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Two white dogs playing in the ocean at the beach
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The 10 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches

SmarterTravel

We aren’t the only ones who want to wade in the ocean, catch some rays on the sand, and chase a Frisbee by the surf. Dogs deserve a fun beach day just as much as humans, yet many beach areas don’t allow pets. That’s not the case at these 10 dog-friendly beaches across the country, some which even allow dogs to play in the ocean sans leash. Here’s where to go to make a special trip for your dog to take a dip in the waves.

New Jersey: Wildwood Dog Park & Beach in Wildwood

Wildwood Dog Park & Beach

A 30-foot tall fire hydrant marks the spot at Wildwood Dog Park & Beach, which bills itself as one of the largest dog beaches in the world. Dogs in the fenced-in park can clamber up sand dunes, run through tunnels, and pose for photo opps on an oversized beach chair. Pups can play in the sand and surf too, as long as they are leashed. Wildwood Dog Park & Beach is open all year round.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Marconi Beach in Wellfleet

Marconi Beach at Cape Cod National Seashore is unique both for its beauty and for being one of a select few beaches on Cape Cod that allow dogs in the summertime. Towering sand dunes and frequent seal sightings will make this one of your more memorable dog walks. Before you head out, check the National Park Services’ “Pets at Cape Cod National Seashore” website to see which area is allowed for leashed dogs to hang out on the beach with their owners, and be aware there are steep stairs to access the beach (and a steeper parking fee).  

Long Island, New York: Mud Creek Dog Park 

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Thanks to pup parent advocacy, dogs are officially allowed off leash at Mud Creek Dog Park in East Patchogue. Dogs can swim and run along hundreds of feet of beach in the Great South Bay. Just know that it’s rugged (with no running water, fences, benches or trash cans) and the beach could be closed to protect nesting birds. Join the Facebook Group to find out about current conditions.

Maryland: Downs Memorial Park Dog Beach in Annapolis

During a trip to Maryland’s capital, walk your dog through the cobblestone streets of historic sailing town Annapolis and then visit a beach that’s just for dogs at Downs Memorial Park. Dogs can jump in the Chesapeake Bay without a leash at Downs Memorial Park and run in the sand. 

Connecticut: Jennings Dog Beach in Fairfield

During the off-season starting October 1st through the end of March, pups can go for a swim at Jennings Dog Beach. The 27-acre beach is a popular hangout for dogs and their owners for beach time. If you happen to visit in the summer, Esker Point Beach in Groton is a small public beach that allows dogs all year round.

San Diego, California: Dog Beach 

Dog Beach San Diego

Sunny San Diego is home to one of the country’s first official leash-free dog beaches, and the circa-1972 Dog Beach is still San Diego’s only 24-hour beach for dogs. Located at the mouth of the San Diego River, the community has maintained this beach for nearly 50 years. Pet shops and dog-friendly restaurants and breweries have popped up around Dog Beach: there’s even the nearby Dog Beach Dog Wash so sandy pups can get clean before heading home.

San Francisco, California: Crissy Field

Snap the best photo of your vacation when you visit San Francisco park Crissy Field, where your dog can frolic along the beach with the Golden Gate bridge in the background. This former military airfield-turned-national park has incredible views of the water and the city skyline. Refer to the National Park Service’s map about which areas your dog needs to be on leash and where well-behaved pups can run off leash.

North Carolina: Outer Banks

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The beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks are particularly welcoming to dogs: for example, leashed dogs are allowed on the beach all year-round at Nags Head and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Read all the rules for dogs on the beach throughout the Outer Banks on the tourism website

Michigan: Kirk Dog Beach in West Olive

Tourists head to Grand Haven on Lake Michigan for its boardwalk and scenic lighthouses, but dogs have their own designated beach nearby. At Kirk Park, pups can go off-leash for a swim during open hours at Kirk Park Dog Beach. Humans enjoy going in the water at the park too and picnicking here at the park facilities. 

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach

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During the summer at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach, hit the beach early in the morning or in the evening and your leashed dog can come along too. At the city of Myrtle Beach from May 1 through Labor Day, dogs are allowed on the beach before 10 a.m or after 5 p.m. During that same time of the year, dogs can also walk on the Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. In North Myrtle Beach from May 15 to September 15, dogs are allowed on the beach before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. The rules are more relaxed in the off-season. For off-leash play, visit one of Myrtle Beach’s dog parks.

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