America's 10 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches
Looking to head to the beach one last time before summer comes to an end? At these dog-friendly stretches of shoreline, you can travel with your furriest friend, and the entire family can enjoy a beach getaway.
Before you go, remember that if you want to bring your best (four-legged) buddy to the shore, you need to pack more than sunscreen and a good beach read.
Start the day early, or arrive later in the afternoon instead, to keep your dog from over-heating in the mid-day sun. Also, don't forget a towel, beach umbrella and a bowl of fresh water to keep your pet cool.
Just like humans, dogs can also get a sunburn (yes, really!), so make sure to pack pet-safe doggie sunblock, especially if your dog has short white fur or is light in color. The nose, ears and belly are most susceptible to a painful burn.
And because not every dog naturally knows how to swim, it's wise to test their abilities in a pool before jumping right into the rough ocean waves.
Most importantly, always scoop the poop. One of the reasons formerly dog-friendly beaches have changed their rules and banned dogs is because of pet owners who did not clean up.
Huntington Dog Beach in California
Head to Surf City, USA with your pup and you may even see some four-legged surFURs at Huntington Dog Beach — home to an annual Surf City Surf Dog competition. Here, dogs hang 10 (er, well, 16) and ride the famous California waves just like humans. Dogs must remain leashed under city ordinance, but well-behaved pooches are often unleashed and free to splash around.
Wildwood Dog Beach in New Jersey
Spend a day down by the shore at Wildwood Dog Beach. You'll know you found the right spot once you see the giant, two-story fire hydrant decorated with paw prints and dog bones. Dogs must remain leashed on the beach, but there is a fenced-in, off-leash dog park where your pup can get his or her exercise. Doggie waste bags and fresh water are available on-site. Because dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk, you'll have to leave Rover in the hotel room while you try to win him a stuffed animal souvenir.
Fort De Soto Dog Beach in Tierra Verde, Florida
Fort De Soto Beach, located 15 miles south of St. Petersburg, Florida, is known for its Caribbean-esque blue waters and pearl white sand. For leash-free fun, bring your dog to the Paw Playground, which has two fenced-in areas that separate big dogs from the tiniest pups. Behind the park, you'll find a quarter-mile stretch of beach reserved just for Fido. Dogs are allowed off-leash in the designated area, but in all other areas, your pet must be kept on a six-foot leash. If you and your canine companion feel like venturing out, there are pet-friendly canoes, kayaks and paddle boards available for rent.
Montrose Dog Beach in Chicago, Illinois
Not all dog beaches are by the ocean. Find Chicago's first legal off-leash dog beach, Montrose Dog Beach, on the bottom edge of Lake Michigan. There is a dog-wash available to get rid of sand, complete with shampoo and conditioner, and you can usually find a dog food truck at the entrance serving dog cookies and treats. To use this beach, pups need a special DFA (Dog-Friendly Area) tag, which will cost $5 and requires vet clearance — so plan accordingly.
Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach, California
This pup-friendly paradise, named after an English Bulldog who inspired the creation of the beach, is LA County's only legal off-leash dog beach. For your dog to roam free, he or she must remain under visual and voice control at all times. The four-acre area is not fenced in and tends to get quite crowded, so use your best judgment to determine whether or not you should unleash your dog. Doggie waste bags are available, but pet owners are encouraged to bring their own.
Bald Head Island in North Carolina
Set sail on a dog-friendly ferry to Bald Head Island, located off the coast of North Carolina. In the subtropical climate, unexpected flora and fauna thrive, making it the northernmost point in the US where sabal palms grow naturally. Bald Head Island boasts 14 miles of pristine beaches where dogs can frolic freely (under owner supervision). There is, however, an exception to the off-leash rule during turtle nesting season, from May 1 to Nov. 15, during which dogs must be leashed from sunset to sunrise.
Cannon Beach in Oregon
Cannon Beach is a tiny town in Oregon, famous for the 235-foot-tall Haystock Rock: a sea stack that serves as the perfect backdrop for a photo of your pup posing on the beach. This off-leash beach hosts its own annual dog show, with fun contests for your pooch to compete in like Best Bark, Best Trick and the fan-favorite Owner Look-Alike contest, among others. There are a few hiking trails nearby suited for you and your pooch, too. In fact, the entire town is generally pet-friendly, so you'll be sure to find plenty of restaurants and hotels that will welcome your family, fur and all.
Del Mar Dog Beach in California
Relax with the sand between your paws at Dog Beach, also known as Del Mar's North Beach. Dogs must be leashed during the summer, from June 16 through Labor Day, but the rest of the year pups are permitted to run and splash to their heart's content, as long as they're under the voice control of their owner. After a long day of fetch on the beach, sit back and enjoy a spectacular sunset to the sound of the crashing Pacific waves.
Driftwood Beach in Jekyll Island, Georgia
There are quite a few dog-friendly beaches on Jekyll Island, located off the coast of Georgia — but our favorite is Driftwood Beach. This picturesque stretch of sand is filled with tangled tree limbs and roots bleached by the salt and sun. Even though this is not an off-leash beach, its natural beauty compensates. Plus, the endless supply of driftwood is perfect for a solid game of fetch with Fido.
Jupiter Beach in Florida
Soak up the Florida sun on the 2.5 mile pet-friendly stretch of Jupiter Beach. BOW's (behaved, obedient, well-socialized dogs) are permitted to roam off-leash under the direct supervision of their owner. Doggie waste bags are available at every crossover along the beach, so you don't have any excuse not to clean up after your pooch.
Photo courtesy of Katie Abshier:Flickr