For generations, two- and four-legged tourists have flocked to the coast in search of ocean smells, golden sands and laid-back vibes. But some beachfront destinations are more welcoming to furry friends than others. Whether they’re unveiling huge murals of pups downtown or throwing pet-friendly events on the sand, these beach towns go above and beyond for the canine community.
Posted by Billy Francis
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Dunedin is affectionately known by four-legged residents as “Dogedin.” When you pay the town a visit, Fido will soon discover why. Murals for Mutts on the exterior wall of Skip’s Bar & Grill displays the nickname surrounded by colorful paintings of local celebrities (aka the city’s canine population). After enjoying a beer at the downtown watering hole, head to Honeymoon Island State Park. You and your pooch can explore the nature trail and access the beach on the southern side. Before you hit the road, stop by Marina Cafe at Bon Appetit for tapas on the patio overlooking the water.
Stay with your sun-seeking Shepherd at one of the many dog-friendly vacation rentals in Dunedin, like this Downtown Dunedin B&B;. The suave interior and fenced backyard make this home away from home the cherry on top of your trip.
Cannon Beach, OR
Grab your dog’s leash and head to Cannon Beach, a magical town for mutts. Hike the pet-friendly coastal trails of Ecola State Park and enjoy a first peek at Haystack Rock, one of the state’s most recognizable landmarks. Get a closer look of the amazing rock formations from Cannon Beach, one of our favorite beaches on the West Coast. Four-legged beachcombers are welcome to roam and play here off-leash if they are under voice control. The long, sandy shore is also the setting for Dog Show on the Beach, an annual gathering of people and pups. When the fun in the sun is said and done, you can discuss your next trip over a pint on the patio at Public Coast Brewing Co.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is another West Coast wonder that’s been attracting the attention of canine tourists for years. Let loose on Carmel Beach, where swimsuits are mandatory but leashes aren’t. After playing on the golden sand and meeting other sight-sniffers, embark on some retail therapy together at one of America’s coolest pet-friendly malls, Carmel Plaza. Shop for new garms at The Dog House and snap a memorable photo at the shopping center’s Fountain of Woof. In the evening, enjoy a romantic meal for you and your furry boo at The Forge. The canine menu at this popular pet-friendly restaurant includes “The Hot Diggity Dog” and “The Quarter Hounder.” Carmel-by-the-Sea also hosts an annual Poodle Day and Parade to celebrate our curly coated standard, toy and miniature friends.
Duck is part of the picturesque Outer Banks, a string of islands off the coast of North Carolina. Dogs are welcome on every single Duck beach without a leash, as long as they are under voice control. That gives Fido 7 whole miles to run and play. Elsewhere in the town, your leashed pup can join you on the boardwalk, at The Waterfront Shops and The Duck Trail, a 6-mile long, multi-use path that traverses the entire length of town. Looking across the water from the shore is great, but it’s nice to get a different perspective. Outer Banks Kayak Adventures invites visitors to explore on a kayak or stand up paddleboard tour. All that walking, playing and paddling can be thirsty work, so swing by Sweet T's Coffee, Beer & Wine to indulge in your beverage of choice on one of two pet-friendly patios.
Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Beach is a ballin’ beach town your pooch is going to love. Surf City is home to the awesome Huntington Dog Beach. Unclip your pup's leash and watch him sprint across the golden sand for 1.5 miles. When he sees the surfers carving the waves, he’ll be inspired to try it for himself. Good Kharma Surf Instruction can help him realize his dream. The “paw-some” school improves obedience and gets four-legged surfers ready to hang 10. If he takes to it like a dog to water, he can challenge some of the world’s best canine surfers at Surf City Surf Dog® Competition held annually on the beach. Commiserate or celebrate with your pup at the place in Huntington Beach where everybody knows his name, Sit Stay Cafe.
Provincetown has been dog-friendly since day one, when an English Mastiff and Springer Spaniel arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. Nowadays, the beautiful seaside town is a destination for pooches of all shapes, sizes and interests. Pups who love to be by the water don’t have to trek for miles to reach Herring Cove, a huge stretch of shoreline with trails through luscious meadows. The quaint town on the northern tip of Cape Cod is also home to Pilgrim Bark Park, one of the most epic dog parks in the U.S. This pretty spot doubles as an outdoor art gallery filled with sculptures designed by local artists. Following an afternoon of fetch, let Fido meet the less furry locals aboard a Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown Whale Watch.
Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach is where Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. The beautiful estuary offers stunning coastal views and fine stretches of shoreline. With 20 miles of trails and a beach that welcomes pups year-round, First Landing State Park Beach is a good place to start your adventure. Make sure you see it all by reserving a pet-friendly cabin at the beachfront campground. Your pooch can avoid sandy paws but still get those beach views with a stroll on Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Along the way, stop by Catch 31 for some delicious seafood on the patio. Dogs are also allowed to wander on the beach without a leash during the off-season.
Wildwood is by no means the most dog-friendly place on our list. For example, pups aren’t allowed on the boardwalk at any time, which would usually be a huge red flag for a list of pet-friendly beach towns. However, the resort city on the New Jersey coast is the location of one of the best dog beaches on the East Coast! Fido will be able to spot Wildwood Dog Park and Beach from a mile away by the recognizable gigantic red fire hydrant that sticks out of the sand. This fenced space allows dogs to roam freely and play on the awesome agility equipment inside. Leash him back up and go for a walk on the larger beach before relaxing on the patio at Dogtooth Bar & Grill for a warm welcome and nice evening meal.
Long Beach, WA
Long Beach is steeped in history and tradition. Fido can learn all about it on the Discovery Trail, first blazed by Lewis and Clark. You’ll come across a basalt monolith, a gray whale skeleton and the 19-foot bronze sculpture known as Clark's Tree. Afterwards, hit nine holes at Peninsula Golf Course. Unlike some dog-friendly golf courses, your pooch can wander off-leash by your side while you play. Follow up your tee time with tea time at The Cove Restaurant, which overlooks the course. While you snack on a sandwich, your dog can pick her favorite treat from the "Doggietizer" menu.
Get a good night's rest at a cozy dog-friendly rental in Long Beach. Fido can drift away upon the gentle waves at this unique oceanfront home, which comes with its own volleyball court and a room full of board games for rainy days.
Port Aransas, TX
Your furry “paw-tner” will get a Texas-sized welcome at Port Aransas. This Gulf of Mexico hotspot is brimming with sun, sand and southern charm. Port Aransas Beach welcomes dogs to stroll along the sand on a leash, but if you’re looking for some serious fun without one then pay a visit to Port Aransas Dog Park. Play freely at this recreational area with a cool pool, shady spots for sunny days and separate areas for small and large pups. When you’ve worked up an appetite, swing by Stingrays for a meal on the patio near the water.