Just a short walk off Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach is a bit calmer than the nightlife-driven “Jax” area and offers more upscale hotels, unique dining, and family-friendly activities. A historic destination (some believe it’s the site of the first year-round Native American settlement in North America), it is lined with condos and houses, rather than back-to-back resorts and hotels.
Atlantic Beach was named one of the top dog-friendly beaches near Jacksonville. For the portion of Atlantic Beach that’s right off the main pedestrian thoroughfare, the rules differ from those that apply elsewhere. Dogs must be on a leash unless both you and your dog are in the water together, swimming. If you are just walking your dog in the water, not swimming, a leash is required. Leashes must be 12 feet or less and either attached to a fixed object or held by a suitable person (no children).
If you keep walking along the ocean, another part of the dog-friendly portion of Atlantic Beach is actually located within Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, which takes up 1.5 miles of the wide, sandy shoreline. In addition to the shore itself, the park also offers your dog lots of trails crisscrossing 450 acres, with a freshwater lake. Here, dogs must be kept on a leash of eight feet or less at all times and visitors must not bring more than two dogs at a time.
Do keep in mind when visiting this beach and the surrounding wetland areas with your dog that other wildlife lives in the region, notably predators such as alligators, so you want to keep your dog safe and by your side at all times. Do not allow them to wander too closely to freshwater sources where these reptiles could be lurking.