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9 Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Florida (2024 Guide)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog sniffing the bag on airport

9 Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Florida (2024 Guide)

Sandy beaches, ocean waves, and sunshine that never seems to fade: Florida’s year-round splendor and limitless opportunities for some much-needed R&R make it the top vacation destination in the country for the whole family, including your dog!

The Sunshine State is as much a puppy paradise as it is a relaxing escape for hard-working owners. Plan the perfect getaway for you and your dog by checking out these nine dog-friendly things to do in Florida.

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Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Florida

1. Take a Cruise

Sightseeing cruises and ecotours are a classic Florida vacation outing, and you’ll find plenty to please your pup. Bark on the Ark, a monthly dog-friendly cruise from Naples to Keewaydin Island, treats dogs to water, tennis balls, and treats on their way to the barrier island, featuring one of Naples’s few dog-friendly beaches.

For an Atlantic-side experience, the Scenic Cruise of St. Augustine offers a narrated tour around the area. Farther down the coast, Carrie B Cruises takes you on a guided excursion to learn about the history and famous folk of Fort Lauderdale. No matter where you land in Florida, there’s an on-the-water experience waiting for you and your dog.

2. Go to the Beach

No trip to Florida would be complete without a trip to catch some rays and waves on one of the state’s countless beaches. With tons of pet-friendly options, you’ll have no reason to leave your dog behind when you head to the water.

Top choices for off-leash fun in the sand and sun include:
  • Jupiter Beach, a 2.5-mile stretch of beach just north of West Palm Beach
  • Walton Rocks Beach and Dog Park, featuring 24 acres for dogs to romp around
  • Bonita Springs Dog Beach, a tranquil Gulf-side hangout spot near Fort Myers
  • Brohard Beach and Paw Park, Sarasota County’s lone off-leash beach
  • Fort De Soto Park Dog Beach, St. Petersburg’s waterside playground just for dogs

On-leash and off-leash beach options trace Florida’s border, keeping you close to a dog-friendly spot wherever you vacation. Keep your leash handy to protect your dog and other beachgoers, and don’t take them off it unless you’re sure they’ll be well-behaved.

Image Credit: Shift Drive, Shutterstock

3. Enjoy a Nature Hike

Dogs are unfortunately not allowed on the trails in the Everglades National Park, but it’s hardly the only option if you want to explore Florida’s unique terrain, plants, and wildlife with your pup. A trip into nature is an excellent addition to the itinerary, especially if you find yourself in central Florida, far from the state’s ocean beaches.

Most of Florida’s state parks allow pets on a 6-foot leash, though they can’t go in swimming areas, playgrounds, cabins, or other enclosed areas.

Parks that don’t allow dogs include:
  • Egmont Key State Park
  • Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
  • Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
  • Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
  • Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (kennels available at the park entrance)

As with the state’s beaches, picking up after your dog and ensuring good behavior around others and on the trails are essential responsibilities. Florida’s natural habitats are delicate in many regards and dangerous in others, demanding close attention and control over your dog at all times.

4. Take a History Tour

While there are numerous opportunities for visitors and their dogs to adventure along Florida’s coast and waterways, landlubbers can get their fill of dry-land tours to enjoy with their pets in tow.

The Tasting Tours Company provides a private carriage and a wine-soaked trip through historic St. Augustine, a perfect romantic experience for couples and their dog (under 20 pounds only). Visitors can also explore America’s oldest city via a walking tour with their dog on the Conquistatour of St. Augustine or discover the spookier side of its history in a pet-friendly ghost tour!

beagle dog walking with her owner
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

5. Grab a Beer

The beer scene is alive and thriving in Florida. Dog friendliness is intrinsic to craft culture, so if you’re in the mood for a brew, you’ll always find a spot to accommodate you and your pet. Breweries to check out during your time in the state include:

  • New World Brewery in Tampa
  • Oyster City in Apalachicola
  • BrewHound in Neptune Beach
  • Tarpon River Brewing in Fort Lauderdale
  • Dog Rose Brewing in St. Augustine

There are too many incredible locations to name, but rest assured, each will have a host of unique tastes on tap and quality service to make your pet feel at home. Many also feature live shows on weekends, though you may want to go on an off day when it’s quieter for your dog.

6. Go Kayaking, Paddleboarding, or Surfing

From the sea to the state’s inland rivers and streams, visitors have tons of chances to take their dogs on a fun paddleboard or kayak adventure. Or, if you enjoy dog training as much as you love to hang ten, you can even teach your dog to surf before your trip.

Get Up and Go Kayaking offers one of the most exciting water experiences, featuring tours through over 20 locations in Florida. While dogs can’t join you at every spot, the company runs several pet-friendly tours statewide. With their clear kayaks, you and your dog can experience the incredible nature all around you as you explore the state’s magnificent lakes, springs, mangroves, and more.

Image Credit: Sketchart, Shutterstock

7. Go Shopping

Water and sun may define the Florida experience for most, but once you hit urban hotspots like Miami and Orlando, you’ll discover a whole new aspect of the state’s appeal: shopping!

Enjoy upscale shopping in dog-friendly Winter Park just north of Orlando, or check out the city’s sprawling Vineland Premium Outlets. At Bayside Marketplace in Miami, you can drag your dog along as you check out the center’s 60+ stores. Grabbing a souvenir from your trip is a vacation tradition, and Florida’s shops are more than happy to welcome your dog as they help you pick out your gear.

8. Check Out a Sports Event

Many sports venues are too stimulating for dogs, but if you and your pet are diehard fanatics, you’ll find a surprising array of events worth checking out. After all, Florida is home to 11 major sports franchises and a slew of minor league and college teams. With a little looking, you’ll likely find a dog-friendly event near you on the calendar.

Baseball fans can check out a once-a-year game called Dog Day at the Rays that welcomes Tampa Bay Rays fans and their pets. Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins host Bark at the Park, a series of dog-friendly home games running from April to September. For fun and affordable games, you can also see the minor league Tampa Tarpons, a pet-friendly team that allows dogs on Tail Waggin’ Tuesdays during the season.

owner and dog at a marathon
Image Credit: sportoakimirka, Shutterstock

9. Find a Local Dog-Friendly Eatery

Some spots in Florida don’t just cater to dogs; they make them the focus. Celebrate your four-legged friend by looking for a dog-friendly dining establishment in your area. Yappy hours are a growing trend with many businesses, while events like Brimstone Woodfire Grill’s Bark N Brunch in Pembroke Pines give you a rare chance to eat out with your pet.

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Are There Any Breed Restrictions in Florida?

Florida has kept pace with the progressive thinking around breed-specific legislation (BSL). In 2023, the state issued a law forbidding local governments from imposing any BSL at county or city levels. Much of the state had already lifted bans on high-risk breeds, like Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, with Miami-Dade County and the city of Sunrise being notable holdouts.

Surviving bans like these ended as the new law took effect in October, giving owners new freedom and promoting the welfare of all dogs in need across the state. Residential communities can still impose breed restrictions, so travelers should always research the laws specific to where they are staying.

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Your furry best friend won’t hold you back during your next Florida trip, thanks to the state’s emerging reputation for pet friendliness. From surfing to shopping and socializing, dogs fit in wherever you go. Try these dog-friendly things to do in Florida to create lasting memories and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will leave you craving for more.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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