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Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas in the USA

Updated 03/13/2024: Looking for a place to unwind and rejuvenate? But, you don’t know where to go or what to do with your dog? This year get-away from it all with a dog friendly island vacation.

Island vacations have a lot to offer to those wishing to travel with their dog. They tend to be less crowded than easy to get to locations. They often have a different feel than their mainland counterparts.

Plus, as an added bonus many island locations have dog friendly beaches, that allow your dog to frolic in the waves right along with you.

But Island locations can be about more than just lying on the beach. In our list of dog friendly island vacation idea we have included places that include quaint villages, have natural beauty and old fashion charm.

Because traveling by air with a dog is much trickier than by car, we have only included places you can get to either by car or ferry.

Whether you are planning your summer vacation, or winter break join us as we look at 15 Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas that are located are right here in the U.S.

If you plan to stay in a pet friendly hotel, check out our post on Hotel Stays with a Dog: 23 Tips, Tricks and Hacks.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas in the USA- Title page with pic of beach.

Please confirm with all places listed here that pet dogs are still allowed prior to visiting. Information is subject to change without notice. While we strive to insure accuracy on, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Also, the mentioning of a business in this post should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Warm Weather Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas

Our first set of dog friendly island vacation ideas are in the southern most portions of the U.S. This means the winter temperatures will be warmer than other parts of the country, but it also means you have to watch out for alligators. This warning also goes for the islands located in the Gulf or Mexico and the southern east coast.

Florida Keys

If you are looking for a warm weather destination to get away from the cold, the Florida Keys are the place to be. From December through to March, the average daily highs are around 78 degrees, so it’s not too hot but still warm enough to go to the beach.

The Florida Keys is a string of tropical islands stretching over 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida. The islands are connected by the Overseas Highway which starts on the mainland about an hour outside of Miami and goes all the way to Key West. The no-fly access makes taking your dog to a tropical island a breeze.

There are over 800 keys, but most are not inhabited. Here we will look at 3 Keys that offer the most pet friendly activities; Key Largo, Islamorada, and Key West

Dog Friendly island vacations spots Key largo.

1. Key Largo, Fl

Key Largo is the first and longest island in the Keys. This long skinny Key is over 30 miles long. It is also the easiest one to get to from Miami. Just hop in your car and drive about an hour.

Many people believe this is the prettiest of all the keys. Surprisingly, Key Largo is less crowed than Key West and is considered to be more laid-back than Key West.

Here are a few of the many things you can do with your dog in Key Largo.

  • Start your day here with a hearty breakfast at the Hideout Restaurant. They welcome leashed dogs on covered the patio. You can find the Hideout at 47 Shoreland Dr, Key Largo, FL 33037. It really is the hideout and a little hard to find. There is just a small sign for the restaurant in front of a entrance that looks more like a private driveway than a restaurant. But once you enter the parking lot you are greeted with sights, and sounds of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Next you can take a ride on a Glass Bottom Boat Cruise. The Key Largo Princess allows dogs of all sizes to join you on a trip to see the John Pennecamp State Park. The only underwater park in the world.
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  • The Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park offers easy trails for you and your dog to explore. Leashed dogs are allowed on the bike and hiking trails and along the seawall. They are not allowed on the beach or in buildings. There is a small per person fee.
  • Head to the beach. While most of the beaches in Key Largo do not allow dogs, Rowell’s Waterfront Park is dog friendly. Dogs must remain on a leash and cleaned up after.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas in the US - Beach in Islamorada, Fl
Islamorada, Fl

2. Islamorada, Fl

The next Key we will look at is Islamorda, Islamorda is actually a village of six small islands. It is located about 30 miles south west of Key Largo and is smaller than Key Largo. Known as the Sports Fishing Capital it has a few dog friendly activities for you to enjoy.

Dog Friendly Activities in Islamorada, Fl.

  • Visit the Theater of the Sea. Here you can walk through the lush tropical gardens, take a tour of the lagoon aboard an open-center boat and watch animal shows that include dolphins, and sea lions. They also offer animal interaction programs for an additional fee. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcomed to explore the park with you with the exception of the bird show.
  • Head on over the Robbies of Islamorada – Here you will find open air shops, a restaurant, rental boats and kayaking that are all dog friendly. Your pup can also watch you feed the tarpon in the marina. Though dogs might need to stay off the dock. You can even charter a dog friendly boat here. Plus, there is a small beach they can take a dip in.
  • If you are looking to hit the beach while here, check out Anne’s Beach. It is the only beach in Islamorada that allows dogs. This beach is small and can get very crowded on the weekends. This beach is best visited in the winter and early spring before the Sargassum takes over. This seaweed type plant starts to grow in May and continues through November. During this time the beach can become overrun with it, limiting the usable beach area and causing it to smell.
  • It’s rare to find a museum that is dog friendly, but the History of Diving Museum is. Here you will see an extensive collection of diving artifacts and learn about the history of diving. They also participate in the Bank of America Museums on Us.
  • After a long day of sightseeing sit back and relax at the Florida Keys Brewery. Dogs can hang out in the beer garden with you while you enjoy a locally brewed beer.

Beach on Key West in Florida iwth blue waters, light sand and palm trees
Key West, Fl

3. Key West, Fl

Key West is the furthest south you can get and still be in the United States. It is a beautiful tropical island with a laid-back feel. Known for its night life, Key West has plenty of bars, and restaurants to keep you and your pup happy. They also have lots of dog friendly activities to do during the day, though some might be on Stock Island, the island right before Key West.

Dog Friendly Things to do in Key West:

  • Head out on one of the many dog friendly dolphin tours or ocean cruises. Here are just a few options:
  • Explore the back-country of Key West with your pup on a Key West paddle Board Eco Tour. Here you will glide through the winding mangrove creeks where you can view and learn about the inhabitants of the keys.
  • Go for a sail – There are a few private sailing companies that allow dogs in Key West.
    • Hindu Charters – offers daily dog friendly sails on a luxury yacht.
  • Visit the Key West Aquarium – This is a small Aquarium that focuses on local species. It is also the only aquarium I have been to that allows leashed dogs inside.

Beach on Marco Island with blue umbrellas on sand and blue waters.
Marco Island, Fl

4. Marco Island, Fl

Another warm weather, dog friendly, winter vacation location is Marco Island on the southern coast of Florida. Located in the Gulf of Mexico, the average winter temperature is between 70 to 75 degrees, making it a good choice for people who want to get away from the cold. While Marco Island is not as dog friendly as the Florida Keys there is still enough to do to make the trip worth taking.

Dog Friendly Activities on Marco Island, Fl

  • Marco Island offer over 30 restaurants and cafe’ that will welcome your dog on their outdoor patios. Plus, nearby Naples is also dog friendly. Just make sure to call ahead to confirm they are still pet friendly.
  • Join the monthly Bark on the Ark Cruise to Keewaydin Island. Accessible only by boat, Keewaydin Island is a barrier island off the coast of Marco Island with dog friendly beaches. Dogs must remain on leash at all times.
  • While Marco Island does not have dog friendly beaches, they do have plenty of dog friendly vacation homes making it easy to step out dog free for a few hours. Just make sure your rental allows you to leave them behind and that your dog is well-behaved when left alone. Otherwise consider using a crate.
  • Take your pup to Canine Cove. This dog park features separate leash-free areas for small dogs and big dogs. There is also an adjacent park with walking trails and a pond you can explore, but dogs must remain on a leash in this area.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas in the Gulf of Mexico

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas in the Gulf of Mexico - Sanibel Island, Florida Lighthouse framed by palm trees
Sanibel Island, Florida

5. Sanibel Island, Florida

Located in the Gulf of Mexico near Fort Myers, Fl, Sanibel Island offers miles of white sandy beaches that are dog friendly to leashed dogs year-round. Plus, they have an assortment of pet friendly rentals and restaurants to choose from.

Dog Friendly Vacation Ideas on Sanibel Island:

  • You can’t go to Sanibel Island without checking out the dog friendly beaches. Gulfside City Beach Park is considered the most dog friendly. Dogs much be on an eight-foot leash or less at all times and remember to clean up after them.
  • Visit the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This dog friendly nature preserve features the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the US. Dogs are allowed on the Wildlife Drive (auto tour) and Indigo Trail. Dogs must be on a 6-foot or less leash and cleaned up after.
  • Go boating with Tarpon Explorers Rentals. Tarpon Explorers allows leashed dogs in their rentals, but dogs must remain in the equipment. Dogs are not allowed on guided tours

While Sanibel Island is dog friendly, the attached island of Captiva is not. Dogs are not allowed on the beaches on Captiva.

St George Island, Fl beach homes on sand and grass
St George Island, Fl

6. St George Island, Fl

Referred to as the forgotten coast, St George has resisted the changes of time that took over more popular beach towns, leaving it as an unassuming oasis.

St. George Island is a barrier island in the Florida’s Panhandle. It offers 28 miles of unspoiled shorelines with many of them facing out to the warm Gulf of Mexico. Nine of those miles are within the protective boundary of the St George Island State Park.

St. George offers dog-friendly beaches, trails, shops, restaurants and rentals to their visitors.

Here are just a few of the things you can do with your dog on St George Island:

  • St. George Island Public Beaches are dog friendly except for Julian G. Bruce St George Island State Park. Dogs must remain on a leash on public beaches and in town.
  • If you are looking to get away from the crowds, take the Dog Island ferry from Carrabelle to Dog Island where you will find miles of untouched beaches to explore with your pup. Just make sure to bring everything you will need. There are no stores on Dog Island.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas in the Gulf of Mexico - Dauphin Island, Al pic of sand beach with small dune and seagrass
Dauphin Island, Al

7. Dauphin Island, Al

Dauphin Island is a small barrier island located off the coast of Alabama. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, historic attractions and small-town vibe. This island has less to do than some of the others on the list, but if you are looking for a quiet beach vacation this is the place.

The best part is it also very dog friendly. Leashed dogs are allowed on Dauphin Island public beaches with the exception of West End Beach. Oh and of course remember to clean up after them.

But that is not all, there are some more dog friendly things to do on Dauphin Island:

  • Take a ride on the Mobile Bay Ferry. The ferry’s main purpose is to transport people to and from the island, but it can also be an enjoyable, inexpensive way to spend a couple of hours on the water. Plus, they welcome friendly, leashed dogs on board for free.
  • Visit Fort Gaines, Al – Fort Gaines is a civil war area fort that is best known for the phrase Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”. The fort features original cannons, blacksmith shop and kitchens. Leashed dogs are allowed to explore the fort.
  • Audubon Bird Sanctuary is a 137-acre park with three miles of trails that allows leashed dogs to join you. Watch out for alligators in the park.

 South Padre Island, TX Beach with tall buildings in the background
South Padre Island, TX

8. South Padre Island, TX

South Padre Island is a barrier island located off the southern tip of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. This is not to be confused with Padre Island which is located by Corpus Christi, TX.

The beaches in South Padre are considered the best in the state. Plus, there is plenty to do on South Padre Island on a dog friendly family vacation.

Here are just a few of the dog friendly activities in South Padre Island.

  • Visit the sea turtles at Sea Turtle Inc. Learn about the sea turtles on South Padre Island and the wonderful conservation efforts in the area while getting to see sea turtle that were saved by the Sea Turtle Inc. Well-behaved, friendly and leashed dogs are welcomed.
  • Go on a bird and dolphin tour with Fins to Feathers tours. Dogs are welcomed, but let them know before you book the trip.
  • Stop by Rita’s Restaurant Bar at 4001 Padre Blvd in South Padre Island. Not only are they dog friendly, they even have a fur-kid menu.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on the East Coast

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on the East Coast  - Amelia Island, Florida - Sunset on the beach with tall grass
Amelia Island, Florida

9. Amelia Island, Florida

Located off the northern coast of Florida, Amelia Island is home to beautiful beaches and the historic town of Fernandina Beach. You won’t believe you are just 35 miles from Jacksonville, Florida.

This tucked away island offers up 13-miles of quartz sand beaches, nature trails, eco-tours and fresh sea air. When it’s time to eat they have plenty of places that welcome dogs and finding a dog friendly place to stay shouldn’t be an issue.

Here are a few of the dog friendly things to do on Amelia Island.

  • Enjoy a day at the beach – Dogs are allowed on city and county beaches, but must be on a leash at all times. Dog are not allowed on the beach in Florida State Parks including Fort Clinch, Fernandina Plaza a historic State Park and Amelia Island State Park.
  • Take a cruise along the river – Amelia River Cruises offers a series of trips; Cumberland Island Tour, Beach Creek Tour, Adult Twilight BYOB Tour, Family-Friendly Sunset Tour, and Shrimping Eco Tour. Plus, they offer private cruises. They welcome well-behaved, leashed pets. Just let them know in advance that they are coming along.
  • When you are ready to eat there are plenty of dog friendly places to choose from, like Timoti’s Seafood Shak located in Fernandina Beach.

Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Ga

10. Jekyll Island, Georgia

Located on the Atlantic Ocean about half way between Jacksonville, Florida and Savannah, George lies Jekyll Island. Jekyll Island is one of four barrier islands that make up the “Golden Isles” in Georgia. They are called the “Golden Isles” due to the vast marshes that turn a beautiful golden color in the fall.

But Jekyll Island is beautiful all the time and a great place to get away from it all with your dog.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on Jekyll Island

  • Go to the beach- Jekyll Island beaches are dog friendly all year with a few exceptions. First, they must be on a leash no longer than 16 feet at all times. Second, they are not allowed on the beach between South Dunes Picnic Area and 2,000 feet northeast of St. Andrews Picnic Area. Please they need to keep off the dunes and you need to clean up after them.
  • Explore the 25 miles of paved biking trails on Jekyll Island. The trails take you through diverse scenery from beaches to the Historic district.
  • Visit the other Golden Isles to explore the parks and trails there. The Alice Richards Botanical Trail is located within Frederica Park on St. Simons Island, just seven miles away from Jekyll Island. In addition to trails you will find an off-leash dog park. Dogs must be leashed at all times unless in the dog park section.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on the East Coast - Hilton Head Island, SC
Man walking along beach at sunset.
Hilton Head Island, SC

11. Hilton Head Island, SC

Hilton Head Island is well known for its incredible beaches and world class golf courses. Located in South Carolina’s Low-country it has been a hot spot for travelers looking to slow down. But beyond the beach and golf, Hilton Head offers pet owners a place to explore nature with their dogs.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on Hilton Head.

  • Hilton Head Island Beach rules – Unlike the other island locations on this list Hilton Head does not allow dogs on the beach all year. Instead they are banned from the beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. They are allowed on the beach, while leashed, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 1 through Thursday before Memorial Day. But, it just so happens that April and May are the best months or visit.
  • Go for a hike – The Audubon Newhall Preserve is a 50-acre nature preserve located on the south end of Hilton Head Island. Leashed dogs are welcomed as long as you clean up after them.

Bald Head Island, NC - Blue waters with strip pf sand and sea-grass with white house.
Bald Head Island, NC

12. Bald Head Island, NC

If you are looking for a secluded island getaway that doesn’t require a passport, consider Bald Head Island in North Carolina. Bald Head Island is a barrier island located across the Cape Fear River from Southport, NC.

The only way to get to the island is by ferry. There are no cars allowed on the island but they do have their own public transportation system. The both the ferry and the island tram are dog-friendly. So are many of the vacation rentals on the island.

Once on the island you will be enveloped by the island’s subtropical climate and lush greenery. 80 percent of the island is covered in nature preserves.

Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on Bald Head Island, NC.

  • Going to the beach is a big part of vacationing on Bald head Island. Pets must be leashed from sunset to sunrise during turtle season, May 1 through November 15. All other times, pets are permitted off leash but must remain under direct supervision at all times.
  • There is also a dog park on the island for off-leash play time.
  • Take a walk on the Kent Mitchel Nature Trail.
Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on the East Coast -Block Island, RI - rock piles with sea and clouds in the background
Block Island, RI –

13. Block Island, RI

Block Island offers something for everyone, even your dog. The Island is well known for its miles of free public beaches, cool, sparkling clear waters, bluffs and friendly people. Block Island sits off the coast of Rhode Island and can only be accessed via a ferry or plane. It is also a very dog friendly place to visit and relax.

  • The main attraction on Block Island is the beach. Most are dog friendly with the exception of guarded beaches.
  • There is also plenty of hiking spots on the island which are dog friendly.
  • See the Mohegan Bluffs – check out these two-hundred-foot-high cliffs from the bottom and the top for spectacular views of the ocean and wind turbines that power the small island.
  • Spend some time exploring the beautiful, clear beaches that are lined with colorful rocks and pebbles.
  • When it’s time to dine Block Island has more than a few dog friendly restaurants with outdoor seating. Some even come with a view.

For more things to do and places to stay visit our post Block Island – Dog Friendly Things to Do and Places to Eat

For even more beach vacation ideas, check out our post on Dog Friendly Beach Vacations.

Mt Desert Island, Maine - Boats in a harbor
Mt Desert Island, Maine

14. Mt Desert Island, Maine

Mount Desert Island offers visitors the chance to experience sweeping cliffs, rugged coastlines and mountain views that go on forever. About half of the island is covered by the Acadia National Park, providing numerous dog friendly activities, including hiking, boating and kayaking.

During the summer months you can hike (or drive) to the top of Cadillac mountain to see the first rays of sunlight in the country.

The largest town on Mount Desert Island is Bar Harbor, Me. It’s also the closest one to the main entrance of Acadia. The town of Bar Harbor makes a great home-base for exploring Acadia and the surrounding areas. Here you will find plenty of dog friendly options for accommodations and places to eat.

From Bar Harbor you can catch the dog friendly Island Explorer bus. The Island Explorer offers routes linking lodging with destinations in Acadia National Park and neighboring villages.

Here are just a few of the dog friendly things to do on Mt Desert Island

  • With more than 125 miles of interconnected and looping hiking trials Acadia National Park was designed for hiking. Here you will be able to find trails with breathtaking views for every skill level. 
  • Take a trip with the Downeast Windjammer Cruise Line to explore Frenchman Bay with beautiful views of Acadia National Park from the sea. You can even help hoist the sails or just relax if you prefer. Well-behaved leashed pet dogs are allowed on their Windjammer cruises and ferries.
  • If driving is more your style, Acadia also has the park loop road. This scenic 27-mile rides takes you around the east side of Mount Desert Island. Along the way you will find views of Acadia’s lakes, mountains and shoreline. Stop along the way at one of the many pullovers to enjoy the scenery.

Going on a dog friendly vacation shouldn’t have to cost a small fortune, you are looking for ways to keep the costs down, read our post on: Cheap Vacations With a Pet: Budget Friendly Ideas

Northeast Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas

Northeast Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas - Orcas Island, Washington- Whale fin coming out of water with snow covered mountain in the background
Orcas Island, Washington

15. San Juan Islands, Washington

The San Juan Islands are a series of islands in the Pacific Northwest close to the Canadian border. There are four large islands and a lot of small ones that can be explored.

While these islands do not have the warm sunny beaches, you might be expecting from this list, the natural beauty of the islands and the chance to see whales makes them a must see.

The only way to get to the islands is by ferry. If you choose to go to San Juan Island there is public transportation that is dog friendly, but it is limited. You may prefer to bring your car with you on the ferry.

Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands and some believe the most scenic, but San Juan Island has the most dog friendly activities outside of hiking.

Dog Friendly Activities on Orcas Island

  • Hike the 5,252-acre Moran State Park. With several lakes and more than 38 miles of hiking trials, it’s the perfect place to enjoy nature. Pet dogs are allowed in the park but hey must remain on a leash that is not more than eight feet long and they cannot go on designated swimming beaches.
  • Obstruction Pass State Park is another state park that is worthy of a hike. Here the trials lead down to the water. Pet dogs must be on a leash no longer than eight feet and you must clean up after them.
  • If your pup is looking for a little off-leash time bring them to the dog park at Buck Park in the Village of Eastsound, Wa.

Pet Dog Friendly Activities on San Juan Island

  • Check out the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park – Covering 20-acres the park includes five trails and a pond. Follow the self-guided tour to find more than 150 unique sculptures. Dogs are allowed off leash as long as they are well-behaved. Please clean up after your dog.
  • Visit the Pelindaba Lavender Farm – Come delight in the sight, small and taste of lavender. Pet dogs are welcomed, but the must be leashed and cleaned up after.
  • Stop by the San Juan Vineyard – founded in 1996, the San Juan Vineyard is a producer of award-winning estate-grown wines – Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine. Well-behaved leash dogs are welcomed.

Not what you are looking for? Check out these dog friendly vacation ideas:

Do you have a Dog Friendly Island Vacation Idea?

Please let us know about it in the comments.