The A1A: A Pet-Friendly Road Trip

Posted by Billy Francis

The East Coast of Florida is famous for golden beaches that set the scene for any beach-loving canine’s dream vacation. One of the best ways to experience its hottest spots is by road tripping down State Road A1A. The historic coastal road passes through quaint oceanfront towns along the Atlantic Ocean for more than 375 miles, from Fernandina Beach just south of Georgia all the way to Key West at the southern tip of Florida. Strap Fido in and hit the road to discover the Sunshine State’s unique, quirky and scenic beauty along the A1A.

Amelia Island

“I like beach mutts and I cannot lie!” Photo by Tiffany Prevatt

Located at the northern end of Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is the official starting point of the A1A. Here, Fido can enjoy his first taste of Floridian sand and surf with a leashed walk at Main Beach Park. Before putting his “paw-dal” to the metal, he can grab a bumper bag of homemade treats and high-quality swag from Redbones Gourmet Dog Bakery and Boutique.

Stay just steps away from the beach and enjoy ocean views at this old school duplex.

Jacksonville

“Let’s cancel the road trip and stay here instead!” Photo by Facebook.com/BrewHounddogparkbar

Jacksonville is super pet-friendly. The River City is home to the only NFL stadium in the country with an official recreation area for four-legged fans and one of the most epic dog parks in the country, Dog Wood Park. It’ll take around 25 minutes to reach the city from the A1A, but you don’t have to stray that far from the coast for four-legged fun. Take “paws” at Neptune Beach, which is home to the canine and human playground, Brew Hound. This professionally developed park is covered in pet-safe turf, has a fenced area for large and small pups, cool shady spots and a splash pad. While Fido plays and makes new friends, you can sample delicious craft beer. After a brew, make your way to Mickler’s Landing at Ponte Vedra Beach for a leashed puppy paddle in the surf. Nature lovers may also enjoy a morning on the trails at the expansive Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Four-legged road trippers can wash off the sand and catch a catnap at this carriage house in South Ponte Vedra Beach with views of Guana Wildlife Preserve.

St. Augustine

"Can't you tell we found the Fountain of Youth?" Photo by @settadawgs

Did you know that America’s oldest town is located on the A1A? St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida's first governor. There’s plenty for furry visitors to see and do in the historic city. Start your tour at The Fountain of Youth, the location of the first settlement. Get more of a taste for times gone by with a tour of the Colonial Quarter, a living history museum, or a visit to the Spanish Military Hospital Museum. Before you leave for pastures new, drop by the St. Augustine Lighthouse for a photoshoot with Fido. It was constructed in 1874 to replace the first lighthouse in America, which was doomed to crumble into the Atlantic. After seeing the sights, grab a bite at O.C. Whites. The shady outdoor space is great for hot dogs to cool down after fun in the sun

Treats, water and bowls await Fido at St Francis Inn, a classic lodging located in St. Augustine’s historic district.

Daytona Beach

“Don’t worry, I’ll never get bored of the beach.” Photo by @thatcorgimochi

Humans might get a kick out of Daytona International Speedway, home of the most prestigious race in NASCAR, but Fido will be more interested in Daytona Beach. Join Three Brothers Boards for a stand up paddleboard tutorial and tour which caters to adventurers on two legs and four. After conquering the water, Fido can show off his tricks on land using the agility equipment at Halifax Humane Society Dog Park. After all that activity, let your salty "paw-rate" help you sniff (out) the booty at Hidden Treasure Rum Bar and Grill.

The beach at Daytona Beach isn’t pet-friendly. However, there are some great places a little farther along the A1A. Mucky pups will love getting covered in sand at Smyrna Dunes Park, and owners will appreciate being able to clean them off at the wash stations provided to keep your road-trippin’ vehicle clean as a whistle (until you get to the next beach). Rest up at Green Acres Cottage, which has a large backyard, perfect for dogs who’ve been riding shotgun all day and need to stretch their legs.

Walton Rocks Dog Beach

“The thrill is in the chase!” Photo by Facebook.com/waltonrocks

As you head south from Daytona, be sure to "paws" at Walton Rocks Dog Beach in Jensen Beach. Fido can play in the sun, sea and sand without a leash along 24 acres of sand at this popular spot that attracts dog lovers from miles around.

Jupiter Beach

“Humans, we don’t need you anymore.” Photo by David Scarola Photography

Florida State Road A1A visits many stretches of sand on its journey from one end of the Sunshine State to the other, but few will be as memorable for your pooch as Jupiter Beach. One of BringFido’s favorite East Coast beaches, radical canine carvers swarm the beach from all over the world to compete in the Annual Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic & Holiday Beach Bash. If he misses the main event, Fido can still enjoy leash-free fun along more than 2 miles of pristine golden sand year-round. After wiping out all day, rehydrate with your hound at the Thirsty Turtle.

You can’t get much more convenient than this pet-friendly cottage near the beach. Comfortable and affordable, it’s located just a few minutes off the A1A.

Fort Lauderdale

“A much-needed rest.” Photo by Stéphanie

Just over an hour away from Jupiter lies dog-friendly Fort Lauderdale. Famous for shopping, beaches and canals along the Intracoastal, its earned the nickname “The Venice of America.” Experience it firsthand with a pet-friendly kayak tour from Park and Ocean. If kayaking isn’t for your dogs, enjoy a laid-back cruise with Intimate Waterway Tours instead. Afterwards, stop by Coconuts Bahamas Grill to refuel on the pet-friendly patio that overlooks the marina.

While Fido is sunbathing, you can relax in the pool surrounded by palm trees at this tropical oasis.

Miami

“Paws next to the palm trees!” Photo by LeoPatrizi

Whether you’re staying for a night or enjoying a weekend getaway in dog-friendly Miami, you’ll have a whale of a time in this hip city. Start off with a unique excursion that Fido may never have tried before. Duck Tours use an amphibious vehicle that traverses both land and sea to show tourists around Miami. Your guide will tell you all about the city’s Art Deco architectural landmarks on land, before splashing into Biscayne Bay for a close-up view of homes of the rich and famous on Star Island. After being cooped up on board a vehicle (albeit a cool one), enjoy off-leash fun on the Bark Beach at North Shore Open Space Park before bringing Fido to Fifi's Place for seafood specials caught locally.

While you’re in Miami, spend a few nights at the W South Beach, a typically "impawssible” to book hotel.

Florida Keys

“I could get used to life on the road.” Photo by @obitheminidood

Once you’ve left the mainland and you’re making your way through the Florida Keys, pause for a moment at Founder's Park Dog Park in Islamorada for a game of fetch with views of Florida Bay. After driving next to the water for so long, experience driving over it with a cruise along Seven Mile Bridge. This scenic stretch of road connects Knight's Key in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.

Florida State Road A1A reaches its final destination in Key West, but don’t rush home straight away. Spend a few days in this tropical island where you and your pooch can enjoy shady walks at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden or charter a pet-friendly boat to explore the crystal-clear waters. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome to toast another successful road trip at Smokin' Tuna Saloon. And before you leave, take your pup’s pic next to The Southernmost Point to show all his friends at the dog park.

Stay a while at this elegant Key West home, which has a fenced backyard, an inviting pool and a luxurious outdoor hangout area.

What’s your favorite pet-friendly road trip? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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