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For many, summer means getting outside and spending quality time with four-legged friends. Sometimes that's a game of fetch in the backyard, but sometimes it's fun in the sun (and sand) at the beach.
Luckily, there are a number of beaches in the United States that let you bring your pooch — as long as you follow the rules, of course. Here are eight beaches that you can visit with your dog.
Photo by Jeremy Kane
Beach rules: Located on Sanibel Island, the beach allows dogs as long as owners clean up after them and they are leashed. Leashes cannot be more than 8 feet long.
Beach details: Plenty of space allows you and your dog to get ample exercise or just take a break from your busy life. The tropical nature of the island and the nearby nature preserve makes this beach even more of an exotic getaway. Picnic areas and barbecue grills are available, and the area offers plenty of pet-friendly restaurants and accommodations, making an extended stay an easy option.
Jeremy Kane, who has been going to Algiers Beach with his dog Willow since he moved to the area in 2008, says the variety of sea smells excites his canine pal. “The beach itself is fabulous — wide, never congested, and should we wish it, we can walk for nearly 4 miles east and double that to the west,” Kane says.
Photo by Kristy Boulos
Beach rules: Dogs can enjoy the sand and water off-leash in this dog-friendly area of Montrose Beach. Dogs have to be leashed only upon entering or exiting the area, and owners are responsible for immediately cleaning up after their pets. All dogs must have a current Chicago Park District DFA tag.
Beach details: Pet owners love how clean this beach is, and visitors tend to be respectful enough to keep it that way. Montrose gets busy on the weekends, but it never gets so crowded that you won't be able to find space.
“My dogs love the water and socializing with other dogs," says Kristy Boulos, who has been going to the beach for about six years. "I live in the city, so it's nice to have a close option for some fun in the sun… I also like that they can easily cool off after running around. It's a nice opportunity for me to relax and spend some fun time in the sun with them, while they are also getting some great exercise.”
Photo by Emmas Lindsay
Beach rules: Your dog is welcome at any time on this beach, as long as you have him under control either with a leash or your voice.
Beach details: The beach is about an hour's drive from Portland, and the rock formations jutting out of the water, especially Haystack Rock, will be unlike anything you've seen. It's also close to Ecola State Park, so you can continue your day outdoors with a fun hike with your dog once you've had your fill of the beach.
Originally from Seattle, Emmas Lindsay fell in love with the beach six years ago during her first visit with her 11-month-old Lab. Eventually she decided to make it a more permanent home, opening a shop called Dogs Allowed at the beach. “We continued coming here because it is the friendliest town we have been to," she says. "The beach is clean, [has] soft sand, [is] not rocky like most of the Washington State beaches, [and] hotels don’t treat dog owners like second-class citizens but offer oceanfront rooms of the standard that people without dogs experience.”
Photo by David Richey
Beach rules: Dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed.
Beach details: Located on a barrier island off the Texas coast, the long stretch of beaches offers plenty to do, such as bird watching, an annual sand castle competition and a variety of activities for the whole family. It can be quite a popular getaway in the summer, but if it gets too crowded for your taste, you can escape to nearby Galveston Island State Park (which also welcomes leashed pets on park grounds outside of park buildings) for a picnic or camping.
David Richey used to own a house on Sea Isle Beach (one of the Galveston Beaches), which he frequented with his dog. Since they moved, he still travels back at least once a month during the offseason to visit. “The main thing we enjoyed in Galveston was how long the beach stretches, and we can walk or bike with [our dog] for miles,” Richey says. “She loves to run with the pelicans and chase the crabs.”
Photo by Tracy Finn
Beach rules: The public beaches on Block Island all allow dogs as long as they remain leashed.
Beach details: The 17 miles of flat, wide beach mean you usually won't run into too many other people, and you and your dog will also discover some historical landmarks, lighthouses and cool bluffs. It's a hidden gem in Rhode Island.
Tracy Finn goes to Scotch Beach and Mansions Beach (both on Block Island) with her dog. “They're both lovely early in the morning before other beachgoers arrive and at the end of the day. Block Island is an extremely dog-friendly place, and most people are happy to see [and] meet dogs and their humans,” Finn says.
Photo by Roberta Thuman
Beach rules: Nags Head Beach is another great option if you’re looking for a beach where your dog will be welcome all year long. The only rule here is that he must be leashed.
Beach details: As your family and dog enjoy the beach, you can take advantage of many of the shoreline sports available, such as sailing. There's also plenty of history to discover, with a historic district featuring beautiful architecture, not to mention the nearby town of Kitty Hawk.
Roberta Thuman, public information officer for the Town of Nags Head, visits the beach often with her dog. “After a few hours of digging holes in the sand, walking in the surf and playing with other pups, our dog falls fast asleep with what looks like a smile on her face,” Thuman says.
Photo by Roxanna Sarmiento
Beach rules: This beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and allows dogs as long as they're leashed.
Beach details: The rolling dunes, white sand and bluffs make this an especially picturesque beach on Cape Cod. It's peaceful, and the sand is free of rocks, allowing you and your dog a smooth walk.
Roxanna Sarmiento went to the beach with her dog Lola during her Cape Cod vacation. “It’s a very clean beach, [with] tons of shells for the kids and space for the dog,” she says, adding that there's a lot of room to spread out and views sure to capture the whole family's imagination.
Photo by Lena Volk
Beach rules: This section of Huntington Beach is the perfect place to lounge on the sand with your pup. Dogs here must be leashed at all times, and owners have to pick up after them.
Beach details: Just an hour from Los Angeles, this is a convenient beach for many Southern Californians. And since the area has relatively few dog-friendly beaches, it's truly a haven for dogs and their owners. Most people respect the rules — though the leash rule has become more lax recently — and each other. If you visit in September, you can even catch the annual Surf City Surf Dog competition.
Lena Volk has been taking her dog Mimzy to this dog-friendly area for the past four years. Volk says it's a great dog community that has daily meeting spots both on the beach and in nearby neighborhoods where owners and dogs can socialize. "Mimzy is a German Shepherd trapped in a 5-pound Pomeranian body, so Dog Beach gives her time to let out her inner big dog. She can run freely, play with other friendly dogs, and there's plenty of sandy beach space for her to avoid being clobbered by our Surf City waves," she says. "They keep the beach clean and provide plenty of doggie bag areas for owners to clean up after their pups."
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