Beach Day. Plan to reserve ocean view accommodations at Paséa Hotel & Spa, where your pup will be greeted by Lago, the French bulldog concierge.


Island Beach State Park: Seaside Park, New Jersey

This 10-mile stretch of white sandy beach and coastal dunes sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay along the Jersey Shore. It’s one of the last barrier beaches to remain undeveloped on the north Atlantic coast. Humans and their doggie pals will appreciate the pristine shoreline and maritime forest that’s home to many types of birds, including peregrine falcons and waterfowl. Leashed pups are permitted year-round south of the ocean swimming areas. There are eight trails (dogs are allowed on seven) to explore on foot, by bicycle or on horseback from October through April. There are also opportunities for fishing, swimming and sailing. Bring a picnic lunch and spend a relaxing day with your canine bestie.

Fort De Soto Park: St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida

Many of St. Pete/Clearwater’s beaches and parks are dog-friendly and offer exceptional amenities for your furry friend. At Fort De Soto Park, pets must be on a 6-foot leash, but there’s also room for pups to run free at the dog park, Paw Playground. The playground is open daily from 7 a.m. until sundown. What’s more, there’s a private fenced-in beach with separate areas for small and large dogs, as well as showers and dog-level water fountains. After the beach, enjoy a cold brew at the Dog Bar, where you and your pal can socialize. Then, enjoy your time at the TradeWinds Island Resort with the Just Press Paws three-night pet package, which includes a pet amenity. The resort also has a leash-free pet play zone, a quick-wash station and a Paw Court Bistro.

Courtesy of USNews