The East Coast has plenty of beautiful dog-friendly beaches, from the northernmost points in Maine all the way to the Florida Keys.
In the states where winter keeps everyone bundled up and away from the beach, there are usually restrictions about bringing dogs to the beach during the high-season hours of summer, so be sure to check the rules before you go from Memorial Day to Labor Day. At most other times of the year, pups can often run and play unleashed in the sand and surf to their hearts’ content.
When in Maine, visit Gooch’s and Mother’s beaches in Kennebunk and let your dog run without a leash. In Massachusetts, dogs roam free from Provincetown to Boston, at places like Good Harbor Beach, Doggie Beach (in Nahant) and Castle Island Beach.
Even Rhode Island, the smallest state in the nation, knows that dogs love the beach. At Sachuest Beach in Middletown, dogs are welcome on leash; and out on Block Island – a truly wonderful place to get away from it all – you and your dog can roam Mohegan Bluffs and you will both enjoy incredible views of the vast ocean, then clamber down the stairs to frolic in the sand.
From October 1 to March 31, Jennings Beach in Fairfield, Connecticut, is a great spot to let your dog run free, but be warned: horses are also allowed on the beach during those months, so if your pooch is intimidated by such a big beast, keep the leash on. During those same months, dogs can run off leash at Compo Beach in Westport; and at Hammonasset Beach in Madison (the largest public beach park in Connecticut), dogs on a leash can go to the beach and also stay in a campsite from November 1 to April 1.
New York’s coastline offers numerous places for dogs to get wet, including the Larchmont Dog Beach, a small beach in Westchester County that is at its best at low tide. Many of the beaches on Long Island are dog friendly, but only in the non-summer months. Montauk, East Hampton and Southampton beaches all allow dogs, but not from June to September. Fire Island has a number of beaches where dogs can play while on the leash; during high summer season (March 15 through Labor Day), go to the bay side beaches of the island only.
Wildwood, New Jersey, is probably one of the East Coast’s friendliest places for dogs. With Poplar Avenue Beach designated as a dog beach all year round, the city even celebrated by erecting a huge water hydrant sculpture to show their love of dogs. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash here, whether on the sand or in the water. In Asbury Park at the 8th Avenue Dog Beach, dogs can run unleashed from September to May and during the high summer season from 6 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. Female canines in heat are never allowed, however. Other Jersey Shore beaches that allow dogs in the off-season include Sunset Beach in Cape May, Gateway National Park in Sandy Hook and Longport Dog Beach in Somers Point.
In Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, most public beaches allow dogs on leash in the off-season from September to May, but restrict them during the peak of summer beachgoing. Visit Cape Henlopen State Park, Fenwick Island State Park and Plum Island with your pooch in Delaware; Assateague, Elk Neck and Sandy Point in Maryland; and Virginia Beach and Norfolk in Virginia.
Both North and South Carolina are happy to welcome your furry friends to the beach, but like most other East Coast states, that welcome is rescinded in the busy summer months. However, if you head to the Outer Banks in North Carolina you will find dogs on the beach all year round at Nag’s Head, Kitty Hawk and Cape Hatteras – and the scenery is incredible there, too. In South Carolina, try Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island and Charleston’s beaches, where dogs love the good weather and warm water.
Georgia has its share of spots where canine companions can get their feet wet; Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island are both beautiful places to vacation and very dog-friendly, too.
The beaches of Florida show that the Sunshine State truly loves canines. There are so many dog beaches in the Sunshine State that listing them all would take a whole article! They can be found on both coasts - on the Atlantic side from St. Augustine to Key West and the Gulf side from Pensacola to Naples. Note that Miami beaches are not very dog friendly, however. Only Bark Beach (near Collins and 81st Street) allows dogs, and you must buy a cash-only daily pass ($5 for residents, $25 for non-residents) before you enter the beach.
If you live on the West Coast, or have plans to visit there with your pooch, explore our article on dog-friendly beaches in the Western USA to get the most out of your trips to the seaside.