Now that the weather has turned warmer dogs as well as people are looking for ways to beat the heat. A beach would be the perfect place to cool off. Unfortunately, most public beaches, unless a designated dog beach, don’t allow dogs at all or restrict dogs during the summer when the beaches are the most crowded. If dogs do happen to be allowed “in-season” it’s often only during certain times of the day, usually early in the morning or late in the evening. In addition, most public beaches require dogs to remain on leash, even in the water.
So what’s a hot dog to do?
Dedicated dog beaches are specific areas set aside for off-leash dog play. Unlike most public beaches that allow dogs only during the off-season, dog beaches are open year round.
We’ve found the best places in the US for dogs to swim and play in the water. The following beaches are open to off-leash dogs year-round with no restrictions on time of day:
San Diego, CA
Ocean Beach Dog Beach
Just south of the Mission Bay channel entrance
Ocean Beach, California 92109
Considered one of the first official leash-free beaches in the US, Dog Beach is San Diego’s only 24 hour beach for dogs. It’s a wide beach about one mile long located in the community of Ocean Beach, at the end of I-8. This popular dog beach offers free parking, nearby restrooms, showers and a dual-level drinking fountain for canines and humans.
Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Dog Beach
100 Goldenwest St.
Huntington Beach, California 92648
Huntington Dog Beach is a one-mile stretch of beach located within the City owned portion of Huntington Beach between 21st Street to Seapoint Street where Bolsa Chica State Beach begins. Dogs must be leashed from the parking lot to the beach and then are allowed to run free. Dog water fountains and doggie bags are available. There are no costs to visit Dog Beach except for the cost of parking. Open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. 365 days.
At the foot of Ocean Ave.
Carmel, California 93923
A pristine 1-mile stretch of beach in one of the most dog-friendly cities in the US, Carmel Beach (not to be confused with Carmel River Beach, just a mile south) is a spectacular white sand beach with views of Point Lobos State Reserve and the Pebble Golf Course. Dogs are allowed off-leash on the entire stretch of beach year-round.
Tierra Verde, St. Petersburg area, FL – Gulf Coast
Paw Playground and Dog Beach at Fort de Soto Park
3500 Pinellas Bayway S.
Tierra Verde, Florida 33715
Fort De Soto Park has the only dog park where dogs are allowed on the beach in a designated area. Named by Southern Living magazine as one of the South’s five best dog parks, Paw Playground offers 2 fenced in areas near the beach for large and small dogs and a stretch of beach where dogs are allowed off-leash. The beach entrance is at the far southwest corner of dog park. Amenities include: 300+ yards of dog beach, 3 acres of fenced dog park, water fountains for dogs and humans, plastic bags for clean-up, doggie showers, and 3 fire hydrants (representing a mailman, dog catcher and park ranger). Admission to the park area is $5.
Venice, FL – Gulf Coast
Paw Park and South Brohard Beach
1600 Harbor Dr.
Venice, Florida 34285
Located in the southern most part of the City of Venice, Paw Park is a one acre enclosed play yard for dogs a with watering station near the parking area, and a section of the beach where dogs can swim and play off-leash. The dog run leads down a wooden boardwalk to the only beach area in the county where dogs are allowed. Poop bag dispensers, a flexible shower spray (located in the dog run). Other amenities: picnic tables, benches, showers, drinking fountains for humans and dogs. Open daily, 7 a.m. – dusk.
Jensen Beach, FL – Atlantic Coast
Walton Rocks Dog Beach
6700 S. Ocean Dr.
Jensen Beach, Florida 34957
Located on A1A, south of the St. Lucie Power Plant, 4 miles north of the Jensen Beach Causeway on Hutchinson Island, this off-leash dog beach is situated on 24 acres of beach property. This unguarded beach offers bathrooms and showers, free parking, good fishing, and covered picnic tables.
Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area
4400 N Lakeshore Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60640Located on the northwest corner of Montrose Beach in Lincoln Park, the dog beach encompasses 3.83 acres where dogs are allowed off-leash. The area is fenced in on two sides with the lake making the third. The dog beach is open is open year round, during all regular Chicago Park District hours, roughly from sun-up till 9 P.M. Dogs are allowed off-leash on the beach but they must remain leashed when going to and from the car or anywhere outside the off-leash area. There’s no cost to use the beach, but a DFA (Dog Friendly Area) tag is required for all dogs, which cost $5 each.
West Olive, MI
Kirk Park Off-Leash Beach Area
9791 Lakeshore Dr.
West Olive, Michigan 49460
Stretching along Lake Michigan’s shoreline just north of Holland, this park boasts 66 acres of sandy beach, wooded dunes and high bluffs. The southernmost 600 feet of Kirk Park Lake Michigan Beach has been designated as an off-leash area for dogs. The area is accessible from the south beach stairs, and dogs must remain on leash to and from the off-leash beach.
Dog Beach at Norman F. Kruse Park
3205 W Sherman Blvd.
Muskegon, Michigan 49441
Norman F. Kruse Park has about one mile of Lake Michigan Beach, with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. There are 4 picnic shelters and an accessible ramp to the beach and into the dunes. The city has allocated a section of the beach along the northern part of the park just for dogs to run off-leash. The dog beach encompasses half mile of sandy beach bordered by Lake Michigan along its west side, and a natural sand dune to the east. The location is Sherman at Beach.
Whidbey Island, WA
Double Bluff Beach Off-Leash Area
South of Freeland at the end of Double Bluff Road
Freeland, Washington 98249
Located on the southwest shore of Whidbey Island, Double Bluff Beach is wide and sandy at the access and becomes rockier with cobble and large boulders towards the west, and offers beautiful views of Seattle and Mount Rainier. Dogs are allowed off-leash on a designated two-mile-long stretch of salt water beach on Useless Bay. The off-leash area begins about 500 feet from the parking lot – the boundary is marked by a windsock on a flagpole. Amenities include a grassy picnic area, viewing benches, rest rooms, doggie poop bags and a rinse station. A dog-height drinking fountain is also available.
Fairport Harbor, OH
Dog Swim Area at Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park Beach
301 Huntington Beach Dr.
Fairport Harbor, Ohio 44077
This 21-acre lakefront park features a beach with a gradual slope and sandy bottom. A dog swim area is located at the east end of the beach between the two signs clearly marked “Dog Swim Area.” This is the only place dogs are allowed on the sand. Dogs not in the swim area must remain on the sidewalks, parking lots or grassy areas. Dogs must be leashed when out of the water. The use of the park and beach are free. However, there is a small fee for parking on-site.
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