By Tim Falk
Published: 11/22/2021, edited: 11/22/2021
With the holiday season fast approaching, there’s no better time of year than right now to get out and about with your dog. And regardless of whether you’re planning a dog-friendly road trip or exploring a little closer to home, Florida is bursting with attractions, activities, and destinations that you and your pup can enjoy together.
Keep reading to take a look at the top destinations to visit in Florida with your dog this holiday season, from the park to the beach and anywhere in between.
What better place to enjoy the holiday season with your pup than among the glitz and glamor of Miami? Your pup will find plenty to get their tail wagging here, so check out these highlights if you’re traveling with a dog in Miami.
From December 2 to 26, The Wharf Miami transforms into a magical Riverside Holiday Village. You’ll find over 500,000 lights, oversized holiday decorations, and a special bar. Doors open Thursday to Sunday from 4pm, with leashed dogs welcome until 6pm.
Fancy a holiday tipple? Check out some of Miami’s best dog-friendly bars, including GroWynwood and LoKal.
Be sure to check out David T. Kennedy Dog Park, a Coconut Grove off-leash zone with separate areas for large and small dogs. Once your pup has finished socializing, you might want to take them for a walk (on-leash) through the rest of David T. Kennedy Park, which boasts over 20 acres of space right on the bayfront.
Searching for the best dog-friendly beach in Miami? Make sure you pay a visit to Hobie Island Beach Park. Located on the Rickenbacker Causeway, this absolute gem of a dog beach offers easy canine access to the warm waters. And if you feel like getting out and about on the water, you’ll find plenty of watersports equipment available for rent nearby.
Your pup isn’t allowed on the beach in the gorgeous Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, but leashed pups are more than welcome to explore the park’s scenic hiking trails. Located on the park’s western side, the trails offer a chance to reconnect with nature. The lookout and birdwatching opportunities along Robin’s Birding Trail are a particular highlight, so take your time exploring with your pooch.
St. Petersburg has a well-earned reputation as one of the most dog-friendly cities anywhere in the country, let alone Florida, so there’s much for you and your pup to enjoy here.
This holiday season, St. Petersburg is home to Enchant, the world’s largest Christmas light maze. Dogs usually aren’t allowed to visit this magical attraction, but for 1 night only on December 16, your pup is welcome in this winter wonderland for the Paws & Claus event. Tickets start at $25, and your dog will also need a ticket to enter.
North Straub Park is home to a host of festive events this holiday season. It all kicks off with the traditional lighting of the tree on November 27, then meet-and-greets with Old Saint Nick (December 4–5, 10–12, and 17–23). The family fun of Snowfest on December 18 is always a hit too.
One of the city’s dog-friendly highlights is the North Bay Trail, a mostly flat, 6.5-mile trail that runs along St Petersburg’s beautiful waterfront. Your leashed pup will love exploring all the sights, sounds, and smells, plus checking out the lovely parks you pass along the way. Even better, the waterfront parks along the trail and the St. Petersburg Pier are lit up with beautiful holiday lights and decorations.
Dog-friendly beaches in Florida don’t get much better than Fort De Soto Dog Beach Park in nearby Tierra Verde. While this park offers two fenced-in areas near the beach for off-leash fun, it’s down on the sand where many pups have the most fun. Your pup will love exploring this quarter-mile stretch of white sandy beach and splashing in the water, so be prepared to spend a whole day here.
The Dog Bar is a unique establishment combining 2 of our favorite things in the entire world — an off-leash dog park with a full-service bar. So while you sit down to a refreshing beverage, your pup can enjoy romping around the 4,500 square feet of fenced off-leash space. There’s a supervisor (known as a “Wooferee”) on hand during peak hours to make sure all pooches are on their best behavior. The Dog Bar hosts "pawlenty" of holiday events for you and your pooch to enjoy — check the calendar before your visit. A day pass is $5.
From downtown to the beach, Jacksonville is full of “grrreat” dog-friendly events, attractions, and experiences this 2021 holiday season. Here’s our pick of the best for you and your pet.
Kick off the holidays in Jacksonville with the annual Light Boat Parade on November 27, with scores of festively decorated vessels floating along the St. Johns River. It’s a beautiful spectacle, but take note that it culminates in a fireworks display that may frighten your pup.
The Light Boat Parade also features the 904 Pop Up, where you can stock up on gifts from 200 local creatives. It’s free and pet-friendly, with delicious food trucks in attendance too.
Don’t worry about decking the halls this holiday season — it’s time to Deck the Chairs! This annual Jacksonville Beach celebration sees 40 lifeguard chairs decorated with bright lights along with nightly light shows and entertainment. Pets welcome!
Searching for a dog-friendly eatery? Check out The Bearded Pig. Alternatively, grab craft beer and coffee at Kanine Social, or head to Brusters to treat your pooch to a free doggy sundae!
Want to feel some sand between your paws? From October 1 until March 31, leashed dogs are permitted on Jacksonville Beach at any time.
The largest dog park in Jacksonville, Dog Wood Park is a bucket-list location for any Florida dog. With a whopping 42 acres of picturesque terrain for your pup to explore, including doggy ponds and even a doggy lake, your pooch will be grinning from ear to ear. Throw in an agility course and the fact that 10 acres of the park is beautiful forest, and it’s pretty easy to see why Dog Wood Park is a must-visit. A visitor's pass costs $11 for one dog, plus $1.25 for each additional dog.
This buzzing neighborhood in Tampa’s northeast has a well-earned reputation as a dog-friendly destination. Be sure to check out the best local attractions this 2021 holiday season.
You’re spoiled for choice when searching for dog-friendly dining options in Ybor City. Check out Gaspar’s Grotto and The Bricks.
Want to sample some of the best local brews with your pup by your side? Some of the highlights include New World Brewery, Rock Brothers Brewing, and Tampa Bay Brewing Company (check out the special doggy menu).
Jingle Bell Bazaar is Ybor’s largest annual holiday festival. Bring your pet to this free event and check out Santa’s Village, food trucks, and more than 100 vendors.
Taking your dog for a walk over the holidays? Stroll along the Tampa Riverwalk and stop in for some off-leash fun at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Dog Park. Curtis Hixon Park also transforms into a beautiful Winter Village during the holidays, with ice skating, a kids’ train, Santa, and much more.
Searching for somewhere to stay with your furry friend? Check out Hotel Haya, where four-legged guests are spoiled with treats, beds, and bowls.
Found near the boat ramp and pier in a popular South Tampa park, Picnic Island Beach Dog Park is sure to set your pup’s tail wagging. This secluded beach is home to gorgeous white sand and pristine calm waters — perfect for some dog-friendly fun. The sunsets here are pretty spectacular too, so bring a towel and sit down and enjoy the view with your pup.
Planning on checking out the best holiday activities at Universal Orlando Resort? There’s plenty to enjoy here, and while dogs aren’t welcome in any theme parks, there’s still a whole lot that will put a smile on your pup’s face.
The good news is that Loews Hotels offers 3 hotels at Universal Orlando Resort with pet-friendly rooms — Royal Pacific Resort, Sapphire Falls Resort and Portofino Bay Hotel. Not only do you get to share a room with your pooch, but they can also take advantage of perks like treats, bowls, and bedding. Best of all, there are gourmet room service menus for four-legged guests. With VIP treatment like that, your pup might never want to leave.
Universal Orlando Resort offers an on-site boarding kennel, but this was temporarily unavailable as of mid-November. You may need to consider nearby boarding options for your dog instead, or maybe book them in for a stay with a Wag! dog boarder or sitter.
Get into the holiday spirit by checking out Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. Running from November 13 to January 2, the parade features larger-than-life balloons and characters from movies like Shrek and Madagascar. You might even spot a Minion! (This event isn't dog-friendly.)
If you’d rather not get in the holiday spirit, check out The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, or get a photo with The Grinch himself. (This event isn't dog-friendly.)
Set out on a holiday scavenger hunt to find specially decorated trees throughout Universal Florida. Just pick up a Holiday Tree Hunt brochure ($10 plus tax) and away you go! (This event isn't dog-friendly.)
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly lake beach in Florida, Lake Baldwin Dog Park, located nearby in Winter Park, is pretty hard to beat. Sitting pretty within a 23-acre park, this off-leash area is the “pawfect” spot for dogs who want to play in the sand or splash around in calm water.
Florida is practically overflowing with wonderful dog-friendly destinations and activities. So if you’re exploring the Sunshine State this holiday season, take your fur-baby and get ready for a vacation to remember.
But if you’re visiting a destination that isn’t particularly dog-friendly, check out the dog sitting services in your area. Pet Caregivers with Wag! can offer fun, festive, and personalized care for your dog on home turf, so your pup will be in safe hands until you return!
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