Are you in the middle of planning your vacation, and have just looked across at your beloved dog only to be met with those “puppy” dog eyes that tug at your heart strings? Has it made you wish you could take your four legged friend away with you so the WHOLE family can get some much needed sun and relaxation?
If so, you should consider the State of Florida. During the winter months Florida offers plenty of warm sunshine and endless sandy beaches where not just you and the kids can play, but your dog can as well. In fact, it may surprise you to know there are many dog friendly places you can stay or visit.
So now you know you don’t have to feel guilty at the thought of putting your dog in kennels while you and the family take off to a warmer climate for a week or two, take a look below at some of the top dog friendly destinations we’ve found for you:
This is one of the most popular places for many people to vacation and if you have a dog (or two) it’s also one of the most pet friendly in the State. Why not take a look at the Sheraton Suites Hotel? It’s located on South Roosevelt Boulevard just across the street from Smather’s Beach where you and your pup can take a stroll; dig a few holes and even splash about in the water.
The Hotel doesn’t charge for pets and the only stipulation they have is that the combined weight of your dog(s) is 80lbs or under. If you have larger
than average dogs, you might want to check out the Banana Bay Resort and Marina. They also don’t charge any additional fees for your furry friends however unlike the Sheraton Suites they are more flexible with weight.
If you’re wondering what to do while you’re on vacation in Key West, there are endless activities you can take part in. One of the most popular is the Wild Dolphins Eco-Tour. This is one of the best ways to see some of the wildlife Florida has to offer and you can book a tour for four or seven hours or, if you prefer you can hire the boat privately for the whole or half a day.
Don’t think you’re dog can’t go with you either. In fact, he might make a new friend because the captain of this boat has a Golden Retriever that never leaves his side! You can also hire a Lazy Dog Kayak or a doggy paddleboard both of which are a great way for the two of you to have some fun paddling along the local channel.
Fort De Soto State Park
Located in Pinellas County on the West Coast of Florida, Fort De Soto State Park was voted one of the best places to take a vacation with your four legged friend by Southern Living Magazine back in 2010. The Dog Beach and Paw Playground will make for lots of frolicking about for you and your pup with its white sandy beaches (no leashes required), calm seas on the Gulf of Mexico which is safe for your dog to swim in and a grassed play area for your pup to meet new friends and just enjoy a good old run around. The park even has a place to wash the salt out of your dog’s fur, fountains and waste bags (for obvious reasons). The best part is it costs a mere $5 to gain entry to the park for a whole day of fun.
Dog Wood Park Jacksonville
The name alone screams dog! This park is privately owned and is 25 acres of doggy heaven. Because it’s totally fenced in, your furry friend can run around leash free for the whole day. There are ponds to splash about in, plenty of trails with interesting things to sniff and grassy knolls to roll about on. For those of you with big dogs, you can take advantage of Lake Bow Wow, and smaller dogs are welcome to have a swim in Lake Fifi.
There are plenty of places for you to sit and have a cup of coffee and a snack or chat with other dog lovers. For your dog, there are sand piles, tires to climb on and shaded areas for you and your pooch to take a break. It will only cost you $11 for the day, but do bear in mind there are additional charges for facilities such as washing areas.
For those of you that like the finer things in life, Downtown Naples is the place to be seen with your dog. You can while away the hours browsing through the many choices of classy doggy accessory boutiques such as For Footed Friends, Fergie’s Closet Doggie Boutique and Diva Doghouse to name but a few.
Once you’ve “shopped until you drop” there are lots of outdoor cafes, restaurants and bars that are all dog friendly so you can take in the tropical feel of this part of Florida as you and your furry friend enjoy some lunch.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay as well as visit, here are a few spots to think about:
Best Friends Pet Resort
Located in Lake Buena Vista, this resort will pamper your pets during the day or overnight while you enjoy a visit to Disney World. Day care for dogs is available from $27 and there are discounts for those of you who intend to visit Disney World.
Aloft hotels is a chain owned by Starwood and you will find their pet friendly rooms at reasonable rates in Jacksonville (perfect if you intend to pay a visit to the Dog Wood Park), Tallahassee and soon you’ll be able to take advantage of this pet friendly hotel chain in Orlando and Miami as well.
If You Want a Bit of Luxury
For a really high class getaway, you and your pampered pooch can stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami however, be prepared to reach for your credit card as you’re dazzled with all the Swarovski crystal dog accessories. You can also book to have a massage or doggy boot camp for the day. Do remember though, your dog cannot weigh more than 25lbs.
A Few Words of Warning
Taking your dog on vacation with you brings peace of mind that he is being looked after by the best person for the job – you! However, you wouldn’t forget to take things like medication or sunscreen for you, and it’s no different for your dog.
One very important point is that a disease called Heartworm is found in the State of Florida and can be contracted by your pooch due to mosquito bites. Before you go on vacation it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet so they can be checked over and given pills to stave off infection should this happen.
With a bit of careful planning you and your four legged friend will have the vacation of a lifetime and the State of Florida is one of the best places to choose!