If you’re suffering from a bad case of wanderlust but aren’t crazy about leaving your favorite furry family member behind while you travel, consider booking a trip to Florida. Bordered on both sides by hundreds of miles of beaches, the Sunshine State produces the most oranges in America and is home to the most golf courses of any state.
It seems the state has literally rolled out the welcome mat for you and your favorite canine companion, too, with a variety of dog-friendly beaches, lodgings, restaurants, bars, parks, and activities to choose from. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start — we’ve got you covered. These are the top things to do with dogs in Florida that will be a great time for both of you.
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, St. Augustine
If you’re planning to visit Florida, you might as well spend a day in St. Augustine so you (and your dog!) can take a drink from the Fountain of Youth and learn the legend behind its healing properties. The natural artesian spring famously discovered by Ponce De Leon is located in the archaeological park, which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (admission fees apply).
Besides taking a drink of the legendary spring water, you can pay a visit to a historical Timucuan village that stood in the area prior to European colonization and explore the park’s 15-acre waterfront grounds. Leashed pets are allowed inside and outside the buildings.
Vero Beach, Treasure Coast
There’s lots for you and your furry family member to do in Vero Beach, including an ocean cruise at Treasure Coast Cruises and the Vero Beach Dog Park.
- Vero Beach Dog Park is a free public dog park where dogs can roam freely dawn to dusk in a 5-acre green space that borders the Indian River Lagoon. The park, a nonprofit organization that leases its space from the City of Vero Beach, is run entirely by volunteers and depends on donations from the community.
- Treasure Coast Cruises welcomes well-behaved animals on their one-and-a-half-hour private cruises. Watch the sunset or opt for a dolphin/sightseeing tour. Book online within 48 hours with a $50 deposit. The boat accommodates up to six and has shaded areas and restroom facilities onboard.
Jupiter Dog Beach, Jupiter
Introduce your pup to the ocean at one of the few remaining dog-friendly beaches in Florida, thanks to a 1989 Jupiter Town Council policy. This 2.5-mile stretch of beach stretches from beach marker 26 to 57. Your dog does have to be on a leash between the parking lot and the beach, but then he is free to run and play with his canine friends in the sand and surf. Of course, make sure your dog is well socialized, responds to your voice commands, and doesn’t drink the seawater. Waste bags are provided; however, do plan to bring your own supply of fresh water.
Lazy Dog Adventures, Key West
If your pup is a paddleboard pro, you may want to book a tour with Lazy Dog Adventures on Stock Island. Founded in 1997 by a former footwear executive who moved to Key West to live a simpler life with her dog, the company now offers customized boating, kayaking, and stand-up paddling adventures. Rent a paddleboard and explore at your own pace or sign up for a guided tour led by the company’s experienced guides and staff, some of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Orlando
For kids (and kids at heart), no trip to Florida would be complete without a stop in Disney World. When your family includes members of the four-legged type, look into booking a rustic cabin in the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Pups receive a Pluto Welcome Packet upon check-in with all the dog swag they could possibly need. All dogs must be leashed outside the cabin. Proof of up-to-date vaccinations is required.
Always be sure to ask about current pet policies when you call to make your reservation, including any paperwork you’ll need to complete as well as leash policies, vaccination records, and if additional deposits are required. Brush up on obedience training, too, especially if you plan to visit any off-leash dog parks or beaches.
One last tip: Check with your veterinarian before you go to ask if she has any suggestions for traveling with your pet. Our dogs are creatures of habit who don’t always react favorably to a change in schedule. Make plans, call ahead, ensure your pet is always wearing proper identification — then hit the road. Whether you’re looking for adventure or a place to relax and recharge, you’re sure to find a getaway full of dog-friendly things to do in Florida.
- These are the 8 most loyal large dog breeds that make loving companions
- Best guard dogs: These 7 breeds will protect you with their life
- Why do cats hate dogs? The answer isn’t all that simple
- Wondering how to keep cat warm in cold weather – here are 9 effective ways to help your pet stay toasty
- Good, better, best: Space heaters that are safe if you have pets