Sandy Paws: Pet & Dog-Friendly Spots along the Gulf Coast

The soft sands, crystal-clear waters, and epic sunsets of the Gulf Coast are surely great for you and your family to enjoy. But what about your faithful furry companions?

Well, we say they will love vacationing on the Gulf Coast, too! The region offers plenty of pet-friendly spots, such as waterfront dog-friendly beaches, scenic dog parks, and several areas for dogs to play off-leash. Whether it’s a large or small dog, they are sure to also have a great time.

Many of us love our pets like family members. Still, planning a vacation with them can be challenging. If you’re wondering where you can go with your dog on the Gulf Coast, where they can enjoy the sun, and what the guidelines are, worry not. We’ve got you covered.

This blog will bring you a list of several dog-friendly and pet-friendly spots along the Gulf Coast, covering the cities of Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola.

Can you already see that tail wagging?

Dauphin Island Beach, AL

A short ferry ride from Fort Morgan and known as the sunset capital of Alabama, Dauphin Island stands as a testament to natural beauty and family-friendly outdoor adventures — including those with their canine companion.

The dog-friendly areas are mostly near the Red School House and the old fishing pier, but four-legged visitors can explore miles of coastal splendor, and pet-friendly trails through the woods, and even take a refreshing swim.

Public Beach and East Beach both welcome dogs, as long as they are leashed. They are very wide from the seagrass to the ocean, and the thin white sand is very clean, great for the dogs to do their running and playing.

Note that West End Beach is an exception, though; no dogs allowed in there because of the critical bird nesting habits in the area.

Two dogs on the beach.

Fort Morgan Historic Site and Beach, AL

One of the most famous sights in the area, this amazing fort was built between 1819 and 1833 to protect the land, and today it offers a wide range of activities and immersive experiences. 

While the activities inside are mostly for two-legged beings, if you focus on the external areas instead of the internal portion, it’s also a great idea to bring your dog along and explore the outdoors. There are hikes, a picnic area, and a beach. Overall, the fort is a great place to enjoy with your pet, and that includes access to the beach!

The beach, which is just past the ferry to Dauphin Island and before the entrance to the fort, is probably better for dogs than it is for humans. There is some debris lying around, which doesn’t make it perfect for us to go swimming, but means instead that there are plenty of things to go sniffing and exploring.

Oh, there are some crabs around, and dogs might think they are toys, so be aware. Also note that beyond the Old Fisherman’s, the Federal Wildlife area starts, so dogs are not allowed from there.

Gulf State Park near Orange Beach, AL

The beloved Gulf State Park is a vast public park with tons of recreational activities and dazzling beaches.

It offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and biking trails, fishing, kayaking, and a beautiful stretch of beach — probably the stretch of shoreline that’s more untouched by condominium towers in the region.

The area includes countless miles of pristine shores as well as paved trails for walking and biking. Provided they are on a leash, dogs are welcomed in most parts, with exceptions for biking and horseback riding trails for their own safety. They are also to stay clear of entering stores, food service areas, and pools.

This is a beautiful park, and there are still many places left to walk your dog and extensive play areas for them to do their thing. Playing in the water, either in the freshwater lake or the small beach, is an all-time favorite of the furry crowd, and there are feeding stations for when they are done. 

They get to burn their energy, and you can take a rest on the many benches around and just soak in the surrounding beauty. But, in Florida, as usual, just keep an eye out for signs of alligators and snakes…

A person walking dogs.

Tacky Jacks, Gulf Shores, AL

It’s okay for your beloved pet to run and play like a mad creature — they deserve it! However, we know very well that this can be very tiring for owners. And you too deserve a break and a pleasant spot to replenish your energies. Well, in Gulf Shores, there’s no better place than Tacky Jacks, a fantastic place open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can enjoy everything from fresh salads to po’ boys and the region’s signature seafood.

Dogs and pets in general are allowed in the outdoor seating area. That’s the perfect excuse for you to sit out. There’s nothing like enjoying the amazing views of the gulf while indulging in some local delicacies like the Smoked Tuna Dip, Shrimp and grits, and Oyster Platter.

Perdido Key River Road Park, FL

This lovely park sits on Old River on Perdido Key, near to the main road, and boasts a narrow, fenced pet-friendly beach where dogs can explore off-leash. There are separate areas for small and large dogs. It’s a beautiful setting with great sand and good for swimming too.

Other amenities include a kayak launch, a playground, and a pavilion with shades. There’s no fresh water available for the dogs, so keep that in mind.

Pensacola Beach West Dog Park, FL

You’ll see the signs marking the designated area for your dog to splash around. This is a small beach but a great gem for the little ones to have some fun exploring.

With the total dog-designated area about the same length as a basketball court, it can get a bit busy with other dog families on weekends, but hey, most dogs love a bit of socializing, don’t they?

You know what else they love? A day catching waves and leaving their paw marks in the super soft sand. At the end of the day, you can all enjoy the setting sun together.

Just bear in mind that dogs need to be leashed at all times, even in the water. Waste bags and trash bins are provided, but it’s always smart to BYO. And there is no water for washing or drinking.

Two dogs leashed on the beach.

Pensacola Beach East Dog Park, FL

This is another small yet clean beach with beautiful and soft sand that’s a delight for the furry ones to explore and for you to relax, soaking in the sea breeze and looking for some pretty seashells. Less busy than West Beach, this is also a great spot to take some memorable pics of the entire family — the golden hours are stunning!

Here too, dogs have to stay on a leash, but the friendly people and great waves around will compensate for it!

Frisky Mermaid Dolphin Tours & Boat Rentals, Pensacola Beach, FL

Want to explore the sea and bring Fido along in the boat? No problem! Frisky Mermaid Dolphin Tours & Boat Rentals is a pet-friendly rental company that welcomes pets aboard any privately chartered pontoon and tritoon rentals. They can enjoy the scenic views and soothing rocking motion — just bring along some water for them and make sure to place them in a safety vest. What a photo op, right?

Dog on boat.

Alga Beer Company, Pensacola FL

Time for happy hour? Head to Alga Beer Company, a dog-friendly brewery where dogs can enter both the taproom and the patio. You’ll be spoiled for choice: pilsners, IPAs, hefeweizen, lager, pale ale, sours, saison, and porter.

There are many regulars with their companions there. And what else could you want other than having a nice tap beer with your furry buddy by your side? 

More Tips to Enjoy the Best Dog-Friendly Spots on the Gulf Coast

To have the best experience when vacationing with your pet through the Gulf Coast, try to keep some things in mind:

  • Ensure that your lodging is pet-friendly. More and more hotels and short-term rentals are allowing pets nowadays. At Luxury Coastal Vacations, for one, we have a great selection of pet-friendly homes.
  • If you’re traveling by car, secure your pet in a well-ventilated crate or use a pet seatbelt.
  • Just in case, it’s always a good idea to have proper identification for your pet, including a collar with an ID tag containing your contact information.
  • If you are going on holiday with your furry friend, schedule a visit to the vet before the trip to ensure your pet is in good health. Check if vaccinations are up to date, and if there is any new documentation that you need to bring to your destination.
  • Packing essentials for your pet including food, water, bowls, medications, a favorite toy, and bedding. Traveling can be as stressful for them as it is for us, and having familiar items always brings some comfort.
  • Use resources like this blog to research and plan the best pet-friendly activities and spots in the region you are visiting.
  • Always study local pet regulations, including leash laws and any restrictions on pets in certain areas. You don’t want to be caught with fines and unpleasant surprises.
  • Always save the location of the nearest veterinary clinic at your destination and have a pet first aid kit at hand.
  • Be mindful of your pet’s behavior and comfort level in new surroundings. Some pets may need time to adjust to a new environment.
  • In many places, you will find doggie bags and other cleaning supplies, but it’s always a great idea to bring your own. Carry waste bags to clean up after your pet and be respectful of public spaces.
  • Finally, prepare yourself to be flexible and adapt your plans based on your pet’s needs and the environment.

By planning ahead and considering all the above, you’ll make your vacation amazing for both you and your furry companion.

Want to know what else your dog will enjoy during the holiday?

Dogs usually love it when owners book short-term rentals with local charm and space for them to play around. 

At Luxury Coastal Vacations, we have a great selection of pet-friendly rentals on the Gulf Coast, spanning Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, and Pensacola.

When you choose to stay in one of our homes or condos, you can expect a 5-star experience — for you and your best buddy. Browse through our options and discover what awaits you on the beautiful Gulf Coast!

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