Nestled on a bend of the St. Johns River, about 50 miles south of Jacksonville, Palatka was known as the “Gem of St. Johns” during the 19th century. Today, it is home to a large downtown business district, several historic and cultural sites, and various local festivals. Palatka also has three veterinary hospitals to put your mind at ease as you explore the city with your pup.
Experience Palatka's natural beauty at the Rice Creek Conservation Area, a 4,000-acre site that used to be an indigo and rice plantation back in the 18th century. The Rice Creek trails will take you and your adventurous pooch through diverse natural communities, including flatwoods, floodplain forest, and dome swamp. These communities house wildlife such as the Florida black bear, river otter, and white-tailed deer, so keep an eye out for them. Dogs are allowed at the conservation area, but must be leashed at all times.
If Fido prefers to walk in a more urban setting, head downtown and go for a leashed stroll in the City of Murals. Learn more about the history of Palatka as you check out the many murals scattered throughout the area. You may pick up a brochure at various locations downtown.
A pawsome adventure awaits you and your pup at historic Palatka!
The Ravine Gardens State Park gets its name from two ravines that go as deep as 120 feet, with steep banks at 45-degree angles. The ravines were transformed into a dramatic garden in the 1930s and is now home to 18 different types of azaleas. For a mostly easy hike around the area, head to the Main Park Drive, a 1.8-mile paved loop with several outlooks offering puptastic views. If you and Fido are up for a challenge, proceed to the 2.5-mile Azalea Trail, which travels up and down the ravines and over steep paths, exposed roots, and stone steps. Doggos are welcome at the Ravine Gardens State Park, provided they are leashed and well-behaved.
This neighborhood offers two furrific spots where Fido can take his daily walkies. The Hank Bryan Park, which is frequented by the local kids and their parents, features a paved walking track that you and your furry buddy can use to stay active. This park also has picnic areas and seating for when you need to take breaks. A little over a mile away is the Fred Green Park, which offers a wide grassy area for your pup to sniff and explore. The park's amenities include a baseball/softball diamond, playground, and small pavilion. There's also a pet waste station in case you forgot to bring your own bags.
Take your pup for a relaxing stroll along the water at Riverfront Park! Unobstructed views of the St. Johns River make this park a woofderful place to enjoy a beautiful afternoon with your pooch. Pack some snacks and treats so you and Fido can munch on something while you gaze out onto the water. A popular family destination, the Riverfront Park features paved walkways, picnic areas, fishing spots, and a veterans memorial. It also serves as a trailhead for the Bartram Trail, which traces the steps of William Bartram, the botanist and author who explored Florida in the late 1700s.
Let your hyper pupper run off all that excess energy at the Francis Youth Sports Complex Dog Park! This fenced-in, off-leash area offers plenty of room for Fido to romp unfettered with other canines. If your pup doesn't feel like socializing, get him on the agility equipment to challenge his skills. The dog park is located within the Francis Youth Sports Complex, which houses multiple baseball fields and batting cages. About 3 miles from the park is the pet-friendly Sleep Inn & Suites, which welcomes pets for an additional fee. Note that Fido-friendly rooms are limited, so call in advance to reserve one.
If you're looking for a pet-friendly place to stay in the northern part of town, the Crystal Cove Riverfront Resort has got you and your canine companion covered. This hotel welcomes up to two pets of any size for an extra fee per stay, so make yourselves at home. With a great location on the St. Johns River, many of the rooms come with lovely views, in addition to the standard refrigerator, microwave, cable TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, and free continental breakfast. Be sure to contact the Crystal Cove Riverfront Resort beforehand for a smooth check-in process without any unwanted surprises.