Can I Take My Dog To The Beach?
It is hard to
imagine many places a dog is happier than at a beach. Whether
running around on the sand, jumping in the water , digging a
hole or just lying in the sun, every dog deserves a day at the
beach. But all too often dog owners stopping at a sandy stretch
of beach are met with signs designed to make hearts - human and
canine alike - droop: NO DOGS ON BEACH. Below is a quick traveling
tour of America's beaches with each state ranked from the most
dog-friendly (****) to the worst (*).
DOGS ON ATLANTIC
OCEAN BEACHES (traveling North to South)
The rocky coast
of Maine (***) is mesmerizing to look at but doesn't leave
much room for sandy beaches. Dogs are generally banned from the
beaches at the many small state parks along the Maine coast,
but dog owners will find more friendly sands on the town beaches.
Around Portland, the state's biggest city, and the tourist towns
of the Southern Coast dogs are often allowed on the beach anytime
Labor Day to Memorial Day and in the mornings and evenings during
the summer. The spectacular Acadia National Park is one of America's
most dog-friendly national parks but does not allow dogs on its
It is lucky for dog lovers that New Hampshire (*) has
only 18 miles of coastline. State beaches and parks don't allow
dogs on the sand at all. If you must stop in New Hampshire, try
the Grand Island Common in New Castle or Foss Beach in Rye during
the off-season from October to late May.
Around Boston, the beaches of the North Shore are off-limits
to dogs during the summer but other towns in Massachusetts
(****) are more generous - dogs are usually allowed year-round
with restrictive hours in the summer. Cape Cod, however, is the
best destination for beach-loving dogs in New England. Cape Cod
National Seashore, America's first national seashore, allows
dogs on the beach anytime outside the swimming areas (and not
on the trails). The curviture of the Cape limits sightlines down
the beach and gives the park the impression of being comprised
of a series of dune-backed private coves. The two tourist islands
off southern Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, are both
extremely dog-friendly - on Nantucket, dogs can even take the
shuttle to the beach.
The beaches of Rhode Island (**) are kept dog-free during
the summer but if you take the ferry to Block Island, dogs can
enjoy the black sand beaches throughout the year. In Newport,
you can take your dog on the fabled Cliff Walk (poop bags are
provided at the trailhead) through the backyards of America's
rich and famous. The hike begins at Bailey's Beach, which welcomes
dogs from Labor Day to Memorial Day.
The sandy beaches of Connecticut (*) are not known for
being dog-friendly. But many aren't that friendly to people either,
with restricted access being common. If your dog is hankering
to try the benign waves of the Long Island Sound, stop in Groton.
Dogs are not allowed to experience America's most famous beach
at Coney Island in Brooklyn. The further east you go out on Long
Island the more dog-friendly New York (**) becomes but
whether on the north shore or south shore you can find a place
to get your dog to the sea. Dog owners must pass on the prime
destinations at Jones Beach and Fire Island National Seashore
until reaching the Hamptons, where the tails of surf-loving dogs
will start wagging. Many towns in the Hamptons offer dog-friendly
sand and at Montauk, on the very tip of Long Island, several
beaches allow dogs year-round, including Gin Beach on the Block
The wide, white-sand beaches of the Jersey shore are some of
America's most popular and there isn't much space for a dog to
squeeze into in the summertime. Most of the beaches in New
Jersey (***), including the Sandy Hook Unit of the Gateway
National Recreation Area, open to dogs in the off-season. Summertime
visitors should take their dogs to Island Beach State Park, one
of the last undeveloped stretches at the Jersey Shore. Pets are
allowed on the non-recreational beaches in this ten-mile oasis.
Dogs will never get to trot down the historic wooden planks of
the Atlantic City boardwalk, however - no dogs are permitted
on the beach or boardwalk of the Grande Dame of America's seaside
resorts. Dogs are also not allowed anywhere in the Victorian
village of Cape May but dog lovers can travel south of town to
Sunset Beach, a sand strip at the southernmost point of the Jersey
shore that is actually on the Delaware Bay. In the water offshore
of "Dog Beach" are the remains of the Atlantis, a unique
concrete ship built to transport soldiers in World War I.
Off-season, the sandy beaches in Delaware (****) are a
paradise for dogs. Two state parks, Cape Henlopen and Delaware
Seashore, both welcome dogs between October 1 and May 1. During
the summer season dogs can also share the beach with their owners
on select stretches of sand in Delaware state parks. In Cape
Henlopen, the 80-foot high Great Dune is the highest sand pile
on the Atlantic shore between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras. The
concrete observation towers standing as silent sentinels along
Delaware beaches were built to bolster America's coastal defenses
during World War II. Summer vacationers can take dogs on the
Dewey Beach town beach in the mornings and evenings. Along the
Delaware Bay just north of Cape Henlopen you can find several
beaches that offer frisky wave action and wide swaths of sandy
beach - and best of all there are no restrictions against dogs
on the bay beaches.
The Assateague Island National Seashore is the prime destination
for dog owners heading for the beach in Maryland (***).
The undeveloped dunesland permits dogs year-round on the beach
and in the campgrounds (but not on the short nature trails).
Keep your dog alert for the wild ponies that live on the island.
Its neighbor to the north, Assateague State Park, often celebrated
as one of the best state parks in America, is off-limits to dogs.
If you are not roughing it on your trip to the Maryland seashore,
nearby Ocean City allows dogs on the beach and boardwalk between
October 1 and May 1. Traveling along the Chesapeake Bay, dogs
are banned from the thin beaches in Maryland state parks. Exceptions
are the small beach in the former amusement park at North Point
State Park and the beach north of the causeway at Point Lookout
have a favorite beach to take your dog?
know and we'll let others know.
below to see...
Some People Are Taking Their Dog To The Beach
There is plenty to like for beach-loving dogs in Virginia
(***). Canine romps on the clean, wide sands of Virginia Beach's
"Strip," the commercial oceanfront from 1st Street
to 40th Street, can't begin until the day after Labor Day but
during the summer dogs are allowed on residential beaches above
41st Street before 10 a.m and afer 6 p.m. Dogs can jump in the
ocean anytime at Cape Henry on Fort Story, where the Atlantic
Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay. Fort Story is an active military
base, the only installation devoted to coastal operations, but
its uncrowded, pristine beaches are open to the public and dogs.
Just to the west is First Landing State Park, where canine swimming
is allowed on unguarded sandy beaches. Check for seasonal restrictions
against dogs in these places. Just off-shore are views of the
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, one of the seven modern engineering
marvels of the world. Each span of the 17.6-mile crossing utilizes
more than 2,500 concrete piles to support the trestles.
Except for designated wildlife areas, dogs are permitted on the
beach year-round virtually everywhere on the Outer Banks in North
Carolina (****). Cape Hatteras Natonal Seashore has only
four swimming beaches (in season) on its entire 70 miles of protected
coastline which leaves plenty of open sand for the dog to roam.
Seafaring dogs can reach Ocracoke Island and Cape Lookout National
Seashore by ferry or private boat for many miles of more undeveloped,
dog-friendly beaches. The northern part of the barrier islands
has been rapidly developing in the past decade but where you
can still find access to the beach, unleashed dogs are sill allowed
year-round in towns like Duck and Corolla. Mainland North Carolina
beaches on Cape Fear are almost as dog-friendly; most swimming
beaches restrict dogs only during the day in the summer.
South Carolina (****) ranks among the most dog-friendly
beach states on the Atlantic seaboard. Get away from the people
and commercial beaches and there is plenty of unrestricted sand
for dogs in the Palmetto state. Most of the smaller towns allow
dogs on the beach under voice control and only Myrtle Beach (from
21st Avenue North to 13th Avenue South) bans dogs completely.
One of the best places to take dogs here is Hunting Island State
Park. More than one million visitors (human) come here each year,
85 miles south of Charleston, to enjoy three miles of unspoiled
Georgia (**) doesn't sport much coastline and many of
the beaches on Georgia's barrier islands and the Golden Isles
are under control of resorts and most welcome dogs except during
the middle of the day in summer. Cumberland Island National Seashore
permits dogs but is accessible only by private boat. Savannah's
beach at Tybee Island is closed to dogs.
Florida (*) ranks among the most dog-unfriendly of states.
Entire counties and regions ban dogs from the beach. There are
so many prohibitions already against dogs on Florida beaches
that when they change, it is typically in favor of dog owners.
For the Atlantic beaches, the northeast part of the state around
Jacksonville (Amelia Island) offers some of the best beaches
for dogs in the state but heading south below Daytona, dogs are
almost universally banned from the sand. Jupiter, on the Treasure
Coast, is one place you can find a break from the ubiquitous
NO DOGS ON BEACH signs. Fort Lauderdale has thrown dog owners
a tiny bone - they have set up a 100-yard long Dog Beach (at
Sunrise and A1A) on Saturdays and Sundays only from 3:00 to 6:00
DOGS ON GULF
OF MEXICO BEACHES (traveling East to West)
The Gulf Coast
beaches in Florida (*) offer precious little for dog owners.
Dogs were once associated as closely with the Florida Keys as
conch shells but today you have to look hard for a beach to take
your dog. Anne's Beach in Lower Matecumbe and Sombrero Beach
in Marathon are two safe places. In Key West the "Dog Beach"
is at Waddell and Vernon avenues but there is really just enough
sand to accomodate one good beach blanket and the little amount
of swimming available is treacherous over coral outcroppings.
On the Suncoast, seek out Bonita Beach Dog Park north of Naples,
the excellent Fort DeSoto Dog Beach and Park in St. Petersburg
and the Dog Beach on Honeymoon Island in the Dunedin area. Head
for Franklin County, though, where dogs are allowed on all the
public beaches - and the only county in Florida to allow dogs
to run free. On the Florida Panhandle the Gulf Islands National
Seashore is the only national seashore that bans dogs completely.
It is the same story in town after town on the Gulf of Mexico
across Florida. Near Panama City, dogs can reach the water on
Carrabelle Beach and Bruce Beach. At Saint Andrews State Beach,
a past winner of "The Best Beach In America," dogs
can hike the sandy nature trails and run on the beach of the
Grand Lagoon. It isn't actually the Gulf of Mexico or the Best
Beach In America, but you can them from here.
For dog owners, Alabama (*) may as well not even have
the few beaches it does on the Gulf of Mexico. In Mississippi
(**) dog owners need to stay on the western coast in Hancock
County; dogs aren't allowed around the populated Biloxi beaches.
People don't seek out Louisiana (*) for its sandy beaches;
most of the coastline is made up of bayous. Grand Isle State
Park is the only state park with access to the Gulf of Mexico
and dogs are allowed in non-swimming areas here.
In Texas (***), Padre Island is America's longest barrier
island and there is plenty of room for dogs on its 113 miles
of sand. At Padre Island National Seashore dogs are allowed anywhere
except on the deck at Malaquite Beach and in front of the Visitor
Center at the Swimming Beach. Galveston Island serves up another
32 miles of mostly dog-friendly
to travel the coastal regions of the United States?
HIKER'S BIBLE lists rules for dogs at over 1300 beaches
About The Canine Hikers Bible
DOGS ON PACIFIC
OCEAN BEACHES (traveling North to South)
Dogs on leash
are allowed in all Washington (***) state parks, often
on the beach, but not in many swimming areas around Puget Sound.
No dogs are allowed on beaches in the city of Seattle. The uncrowded
Pacific Coast beaches are some of the dog-friendliest in America
- even Olympic National Park, which bans dogs from almost all
of its 632,324 acres, opens some of its remote coastal beaches
to dogs. Dogs are allowed on almost all beaches on the Washington
coast as long as they remain out of the active swimming areas.
All of the beaches in Oregon (****) are public. You can
step on every grain of Oregon sand for 400 miles and, in the
rare exception of a ban due to nesting birds, your dog can be
with you all the way. One beach dog owners won't want to miss
is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area with its 40 miles
of sandy shore. These are the biggest dunes in the United States
- as tall as 500 feet and reaching two and one-half miles inland
at their widest point.
Northern California (****) would get plenty of votes from
beach-loving dogs for having the best beaches in America. Only
a beach here and there restricts dogs from its sand on the North
Coast. Even in the highly populated areas, concessions are made
for dog owners. In Marin County a "Dog Beach" has been
set aside on the north end of Stinson Beach and many towns allow
dogs on the beach under voice control. San Francisco ranks among
the dog-friendliest of beach cities. Take your dog to the Golden
Gate National Recreation Area and have your pick of several designated
dog-friendly beach areas. At Baker Beach, dogs are allowed to
romp off-leash. Further down the coast, dog owners will want
to visit the Monterey Peninsula. Dogs are welcome to run on the
Carmel City Beach and can slip into the water near Monterey and
Pacific Grove as well. At Big Sur dogs can enjoy one of the prettiest
secluded beaches on the coast a Pfeiffer Beach. Skip Santa Cruz
and there are plenty of opportunites to get your dog on the sand
in California's Central Coast, especially on unnamed beaches.
Heading south on the California coast the water warms up and
beach restrictions on dogs increase accordingly. There is still
sand time for dogs in Oxnard and Ventura but things are getting
bleak as dog owners reach Santa Barbara. In Los Angeles County
the beaches are for people. In Southern California (**),
San Diego is the place for sand-loving dogs. Several popular
beaches have set aside "dog beaches" that attract hundreds
of dogs. Every day is a beach day for dogs in San Diego.
DOGS ON GREAT
LAKES BEACHES (traveling West to East)
largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world, there
is enough water in Lake Superior (**) to easily fill the
other four Great Lakes to overflowing. Lake Superior is known
for its cold water and rugged shoreline but there are some sandy
beaches scattered across its 300 or so miles of southern shores.
Other beaches are more of the cobble variety. Most of the shoreline
is sparsely populated which bodes well for finding a dog-friendly
beach. In Michigan, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore allows
dogs on the beach from Twelvemile Beach Campground to Au Sable
Lighthouse and at Munising, dogs can dig in the sand at Miners
Beach. At Sand Point, dogs can play on the beach until the trail
begins to climb the cliffs. In Wisconsin, dogs are allowed on
the beach in Ashland and in Minnesota, dogs can swim in Lake
Superior at Duluth's Park Point Beach.
Dogs will have to admire the spectacular dunes and sandy beaches
of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan (**) mostly from
the car as dogs are not allowed on Michigan state beaches and
most county and town beaches. In-season, the metropolises of
Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin are even more restrictive. Chicago
has recently gotten its first official dog beach at Montrose
Avenue. Belmont Beach is not an official Chicago beach so dogs
are allowed on this small patch of sand in a fenced area. In
nearby Evanston licensed and vaccinated dogs are allowed on Dog
Beach but a beach token is required for non-residents from May
to October which costs $80 to $100. Your best bets to dip into
Lake Michigan, the only Great Lake totally within the United
States, are the national lakeshores and the state parks of Wisconsin's
Door County. At the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore dogs are
restricted to the easternmost beaches at Mt. Baldy and Central
Avenue until October when all beaches open to our four-legged
friends. In the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, dogs
can swim in the waves of Lake Michigan backed by some of America's
larges dunes on all beaches except Platte Point Beach, the D.H.
Day Campground Beach and the Manitou Islands. Dogs also cannot
make the Dune Climb up hundreds of feet of sand.
Lake Huron (*) features 3,827 miles of shoreline, characterized
by shallow water and many sandy beaches. None of this will matter
much to your dog, however, since the Lake Huron beaches in Michigan
are mostly closed to him. Alpena is a rare exception. Dogs are
allowed on the resort destination of Macinac Island, however.
Although its shores are the most densely populated of any of
the Great Lakes, there is plenty of opportunity for a dog to
explore Lake Erie (***). The smallest of the five lakes,
Erie waters average only about 62 feet in depth and warm rapidly
in the summer for happy dog paddling. Ohio, especially around
Cleveland, is the most restrictive of the Lake Erie states. Try
some of the smaller town beaches in Ohio and New York, most of
which permit dogs outside of designated swimming areas. Some
of the best Lake Erie beachfront is in Presque Isle State Park,
the most-visited state park in Pennsylvania. Your dog can can
hike the sandytrails past the swimming beaches and enjoy the
waves on the long, unsupervised sretches on the northern end
of the peninsula.
Not many people have settled most of the hundreds of miles of
shoreline of the south side of Lake Ontario (*) in New
York. There aren't many beaches and not many bans on dogs - as
long as they don't try to swim with the humans.
beach rules for dogs at over 1300 beaches
About A Bark On The Beach
NOW - a book for all active dog owners
About The Canine Hikers Bible
finding more tail-friendly trails? Subscribe to our FREE newsletter,
The Walk and Wag Rag: Love waterfalls? Love hiking
with your dog? Share your photos with our
the DOGGIN' AMERICA podcast...
Waterfalls for Dogs group at Flickr...
America Podcast - The Travelogue for the Active Dog Owner
Take the Trail Back Home / hikewithyourdog.com tours
/ Learn About A Bark On
The Beach / Learn
About The Canine Hikers Bible / Our Guide Books
/ Tips And Links