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Unleash the Fun: 7 Dog-Friendly Florida Vacation Ideas

Planning a getaway to the Sunshine State and don’t want to leave your furry friend behind? You’re in luck! Florida is packed with vacation destinations that aren’t just beautiful—they’re also dog-friendly!

From sandy beaches where paws are welcome to cafes that cater to canines, a dog-friendly vacation spot in Florida means your pet can enjoy the fun just as much as you.

What makes a vacation spot truly dog-friendly?

It’s all about the details: accommodations that allow pets, restaurants with outdoor patios where dogs can lounge and let’s not forget about a variety of activities that go beyond the usual dog park.

But before you start packing check out our helpful guides to Hotel Stays with a Dog: 23 Tips, Tricks and Hacks, Traveling With A Dog: Tips For An Easy Trip and our Practical Guide To Packing For a Dog.

Now, let’s look at some top dog-friendly vacation spots in Florida that promise a memorable time for you and your pup!

Before visiting any of the places on this list, please confirm that they are still dog-friendly. Policies and regulations can change without notice.

If you are looking for a vacation spot in the south, but not in Florida, check out our post: Top Dog Friendly Vacations it the South USA!

7 Dog-Friendly Florida Vacation Ideas

Part of the post on Dog Friendly Florida Vacation Ideas - title " Jacksonville, Florida" with a collage of pictures: Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. clock, skyline, and beach

1. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida, is a vibrant and sprawling city that perfectly blends urban attractions with natural beauty, making it an ideal spot for dog owners looking for a vacation destination. The city boasts dog-friendly sandy beaches, an extensive park system, and the scenic St. Johns River, providing plenty of opportunities for you and your furry friend to explore.

You can also find a variety of pet-friendly accommodations and restaurants. Whether you’re looking to stay in a cozy hotel or dine at a cafe with a dog-friendly patio, Jacksonville has you covered.

Here are some of the dog-friendly activities you can find in Jacksonville:

Title "Amelia Island Florida- Pic of sand dunes on Amelia Island with trees, sea grass and blue skies.

2. Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island, Florida, is a charming Southern escape known for its pristine nature and quiet beaches. But the island is not just about beautiful landscapes; it also offers numerous dog-friendly accommodations, from beachside cottages to resorts that welcome pets. Plus, many restaurants on the island feature outdoor seating areas where your dog can join you.

Beyond relaxing in pet-friendly lodgings and dining spots, Amelia Island provides some opportunities for dogs and their owners to explore and have fun. Here are a few options:

title St. Augustine, Florida with a collage of photos of buildings, a lighthouse and beach homes.

3. St. Augustine, Florida

Next on our list of dog friendly vacations in Florida is the coastal city of St. Augustine. St. Augustine stands out as a remarkably dog-friendly city, rich with history and brimming with charm. This ancient city, known for being the oldest in the U.S., offers a wealth of pet-friendly accommodations and dining options, allowing you and your dog to experience its unique blend of old-world allure and modern convenience comfortably.

When it comes to activities, St. Augustine is filled with options that go beyond the typical dog walk, including:

Title Sanibel Island, Florida - Pic of the Sanibel Lighthouse

4. Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island, Florida, is a picturesque and tranquil getaway located on the Gulf of Mexico near Fort Myers, Fl. Known for its shell-covered beaches and wildlife refuges, this Gulf Coast island provides a serene escape with plenty of opportunities for dogs and their owners to enjoy the natural beauty together.

The island is home to several pet-friendly accommodations, ranging from beach-side cottages to resorts. Additionally, many of the local eateries offer dog-friendly outdoor seating, allowing your entire family to dine together.

Sanibel Island also offers a range of dog-friendly activities that make the most of its unique environment:

  • Walk along Bowman’s Beach: Enjoy the sandy shores with your leashed dog.
  • Explore 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.
  • Visit the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park: While the lighthouse is not open to the public, leashed dogs are welcome to explore the grounds of this historic site.
  • Kayak and canoe with your dog: Several rental companies, such as Tarpon Explorers welcome dogs in their rental boats.
Part of the post on Dog Friendly Florida Vacation Ideas - Title "Florida Keys" - with photos of a lighthouse, sailboat, colorful beach bungalows and the southern tips of USA marker.

5. Florida Keys

Florida Keys offer a quintessential laid-back tropical vacation ideal for dog owners looking to enjoy some sun, sea, and relaxation with their pets. This string of tropical islands stretches about 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida, each island offering its unique charm and a variety of pet-friendly accommodations.

Here are some dog-friendly activities to enjoy in the Florida Keys:

  • Visit Dog Beach in Key West: A very small but popular spot for dogs. You can find it sandwiched next to Louie’s Backyard Restaurant and another wall. FYI – the beach can be a bit smelly due to the seaweed that washes up on the shore.
  • Explore the historic streets of Key West: Take a leisurely walk with your dog around the picturesque streets and waterfront. This was my favorite thing to do when we went to Key West.
  • Kayak and paddleboard with your pet: Lazy Dog in Key West, not only offers dog friendly rentals, but they also allow dogs on some of their eco-tours, which in my experience is unique. Just let them know in advance that you are bringing your dog.
  • Join a pet-friendly boat tour: Hindu Charters in Key West offers dog-friendly tours for friendly dogs. Again let them know if you are bringing your dog.
  • Hike in the Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key: Discover this protected area where the tiny Key deer live, with trails that are pet-friendly.
  • Visit the Theater of the Sea on Islamorada. Here you can walk through lush tropical gardens. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcomed to explore the park with you.
Title "St. George Island, Florida" with picture of Cape St. George Island Lighthouse

6. St. George Island, Florida

St. George Island, Florida, often called the forgotten coast, is a serene and dog-friendly destination renowned for its unspoiled beaches and a laid-back atmosphere. This barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico is largely residential and offers numerous pet-friendly accommodations, from cozy beachfront cottages to luxurious rental homes.

Some of the local restaurants also welcome dogs, offering outdoor seating so you can enjoy your meals together in the fresh ocean air.

Here are some of the dog-friendly activities you can enjoy on St. George Island:

  • Explore St. George Island State Park: Dogs are allowed on the trails and campsite, but not the beach or facilities.
  • Walk the Cape St. George Island Lighthouse Trail: Take a leisurely stroll around this historic area with your dog. Dogs are not allowed in the buildings.
  • Play at the St. George Island Public Beach: Dogs are allowed on the beaches outside of the state park areas. Just be careful that your dog is not eating sand.
  • Enjoy the Island Bike Paths: Bike or walk with your dog on the extensive paths that cover the island, offering great views and a safe route for both of you.
Part of the post on Dog Friendly Florida Vacation Ideas - Title "Pensacola, Florida" Ariel pic of the Pensacola shoreline

7. Pensacola, Florida

The last dog friendly spot on our list is Pensacola, Florida. Pensacola offers a unique blend of historical intrigue and modern seaside charm, making it a delightful vacation destination for dog owners. This vibrant city on the Gulf Coast features a variety of pet-friendly accommodations, ranging from hotels in the heart of downtown to cozy beachfront rentals.

Many of Pensacola’s restaurants also embrace pet-friendly policies, with plenty of outdoor seating areas where dogs are welcome to join their owners.

Pensacola provides several dog-friendly activities that allow you to explore the city and its natural surroundings together:

  • Explore the pet-friendly Pensacola Beach: Pensacola offers two designated dog beaches at parking lots 21.5 and 28.5. All other public beaches are off limits to dogs.
  • Visit the Gulf Islands National Seashore: Dogs on leashes are welcome to join you on trails, multi-use paths and on park roads.
  • Take a historic downtown walking tour: Many of the outdoor tours are pet-friendly, allowing you to soak in the city’s rich history with your dog.
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What is your Favorite Dog Friendly Vacation Spot in Florida?