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5 Dog Friendly Beaches You Have to Visit

Want to plan a weekend getaway that is fido-friendly? We've got you covered!

By Emma Smith on August 25, 2022

Man walks with boogie board and his dog towards Pacific Ocean in the distance.
iStock/AscentXmedia

Next time you head off for some fun in the sun and surf, skip the pet-boarder and pack some extra treats. Allowing pets is only one aspect of making a beach dog friendly, and some beaches are next level in the amenities they offer to pets and their owners. Read on for our list of five dog friendly beaches and their accompanying towns, sure to delight all guests, whether they are human or four-legged friends.

1. Wildwood Dog Park and Beach in New Jersey

Wildwood, New Jersey
Often referred to as New Jersey’s best beaches, The Wildwoods boasts five miles of beaches that are free to the public—consisting of North Wildwood, Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest. All three allow leashed pets October-May, and North Wildwood in the summer months after 5:30 pm and until 9:30 am. With most of the town’s beaches being dog-friendly, Wildwood ensures that pups have a place no matter the time of year. Wildwood Dog Park & Beach is a dedicated, year-round, pet-friendly hub. To go off-leash, look for the giant red fire hydrant accompanying the enclosed dog park, where clean-up bags and fresh water are provided. Dogs are permitted from dawn to dusk, all year long at the stretch of beach in front of the park, where they must stay on leash unless swimming with you (lifeguard present, of course!). 

2. Bald Head Island in North Carolina

Bald Head Island, North Carolina
Bald Head Island is a true vacation from the hustle and bustle of mainland life for humans and pets alike. The island prohibits all vehicles other than golf carts or bicycles on its streets, perfect for leisurely unleashed sunset strolls. Dogs are allowed at nearly every point of your visit, from the ferry ride over to plenty of pet-friendly accommodations to rent from. The island’s fourteen miles of beaches welcome unleashed pets year round except for May 1-November 15, when they may still join you on the beach but must be leashed. Much of the island is protected land, and the conservation efforts protect the native animals as it welcomes domesticated ones. Times when pets must be tethered coincide with the yearly turtle season, as the endangered sea turtles nest and hatch during these six months. If you seek a more confined space for your pet to play, the Village of Bald Head Island has a dedicated dog park and many trails and common areas. 

3. Jekyll Island in Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia
An hour south of Savannah, there are a collection of barrier islands with wild marshes, Colonial ports, and the once lavish winter homes of the titans of the Gilded Age, known as the Golden Isles. Travelers have enjoyed these islands for hundreds of years and continue to bring their animals to bask in the natural beauty. Many of the islands contain dog parks, hiking and walking trails. For a more extended stay, consider Jekyll Island, a quiet and unassuming escape perfect for a quiet trip with man’s best friend. With seven beaches, the island is a picture of unspoiled, undeveloped beauty. Save for the protected dunes, dogs are allowed on all beaches besides South Beach on Jekyll, provided they are on a leash and under voice control. If you’re feeling hungry after a beach frolic, stop at one of the island’s many pet-friendly patios for sips and snacks before retiring to one of Jekyll Island’s many pet-welcoming accommodations

4. Fort de Soto Park in Florida

Pinellas County, Florida
The gold star for beaches in the continental United States can undoubtedly be given to Florida’s famous gulf coast, with white sands and blue waters that transport one to the Caribbean in spirit, if not in reality. South of Tampa, the historic Fort de Soto area of Pinellas County. Of the county’s several beaches and dog parks, Fort de Soto is the only beach area that combines both. In most of Fort de Soto, dogs must be under the control of their owners and on a leash, save for the off-leash dog park and beach, with a quarter mile of pet-designated use. For those not comfortable letting their dogs roam the open beach, there are fenced-in portions of the park labeled for large and small dogs, with water bowls available. Explorers and their sidekicks can also enjoy the seven miles of trails and the historic De Soto National Memorial, both welcoming to leashed pets. 

5. Kalaloch Beach in Washington

Forks, Washington
Trade in white sands and blue water for driftwood and evergreens, heading up to the Pacific Northwest. Folks can’t get enough of Forks, Washington, the setting of the famous and infamous Twilight novels by Stephenie Meyer and also the home of Kalaloch Beach in the Olympic National Park. Forks claims the title of “Rainiest Town in the Contiguous US,” but don’t let that dissuade you from taking a beach trip to the Olympic peninsula with your dog (please leave your werewolves at home). At th Pups may stay at Kalaloch Lodge in pet-specific cabins, roam the beach, and hike alongside their human or vampire on over 250 miles of trails in the adjacent Olympic National Forest. The National Park Service even has an opportunity for dogs to be official Bark Rangers, assisting in the welcoming and safe atmosphere of the park. However, to protect the natural environment and the safety of pets, they must remain leashed on all park property and public spaces. 

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