If you and your dog like nothing better than to have a romp on a beach, you're in luck. Many dog beaches across the country welcome dogs. Some of them are "on leash" only, but many of them allow dogs to go off leash, no matter the time of day or the season.
Below is a list of just a few places throughout the country you can take your dog for a good swim or romp. Some of these are off-season only, but some are "dog only" and cater specifically to dogs and their fun in the sun.
Dauphin Island Beach is open to pets and owners alike; romp, swim or run "on leash" right on the Gulf of Mexico.
Dogs are welcome on beach stretches within the city limits of Fort Morgan as long as they are leashed, although not on state beaches or historical sites.
Lake Havasu City
Lake Havasu City's Lions Dog Park at London Bridge State Beach has lake access, with lots of grass to explore in; there's also plenty of drinking water available, provided by nearby spigots.
At Buckskin Mountain State Park, dogs are welcome in the water, but must be north of the boat ramp and are not allowed south of it.
California is one of the most dog friendly states, with beaches that not only welcome dogs, but beaches specifically designated for dogs; human companions are also welcome, of course, but these beaches have literally "gone to the dogs" in a good way.
Dogs are welcome in Caspar at Casper Beach and the RV park, although they must be leashed.
At the northern end of Ocean Beach in San Diego, we find Dog Beach, the original Californian dog beach. Popular with tourists and locals alike, its Pacific Coast stretch is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Come with your best canine friend to watch the sun rise (or set), take a run, have a romp in the waves, and much more.
Mission Bay's Fiesta Island is mostly leash free, with plenty of room to swim in the water or have a romp on the sand dunes. The water here is calm, so dogs can swim freely without risk of being hit by waves. It does close at 10 p.m., but that still allows plenty of time for play before sunset.
The northern section of the beach on Coronado Island is designated for dogs, and it's also a great place for their humans to come and relax, have a picnic on the beach, and much more. Coronado Dog Beach is open 24 hours a day, but parking is limited to the street, so it can be difficult to find parking at certain times of day.
Open between five in the morning and 10 at night, dogs are welcome on the beach between Seapoint and 21st Streets, in an area specifically designated for them. There's also restaurant seating off the main beach (outdoors) or you can relax and have a meal or drink, and keep your canine pal right with you.
Dog Beach Zone prides itself on being the only off leash dog beach in Los Angeles County, with plenty of room to romp and play. It's three acres of sandy beaches right on the Belmont Shore. In addition to being able to romp in the sand, dogs are welcome in many of the outdoor restaurants close by, and in some of the shops as well.
Union Reservoir Dog Beach in Longmont, Colorado is a designated, fenced area for off leash swimming and romping, although dogs must remain on leash in other areas of Union Reservoir.
Both Fairfield's Jennings Beach and Westport's Compo Beach allow dogs from October 31 to March 1 every year, but they must be on leash when they are on the beach in Westport. They are allowed off leash on Jennings Beach.
Dewey Beach allows dogs on its beaches in the mornings and evenings, and Both state parks (Delaware Seashore and Cape Henlopen) allow dogs between October 1 and May 1. Just south of Cape Henlopen, several beaches offer free access to dogs, with no restrictions.
In St. Petersburg, Fort DeSoto's North Beach has been called one of the most beautiful beaches in America, with its pristine stretch of white sand. The Pinellas County Parks and Recreation Department has given special attention to its canine friends, with its development of Paw Playground nearby, specifically for dogs to socialize with friends and have a good romp, too.
Key Biscayne, Miami
In South Florida, Miami job visitors and residents can visit the Dog Beach in Key Biscayne. On the corner of Vernon and Waddell Avenues, this is meant for serious dog play -- but their owners take the equally seriously. Doggy dress-up, in other words, is entirely welcome and even expected. Here, dogs match their owners in dress, with "twin" bikinis, shades, and board shorts to match their owners'. To ensure you have the best time, make sure you take your own toys, such as frisbees, toys that float, and balls, and pack the sunscreen and plenty of drinking water, too.
Walton Rocks Dog Beach in Jensen Beach, Florida is completely off leash, with lots of room for play and running. It also has picnic tables and available restrooms. It's free to the public, and is open from sun up to sundown.
Anne's Beach caters to dogs, is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, and costs nothing to use. There's a lot of fresh and shade, and plenty of room to play and run. Fresh water and "poop bags" are available for dogs, as well.
In Key West Florida, we find Key West Dog Beach. Although absolutely canine friendly, the beach is also rocky; owners are warned to keep a close eye on their pets to avoid injury. Nearby is Louis's Backyard, a pet-friendly establishment where you can enjoy a cold drink after playtime is over, or just take a break before you go back to the fun.
Georgia's Jekyll Island allows dogs on the beaches year-round, as long as they're on leash.
They Susan Kimmelman off Leash Dog Beach is Montrose Beach's accommodation for canine pals, at its northwest corner. You'll need to get a special tag for your pal, costing five dollars (the Dog Friendly Area or DFA tag); this tag advertises that your dog is in good health and has had all of his or her vaccinations. Many veteran offices sell these tags, and you can also get one at the Chicago Park District. The beach itself is off leash, but you will have to have your dog on a leash as you come to the beach, and as you leave it.
Evanston gives a nod to canine pals with its Evanston Dog Beach. It's off leash, and open from the first of May to the 31st of October from 7 a.m. to eight in the evening. You will have to buy a beach pass, which is $50 for residents are $100 for visitors. Dog owners (not dogs) wear these tags.
At famous Annapolis, the Naval Academy isn't the only attraction. Here, you can visit the Quiet Waters Dog Beach adjacent to the South River; equally attractive is the fact that there's a fence job parked nearby with separate play areas for large dogs and for small dogs or older animals. Human visitors are allowed to bring one or two dogs each, and there are "doggie showers" available for a quick bath after a day of play.
The Assateague Island National Seashore allows dogs to have access year-round in the undeveloped dunesland areas, although unfortunately, the state park itself just to the north, Assateague State Park, does not allow dogs access.
Most Maryland State Parks do not allow dogs, although both Northpoint State Park and point Lookout State Park's small beaches do allow dogs.
Known as America's first national seashore, dogs are allowed any time on the beach anywhere in Cape Cod as long as they're outside of the swimming areas. Both Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, as well, are dog friendly, and dogs can actually take the shuttle to the beach on Nantucket.
The banks of Lake Michigan don't just offer water fun for humans. Instead, the Norman F. Kruse Park in Muskegon has pristine white sand, with lots of sand dunes for dogs to play in with their humans. In addition to being a prime doggie destination, it's a popular location for families with kids, too, because it's prime for picnicking and is also accessible to visitors with disabilities, with accessible restrooms nearby.
Columbia, Missouri, is home to not one but two dog friendly beaches. The Twin Links Recreation Area has an off leash dog park with lake access for plenty of swimming and romping fun with human and canine buddies, both, while Stephens Lake is a beachside park perfect for both swimming and hiking.
In Asbury Park, New Jersey, we find the 8th Avenue Dog Beach. During the summer, this is specifically a dog beach in the early-morning hours, but dogs are allowed anywhere at any time even when not specifically designated thusly. The cost is free to the public.
Fisherman's Called Conservation Area is aptly called "the Dog Beach" by the locals. At the Manasquan Inlet, you can walk your dog and can have a great view at the same time.
At the Cape May Point Area in Cape May, New Jersey, you'll find Sunset Beach. Although dogs are required to be on leash, it's open year-round, and dogs are also welcome at nearby eatery the Sunset Beach Grill, with its outdoor seating.
Algiers Beach at Gulfside City Park in Sanibel, New Jersey, is right next to a nature preserve. Although dogs have to be on leash, it's a great way to have some beach playtime whether you're a local or are traveling. The beach is free after 7 p.m., although you have to pay a parking fee between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The only designated "Dog Beach" in New Jersey, this Jersey shore's sandy stretch is on Long Beach's Island's Barnegat Bay. The area is fast, so dogs are allowed off leash both in the water and on the beach itself. Owners do have to pick up after their pets, however.
The aptly named town of Duck in North Carolina lets dogs and their humans enjoy beaches year-round, with coastline that goes beyond the town's 10 mile radius; all beachgoers are welcome, whether those beachgoers are visitors or residents.
The Outer Banks
Dogs are allowed almost anywhere on the Outer Banks. Cape Hatteras National Seashore has only four beaches open only to humans in season, which means dogs can romp, swim and roam freely just about anywhere else.
Even in season, most of mainland North Carolina is extremely dog friendly. Most beaches here only restrict dog access during the day, and then only during the summer months.
The Fisher State Recreation Area just outside of Wilmington allows dogs in every area except for swimming areas that are overseen by lifeguards.
Bay Village Dog Beach allows dogs to run off leash for some sun and surf. Owners are warned, however, that the area is not fenced and is near traffic, so they should take care to keep a close eye on their pets.
Cambridge's Dog Beach at Salt Fork State Park offers off leash running and swimming, although there is no shade. Hours are seven in the morning until dusk, and access is free.
Boasting 7 1/2 acres of canine friendly dog park, Bow Wow Beach has a three acre lake, sandy beach surrounding the lake, and plenty of grassy expanse to romp and play in. There are designated entrance and exit to the fenced in part, with small and large dogs separated. They're a waste deposit stations, stations where you can wash your dog after a day of fun, and an area where dogs can "dock jump" into the lake if they wish. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., although the park's opening is delayed until 11 o'clock on Thursdays, for maintenance purposes. The park accepts donations gratefully, although actual admission is free.
The Seven Devils State Recreation Site is open and welcoming to both owners and their pets.
Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint is a wind surfers destination but has lots for dogs and owners to do, too. It's located just outside of the Oregon State park boundaries.
Most Rhode Island beaches are off-limits to dogs, but not so Block Island. There, dogs are allowed throughout the year.
Hunting Island welcomes dogs and owners alike.
Virginia Beach and Fort Story
Dogs are allowed on residential beaches in Virginia Beach between 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., and can go on the beach at any time when at Cape Henry and Fort Story.
At First Landing State Park, dogs are allowed access, including for swimming, as long as the beaches are unguarded. There may be seasonal restrictions, so you should check before jumping in with your trusty canine companion.
Whidbey Island can only be accessed by ferry, but it's worth the trip to visit South Whidbey State Park, whether the visitors are human or canine. People and dogs can take advantage of a wide expanse of beach, and enjoy the ocean view. When the sky is clear, you can see Seattle and Mount Rainer from here.
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One of the Best Dog Parks in the US. http://bowwowbeach.org/About.aspx. Accessed October 15, 2011.
Pawprints In Sand: Top 10 Dog-Friendly Beaches. http://www.globalanimal.org/2011/06/09/pawprints-in-the-sand-top-10-dog-friendly-beaches/41715/. Accessed October 15, 2011.
Top 10 Dog Friendly Beaches in the United States. http://www.bringfido.com/attraction/beaches/region/united_states/. Accessed October 14, 2011.
Where Can I Take My Dog to the Beach? http://www.hikewithyourdog.com/WhatBeachArticle.html. Accessed October 15, 2011.