Adventures are always more fun (and adorable) with your four-legged buddy riding shotgun. So when booking your next seaside vacation, consider a location with the best dog-friendly beaches. Many spots allow well-behaved floofs to join their parents on the shore all across the country.
The beaches on this list welcome doggos to splash, play fetch, and keep you company on the towel. Consider this your 101 guide to choosing the right shore and prepping your pup for the experience.
20 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in the U.S.
Pack the fam, friends, and the dog, and set your sights on these dog-friendly beaches. Scattered throughout the United States, all of these offer charm, adventures, and excitement for everyone, including your one-and-only Fido.
Carmel Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.
Fun fact: You can have your dog off-leash on Carmel Beach, but they must reliably come to you when you call them. Keep your eyes peeled for many dog-friendly restaurants along the coast, many of which offer “Yappy Hours,” allowing dogs to join their parents for an afternoon indulgence. While you’re sipping, your pup may be able to order their own meal because most restaurants have a dog menu, too.
Huntington Dog Beach in Huntington, Calif.
Huntington Dog Beach is super fun but does come with several rules. All pups must be leashed when entering and exiting this dog-friendly beach and remain on the leash until you’re on the sand. Then, they can frolic sans lead, as long as they’re well-trained to return to you when called and don’t interact with wildlife. If your pup uses the restroom, make sure to clean up after them. One last thing: dogs that bark at other dogs or don’t play well with others aren’t allowed on the beach, nor are dogs in heat or puppies under four months old.
Fort Funston in San Francisco
What’s great about Fort Funston is the variety of terrains it offers, from trails to beaches. Pretty and popular, this Bay Area dog-friendly beach adopts a laid-back California mindset. However, dogs must remain on leash or be able to return to their owners on cue.
Kiptopeke State Park in Charles, Va.
Is your family the type to enjoy a mix of fun-in-the-sun and challenging hikes? If so, make Kiptopeke State Park your next vacation. It offers a unique pet-friendly beach for leashed pups near the cabins, lodges, and camping area. And, if your canine pal can keep to your side without running off, you can also enjoy the many dog-friendly trails too.
Wildwood Dog Park and Beach in Wildwood, N.J.
Though you have to pay to enjoy some dog-friendly beaches in New Jersey, Wildwood Dog Park and Beach is free—and invites your leashed pup to come play! This recreational center also offers clean-up bags and fresh water so you can take excellent care of your dog. If you’d like, rent beach chairs and umbrellas so everyone stays cool.
Brant Point Beach in Nantucket, Mass.
In the peak of the summer—typically Memorial Day through Labor Day—your pup can join you on Brant Point Beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. During the off-season, though, they can come anytime. However, it’s suggested that dogs stay out of the water due to the strong, unpredictable current.
Jennings Beach in Fairfield, Conn.
When you’re visiting this part of the East Coast, consider dropping by Jennings Beach, which offers 27 acres of land—plenty of room for a good game of fetch! Though well-behaved pups can be off-leash, they can’t sniff around on the playgrounds, pavilions, or boardwalks.
East Hampton Beach in Hamptons, N.Y.
Ask any New Yorker: The Hamptons is the place to escape the city’s sticky heat. If your pup wants a break from the steamy chaos, too, consider East Hampton Beach. This dog-friendly destination has specific rules on when canines can be on the shore, so make sure to check them out before you catch the train or Jitney.
Montrose Dog Beach in Chicago
As one of the biggest and best-maintained dog-friendly beaches in the region, Montrose Dog Beach is a happy escape for pet owners. Though there are many sandy areas here, pups can only be off-leash inside the specific dog beach. Pups will also need a dog-friendly area, or DFA tag, issued by the city of Chicago, and be older than four months. The beach itself is maintained by MonDog, a volunteer organization that encourages donations to keep it running. Thanks to them, you’ll find clean-up bags for free.
Norman F. Kruse Park in Muskegon, Mich.
While all pups must be leashed while their paws are in the sand, they can swim freely in the lake at Norman F. Kruse Park. This is another large area that features human-only beaches, so make sure you pay attention to the markers designating where your pup can roam.
Kirk Park in Grand Haven, Mich.
With 68 acres of jaw-dropping beaches, serene dunes, and high bluffs, Kirk Park is a gorgeous place to experience the beauty of the Lake Michigan Shoreline. There’s an off-beach dog area here, located in the southernmost tip of the park. Keep in mind your dog can only join you in the morning (from 7–10 a.m.) and then in the evening (from 7–10 p.m.).
Dog-Friendly Beach in Jupiter, Fla.
This less-crowded oceanfront area of Florida is ideal for those who want the fun of the shore without the crowd. This iconic Jupiter Dog-Friendly Beach (yep, that’s the actual name!) has been a beloved area since 1989 when the town council decided to allow four-legged friends to join in on the fun. Now, it’s a 2.5 mile stretch of pup-lovin’ beach.
Floofs aren’t required to be on-leash, but they must be well-trained and socialized. Make sure to clean up after your pup and take advantage of the dog waste bags offered for free, thanks to Friends of Jupiter Beach.
South Padre Island in Texas
There are 60 miles of beach to enjoy in this Texas shoreline, including 34 miles that have the picture-perfect white sand we all love. Thanks to its location, South Padre Island also offers 300 days of sunshine, so you can pretty much count on ideal weather. Your dogs are allowed to join you for the exploration, but they must be leashed at all times.
Dauphin Island Beach in Dauphin Island, Ala.
Throughout the year, this Alabama oceanfront area welcomes sun-lovin’ canines to enjoy the sand and the water. Keep in mind the primary beach and campground are dog-friendly, but they shouldn’t sniff their way to West End Beach Park. The best spot for four-legged pals is the Dauphin Island Beach public beach area located near the old fishing pier and the Red School House, since it’s wider and easier to navigate with a leashed dog.
Atlantic Beach in Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Another one of the best dog-friendly beaches in Florida is located in the Jacksonville area. While you’re soaking up the sunshine and savoring the breeze of the ocean, keep your pooch always on leash: Atlantic Beach has a laid-back atmosphere but is also well-policed, so following rules is required. Your pup can only be off their lead when swimming with you in the ocean.
Double Bluff Beach in Freeland, Wash.
Dogs are allowed to roam at Double Bluff Beach, but keeping them on-leash is always safer, especially around water! If your pup is the type who enjoys rolling in sand and diving into the ocean, you’ll appreciate the on-site doggie shower that makes it easy to clean up post-adventuring.
Cannon Beach in Portland, Ore.
Each September, the Cannon Beach area of Oregon is home to Muttzanita, an annual dog festival. During this adventurous weekend, you can enter your dog a plethora of competitions, including the best in ball-catching and other tricks. There’s also an annual dog show where your pup could bring home the title of best in class. When they aren’t competing on stage, they can enjoy this beach on- or off-leash.
Ocean City Beach in Ocean City, Md.
From October through April, dogs on a leash are welcome on the beach and the three-mile boardwalk of Ocean City Beach, which has been named one of TripAdvisor’s top beaches. During the high summer season when pups aren’t permitted, they still have Ocean City Dog Playground nearby to call their own any time of year. Pets are also allowed at Assateague National Park Beach in Maryland, but not in Virginia.
Ocean Springs, Miss.
In the coastal town of Ocean Springs, you can play fetch with your pet on East Beach all afternoon. However, if you feel like visiting Front Beach, your dog will need to be on a leash. After you’ve had your fun in the sun, take time to explore the quaint city.
Brunswick Islands, N.C.
Pets are welcome throughout the Brunswick Islands. Here, you can see wildlife, experience small-town charm, and find seclusion—perfect for a little getaway. Oak Island and Caswell Beaches in particular are some of the best dog-friendly beaches in North Carolina, but you must adhere to leash requirements both in and out of the water. Before you go, know the rules and hours when pets are allowed during summer and off-season.
7 Things to Bring to the Beach for Your Dog
Just like you, dogs need a beach bag of necessities to fully enjoy their ocean excursion. To ensure your pup is healthy, well-hydrated, and of course, happy as a clam, make sure you bring these with you before heading out the door of your rental:
- Fresh water and a water bowl. Consider filling a thermos with ice and keeping the water in a cooler so it doesn’t get hot out in the sun.
- Treats that won’t spoil in the sun, like dehydrated chicken, beef, or fish.
- Outdoor dog toys to play fetch with, including frisbees, balls, and others.
- A collar that won’t fall apart in the water if your dog likes to go swimming.
- A towel to dry them off from the ocean. (Since you probably don’t want to share yours!)
- A dog brush if your pup sheds since it’s less messy to brush them out on the beach than back at home.
- An umbrella they can sit under to shade them from the sun. Or one of these fun dog tents!
Additional reporting by Marissa Wu.