The 18 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in the U.S.

You and your pet will have a doggone good time at one of these dog-friendly beaches.

Pack up your pup, grab your sunglasses and hit the beach for a paws-itively fantastic trip that you’ll never forget. Many beaches in the U.S. offer special amenities to accommodate beachgoers who bring their BFFs (best furry friends) with them. Travel to the rugged shoreline of the West Coast or splash in the warm emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You can also beach hop through Florida and then venture up to Maine along the East Coast. No matter where you choose, there’s a perfect beach getaway awaiting you and your furry pal.

Carmel Beach: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

This iconic stretch of beach located along California’s central coast is known as one of the most dog-friendly beaches in the U.S. Your canine friend can run off leash and play with other dogs on the beach and in the surf, but he must be under voice command. He’ll need to be on a leash when you hit the Scenic Road, which meanders along the beach and affords spectacular views of the coastline, the town’s famous Cypress trees and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Many restaurants offer “yappy hours” and come complete with pup-approved cuisine. What’s more, hotels like the Cypress Inn feature VIP treatment with amenities like pet blankets and bowls, doggie pick-up bags and an area to wash off after playing on the beach.

Surfside Beach: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Surfside Beach, located on Nantucket’s South Shore, is very family- and pet-friendly, featuring changing facilities, lifeguards during the summer season and a restaurant. It’s popular with pet owners since it’s a wide beach with plenty of room to roam. There can be strong winds and big waves, but pups enjoy frolicking along the water’s edge. You’ll find most dogs on a leash on this beach and other beaches around the island, which are all dog-friendly. (Keep in mind, dogs are allowed to be on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. in the summer, and any time in the offseason.) For transportation to the island, both Cape Air and Hy-Line Cruises’ ferry are happy to transport your furry pal to Nantucket. For a real treat, stay at The Woof Cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin where they feature beds, doggie turndown service and other amenities for your pooch. Be sure to say hello to Bailey, the hotel’s pet concierge.

Dog Beach: Jupiter, Florida

Bring your furry pal to one of the few off-leash dog beaches in the state of Florida. This more than 2 mile stretch of sand sits along southern Florida’s Atlantic Coast and runs from beach marker No. 25 at Marcinski Road to marker No. 59 at the south end of Carlin Park. While dogs can run free once on the beach, they should remain on a leash when walking to and from the car. Nearby Ocean Cay Park, another beach, is also doggie-friendly. Make reservations at Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, where your canine pal (30 pounds or less) will be just as pampered as you. Then, head to Harbourside Place, a waterfront shopping and restaurant complex, where you’ll find several outdoor pet-friendly options for dining.

Willard Beach: Portland, Maine

Many of Portland’s beaches welcome four-legged friends, including this 4-acre sandy stretch in South Portland. This beach affords picturesque views of Spring Point Ledge Light and the harbor’s sailboats moored offshore. Your pup will enjoy frolicking in the gentle waves, especially during the extended off-leash hours from Labor Day to Memorial Day, which occur around sunrise and sunset. You and your buddy can also visit the most photographed lighthouse in the U.S., The Portland Head Light. For VIP treatment, book the INNcredible Pet Package at the stylish Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth. The inn goes to the dogs every October when only pups are permitted to swim in the pool before it closes for the season.

Cannon Beach: Oregon

Cannon Beach is a very dog-friendly vacation spot, so it’s hard to find a place where you can’t take your furry friend with you. Dogs are free to roam the beach with their owners as long as they stay within sight and voice command. They do, however, need to be on a leash at the Haystack Rock tidepools. Plan your visit over Labor Day weekend during Muttzanita, an annual dog festival held just south of Cannon Beach, when you can show off your pup’s unique ball-catching skills or other canine talents. In the fall, you can also enter your dog in the Annual Dog Show on the Beach. Proceeds from both events support local animal shelters. For accommodations, make reservations at either of these pet-friendly beachfront properties: the Tolovana Inn or Surfsand Resort.

Kiptopeke State Park: Cape Charles, Virginia

Kiptopeke State Park is situated along the Chesapeake Bay on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Pets on a leash are welcome and can play at the south beach where their humans can go swimming, fishing, crabbing and boating. What’s more, there are more than 5 miles of trails to hike with your furry friend. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with a $7 admission fee per car to enter. For an overnight stay, book rustic cabin accommodations in the park or head into town where you and your pal can “ruff it” at Sunset Beach Hotel. This beachfront hotel offers access to the off-leash Sandy Paws Dog Beach and the Beach Bark Dog Park, both perfect for relaxing during “yappy hour.”

Huntington Dog Beach: Huntington Beach, California

Bring your pooch to play in the surf on this 1.5-mile stretch of beach along Southern California’s coastline. The off-leash section extends between Goldenwest and Seapoint streets and features a picnic area with tables and drinking fountains for pups. The beach is open year-round between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Visit in September when Huntington Dog Beach hosts the McKenna Subaru Surf City Surf Dog event or in May for Corgi Beach Day. Plan to reserve ocean view accommodations at Paséa Hotel & Spa, where your pup will be greeted by Lago, the French bulldog concierge.

Island Beach State Park: Seaside Park, New Jersey

This 10-mile stretch of white sandy beach and coastal dunes sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay along the Jersey Shore. It’s one of the last barrier beaches to remain undeveloped on the north Atlantic coast. Humans and their doggie pals will appreciate the pristine shoreline and maritime forest that’s home to many types of birds, including peregrine falcons and waterfowl. Leashed pups are permitted year-round south of the ocean swimming areas. There are eight trails (dogs are allowed on seven) to explore on foot, by bicycle or on horseback from October through April. There are also opportunities for fishing, swimming and sailing. Bring a picnic lunch and spend a relaxing day with your canine bestie.

Fort De Soto Park: St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida

Many of St. Pete/Clearwater’s beaches and parks are dog-friendly and offer exceptional amenities for your furry friend. At Fort De Soto Park, pets must be on a 6-foot leash, but there’s also room for pups to run free at the dog park, Paw Playground. The playground is open daily from 7 a.m. until sundown. What’s more, there’s a private fenced-in beach with separate areas for small and large dogs, as well as showers and dog-level water fountains. After the beach, enjoy a cold brew at the Dog Bar, where you and your pal can socialize. Then, enjoy your time at the TradeWinds Island Resort with the Just Press Paws three-night pet package, which includes a pet amenity. The resort also has a leash-free pet play zone, a quick-wash station and a Paw Court Bistro.

Crystal Coast Beaches: North Carolina

North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is home to several dog-friendly beaches, including Emerald Isle, Indian, Pine Knoll Shores and Atlantic beaches. Your furry pal is welcome on-leash year-round with only a 20-foot restriction from the water in lifeguarded areas on Atlantic Beach. Grab a treat for your pup and a coffee for yourself at Muttigans, or for a cold brew on a hot day, head to The Growler Bar, where your pet can join you indoors. Plan to stay at The Atlantis, a unique vintage beachfront lodge. This pet-friendly property features a dog park and dog-washing station with Mane n’ Tail products to freshen up after a day of fun in the sand and surf.

Olympic National Park: Port Angeles, Washington

Washington state offers several active, outdoor pet-friendly destinations. One of these is along the beautiful coastline of the northern Olympic Peninsula. At Olympic National Park, you and your leashed friend can walk along windswept rugged beaches, hike scenic trails in the forest and have access to the campgrounds and picnic areas. Spend days outdoors in the fresh air and then head back to one of the park’s hotels, Kalaloch Lodge. This property is situated along a dog-friendly beach and features cabins that offer either views of the Pacific Ocean or forest. The property’s pampered pet package includes accommodations, a doggie bandana, gourmet treats, water and food bowls, and a waste bag holder complete with flashlight for late-night walks.

Fort Funston: San Francisco, California

You and your pet will appreciate this scenic locale on San Francisco’s southwest coast. Dogs are permitted as long as they are under voice command, but owners should bring a leash as well. Stroll along windswept beaches set beneath 200-foot-tall sandy bluffs. Then, visit other areas of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to explore the park’s additional beaches and trails, some of which allow well-behaved pups to explore off a leash. In the city, dogs can frolic in 28 off-leash parks, such as Collingwood, which is fenced. Make a reservation at Hotel Nikko where the COO (“Canine Operating Officer”), Buster, will treat your pooch to upscale amenities like beds, bowls and treats. After settling in, check out the property’s rooftop dog run.

Dog Beach: Panama City Beach, Florida

Plan a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast to enjoy white beaches and sparkling emerald waters with your canine companion. Dog Beach extends 400 feet along Panama City Beach’s coastline between beach access Nos. 56 and 58. This section is located directly across from Pier Park. Dogs must be on a leash, and the beach is open from sunrise to sunset. Nearby Frank Brown Park has a fenced-in playground where your furry friend can socialize and run free, as well as pet-friendly trails and greenways. For accommodations, plan to stay at the Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort. Much of the resort is dog-friendly, and you can dine outdoors at Pelican’s and Flip Flops with your pal.

Coligny Beach Park: Hilton Head, South Carolina

This pet-friendly beach access point leads to one of Hilton Head’s most popular beaches. Dogs especially love to roam the shoreline when it is low tide and they are able to splash in the gently rolling surf. The beach is open year-round for dogs, but there are leash requirements from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During those months, beach access with pets is also restricted to before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. The beach boasts amenities such as showers and beach chair rentals are available. What’s more, parking is free. Many of the surrounding stores and restaurants also welcome four-legged friends. Plan to stay at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa where your pup will have his own silver bowl, dog bed and treats upon arrival.

Keewaydin Island: Florida

This barrier island, located between Naples and Marco Island on Florida’s Paradise Coast, offers the only pet-friendly beach in the area. The island is mostly undeveloped and features nearly 8 miles of pristine white sand. Spend a day at the beach playing or relaxing with your pup. Keep in mind, Keewaydin Island is only accessible by boat. The Hemingway Water Shuttle welcomes pets and services the island from Rose Marina on Marco Island. You might even get to ride with the boat’s canine mascot, Captain Jack. Dogs must be leashed on the shuttle and the beach. For accommodations, stay at The Boat House Motel, located just minutes from the marina. This property sits along the banks of Collier Creek in historic Old Marco.

Jekyll Island: Georgia

Jekyll Island is one of the four barrier islands that make up Georgia’s Golden Isles, located along the southern coast of the state. The 10 miles of unspoiled beaches of this island welcome four-legged friends year-round, with just a few restrictions. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 16 feet, avoid the dunes and follow the guidelines at the South Dunes and St. Andrews picnic areas. One morning, be sure to take a walk along the hauntingly beautiful Driftwood Beach. Other pet-friendly activities on the island include a boat ride with Jekyll Island Dolphin Tours (if space is available) and a spooky nighttime Trolley Ghost Tour. Both the Jekyll Island Club’s cottages and The Westin Jekyll Island are pet-friendly accommodations.

South Padre Island: Texas

This barrier island sits between the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre Bay off the southern tip of Texas. It’s the only tropical island in the state with 34 miles of white sandy beaches, sparkling emerald green waters and more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Your on-leash furry friend is permitted on the island’s beautiful beaches, but make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations (and that you have records of them just in case). You’ll also want to bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl to refresh your pup during hot days on the sand and in the surf. One day, take a beach break for a dolphin tour with South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center. For accommodations, reserve one of the pet-friendly cabanas or condos at the Isla Grand Beach Resort.

Cape Cod National Seashore: Massachusetts

The Cape Cod National Seashore welcomes on-leash furry pals year-round, with some restrictions on beaches and other parts of the park. During the summer, dogs are permitted to pass through, but cannot remain on lifeguard-protected beaches. There are also locations where shorebirds nest and migrate at certain times of the year that are off-limits to pets. Marconi Beach in Wellfleet is one of the most beautiful beaches, but it’s best to visit with dogs in the offseason as it’s lifeguard-protected. Entrance fees to the park are $20 per car and the park is open daily from 6 a.m. until midnight, except on certain holidays. Pets are welcome to stay at the Endless Coast, a Boutique Hotel in Wellfleet.

More from U.S. News

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The 18 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in the U.S. originally appeared on

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