Pet Friendly Florida: The Best of the Florida Panhandle & Gulf Coast

More and more people are beginning to consider bringing their furry friends along on vacation, and it’s easy to see why. Many of us consider our pets to be members of our families – not just pets – and leaving them behind for a few days can be tough. These suggestions for your next pet friendly Florida destinations on the Gulf Coast will have you booking your reservation and packing the car to head to Florida!

When Jim and I travel, we like to bring Zach along with us. Florida’s Gulf is one of our favorite places to explore because there are so many pet-friendly destinations! We fell in love with these Florida Gulf Coast pet-friendly destinations just because they were so welcoming to our pets. We hope you fall in love with them as well.

Zach Maltese on a pet-friendly vacation Florida’s west coast

Table of Contents

You’ll want to put some thought into your trip if you plan to travel with your pet. Not all places are very welcoming of pets, and if you find yourself on the wrong beach, you might find yourself facing a serious fine. Fortunately, there are plenty of spots in Florida that welcome vacationers with pets – you just need to know where to look!

Helpful Tip For a Great Pet-Friendly Vacation

  • Your pet should always be kept on a leash for their safety and the safety of others who are not familiar with your pet.
  • Always keep poop bags with you and clean up after your pet. The beaches are enjoyed by pets and people, help keep them clean.
  • Don’t bury your pet waste in the sand.

How To Choose Your Next Pet-Friendly Vacation Destination

Take into consideration your itinerary

When planning a trip with your furry friend, there are a lot of details to think about, like how you will get there, where you will go, where you will stay, and what kinds of entertaining things you will do along the journey. Also, as Jim and I have learned from traveling with our pets, it is very difficult to leave them in a hotel or a vacation rental without someone staying with them. Plan activities that you and your pets can enjoy together. Also, you should be prepared to sacrifice some of your favorite stops in order to care for your pet. Vacation places that are welcoming to pets can take many different shapes and have their own rules.

Consider the Accommodations That You Will Use

When you are organizing your trip, one more essential aspect that you should keep in mind is the kind of lodging that you want to use. There are destinations that offer hotels that are pet-friendly, but other places have more natural settings and may require more flexible accommodations, such as renting a unique Airbnb, staying at a bed and breakfast that is pet-friendly, or going camping.

Pet Friendly Florida Vacation Destinations: The Panhandle

The Panhandle of Florida is one of the most pet-friendly areas of Florida, so let them run in the sand, splash in the water, and just hang out with their favorite humans. Here are some of the best pet-friendly destinations on Florida’s Panhandle. Make your first stop at The Gulf County Welcome Center – they love pets and are pet-friendly. Located in Port St. Joe, it’s the perfect place to begin your vacation on the Panhandle.

Port St. Joe State Park (Photo credit: /TerryKellyPhotograph)

All of the beaches in Gulf County except St. Joseph Peninsula State Park and Eglin Air Force property welcome your four-legged pals with open arms, with a reminder they must be on a leash at all times. You’ll find disposal stations for pet waste along the access points to the public beach.

Pet Friendly Florida Panhandle Beaches

The Panhandle of Florida has several beaches that will welcome your four-legged friend. Here are the best of the dog friendly beaches:

  • St. George Island Beach, St. George Island
  • Dog Beach, Panama City

All of the beaches on the Florida Panhandle in Gulf County except St. Joseph Peninsula State Park and Eglin Air Force property welcome your four-legged pals with open arms, with a reminder they must be oon a leash at all times. You’ll find disposal stations for pet waste along the access points to the public beach.

Port St. Joe

Port St. Joe is not only a paradise for pets, but it is a food-lovers paradise for seafood. In fact, it is some of the freshest seafood we’ve experienced in Florida.

You will find that you will embrace the “slow down and just relax” vibe of the small town of Port St. Joe. Imagine slipping into the inviting waters of the Gulf and snorkeling or spending the day with your furry friend lounging on one of Florida’s pet friendly beaches, tossing the frisbee, and playing in the warm water. For dinner take a stroll through town, and grab a bite at one of the pet-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating.

Small dog, beagle puppy playing with frisbee on beach (Photo Credit:

Cape San Blas

Just a short drive from Port St. Joe, Cape San Bras is secluded bliss! A tiny spit of land connects Cape San Blas to the mainland. Here you’ll find St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. The park is filled with wildlife, including the snowy plover, the St. Andrews beach mouse, an endangered species, and two species of sea turtles. The park is pet friendly, but the following rules must be obeyed:

  • Pets must be well-behaved
  • Leased at all times on a 6-foot leash.
  • Must be attended by a human at all times
  • Pick up and dispose of pet waste in poop bags
  • Pets are permitted in the picnic areas and biking and hiking trails
  • Pets restricted from the beach, wetlands, boardwalks, playground, and buildings

You’ll have a large selection of pet friendly vacation rentals in Cape San Blas. Coastal Joe Vacation Rentals offers pet-friendly vacation rentals including condos and private homes. Please note that some rentals may charge a pet fee. There are a lot of pet-friendly restaurants scattered throughout Gulf County, including Cape San Blas.

Pet-friendly vacation homes on Florida’s Gulf Coast

St. George Island

Located off of the Florida panhandle, St. George Island is the perfect dog-friendly vacation spot. The island offers undisturbed fun like sandcastle making, kayaking, swimming, and biking.

St. George Island Beach is one of Florida’s pet friendly beaches, so you can bring your dog along with you. Plus, many shops and accommodations welcome pet friends, so you don’t need to worry about leaving part of the family behind!

The St. George Lighthouse in St. George on Florida’s pet-friendly West Coast

The St. George Inn is a great pet-friendly accommodation that offers pet friendly guest rooms, so you can stay with your pet. It’s located minutes from the beautiful beach and even has a free boat launch nearby so you can gain access to the pristine waters. 

Florida Pet-Friendly Vacation Rentals on St. George Island

Collins Vacation Rentals has an extensive selection of rentals, with many being able to accommodate up to two pets. Collins can match your pet-friendly needs with rentals that have views of the Gulf, the Bay, or the canal. Fickling Vacation Rentals also has a nice selection of gorgeous vacation rentals that are pet-friendly.

What To Do on St. George Island With My Pet

On St. George Island your four-legged friends will be welcomed in VIP (Very Important Pet) style! Many of the businesses have water bowls and of course, pet treats!

Looking for a good place to eat? Lots of restaurants on the island are pet friendly, but we recommend The Blue Parrot Ocean Front Café. They are super welcoming, you get a great view of the water, and they prepare delicious food. Plus, the servers make sure your dog gets plenty of water! Some other options for pet parents who love to dine with their four-legged best friend are Harry A’s, Mango Mikes, and Paddy’s Raw Bar. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous Florida weather as you enjoy some great food.

USA, Florida, Sitting dog before ball at beach playing funny games (Photo Credit:

Pets are permitted in designated day-use areas of St. George Island State Park, however, they must be on a leash that is six feet or shorter, and owners must clean up after their pets, so we always suggest having plenty of poop bags in your pet’s supply bag. Pets are not permitted on beaches or playgrounds.


Apalachicola is one of the gems of Florida that is often overlooked. This cute walkable village on the Panhandle is also pet-friendly and is a perfect landing spot to explore some more of the Forgotten Coast.

Apalachicola, Florida is a great place to visit with pets, and there are several pet friendly lodging options available. Some popular choices include Water Street Hotel and Marina, Coombs Inn and Suites, and the Gibson Inn. Be sure to pop into Oysterbones, a cute pet boutique that will be a highlight of your visit.

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach, Florida is a popular vacation destination for pet owners and their furry friends. From walking on the beach to watching dolphins and sea lions at the Gulf World Marine Park, Panama City Beach is an ideal destination for traveling with your pets.

Dogs love walking the hiking trails with their pet parents in pet friendly Florida

Pet-Friendly Fun in Panama City Beach

Check out Dog Beach at Pier Park where dogs rule. Dog Beach is one of the most popular Florida pet friendly beaches. The pet-friendly beach is located on the west side of the Russell-Fields City Pier in front of Pier Park. Dogs must be on a leash and under the command of the owner. There are some rules on Dog Beach, so be sure to be in the know before you go.

Shoreline of Panama City Beach at sunset

St. Andrews State Park offers loads of pet-friendly hiking trails and a pet-friendly fishing pier. If you just want to take a stroll with your pet, head over to Frank Brown Park.

Pier Park is a shopping and entertainment locale in Panama City Beach. The outdoor complex has 124 stores (be sure to visit Ron Jon Surf Shop, where they lavish attention on your pet!), and a nice selection of restaurants. Perfect way to close out a day with your canine companions.

Dog Island

This private island on the Florida Panhandle is a great destination for dog owners. Visitors can take their dogs on a beach walk, visit the Dog Island Lighthouse, or check out the many dog-friendly restaurants and accommodations. Dog Island is a barrier island off the Gulf coast of Florida. It’s known for it’s pristine, natural beaches, and it is pet friendly. Dog Island is our top choice for Florida pet friendly beaches.

The island is home to approximately 30+ full-time residents, and most of the homes are vacation rentals. It’s perfect for shelling, crabbing, and fishing. Your furry friend will love the walks on the beach and exploring all the nooks and crannies of Dog Island.

There are no amenities on Dog Island, and it is reachable only by boat. So, be sure to have all the proper supplies needed for a remote, comfortable getaway.

Pet Friendly Florida Vacation Destinations on The Gulf Coast

Dog Friendly Florida Gulf Coast Beaches

There are not as many dog-friendly beaches on the Gulf Coast as there are on the Panhandle, but these three are our favorites.

  • Fort de Soto
  • Honeymoon Island Beach in St. Petersburg
  • Siesta Key Beach on Siesta Key

St. Petersburg

St. Pete is one of the best destinations on the Florida Panhandle, and a great place to plan a weekend getaway or longer vacation with your pup. You’ll find plenty of pet-friendly accommodations, like the Hollander Hotel (there is an extra fee for pets), as well as numerous restaurants (and microbreweries, including the oldest in the state) with outdoor dining that won’t mind a well-mannered dog. For a great pet-friendly brunch, lunch, or dinner spot, check out the Three Birds Tavern, which allows diners to enjoy patio seating with their pups.

The biggest reason people travel to St. Pete is to check out the beach, and fortunately, you’ll be able to bring Fido along, too. Fort De Soto Beach is a stunning place to spend a day, and it has a dedicated off-le

Fort de Soto Beach is a favorite place for pets and their humans in St. Pete

Fort De Soto State Park, FL

Fort De Soto Beach is a stunning place to spend a day, and a pet-friendly beach. It has a dedicated off-leash area where dogs are free to run, swim, and dig under the sun. Fort De Soto Park is filled with natural beauty, so whether you are chilling on the beach, walking on the beach, or fishing, nature is all around you. Be sure to bring a camera with you to capture the natural beauty and remember your time in St. Petersburg.

Fort De Soto Park, Florida — February 17, 2019. A diverse crowd of fishermen, swimmers and sunbathers take to the beach.

Get away to this famous park that spans 1,136 acres and features pristine lakes and white sand beaches. There are playgrounds, bathrooms, fishing piers, and picnic shelters to choose from. There are a number of trails that are accessible to people and dogs of varying levels of experience. There are two distinct fenced sections near the beach that are intended specifically for small dogs and large dogs, respectively. The dog park allows canines to access the beach in a designated area. The areas of the dog park that are fenced in each have their own water fountain station. A fee, albeit a small one, must be paid in order to visit the park.

Honeymoon Island State Park at sunset, panoramic view – Florida, USA.

Plan a day trip over to Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida. This fabulous state park has one of the only dog-friendly beaches in Pinellas County that allows pets on the beach. However, pets must be on a leash no longer than 6-feet, and owners must clean up after their pet.

White sand at Honeymoon Island State Park in Florida (Photo credit:

Since you are already in Dunedin, take a stroll through their downtown, and stop in to one of our favorite restaurants in Dunedin –The Living Room on Main. They LOVE dogs, and even have a menu for your furry sidekick!

Since you are already in Dunedin, take a stroll through their downtown, and stop in to one of our favorite restaurants in Dunedin –The Living Room on Main. They LOVE dogs, and even have a menu for your furry sidekick!

Venice, Florida

If you are in Sarasota with your four-legged friend, you don’t want to miss a chance to visit Brohard Beach and Paw Park. This is the only pet-friendly beach in Venice, Florida, that allows dogs to accompany their dog owners. This beach welcomes both humans and their canine companions and provides amenities such as water fountains, dog showers, leash posts, fire hydrants, picnic tables, and seats. Brohard Beach and Paw Park is the only dog-friendly beach in Sarasota County.


Head to the Downtown Sarasota Farmer’s Market, aka “dog central” on Saturday morning. The market is bustling from 7am to 1pm with lots of four-legged friends. Sarasota clocks in with a large number of pet-friendly restaurants – 140 at last count! So you’ll have a choice of dining out with your pet.

Sarasota’s farmer market is pet friendly, so grab your pup and join the pet friendly Florida fun!

Hit the parks with your pet

Myakka River State Park and Oscar Scherer State Park welcome families with pets to camp. Some areas of the these campgrounds are marked off for both your safety and your pets. These areas are near alligator habitats. But you’ll still find miles of trails that you’ll love! Note that dogs must be leashed at all times within the campgrounds. But, Sarasota has so many dog parks for off-leash fun! Take your pet and hit one of these fabulous dog parks for a couple of hours and let them play and romp in the grass.

Pet-Friendly Stays in Sarasota

A lot of choices for lodging in Sarasota! We love Zota Beach Resort. The resort welcomes pets 30 pounds and under, and treats them as VIPs. Your pet will receive a gift bag when checking in. The gift bag has pet wast bags and treats. Your pup will enjoy lazing on a luxe Opal Paws dog mat, and the resort will have food and water bowls for your pet as well.

Pet-friendly Dining In Sarasota

St. Armands Circle offers Cafe L’Europe. This restaurant treats your pup as the special pet they are with an exclusive pet menu featuring steak tartare, filet mignon, and chicken. 

Zach is partial to Casey Key Fish House just a short hop from Sarasota in Osprey. It does not get any better than dining al fresco on the water with your pet! And the food is tasty and fresh.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key is a tropical paradise in Sarasota County is a perfect spot for pet owners looking for an ideal coastal town for a Florida vacation. Visitors can take their dogs on a beach walk, visit the Siesta Key Lighthouse, or check out the many dog-friendly restaurants and accommodations

Siesta Key Pet-Friendly Activities

Siesta Key, Florida is a popular vacation destination for pet owners and their furry companions. Here are our top choices for pet-friendly fun on Siesta Key.

Siesta Beach allows dogs on a leash, and owners need to clean up after their pets. Siesta Key Village is ideal for strolling with your pet as you window shop. Many of the shops and restaurants do allow your leashed pet on their outdoor patios. Siesta Key Marina loves to have dogs, and they have a dog washing station.

Dog Parks and Beaches on Siesta Key

There are several dog parks on Siesta Key. Turtle Beach allows dogs on a leash, and they have a dog-friendly playground. Crescent Beach Family Park will allow leashed pets, and offers a picnic area with tables and a playground. Siesta Key Palms Dog Park has a fenced-in area for small dogs and large dogs, watering stations, and shade.

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is the perfect coastal town for a pet-friendly Florida getaway! Jim and I love Anna Maria Island (AMI as locals call it). There are so many restaurants, beautiful beaches, and very pet friendly! Look no further than A Paradise Vacation Rentals for the perfect AMI pet-friendly vacation. Whether you are looking for a 2-bedroom 2-bath vacation rental or a large luxury home for the entire family, you are sure to find a vacation that is just right.

Though there are no pet-friendly beaches on Anna Maria Island, you and your pet will enjoy strolling the streets and parks of AMI. There are some pet-friendly restaurants on the island, and Coquina Beach has trails that you and your furry friend can explore together. For beach fun you can always head over to Siesta Key or Sarasota for a day of pet-friendly fun.

No matter where you choose to go in Florida for a pet-friendly vacation you will find sun, fun, and lots of great activities. From nature trails to sandy beaches, you have plenty of choices for a dog-friendly, pet-friendly vacation in the Sunshine State. Begin planning your next pet friendly Florida vacation with our Ultimate Florida Vacation Travel Planning Guide. The Ultimate Florida Vacation Planning Guide will help you tame Florida vacation planning overwhelm by keeping all of your planning organized and in one place!