The Sunshine State is the perfect location for a road trip with your four-legged friend. Florida boasts tons of idyllic natural areas for pet parents and their fur-babies to enjoy, from pristine beaches to serene marshlands.
You'll also find plenty of dog-friendly campgrounds and businesses in Florida, so you can spend some time stargazing and enjoying some tasty Florida seafood with your pupper by your side. It can be tricky to plan the perfect getaway with your canine compadre with so much to do in the Sunshine State. Read on to discover the top dog-friendly road trip destinations in Florida.
Where to play
Dog Wood Park — Jacksonville
Roadtripping with your dog across the Florida/ Georgia state line? Consider stopping for a stroll at the Dog Wood Park in Jacksonville. This 42-acre park is a doggo's dream, with a 25-acre area which is fenced in so your pooch can run off-leash without you having to worry about them running off. The landscape consists mainly of woodlands and fields where you can play frisbee or fetch with Fido.
You'll also find a 2-acre swimming lake known as Lake Bow Wow, where your pup can doggy paddle. There are even tunnels, tires, and agility equipment so you can test your woofer's training skills. With such a large and diverse off-leash area, Dog Wood Park is one of the best dog-friendly parks in Florida.
Before visiting Dog Wood Park, be sure to read the park rules. You must bring proof of up-to-date rabies vaccinations before visiting, and males dogs over 8 months old must be neutered. Dog Wood Park also charges a small fee for admission.
Myakka River State Park — Sarasota
Get lost in nature at the Myakka River State Park. One of Florida's biggest and oldest state parks, Myakka River State Park is excellent for long hikes with your canine compadre. The park boasts a 38-mile hiking loop, which meanders through marshlands, arid prairies, palm hammocks, and more.
It’s no surprise that such a diverse natural area is home to an array of wildlife, including over 100 bird species, otters, alligators, and bobcats. If you fancy camping, there's a dog-friendly campground where you and Odie can recharge your batteries.
While in Myakka River State Park, you must keep your dog on a 6-foot leash at all times. Due to the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife, your pup shouldn't be left unattended and mustn't go into the water. You'll need to provide proof of current rabies vaccinations and clean up after your dog.
Fort De Soto Dog Beach Park — Tierra Verda
No trip to Florida is complete without sunning it on the beach. Fort De Soto Beach Dog Park is one of the best dog-friendly beaches in Florida and is conveniently located near major holiday destinations like Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg.
As well as providing a stretch of sandy beach where Tucker can dig in the sand and splash in the surf, the beach is also home to 2 fenced-in dog runs so your pupper can make some new furry friends. If your mutt still has energy to burn, consider taking them for a walk down one of Fort De Soto Park's many hiking trails.
Ensure your dog has up to date vaccinations and licensing before entering the park. Your pup must be at least 4 months old to visit. You'll have to clean up after your hound, so bring along plenty of doggy bags.
Gayle's Trails — Panama City Beach
Pet parents planning a "puptastic" escapade on the Florida Panhandle will love Gayle's Trails. These paved trails run for dozens of miles and weave through the beautiful Panama City Beach Conservation Park, as well as several great city parks.
One park you'll pass through is Frank Brown Park, which provides sizeable off-leash areas where your pup can roam free. One of the best ways to explore these trails is on a mountain bike, so consider teaching your hound to run alongside your bike.
It's worth noting parts of these trails lack shade, so bring plenty of water and avoid midday walks. Dogs are welcome, as long as you keep them on a 6-foot leash at all times.
Amelia Earhart Bark Park — Hialeah
Canine campers spending the day in Miami will love visiting Amelia Earhart Bark Park. Situated just north of downtown Miami, the Amelia Earhart Bark Park features a 5-acre off-leash area, with separate enclosures for small and large dogs.
The surrounding Amelia Earhart Park spans over 500 acres, with plenty of trails where you can take Spot for an on-leash amble. Amelia Earhart Park is very popular for watersports, thanks to the Peregrine Falcon Lake. One of the most popular activities in wakeboarding, and you can even rent a boat so you can have a go at this exhilarating activity.
When you and your woofer enter the park, you'll need to show proof of vaccinations and licensing. You'll also be required to keep your dog on a leash at all times outside the designated dog runs.
Where to stay
Orlando/Kissimmee KOA — Kissimmee
The Orlando/Kissimmee KOA is one of the best dog-friendly KOAs in Florida. Just a stone's throw from some of Orlando's world-class amusement parks, this campground is perfect for families and their furry friends.
Your doggo will love meeting fellow canine campers at the Kamp K-9 Dog Park. If your pup gets mucky after playing, rinse them off at the dog wash so they don't get their muddy paws all over your sparkling clean camper.
There are also pet-friendly cabins in case you fancy camping in style. Pet parents will find plenty to do around camp, with a swimming pool, fitness center, and playground to enjoy.
While camping at the Orlando/Kissimmee KOA, keep your dog on a leash while around camp. Your dog also can't be left alone for any period. If your dog shows aggression or barks uncontrollably, you may be asked to leave.
Fort Myers/Pine Island KOA — Fort Myers
Pet parents searching for a convenient campground overlooking the Gulf of Mexico should consider the Fort Myers/Pine Island KOA. This KOA is situated on the beautiful Pine Island, just a short drive from Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
Similar to most KOAs across Florida, the Fort Myers/Pine Island KOA features a dog park where your canine compadre can blow off some steam. Avid anglers will have a ball at this campground, as Pine Island is considered to be the "Tarpon capital of the world”. There's also a hot tub, sauna, and pavilion for picnics.
While KOAs are among the top dog-friendly road trip destinations in Florida, pay attention to each campground's rules. You're limited to 2 dogs per campsite at this KOA. Pups must stay on a 6-foot leash at all times and shouldn't be left unattended.
Paradise Island RV Resort — Fort Lauderdale
Paradise Island RV Resort is a superb place to stay if you're RVing with a dog to Miami. Despite being located near the center of Fort Lauderdale, Paradise Island RV Resort still affords a relaxing place to camp. With the beach and Florida nightlife within touching distance, this an exciting place to stop on your cross-state adventure.
Pet parents will enjoy using some of the on-site amenities, including a heated pool, a games room, and a fitness center. Your pup is welcome to join you at this RV park, as long as they're kept on a leash at all times. There are breed restrictions, although these aren’t explicitly listed on the website — call ahead if you're unsure. You may be asked to leave if your dog barks uncontrollably or is aggressive toward other campers.
Where to eat
Florida is the “pawfect” place for eating out with your barking buddy, with coutnless alfresco eateries dotted across the Sunshine State. Many of the best dog-friendly restaurants in Florida are located in popular tourist destinations, like St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Tampa, and Miami.
Most dog-friendly restaurants in Florida provide outdoor seating for pet parents; however, you'll find a handful of restaurants that also offer indoor seating.
While you dine on delicious Floridian fish or a decadent Southern delicacy, your pup will get a bowl of water and some treats to keep them entertained. Some super canine-friendly establishments even provide a dog-friendly menu, so your mutt can chow down while you enjoy a burger and a beer.
Where to roam
Tampa to Naples
Florida boasts hundreds of miles of picture-perfect coastlines, making it a great destination for a road trip with a dog. The drive from Tampa to Naples provides some of the best coastal views in the state, without being too long for your doggo.
Depending on the route you take, the drive from Tampa to Naples takes around 3 hours. However, if you're looking to drive along the coast, it'll take about 3.5 hours, covering approximately 180 miles.
At the start of your journey, consider taking the I-275 and the Sunshine Skyline Bridge, which offers sweeping views of Tampa Bay. About an hour, you'll pass through the beautiful Sarasota, where you can stop for a bite to eat and take Bella to the Lakeview Paw Park to stretch their legs.
If you're looking to stop later in your journey, consider an adventure at the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park in Port Charlotte. The park covers over 45,000 acres of woodlands, mangroves, and estuary. Dogs are only allowed in designated areas, so check with the park ahead of time if you're unsure.
Due to the length of this road trip, you'll no doubt want to find a dog-friendly campground for an overnight stay near Naples. The Naples/Marco Island KOA contains a dog park and plenty of fun activities, making it the ideal campground for canines.
One of the best state parks for pups, Collier-Seminole State Park is located a short drive from Naples. Collier-Seminole State Park is unique as it contains one of the world's largest mangrove swamps and features 4 dog-friendly nature trails ranging from under a mile to 5 miles in length.
Pensacola to Panama City
If you're planning a vacation along the Florida Panhandle, consider taking a seaside drive from Pensacola to Panama City. This road trip is around 110 miles long and will take around 3 hours. Along the entire journey, you'll drive along the oceanfront and over some of Florida's beautiful barrier islands.
An excellent place to stop about midway along this drive is in the City of Destin. Destin is home to Henderson Beach State Park is you fancy an on-leash stroll. There's also the 3-acre Destin Dog Park in case you want to let Scoob roam free for a while.
Once you arrive in Panama City, you and your fur-baby can grab a bite to eat at one of the super dog-friendly oceanfront restaurants. Canine campers looking to stay overnight should book a campsite at St Andrew's State Park.
While dogs are welcome in the campground and certain parts of the park, they’re not allowed on the beach or in the wetlands. Pups must be on a leash at all times around the park and campground.
Where to learn
While there are plenty of top dog-friendly road trip destinations in Florida, not all of the Sunshine State's attractions will welcome your woofer with open arms. If you're planning one of the state's best excursions, but can't bring along Lucky, consider booking a Florida dog walker through Wag!. A dog walker can take your pooch on an adventure at a nearby park while you make the most of Florida's array of family-friendly activities.
Walt Disney World — Orlando
A trip to Walt Disney World is sure to be a magical outing for all ages. Disney World is one of the most visited holiday resorts in the world, and for good reason. Disney fans young and old will love meeting Mickey and pals before taking a ride on some of Disney World's best-known rides, including Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the Tower of Terror.
Don't forget to catch one of the amazing shows like Mickey's Philharmonic or the Country Bear Jamboree. If you get peckish later in the day, swing by one of the dozens of themed restaurants.
Salvador Dalí Museum — St. Petersburg
The Salvador Dalí Museum is an excellent attraction for fans of surrealist artwork. Dedicated to one of the masters of surrealist art, this museum houses over 2,400 pieces by Dalí, making it the largest collection of his work outside Europe.
From melting clocks to obscure landscapes, you'll see plenty of recognizable Dalí tropes in the collection. Some of the museum highlights include The Hallucinogenic Toreador and Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man.
Everglades National Park
No trip to the southern tip of Florida would be complete with exploring the Everglades National Park. One of the three largest national parks in the US, the Everglades covers over 1.5 million acres of swamps, woodlands, prairies, and more.
Due to its vast area, it's tricky to explore the Everglades without some help. An airboat is a classic way of seeing the best of the park. Many airboat tour guides will take you to see ferocious alligators, turtles, and some of the park's best kept secrets.