Top Dog Beaches in the U.S.

The four seasons are four reasons why you're searching for some year round (or close to year round) dog friendly beaches for you, your family and your pup! Here are my choices, beginning with:


Del Mar, San Diego, California

The dog friendly city of Del Mar also has a dog friendly beach known to the locals as North Beach, and to us as Del Mar Dog Beach. If you're a dog lover, this beach is a sight to behold! (Just check out the pix on their website!)

Since 1959 Del Mar has maintained its dog friendly city status and the city proves it by allowing dogs out along the more than two miles of beach! During the summer months, half of Del Mar Beach is restricted but North Beach is still open to dogs. In addition, dogs are allowed roaming rights in Seagrove Park and Powerhouse Park. Out of control doggie behavior is frowned upon and prohibited as is not cleaning up after your dogs. Leash Laws may apply during certain times of the year.


Fort DeSoto Beach, Florida

This is a perfect beach for dogs and even humans. It is L-shaped and open all year round. Fort DeSoto offers acres and acres of firm-bottomed shallows, drawing wading anglers from far and near and two fishing piers with bait and tackle concessions.

Built in 1898, Fort DeSoto has various picnic locations, a Quartermaster Storehouse Museum, Two swimming areas, a 800 foot boat ramp, and a camping area. And for our furry friends, this dog friendly beach includes a Paw Playground to exercise dogs in a fenced in area. Dogs have free range on the beach to run and swim and roll in the sand, but never fear all that sand in their fur - canine shower areas are provided!


Cape San Blas, Florida

Thirty-five miles south of Panama City, the beaches of Cape San Blas are a peaceful retreat that sometimes feel located in a remote area instead of in Florida! So remote in fact, that in the off season a two mile walk on the beach could be devoid of dogs and people! But this is not to say you shouldn't bring your furry friend with you to play in the surf or sand... or even go scalloping when in season. Dogs must remain leashed however, and they must also stay clear of all marked turtle nests.

This seventeen mile barrier peninsula curves around St. Joseph Bay and is known for its clear, blue and green water with a gentle surf. The state park at the cape's end was named the Best Beach in America by Dr. Beach.


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - Michigan

ABC's Good Morning America named this beach "the most beautiful place in America."

Six newly designed beach dog walking areas have been created in response to public feedback concerning confusing signs, pets in closed areas and complicated instructions.

Before this change this confusing beach would lead you in and out of areas closed to pets as it was extremely difficult to visitors as to where their pets were and were not allowed.

A few beach access points are off limits to pets due to resource concerns such as nesting (Piping Plovers) or the very crowded conditions of North Bar Lake. Service Animals are allowed full access to all facilities, trails, and beaches throughout the National Lakeshore.

There is also a working Blacksmith Shop in Glen Haven as well as many cultural sites such as the 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse and a rural historic farm district.


Fort Funston State Park, California

This popular dog walking location in San Francisco is reflected in its happy name! Located on Skyline Blvd, Fort Funston is reportedly one of the best places in all of San Francisco for your dog to have a day of fun! Running free in the open spaces is a must for your dog here, especially if your dog is well behaved and is trained for voice command. Several trails and beach areas are sure to keep your dog happy. Leash laws do apply in the Bank Swallow habitat areas, and you'll have to keep that leash handy because horse encounters aren't unusual here on the trails and cliffs.

The north and south route on the bluff (the paved Sunset Trail) is where most people head to reach Ocean Beach, Fort Funston's northern section. Here you'll delight at the sight of dripping wet dogs toting driftwood sticks in their mouths as they play and run across the sand!


Cannon Beach - Cannon Beach, Oregon

On this 363 mile dog friendly beach only a few miles are closed to dogs. For the most part, this is dog heaven.

Haystack Rock is a well known attraction at Cannon Beach and also a Wildlife Refuge. This igneous rock has a 235 foot elevation and is oftentimes accessible at low tide. A small cave system penetrates the rock and can be seen from the coastline.

The trails through the lush forests seem endless and offer some respite from the wind and salty sea. Even the hotels here pamper you and your dog with complimentary items such as chew toys and cozy beds (if you like that sort of thing, that is. If not, give them to your dog!) Other hotel extras include warm pet washes with towels for sandy dogs and jacuzzis and fireplaces for humans.

The city even follows Ocean Shore rules, meaning while leashes are not specifically required as long as you have physical control of your dog.The town offers boutiques, an ice cream shop and a number of pet friendly restaurants.


Huntington Beach, California

Known to people world wide as Surf City USA, this wide, sandy, historic, pier surfing beach is a pooch paradise! Welcome to the most dog-friendly midsize city in USA - Dogtown USA!

Whether it's a run on the beach with your dog or other activities, Dog Beach is the perfect place to spend time with your dog.

Monday nights is Doggie Date Night at Fred's Mexican Cafe. You and your pal can dine al fresco on the patio where dogs eat free with an entree order.

Over at The Wiener Dog Store (aka Paws at the Coffee Mill) during September and October, Old World Village holds monthly dachshund races! Schedules are available on the Weiner Dog Store website.

Every September dogs and surfing are on the agenda. Its a weekend long event featuring a surfing competition and even a fashion show!

In all the leading hotels your dog will receive the VIP (Very Important Pooch) treatment in resorts and spas. Some hotels have free stay for your dog while another has an "It's a Wonderful Life" package!

And then there's Huntington Central Park for people and pets. Small and big dogs are welcomed in the enclosed small and big dog sections where at Park Bench Cafe a quick meal can be had. The special cuisine includes such delicacies as Rover Easy (two scrambled eggs and peanut butter bones.) Hint: If you and your dog are down by the beach near Kokomo's Surfside Grill, they offer the same doggie menu as Park Bench Café (but this is supposed to be a secret... shhhhhh.)


Nags Head, North Carolina

Nags head beach allows dogs all year round as long as they are restrained by a leash not exceeding 10 feet in length.

Leashed dogs are allowed in Nags Head Woods on Roanoke Trail, the Town Trail and on the gravel roadway for a nice hike. The other trails are off limits to dogs, however.

There is plenty of public parking along the oceanfront and two public fishing piers (Nags Head and The Outer Banks Fishing Pier in South Nags Head.) This town is physically the largest town in the Outer Banks!


Clarence Higg's Beach Park - Key West, Florida

Fun in the sun awaits you and your dog at this beach with a beachside fenced in dog park housing separate runs for both large and small dogs to roam off the leash. Located in Key West, Florida, adjacent to the Casa Marina Resort, this park is comprised of approx. 16.5 acres of ocean front vista. This inviting public beach park offers a diverse array of pastimes from swimming, snorkeling, and volleyball to pickle-ball (Google it) as well as other activities and offerings.

Within the park you'll find a Civil War era fort, a funky open aired beach side cafe called Salute! On the Beach (featuring fish focused Italian Fare,) the largest African Refugee Burial Ground and one of the largest Aids Memorials in the country!

To add to this parks uniqueness, Higg's hosts the only shore accessible underwater marine park in the United States!

And please don't forget to visit 'Louie's Backyard' located next door to Dog Beach. This is the perfect pet friendly establishment where you can grab a quick beverage.

For those of you wanting to explore more dog friendly beaches, offers a complete worldwide list, paws down!

By Tom Matteo