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The Best Dog Beaches in the United States

Haley photo


March 19, 2023

City Dog Parks

The Best Dog Beaches in the United States thumbnail

Discovering a beach where dogs are welcome can be a delightful experience for your furry friend — nothing beats the joy of running, swimming, and playing in the sand. To make it easier for you and your pup, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best dog-friendly beaches in the United States.

This page is about public dog park beaches and also includes Sniffspot private dog park beaches. Sniffspot is the largest network of private dog parks for rent in the world. Each of the thousands of Sniffspot dog parks are hosted by locals on private land with 100% private bookings to maximize safety for guests and their dogs. Sniffspot offers various types of dog parks, including fenced fields, water parks, indoor dog parks, dog beaches, and more. Click here to learn more about Sniffspots near you!

Know Before You Go: Public Dog Beach Checklist

What to bring with you to a dog beach

Here are a few things to bring with you when visiting any dog park in the United States.

Pack several dog waste bags

Keep your parks clean! Always pack a few extra poop bags in case you need to pick up after your pup — and consider scooping any left-behind piles you come across, too. This will make the environment safer for everyone who visits.

Bring plenty of fresh drinking water

Some public dog beaches offer water bowls or fountains for your dog, but it’s a good idea to pack some of your own just in case. Never leave your dog’s hydration up to chance, especially on hot days running in the sand!

On this note, avoid letting your dog drink salt water. Oceans can lead to dehydration.

Put your dog in a collar or harness with ID tags

If your dog will be playing with other dogs, it’s important to pay close attention to what they’re wearing. You don’t want anyone’s teeth or paws getting caught in loose fabric or buckles! That said, it’s always a good idea to bring a well-fitted collar or harness along with your dog’s identification tags.

Washable or waterproof materials, like biothane, are especially great for dog beach visits.

Pack an extra leash or two

Along with a collar or harness, bring a leash, even if the dog park you’re visiting is a designated off-leash area. This way you can keep your dog under control while walking to and from the entrance. You might also consider packing an extra leash in case you need to grab hold of another dog or intervene if a conflict arises — and it’s a good idea to read up on leash laws in your local area before venturing out.

What to do before going to a public dog beach

Research the beach ahead of time

Read reviews and be on the lookout for any common issues, like unruly dogs or left-behind waste. It can be hard to find reliable information about some public parks (one reason Sniffspot’s private listings might be a better option) — when in doubt, don’t risk it. Your dog’s safety and comfort are too important.

Watch the beach for a few minutes before entering

Take inventory of the other dogs and owners. Is everyone under control? Are the dogs enjoying their play time? Is the area large enough that dogs can take breaks and get space from their playmates if they start to feel overwhelmed? (Tight spaces can prevent your pet from engaging in natural social behavior.) Ultimately, is there anything about the situation that makes you feel uncomfortable?

Make sure you have basic knowledge of dog body language

This will help you make sure your dog is enjoying their time and keep everyone safe! Know what signs might indicate that your pup is stressed or overwhelmed — and be ready to step in if needed. You can read more about interpreting your dog’s body language in this article.

What area of the country has the best dog beaches?

The midwest has the safest dog parks overall

Sniffspot conducted a 2022 survey of dog owners across the country to better understand the state of public dog parks.

The common stereotype is that the east and west coasts are the most dog-friendly regions of our country — but survey results show that public dog parks in the coasts are actually the dirtiest and most dangerous in the country. We found that more than 1 in 7 dog owners report their dogs having been attacked in a public dog park.

The midwest seems to have the safest dog parks in terms of injuries while the east coast has the cleanest public dog parks.

The west has an abundance of dog-friendly beaches

In terms of access to water, there are countless dog-friendly beaches on the west coast. If you're not set on saltwater, though, you’d be surprised at the number of wonderful spots on lakes throughout the center of the country too!

The Best Dog Beaches in the United States

Hundreds of beaches in our country welcome dogs and their owners. It's hard to narrow down the list! We've compiled some fan favorites here — some fun in the sun.

Most of these dog-friendly beaches allow pets off leash. Rules are subject to change and access can be affected by the weather — when in doubt, get in touch with your city or county’s local parks department before heading out to play in the waves!

If you can't find a dog beach location close to you, try heading to your local parks and recreation department website or calling your county to ask about pet rules.

Ocean Beach Dog Beach (public dog-friendly beach)

  • Address: Dog Beach, San Diego, California
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, swimming, wading, running, surfing
  • Entrance fee? No

Ocean Beach Dog Beach was one of the first off-leash dog beaches in the country. It’s located near the Ocean Beach Flood Control Channel and is open to dogs, owners, surfers, runners, and more.

Note that this area is not fenced and is large, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Fiesta Island (public dog-friendly beach)

  • Address: 1750 Fiesta Island Rd, San Diego, California
  • Hours: 6 am to 10 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, swimming, wading, running, surfing, biking
  • Entrance fee? No

Located in Mission Bay Park, Fiesta Island is one of the most popular dog beaches in the country. It’s a massive space up against the water that is dog friendly with no leash rules, making it more of an outdoor recreation area for a range of activities than a traditional enclosed dog park. Fiesta Island offers a 5.2-mile asphalt path around the island for dogs to enjoy with their owners.

Note that this area is not fenced and is very large, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Jupiter Dog Beach (public dog-friendly beach)

  • Address: 48 Ocean Blvd, Jupiter, FL, US, 33477
  • Hours: Dawn to dusk
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, swimming, wading, running, surfing, off-leash play
  • Entrance fee? No

One of the top-notch off-leash beach areas for dogs in Florida can be found at Jupiter Dog Beach. This special place allows dogs to enjoy a designated section of the beach, which extends for about 2.5 miles and runs along A1A near Ocean Cay Park in Jupiter, FL. The beach area spans from beach marker #26 at Marcinski Road, running northward to beach marker #57 (at the Carlin Park property line).

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Fort De Soto Dog Beach (public dog-friendly beach)

  • Address: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Hours: Dawn to dusk
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Walking, swimming, wading, running, surfing, off-leash play
  • Entrance fee? Yes, $5 parking fee

Fort De Soto Park is a popular park in St. Petersburg, Florida, that features a beautiful dog beach. The dog beach at Fort De Soto is located on the southern tip of the park and is easily accessible by car or bike. There are also several amenities available at the dog beach, including dog showers, water fountains for dogs, and plenty of waste bags and trash cans.

Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area (public dog-friendly beach)

  • Address: 601 West Montrose Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
  • Hours: 6 am to 11 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play, walking, swimming, wading
  • Entrance fee? $10 dog friendly area permit

Find this 3.83 acre stretch of dog-friendly beachfront where Wilson Avenue reaches east to Lake Michigan. This is one of Chicago’s largest dog parks — and one of only two dog-friendly beaches where your dog can swim and wade off leash. The water features and larger land size make it a better, safer option than most dog friendly areas in the Windy City.

Sociability note: Although larger than many city dog off leash areas, this public dog park is still relatively small in size, which means your dog might not be able to make space from other pets if they aren’t interested in playing. You should only visit if you’re confident your pup is social and tolerant with unfamiliar dogs.

Belmont Harbor Dog Friendly Area (public dog-friendly beach)

  • Address: Belmont & Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois
  • Hours: 6 am to 11 pm
  • Off leash? Yes
  • Activities: Off-leash play, swimming, wading
  • Entrance fee? $10 dog friendly area permit

Belmont Harbor is a small, 0.15 acre fenced-in beachfront where your extremely social dog can enjoy the water in close proximity to other pets and people. There is sometimes a bit of boat traffic, so keep that in mind if your pup is afraid of loud noises or easily startled.

Sociability note: This public dog park is small in size, which means your dog might not be able to make space from other pets if they aren’t interested in playing. You should only visit if you’re confident your pup is social and tolerant with unfamiliar dogs.

Meracle Acres (private Sniffspot dog park)

  • Location: Dousman, Wisconsin
  • Size: 50 acres
  • Fenced: No

Meracle Acres is a huge private dog park with 50 acres of woods, trails, and ponds dotted throughout the property. The hosts note wild animal sightings sure to keep your dog on their toes, along with patches of grass, sand, and all the other midwest terrain you could dream of.

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Sauvie Island (private Sniffspot dog park with a beach)

  • Location: Portland, Oregon
  • Size: 40 acres
  • Fenced: No

This huge expanse of private land is alongside a beautiful river, with flat walking areas to make taking in nature enjoyable for you and your pup. You can choose to take a two-mile loop around the property or a shorter route only on the beachfront.

Note that this area is not fenced, so you’ll want to make sure your dog has a solid recall before you visit.

Luoma Cedar Forest and Water Park (private Sniffspot dog park with a beach)

  • Location: Olympia, Washington
  • Size: 17 acres
  • Fenced: Partially

The hosts of this private dog park say it’s a magical cedar forest with many small trails encircling natural springs, streams, and even a waterfall. The lower part of the property includes shoreline for saltwater playtime — and there is also a large, grassy pasture. No neighbors in sight once you head down the lane.

FAQ About Public Dog Parks in the United States

Are public dog parks and off-leash dog beaches good for dogs?

It is important for dogs to have off-leash exercise and plenty of opportunities to explore. But the free and open nature of public dog parks can have drawbacks.

Many dog behaviorists discourage visiting public dog parks and recommend Sniffspot's private dog parks. With Sniffspot, dogs can get their exercise safely — without worrying about other dogs, people, or potential disease transmission.

What are the biggest concerns with public dog parks and beaches?

While the popularity of dog parks has been skyrocketing in the United States, so has the number of professional trainers who caution against their use. The top risks associated with public off-leash dog parks are that:

  • Dog parks can create an unnatural social environment
  • Busy dog parks can overwhelm shy or nervous dogs
  • Dog parks can exacerbate problem behaviors like leash reactivity
  • Bad experiences at a dog park can also create behavior problems in the first place
  • Public dog parks can lead to physical injuries and illnesses

(Thankfully, private dog parks don’t have these concerns. Learn more about Sniffspot listings in your area here!)

How do public dog parks create an unnatural social environment for dogs?

Many owners are drawn to dog parks because they want to socialize their pets. We’re inundated with messages of the “perfect” friendly dog. Our social media feeds feature viral videos of animal best friends that echo the cutesy movies we loved as children — but they often show a false reality.

While dogs are social mammals, it’s typically not natural for them to regularly engage in play with strangers. Dog sociability can be viewed as a sliding scale:

  • Some dogs are truly dog social. This means they genuinely enjoy interaction with almost every dog they meet! We tend to think these dogs are more common than they really are — they’re the ones we most see out and about because they can handle the widest range of environments.
  • Most dogs are dog tolerant or dog selective. They don’t often seek out new friends, but they can comfortably interact with other dogs when needed after a proper introduction process. (You can read more about properly introducing dogs who don’t know each other in this article.)
  • Some dogs are dog aggressive. They might live with or know a few specific canine friends, but they don’t generally enjoy being around their own species.

Ultimately: It’s perfectly normal for our dogs to not want to play with other pets outside of our families. Renting a private dog park just for your dog and a few trusted friends might be the best option.

How can public dog parks overwhelm shy or nervous dogs?

Owners have great intentions when they bring their nervous dogs to the dog park in hopes of building social skills. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for that plan to backfire.

Because dog parks are often busy, chaotic environments, it can be difficult to ensure all interactions are positive. Uncertain dogs are easily overwhelmed by large packs — if the space is fenced-in without adequate space to flee, these pets can quickly feel trapped or resort to the “fight” option of fight-or-flight reactions.

After a few stressful experiences, previously shy dogs can lose trust in their owners and even become fear aggressive.

Thankfully: This chance is lower at large, open dog beaches that aren’t confined like many smaller dog parks.

Sniffspot takes these risks seriously. That’s why all of our private dog park listings are carefully booked to make sure there’s ample time between arrivals and departures — and you can filter listings by whether or not your dog is likely to see any other animals at all, even from afar.

Do public dog parks exacerbate problem behaviors like leash reactivity?

It’s not just nervous dogs who can be harmed by dog park visits — exuberant dogs might struggle in these environments, too.

Many social dogs struggle with excitement-based leash reactivity. When they see another dog, they want to say hi! When the leash prevents them from doing so, they experience something called barrier frustration. Eventually this boils over into an aggressive-looking display that makes it difficult to go on walks or explore public spaces.

While playing with other dogs can be an important part of a social pet’s fulfillment, too much unstructured off-leash time can have unintended consequences when they routinely practice running up to other dogs.

These risks are especially high when owners take their dogs to the dog park with the intent of tiring them out. Pets often arrive in an amped-up, energetic state of mind that impairs good decision making.

Can one bad experience at a public dog beach have a lasting effect on a dog?

Even a previously social dog might develop a behavior issue (like fear reactivity) due to a negative interaction with another dog at a public dog park. Perhaps they get subtly bullied, feel overwhelmed, or are even bit — and they decide to preemptively try to keep other dogs away from them. Now your social dog is selective or even aggressive toward others.

While some dogs seem to let those negative interactions roll off their back (especially if they’ve been well socialized since puppyhood) others are affected in lasting ways. Each dog and situation is different.

What are the risks of physical injuries and illnesses at public dog beaches?

Public dog parks also increase the chances of pets sustaining injury or developing infection.

Dog park injuries

While many dog-dog injuries at dog parks are accidental — canines can be mismatched in size, inadvertently break skin while wrestling with untrimmed nails, or simply come on too strong without realizing — others are overtly aggressive.

Even friendly dogs can start fights by failing to recognize another pet’s signals of discomfort. Resource guarding over food and toys can turn into a dangerous scuffle. Sometimes heightened arousal from being in a large social group elevates even a typically clear-headed dog’s prey drive.

Dog park illnesses

No matter how hard a city works to keep their parks clean, it’s impossible to fully eliminate all infection risk. This is especially true in dog-designated spaces that see dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of different canines each week.

There’s no way to confirm that every dog entering an off-leash space has been fully vaccinated — and bacterial diseases like leptospirosis often thrive in wet, muddy terrain that’s been torn up by paws. Beaches are especially prone to this, along with risks from decaying fish and other sea life washed up on shore.

Young puppies and elderly dogs have the greatest chance of getting sick.

Are all public dog parks dangerous?

While dog parks certainly come with their risks, it would be unfair to claim they’re always a bad idea. Public dog parks do serve an important community service in cities.

Some areas lend themselves to safe interactions better than others — large plots of land with acres to maneuver are less dangerous than fenced-in city runs, for example — and responsible owner involvement can make a world of difference.

What are public dog beaches good for?

Well-maintained off-leash dog parks can provide dogs and owners with:

  • Biological fulfillment. At their best, dog parks provide an opportunity to fulfill our dogs’ natural canine instincts (running, sniffing, digging, etc.) without impacting others in shared spaces. This can be especially valuable if owners don’t have a yard of their own or walking trails nearby.
  • Playtime. While most dogs don’t want to play with strangers, some particularly outgoing canines might enjoy playing with brand-new friends. A small percentage of truly “dog social” dogs are good candidates for traditional dog parks.
  • Distraction training. Dog parks can be an ideal place to practice advanced training, like recalls, around the distractions of other dogs, people, and nature scents.
  • Owner connections. Many owners enjoy the human social aspect of the dog park — and public spaces enable those relationships without the costs commonly associated with formal group training classes or dog sports practices.

Are dogs born knowing how to swim?

While dogs are often thought of as natural swimmers, they are not necessarily born with the ability to swim. Like humans, some dogs may be more naturally inclined to swim due to their breed or genetics, but most dogs need to learn how to swim and become comfortable in the water through exposure and training.

It is important to introduce your dog to water slowly and safely, as not all dogs will enjoy swimming or be able to do it without assistance. It is also important to never leave your dog unattended around bodies of water, as even strong swimmers can tire quickly or get into trouble.

How can I keep my dog safe at a public dog beach?

If choosing to use a public dog park, you can do a lot to manage your dog’s safety:

  • Make an honest assessment of your dog’s sociability. Are they one of the small portion of dogs that gets along with all other animals?
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccines to protect them against any bugs that may be present in the park.
  • Choose an appropriate public dog park. Make sure that it is large enough and free from obvious hazards.
  • Assess the dog park and other owners before entering. Are there any maintenance issues in the park that could be a problem? Is it overly crowded? Are there owners that are not keeping a close eye on their dog? Are there dogs that could be an issue for your dog or others?
  • Keep a close watch and be an active part of your dog's play.

FAQ About Private Dog Parks and Beaches in the United States

Are private dog parks safe?

While public dog parks have a number of safety issues, such as potentially aggressive dogs and disease transmission, Sniffspot dog parks are much safer.

Sniffspot bookings are private for just you and dogs you bring. We require every dog to be vaccinated (or have equivalent titers). All Sniffspot locations are vetted and reviewed by guests so you can find the perfect safe place for you and your dog.

How do I know if a Sniffspot private dog park works for my dog?

You can filter Sniffspot dog parks by fencing and distractions.

  • If your dog is still working on their recall, you can visit one of our fully fenced private dog parks.
  • If your dog is reactive to other dogs, you can visit one of our off-leash areas where there are no dogs audible or visible nearby. You can also filter locations to avoid other domestic animals and people.

We recommend reading reviews and reaching out to the host ahead of time with any questions!

Does the US have any fully fenced private dog parks?

Yes! Sniffspot has tons of fully fenced dog parks. Browse all fully enclosed options by clicking this link and filtering by fence height.

Can I rent a private field for my dog to run?

You sure can! There are Sniffspot fields all over the country where dogs can be off leash safely. Filter for flat, open spaces near you at this link.

Are there private dog agility courses for rent near me?

Sniffspot has dog parks with agility equipment and/or dog obstacles in most cities in the United States. You can filter for these spots at our main listings page.

Haley photo


March 19, 2023

City Dog Parks

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Sniffspot is a community marketplace that enables anyone to rent land by-the-hour as a safe and private dog park.

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