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11 Best Dog Friendly Beaches Key West (& FL) Has to Offer

Here are the best dog friendly beaches Key West has to offer, plus some great places to stop with your dog along the drive through Florida.

When visiting Key West, the southernmost point of the United States, there are many things to see and do. From sandy beaches to delicious restaurants, it’s a family-friendly destination.

But what about the furry members of your family? You don’t have to worry. There are plenty of pet-friendly beaches and restaurants to visit when in town.

Key West has some of the best beaches in the Sunshine State, many of which welcome dogs. The following outlines all the places you’ll want to visit with your four-legged friend.

Dog Beach Etiquette

dog friendly beaches key west
Happy dog on the beach 🙂

Most responsible dog owners already know what to do when taking their furry friend out in public. But in case this is new to you, or you want a refresher, there are a few essential dog-owner rules to follow when out in public spaces.

Following these simple guidelines can help ensure more dog-friendly spaces can open and stay open.

General dog beach etiquette includes the following:

  • Keep your dog leashed where there is a leash law.
  • Always, always clean up after your dog. Many places provide bags but bring some along just in case.
  • If using a designated off-leash area, only unleash your dog if he is typically well-behaved and listens to verbal commands.
  • Only allow your pup to visit with other beach-goers or dogs if it is welcomed.
  • When your dog enjoys an off-leash area, pay close attention to what your best friend is doing.

Dog Friendly Beaches in Key West

dog friendly beaches key west
Hello fellas

As long as your dog is on a leash, there are quite a few places you can take them in Key West. Sometimes they’re allowed on the sand, but they’re almost always allowed along the boardwalks. Pay attention to the posted signs, and you’ll be okay.

Key West Dog Beach, End of Alberta Street

Obvious by the name, Key West Dog Beach is open to pets. This is probably the first result that will pop up when you search for “dog friendly beaches Key West.”

But this location has mixed reviews. Many people complain that it is too small and can be smelly if the seagrass hasn’t been cleaned off the shore recently. It seems like some days it’s a wonderful little spot, while other days it’s just plain yucky. I guess you have to take your chances.

That doesn’t sound very appealing… so why I am including it on this list?

Well, there’s a local favorite hang-out spot directly next to this dog beach: Louie’s Backyard. It is a great dog-friendly place to grab a cold beverage, lunch, dinner, dessert, or brunch, depending on the day and time you visit. So, even if the dog beach is a no-go the day you visit, at least it’s not a wasted trip. You can fall back on Louie’s.

If you don’t want to take your chances on this one, don’t worry. It is only the first of many dog-friendly beaches Key West has.

Higgs Beach Dog Park

This dog park offers an off-leash fenced area right across from Higgs Beach. It is for small dogs and large dogs alike, with separate areas for each.

Your dogs can release all their energy off-leash in this park. Then you can take them on the leash across the street. There is a dog-friendly beach there between the pier and the Martello Tower.

Smathers Beach

Smather’s Beach is the largest in the Key West area. It runs along the southern shore and is the perfect place for volleyball and watersports.

You can often find food trucks and other vendors renting chairs and rafts or selling different food items.

Dogs are not allowed on the sandy part of the beach. However, you can walk your dog along the sidewalk to take in unobstructed views of the ocean. It is a great place to enjoy spectacular views at sunset, which Key West is known for.

The beach has easy-to-access parking, restrooms, water fountains, and picnic tables.

Sombrero Beach

Dogs are allowed at Sombrero Beach if they are on a leash. Just be sure to come prepared to clean up after your dog if needed.

Lazy Dog Kayak

What if you want to get in the water with your dog? You can paddleboard or kayak with your dog!

Check out Lazy Dog Kayak to get on the water and head down the channel with your pup. Then paddle over to the sandbar to play with other dogs doing the same thing.

Mike and Jennifer’s Summer T-Shirts for your next adventure

11 Best Dog Friendly Beaches Key West (& FL) Has to Offer 1
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Pet-Friendly Restaurants Key West

dog friendly beaches key west
Time to eat!

After all that playing and running, you and your dog may find that you are hungry. What better way to end your day than grabbing a meal at one of Key West’s pet-friendly restaurants? The following places allow you to bring your dog to eat:

Other Dog-Friendly Florida Cities

On your way to Key West, you’ll be driving through plenty of other cities that have well-known pet-friendly areas. Here’s a quick list of dog-friendly beaches and cities you can stop at along the way.

St. Augustine

Did you know that dogs are allowed on all beaches in St. Augustine, except Anastasia State Park, as long as they are leashed?

Jupiter Beach

One of our team members used to live on this beach. she has many happy memories of the dogs having fun on this beautiful beach. The City of Jupiter has some good rules set up and you can see them here.

Flagler Beach

This city offers tons of pet-friendly fun. Local favorites include River to Sea Preserve, Varn Park, Old Salt Park, Jungle Hut Road Park, Mala Compra Road Beachfront Park, and North Flagler Beach.

New Smyrna Beach

Don’t miss New Smyrna Beach Dog Park when nearby. Dogs are welcome to play on the beach and in the water if they are leashed. There’s a neat view of a lighthouse in the distance, too.

Fort Myers Beach

Bonita Beach Dog Park is a great place to take your pup to run free and roam on this section of the beach. A generous private donor provided doggie shower stations for the public to use.

St. Petersburg

When traveling through St. Peterbergs with your furry friend, be sure to visit Fort De Soto Park for a stretch and picnic lunch. Dogs are allowed off-leash on this dog beach.

Florida Keys

Most state parks in the Florida Keys allow dogs in their campgrounds, but not on the beaches. Bahia Honda State Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park are two such examples.

One truly dog-friendly beach in the Florida Keys is Anne’s Beach in Islamorada. Your dogs are asked to be kept on a least, but they can play in the clear shallow water and on the sand with you.

Perhaps the best place in the Keys, though, is Coco Plum Beach in Marathon. Here, your dog has a mile of beach and shallow water to play in.

Other tips if you bring your dog to the beach

  • Find a shady spot and provide fresh water for your dog.
  • Goes without saying, but dogs should not drink sea water.
  • Dogs may sunburn so limit your dog’s exposure and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.
  • On your way to the beach avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand.
  • Keep an eye out for jellyfish.
  • Running on the sand is strenuous exercise so be careful your dog doesn’t pull a tendon.
  • Salt is not good for your dog’s coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day.

Do you have a favorite dog beach in Florida?

Let us know and we’ll add it to our list!

Mike and Jennifer’s Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!

11 Best Dog Friendly Beaches Key West (& FL) Has to Offer 2

We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.

Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter. 

That’s why we’ve created three guides, covering Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys. 

Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.

Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content! 

FAQ’s about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers

What is the weather like along Florida’s Gulf Coast?

The weather along Florida’s Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.

The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.

You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.

By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.

Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?

While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.

Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.

Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?

One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities. 

The service works – but it is not free.

Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.

The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.

Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?

Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you’ll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or  Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.

But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?

Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.

There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.

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