20 Beaches Your Dog Will Love — and So Will You


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Dog running on the beach
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Nothing beats a trip to the beach, especially when you bring your dog. States such as California and Florida have dozens of dog-friendly beaches, but you can find sandy stretches from coast to coast where pets are welcome — if you know where to look. Some places impose restrictions on when or where a furry friend can frolic, so be sure to check the rules before you go.
Fort Desoto Park Paw Playground
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Florida has no shortage of beaches, and this popular park south of St. Petersburg has something for everyone, dogs included. Fort DeSoto sprawls across five barrier islands and features 7 miles of trails, swimming, fishing, camping, historic Fort DeSoto, and a dedicated dog beach. Paw Playground has two fenced dog runs plus a designated quarter-mile portion of the beach where dogs can frolic off-leash and swim.
Florida Dog Beach Park
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Located in the Lovers Key State Recreation Area on the Gulf Coast, this quiet beach is dedicated to dogs year-round. Pets can play in the surf and run off-leash, provided owners keep a close watch. There are shower stations where you can hose off a pup after play, but the site is otherwise fairly basic (no restrooms, just portable toilets). You'll also find county-run dog parks inland in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Estero.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
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Dogs are generally welcome on the beaches of this popular barrier island, but rules vary from town to town. You'll have to keep your pup on a leash in most areas, although the town of Duck allows dogs off leash. Leashed dogs are also welcome year-round at nearby Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Other municipalities, such as Southern Shores and Kill Devil Hills, impose additional limits between Memorial Day and Labor Day, allowing dogs on beaches only before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
Jekyll Island Beach
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This lush resort island loves its dogs, allowing leashed canines all beaches except Glory Beach, a bird sanctuary. With about 10 miles of sandy shoreline and six beaches to choose from, you can spend all day exploring. The biggest beach, Great Dunes Beach Park, sprawls over 20 acres and has picnic pavilions, play areas, and modern restrooms. Or head south to St. Andrews Beach Park at the island's southern tip to watch dolphins frolic and spot migrating birds from the two-story observation deck.
Rosie's Dog Beach
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Dog owners in the Los Angeles area have only a couple options to let their pup run off-leash on the beach. Rosie's Dog Beach is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for leash-free frolicking. This stretch of sand is part of the larger Belmont Shore Beach, and boundaries aren't clearly marked, so be sure to stick to the section between Roycroft and Argonne avenues along Ocean Boulevard.
Double Bluff Beach
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Hop a ferry to this Puget Sound island near Seattle and spend the afternoon exploring this 2-mile stretch of beach. Dogs are welcome to roam Double Bluff Beach off-leash all year, and there's breathtaking views of the sound, the snow-capped Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges, and the Seattle skyline as you stroll. Just remember to keep dogs leashed or in travel cages while on board the car ferry to and from the island.
Montrose Beach
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You and your dog don't need to be on the coast to enjoy a day at the beach. The northwestern portion of Chicago's Montrose Beach is open year-round from sunup to sundown, and dogs can roam off-leash and swim in Lake Michigan. Before a pup can play here — or at any city dog park — you'll need to buy a Dog Free Area tag for $10 at a vet's office, where they can confirm a dog is current with vaccinations.
East Beach, Galveston
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This Texas Gulf Coast island community loves dogs and allows them on public beaches as long as they're leashed. If your pup is a party animal, head to East Beach, where you'll find a boardwalk, a concert venue, and plenty of spots for picnicking (you can also bring alcoholic beverages onto the beach), or check out the family-friendly Stewart Beach Park. If you're not in a beachy mood, Galveston also has three dog parks inland. Note that the city charges a parking fee of $12 on weekdays, $15 on weekends.
Wildwood Dog Beach
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Not every beach has a 25-foot fire hydrant statue, but Wildwood Dog Beach is no ordinary beach. Leashed dogs are welcome all year from 6 a.m. to dusk on this broad, flat stretch of the Jersey shore, and there's an off-leash area where a pup can burn off excess energy. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and unlike other New Jersey beaches, you don't have to buy a day pass or tag to enjoy the sand and surf.
Muir Beach, San Francisco
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Canines are welcome at most National Park Service locations, and Golden Gate brags that it's the most dog-friendly of them all. Let a pup run free along Muir Beach and take in majestic views of the Pacific Ocean; hike up Slackers Hill for a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge; or just enjoy the range of flora and fauna native to the Bay Area.
Block Island
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Four-legged friends are welcome year-round on this island's 17 miles of beaches and on the ferry to and from the mainland. Grab a sandwich from the pavilion at Fred Benson Beach, then rent a chair and an umbrella for a relaxing afternoon of crowd watching at this popular beach on the island's eastern side, or head to Grace's Cove on the western side of the island to enjoy solitude and watch the sun set. Dogs must be leashed on all beaches.
Huntington Dog Beach, CA
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This popular Orange County dog beach is on the northern edge of Huntington City Beach, between 21st and Seapoint streets. It's open every day from dawn to dark, and pups who can handle the freedom are allowed to frolic off-leash and swim in the surf. The volunteer organization that operates the beach also sponsors social events and fundraisers, creating a sense of community among local pet owners. Admission is free, but you'll have to pay for on-street parking.
Race Point, Provincetown
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Dog Fancy magazine named P-Town the most dog-friendly town in the country. No surprise that dogs are welcome nearly everywhere in this artsy beach town. You can let pups play off-leash from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Memorial Day until Nov. 1; the rest of the year, the beaches are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dogs are also welcome most times of the year at the nearby Cape Cod National Seashore.
Warren Dunes State Park
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This state park on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is known for its steep sand dunes — they rise more than 250 above the shoreline. Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach beyond the northernmost swimming buoy, which is 2.5 miles of shoreline as well as 6 miles of hiking trails plus camping facilities. State residents can buy an annual pass for just $11; day passes for out-of-staters are $9.
Dog Beach, San Diego
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San Diego's beloved Dog Beach was made official in 1972 — among one of the first dog beaches in the country. It's also leash-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Frolic on the shore or have lunch al fresco in the nearby picnic area while watching surfers and swimmers. Admission and parking are free, but locals say the lots fill up quickly, and a license collar from the County Department of Animal Services is required.
Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City
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About two hours south of Portland, this tiny Tillamook County community boasts broad beaches and breathtaking views of the dramatic rock formations that dot the Pacific coastline. Because Pacific City is unincorporated, there are no laws against allowing a dog off-leash on most beaches. Nearby state parks also welcome dogs on beaches, but they must be leashed.
Huntington Beach, Cleveland
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Clevelanders love Lake Erie's gentle waves and sandy shores as much as their dogs do. This half-mile stretch in Cleveland's western suburbs, designated Blue Water Beach clean, is open to dogs on-leash. If the beach isn't your thing, Cleveland's park system also offers dog-friendly nature walks during the summertime.
Virginia Beach
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Virginia Beach is for lovers — and people who love dogs. Canines are allowed on the city's beaches and the boardwalk at all hours before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. During the busy summer season, dogs have to hit the sand before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. and stay on a leash. If you want to stretch your legs and explore the area's rich history, you and your dog are welcome at nearby First Landing State Park.
Lake George Dog Beach
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Located on the southern shores of this upstate New York resort town, Dog Beach is where tourists and locals go to play in the sand and swim. Dogs are allowed off-leash all year long from dawn to dusk. There is no fee to enter, but you'll have to pay for parking at the adjacent Million Dollar Beach (where dogs are not allowed on the beach).
Kiva Beach
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This small sandy beach along Lake Tahoe's southern shore isn't very large — about 200 yards long — but it's one of the few dog-friendly beaches in this resort area. It's a great place to stop and stretch your legs or to have a picnic during a day trip around the lake, and leashed dogs are welcome. There's no charge to enter this protected woodlands, but it's open only from Memorial Day through late October.

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