Fido's Summer Road Trip: Beaches Edition

Posted by Erin Ballinger

Planning your summer vacation with Fido? We can’t think of a better way to see the U.S. than on a road trip with your dog! In addition to these tips to help you hit the highway, we’re mapping out some of the best pet-friendly beach destinations to visit from coast to coast. Whether your dog prefers to be lazy on the sand or active in the surf, these dog-friendly beaches are worthy of a summer road trip.

Fenwick Island State Park

Fenwick Island, DE
Sandy paws are happy paws. Photo by @rileythechessie

Cruise along Coastal Highway 1 to the Delaware/Maryland state line and Fenwick Island, the ultimate destination for a quiet, serene vacation with the whole family. Spend a day seaside at Fenwick Island State Park, a featured attraction in the latest edition of our book, Ruff Guide to the United States. Leashed pups are welcome to play year-round on a section of the beach at the northern dune crossing. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, and the entrance fee is $10 per vehicle ($5 for Delaware residents).

Continue relaxing with your pup by renting a kayak or paddleboard from Island Watersports and floating on the calm waters of Little Assawoman Bay. Dogs are also welcome on pontoon boat rentals. Rates start at $20 for kayak rentals. After a day in the sun, bring your well-behaved, leashed pooch along for a round of miniature golf at Viking Golf. Read up on viking history and be on the lookout for hidden trolls as you putt your way around the 19-hole course.

Relax in comfort at Seaside Inn in Fenwick Island. Each room has its own balcony where Fido can bask in the sun or feel the sea breeze in his fur. While the hotel is just steps from the Atlantic Ocean, guests can also enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool. Up to two dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $30 per pet, per night. After settling into your room, take your pup for an evening walk to nearby shops like Seaside Country Store.

Huntington Dog Beach

Huntington Beach, CA
Play all day. Photo by @jens_wild_ramblers

Located on a mile-long stretch of sand between Seapoint Avenue and 21st Street on the famous Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Dog Beach is a canine lover’s paradise. Nicknamed “Surf City USA” by the locals, this strand is home to several annual dog events, including the Surf City Surf Dog Competition. Whether your pooch wants to ride a board or just romp leash-free on the sand, Huntington Dog Beach is the place for some fun in the sun. After your day out, take a short walk with Fido to the Dirty Dog Wash. For the do-it-yourself price of $19 to $29 (depending on your pup’s size), they will provide all of the equipment and supplies needed to get your dog freshened up for a night on the town. Reward your good boy with a gourmet doggy delicacy from Top Dog Barkery before you leave.

After catching some waves, check into the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort, a beachfront property with a decidedly upscale surfer style. Your pooch will be greeted with treats, a plush pet bed, and bowls. After you unpack, relax with Fido by the courtyard fire pits as you enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or roast s’mores. Have dinner together at the on-site Pacific Hideaway restaurant, which boasts a gourmet dog menu. Dogs of any size are welcome at the resort for no additional fee.

Fort de Soto Dog Beach Park

St. Petersburg, FL
"Can I go in now?" Photo by BringFido/Michelle

Drive down Interstate 275 along Florida’s west coast to reach the pet-friendly town of St. Petersburg. The star attraction for pups here is the off-leash Fort de Soto Dog Beach Park, also known as The Paw Playground. Listed as one of the best dog beaches on the Gulf Coast, the park also has large fenced areas for more unleashed play for both large and small dogs, and dog showers for when Fido needs to cool off or get cleaned up.

While you’re in St. Pete, make sure to grab a weekly pass for The Dog Bar, where your pooch will make new friends while you sip on craft brews. In the evening, take a sightseeing tour through barrier islands on a pet-friendly “Howl at the Moon” Shell Key Shuttle Sunset Cruise. Then, continue your road trip with a short drive to Dunedin, one of the most pet-friendly beach towns in the U.S. Take a walk on the boardwalk of Hammock Park or stroll the white-sand beaches at Honeymoon Island State Park. Before you leave, stop by Skip’s Bar & Grill for a drink and snap your pup’s pic for his ‘gram in front of the “Dogedin” mural, featuring Dunedin’s finest on four legs.

Book a room at BayWaters Inn in St. Pete Beach, where pet bowls, waste bags and a basket of toys await Fido’s arrival. He can swim in Boca Ciega Bay from the property’s dock and clean up at the outdoor bathing stations with pet towels provided. Dogs are also welcome to play off leash in the hotel’s enclosed grassy area. Two dogs of any size are welcome for no additional fee.

Sandy paws are happy paws. Photo by @alaskacarrie

Spend a few memorable days with your dog discovering the wonderful towns, beaches, scenic vistas and attractions along the majestic Oregon Coast Highway. When planning your journey, allow for plenty of time to explore the pet-friendly seaside town of Cannon Beach. Start your day with an early morning walk along the beach near Haystack Rock, a designated bird and marine sanctuary that rises 235 feet above the sand and sea. In the tide pools, you’ll see a variety of marine life, and the rock itself is home to cormorants, tufted puffins and seagulls. Dogs are welcome to roam leash-free, provided they remain under voice command.

Spend the afternoon in the charming downtown before visiting Ecola State Park. Fido can hike for miles along the Oregon Coast Trail, following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. Day use admission to the park is $5 per vehicle, and dogs must remain on leash.

The oceanfront Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach offers sweeping views of Haystack Rock and the Tillamook Head Lighthouse. Fido can sneak a biscuit from the cookie jar at check-in. The resort also provides a dog bed and basket filled with extra sheets, towels, placemat, and feeding bowls for their canine guests. There’s even a paw wash station near the beach! Up to two dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night.

“Everyone say ‘beach!’” Photo by @pawsupforadventure

Bring Fido to the sunny shores of South Carolina’s Grand Strand to run and play on one of the East Coast’s most popular beaches along Ocean Boulevard. From I-95, follow US-378 East to US-17 to reach iconic Myrtle Beach. During the summer months, leashed dogs are allowed before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. You can also enjoy long walks at Myrtle Beach State Park, a quiet, 312-acre natural beach park where pups can play on-leash at different times of day year-round. Admission is $5 per person and free for dogs.

If you prefer to get out on the water, set sail with your “furst” mate on a boat trip with Living Large Party Barge. In addition to booze cruises, the company offers family-friendly fishing excursions and island exploration boat rides with pets. Dogs are also allowed on private charters. When it’s time to chow down, dine at The Sneaky Beagle, which features a menu just for furry foodies.

Book a pet-friendly room at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront for a comfortable stay on the beach. The hotel features an off-leash dog park and several grassy pet relief areas on the property. Two dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $75 per pet, per night (not to exceed $300 per stay).

Cattail Cove State Park

Lake Havasu City, AZ
Play a game of fetch by the lake. Photo by @anna_banana_rn

Arizona may be landlocked, but Lake Havasu is a massively popular vacation destination in the state. Take State Route 95 to Lake Havasu City, where this large reservoir attracts vacationers from all over to take in its natural beauty and beaches. The town is also just two hours away from famous Route 66. Bring your furry friend for a swim at the dog beach at Cattail Cove State Park, which offers over 2,000 acres to wander and enjoy. Relax, hike or birdwatch for Gambel’s Quail with your dog.

Afterward, head to town to walk across the London Bridge. Originally built in 1831 to get Londoners across the Thames River, it was dismantled in the 1960s and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City. End the day with drinks at the dog-friendly Mudshark Brewery. May we suggest the Vanilla Caramel Porter for you and a bowl of water for your pooch?

Enjoy the sunset and sleep under the stars with your dog by your side in your tent or RV at Lake Havasu State Park, just north of the dog beach at Cattail Cove. Or, book a room at the waterfront Heat Hotel, which welcomes dogs of all sizes for an additional fee of $50 per stay.

Padre Island National Seashore

Corpus Christi, TX
“Just taking a break to enjoy the view.” Photo by @tillamook_barker

Drive down Highway 358 to reach the Gulf Coast beaches in The Lone Star State. Dogs, horses, llamas, mules … all are welcome on the beaches at Padre Island National Seashore. As the world's longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island, the park covers more than 60 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre. This protected island allows you to experience the region in its most unspoiled state. Nature-lovers can watch newly hatched sea turtles make their way across the sand or observe hundreds of bird species. Outdoor enthusiasts can kayak with their dogs on the lagoon and camp under the stars. Or, you and Fido can simply enjoy the surf and sand.

While you’re in the area, also check out the dog-friendly beach at Mustang Island State Park, just north of Padre Island. For some off-leash time, allow Fido to run and play at Vishal Bhagat Dog Park. Refuel with a burger or some local seafood on the dog-friendly deck at Tavern on the Bay at Harrison's Landing.

Spend your nights at the Tiki Turtle, a townhouse with a fenced yard, private hot tub, and plenty of dog treats. Dogs under 30 lbs are welcome for no additional fee.

Beach dood. Photo by @scoutinrva

Located off NC Highway 12, 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 where he can run and play. Elsewhere in Duck, 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 on two legs and four 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.

When it’s time to duck out for the night, you'll have plenty of pet-friendly rentals to choose from. Waddle over to this soundfront house to relax on the peaceful balcony overlooking the water.

"Now this is my kind of dog house!" Photo by @pacothemeximutt

Go west on a road trip to the Long Beach Peninsula for some fun in the sand and surf on over 28 miles of uninterrupted beach. Fido can trace the footsteps of Lewis and Clark on the 8.5-mile Discovery Trail, a paved oceanfront pathway stretching from North Long Beach to Ilwaco. And you’ll want to reserve a full day for Cape Disappointment State Park. With over 6.5 miles of hiking trails and a popular dog beach, the park is a great place to play fetch with your furry friend. Day passes cost $10 per vehicle, and the park is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to dusk. After working up an appetite, drop by The Cove Restaurant, where Fido can chow down on a salmon filet from the Patio Pup menu.

Extend your trip to Long Beach with a stay at the Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort. The property’s one-, two-, and three-bedroom townhouses are just steps from the pet-friendly beach. All units feature separate living areas, full kitchens, fireplaces and private balconies. On-site amenities include an indoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, grill stations, and indoor tennis courts. Treats and pet towels are available in the lobby. Dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $15 per pet, per night.

Ready for a Road Trip?

Photo by Linda Segerfeldt

The editors at BringFido have dedicated themselves to digging up the best dog-friendly things to do across the country. And we've assembled it all in our new book, Ruff Guide to the United States.

Now in its second edition, the book features over 365 of the best places to stay and play with your dog in all 50 states. Order your copy today and save 50% off the retail price when you use the discount code BEACH.

Have you and Fido spent summer at a dog-friendly beach? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by @jens_wild_ramblers.