Dog Daze of Summer
It’s time for the whole family to get out and enjoy some of Florida’s fun, sun, and water. And by the whole family, we also mean your pet! After all, your pooch works very hard every day to make you happy, so why not reward him or her with a fantastic furry-friendly getaway? Florida has plenty of pet-friendly options for all of you to enjoy, from restaurants with special doggy treats to hotels that welcome your pet.
In Florida’s Panhandle you’ll find the unique and mystical world of the Sandestin Beach Resort, which offers an entire world of possibilities within its resort borders. Various sections of the resort offer different types of attractions and entertainment, and the most pet-friendly area is The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Located along the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay in Northwest Florida, The Village of Baytowne Wharf features an array of boutiques, eateries, galleries and nightlife, all of which can be enjoyed by you and your pet. You can also check out the town’s numerous events throughout the year, like concert series and more.
Be sure to visit the Bark Park, located off the boardwalk between Marina Bar & Grill and Baytowne. This restaurant also offers “doggy dining,” offering a Furry Friends menu with Woof-A-Burger, Paw-Tastic (grilled chicken), Dog-A-Licious (hot dog) and even the Yap-A-Tizer (yogurt topped with a treat). Call 850-267-7778 to make a reservation.
Sandestin Beach Resort offers pet-friendly accommodations at select parts of their massive property. This resort is a great choice for every family member thanks to its variety of accommodations that make plenty of room for everyone, as well as lots of activities for everyone to enjoy and family vacation packages that work with your budget. The kids could be spending time at the beach, dad could be golfing, and mom could be at the spa!
The city of Pensacola is known for being friendly in general, so it makes sense that it’s a pet-friendly city, too! The beautiful Bayview Dog Park & Beach is a local favorite overlooking Bayou Texar, where dogs have a whole acre to run free and leash-less, as well as their very own beach access so they can roll around in the sand (no worries, there are wash stations). You can also visit Perdido Key Dog Park, Pensacola Beach Dog Beach West, and Pensacola Beach Dog Beach East. When the two of you want some shade, take a hike through the ancient oak trees of Gulf Island National Seashore’s Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve, with miles of nature trails where you can see incredible views and wildlife (dogs must be on leashes). nps.gov/guis
Pensacola offers pets and their humans the chance to dine together at numerous establishments throughout the beach and urban areas. The Oar House on Bayou Chico is a lovely, open-air restaurant where pets can join in on the family dinners. Humans ought to try their award-winning crab cakes or fresh fish sandwiches layered in gooey cheese, while enjoying live entertainment on the Bayou. If it’s your pet pal that’s looking for something tasty, head to ShamPoochies pet salon, boutique, and bakery. Not only will Fido find some yummy treats, but Lassie can get glammed up with a new hairdo or outfit!
Situated on the picturesque Santa Rosa Sound, the Paradise Inn is a quaint and classic beach hotel in the traditional Old Florida style that offers pet-friendly rooms as well as private beach and pier that makes it ideal for boating, fishing, and paddleboarding. Their onsite restaurant, Paradise Bar & Grill, serves up tasty plates and beverages.
St. Petersburg and Clearwater
The Gulf Coast is particularly pet-friendly, with the St. Pete/Clearwater area leading the way. One of their most popular nature parks, Fort De Soto Park, has reserved a gorgeous stretch of beach especially for dogs and their owners. Going beyond the typical method of relegating pooches to a less desirable area of beach, the beach at Fort De Soto Park has been named America’s best family beach by the editors of Parents magazine, and taking top honors on TripAdvisor and Dr. Beach; this is sure to be a place the family will want to visit again and again.
Downtown St. Petersburg is also friendly to pets, with many restaurants and cafes offering outdoor seating for you and your pet, and you will see water dishes outside of most shops. And, if you have a particularly posh pet, you will want to take them to Cassis American Brasserie in St. Petersburg. They feature a special menu for dogs that includes “Mutt Loaf” and a “Hot Dog” for your cool dog.
Luxury lovers (both human, dog, and even cats) will enjoy a stay at the “Pink Palace” on St. Pete Beach, the fabulous Loews Don CeSar Hotel. Prepare to be pampered beyond your wildest dreams, and let your pet enjoy the finer things in life with amenities like a room-service menu just for them, a welcome letter from the manager with a list of local pet attractions, specialized bedding, leashes, collars, and litter boxes, pet walking and sitting services, treats like rawhide bones and catnip, and even dog massages. (Humans can get massages at the hotel, too!)
The Space Coast
Space is not just cool for humans - dogs can enjoy it too, thanks to the pet-friendly attractions and accommodations of the Space Coast. This area is comprised of Cocoa Beach, Melbourne & The Beaches, Port Canaveral, Titusville, Palm Bay and Viera. Canova Beach Park in Melbourne welcomes you to bring your leashed dog to frolic in the sand dunes and leap through the Atlantic waves. Waste bags and receptacles are available, so it’s easy to pick up after your pet. In nearby Melbourne Beach, the two of you can visit Sundaes at the Beach ice cream shop for a pet-friendly ice cream sandwich! (Humans can enjoy Hershey's ice cream, Italian ice, fresh squeezed lemonade and smoothies.)
Historic downtown Cocoa Beach is a great place to spend time with your pet, thanks to plenty of pet-friendly restaurants, cafes, and shops. Eateries welcoming dogs include Ossorios, Murdock’s, and Ryan’s, all with outdoor seating. But your pet’s favorite place to visit will probably be Tails at the Barkery, which specializes in pet treats, tail bites, and even designer-wear for your pooch or kitty!
Also in Cocoa Beach is the idyllic South Beach Inn, nestled in a tropical paradise with colorful, oceanfront suites with lots of property for all family members (including the furry ones) to run around and have a good time. The inn’s friendly staff can help you create your dream vacation itinerary by helping you arrange watersports rentals, zoo trips, and shopping excursions.
The Florida Keys
In a place known for its relaxed atmosphere and laid-back beach vibe, it makes sense that throughout the Florida Keys you’ll find lots of pet-friendly places for you and your pooch to enjoy together. In Key West, Clarence Higgs Beach Park that sits just off of the Atlantic waters (at 100 Atlantic Blvd.) and features a huge section for dogs, with lots of shade and water fountains. There is also a beach area at the edge of Vernon and Waddell Avenues where locals love to bring their dogs. Anne’s Beach on Islamorada offers miles of salt flats to explore, with shallow water perfect for children and pets to splash around (just make sure your pet stays on a leash). Whichever beach in the Keys you visit, just be sure to deter your pet from digging in the sand during turtle nesting season (April through October).
In Key Largo, Pilot House features waterfront dining at family-friendly prices - for the whole family, including the furry members. Humans enjoy daily happy hour, fresh local seafood, certified Angus steak, prime rib, and pasta. Located on Lake Largo, they sport a glass-bottom bar to watch the fish swim by beneath your feet!
Islamorada offers spacious vacation rentals that welcome the whole family, including pets! Island Villa Rental Properties offers private little cottages, luxury condo villas, prestigious oceanfront estates, or whatever you desire. Because each rental is different, call ahead to see which properties are pet-free.