The Gulf Coast is fortunate to have miles of wonderful sandy beaches washed by the warm Gulf waters and surrounded by dunes, fun communities, and all sorts of attractions. And in almost all the coastal towns there is at least a small portion of the beach reserved for our best four-legged friends, on a leash or free, to enjoy some splashing in the water or romping in the sand. Some are small, like Panama City Beach, while others, like Dauphin Island and Davis Island, offer miles of space with shade and water fountains so that the dogs and their humans can enjoy a day by the water. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.Ocean Springs Beach, MS

Ocean Springs Beach, MS
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Ocean Springs is a small city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, an artist community known the world over for the famous painters and potters who make it their home. The city has two public beaches. Front Beach has white sand and shallow water and is located between Ocean Spring Harbor and the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bay Bridge, offering fantastic views the whole way. East Beach is more popular with local residents and is dog-friendly, but the dogs have to be leashed. The water tends to be murky but is safe for swimming and has a number of piers. There is no shade and it can get really hot, so bring water for your dog.

Front Beach Dr, Ocean Springs, MS 39564

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2.Fort Morgan Beach, AL

Fort Morgan Beach, AL
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The Fort Morgan Peninsula is a long, narrow piece of land on Alabama’s Gulf Shores with a beautiful white sandy beach that is often almost deserted. It offers privacy and serenity away from other, more popular Gulf Shore beaches with their loud bars and shops. Most of the peninsula belongs to a wildlife refuge and it can be difficult to access, but the fine sugar-white sand is well worth the trek. Most hotels and private accommodations have their own beach access and the two public entrances are within the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. You can enjoy this lovely beach and the views of the ocean with your pooch on a leash, but the area where dogs are permitted is limited to the stretch between the Old Fisherman’s Warf and the old Fort Morgan Pier.

Fort Morgan Rd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

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3.Hancock County Beaches, MS

Hancock County Beaches, MS
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Hancock County is fortunate to have a whole chain of wonderful sandy beaches between the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland. These are not the fine white sand beaches of other areas, but are wide, miles and miles long, sloping gradually into shallow water – just perfect for dogs to enjoy a cooling romp in the sea. All public beaches in Hancock County are dog-friendly, but the dogs have to be leashed and the owners have to clean up after them. The beaches are never crowded, and off-season can be virtually deserted, so dogs and their owners can enjoy a nice relaxed walk without running into kids’ sandcastles or picnic baskets.

107 N Beach Blvd, Waveland, MS 39576, Phone: 228-255-3367

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4.Dauphin Island Beach, AL

Dauphin Island Beach, AL
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One of the most beautiful islands in Alabama, Dauphin Island is famous as a low-cost family vacation destination and a wonderful natural spot to enjoy white sand beaches and the clear waters of the Gulf Coast. With miles of hiking trails, a bird sanctuary, and the Sea Lab’s aquarium, there is plenty to do for the whole family. Dauphin Island’s public beach is one of the very few dog-friendly beaches in the area. The beach is located close to the old fishing pier and the entire area, a few miles long, is set aside for our four-legged friends. Besides the public beach, Sand Island, which is actually connected to Dauphin Island, offers another 3 miles of sand and surf for dogs to romp through.

109 Bienville Blvd. Dauphin Island, AL 36528, Phone: 251-861-3607

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5.South Padre National Seashore, TX

South Padre National Seashore, TX
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The South Padre National Seashore is a spectacular world of white sandy beaches, ancient sand dunes, clear, calm surf, birds, hiking trails, wildlife, and views all around that will take your breath away. And if you are a dog owner, you can enjoy all that magnificent nature with your best friend. Located only 15 minutes from Corpus Christi, South Padre has 70 miles of beaches and a large part of this is accessible to dogs and their humans, off-leash. There are a few areas where they are not allowed, such as the boardwalk from the deck to the beach, the deck of Malaquite Pavilion, and a small stretch of beach in front of the pavilion that is reserved for kids. The entire area to the left of the beach entrance is free for pets to enjoy, run, play, splash, and have the time of their life.

Port Aransas Beach, TX

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6.Beaches that allow dogs near me: Port Aransas Beach, TX

Beaches that allow dogs near me: Port Aransas Beach, TX
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Port Aransas beach on Mustang Island is a vacation paradise with 18 miles of fine sand splashed by the warm, clear water of the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is located on the other side of some large dunes that separate it from the small, quaint town of Port Aransas. You can drive your golf cart onto the beach, fish, hike, work on your tan, play beach volleyball, or take your best four-legged friend for a run or splash in the waves as long as they are on a leash. You can also take your pooch for a stroll along the 1,200-foot-long Horace Caldwell Pier, where you can throw a line and try to catch dinner. If you want to stay on the beach overnight, you will need a special permit.

Port Aransas, Mustang Island, TX 78373

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7.East Beach, TX

East Beach, TX
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East Beach is Galveston Island’s Party Central. The long sandy beach is located at the far east of the island and offers fantastic facilities for summer fun. There is a pavilion, a kids’ playground, a boardwalk, an entertainment stage, showers, shops, barbecue pits, umbrella and chair rentals, and much more. Dogs are permitted everywhere on the beach as long as they are on a leash. There are lifeguards on duty during the season. The beach hosts a range of festivals, but the most famous is the AIA Sandcastle Competition held every June.

E Beach Dr, Galveston, TX 77550, Phone: 409-797-5111

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8.Stewart Beach Park, TX

Stewart Beach Park, TX
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Stewart Beach is one of the two Galveston beaches where dogs are allowed on a leash. This wonderful family beach has miles of fine sand washed by soft, warm waves, perfect for you or your best four-legged friend to splash and cool off on hot summer days. The beach is located at the junction of historic Broadway Avenue and the Seawall. The beach does not allow alcohol and is primarily a family beach with a pavilion, beach volleyball nets, showers, concessions, and much more. If you want to let your dog off leash for a while, visit Galveston’s Lindale Dog Park on Marine Drive, on the island’s east end. The park is fully fenced and has benches and water stations.

201 Seawall Blvd., 6th St. and Seawall Blvd., Galveston, TX 77550, Phone: 409-797-5189

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9.Panama City Beach, FL

Panama City Beach, FL
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With 27 miles of fine white sand splashed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach is a charming northwest Florida coastal town that offers a perfect vacation destination. The city’s nature reserve, St. Andrews State Park, is located on the coast and offers well-maintained hiking trails and fishing off the fishing pier. If you travel with your four-legged best friend, you will be limited to a small patch of beach on the right side of the city pier on Front Beach Road. Even there, dogs have to be on a leash, and three dogs per person is the limit.

Panama City Beach, FL 32408, Phone: 850-624-3219

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10.Beaches that allow dogs near me: Pensacola, FL

Beaches that allow dogs near me: Pensacola, FL
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Pensacola’s Bayview Dog Park and Beach is one of the very few beaches on the Gulf Coast where dogs are allowed to be free and enjoy the water and sand. This 1-acre specious dog park on the inlet close to Bayou Texar is fun for the owners too, as it has nice covered shady area with benches and picnic tables. More picnic tables are scattered along the beach. The beach also has a clean-up station, showers for dogs and people, and water bowls for pooches. The park is fenced on the coastal side but is open over the water. The access to the dog park is free but all dogs must have rabies tags.

2000 E Lloyd St, Pensacola, FL 32503, Phone: 850-436-5511

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11.Davis Island (Tampa), FL

Davis Island (Tampa), FL
© Courtesy of Vladimra -

Davis Islands Dog Beach is a 2.5-acre dog park on Tampa’s Davis Island that allows dogs free access to the beach and water. The park has two distinct areas, one on dry land and one on the 200-foot-long beach. Both areas have drinking water for dogs and areas for rinsing for both dogs and their owners. There is a nice shady area with benches and picnic tables. The park is fully fenced. It is very popular and usually full of dogs of all kinds and sizes, so do not bring your dogs if they are not social and do not get along with others. Dog owners must clean after their dogs and there are poop bag dispensers available in several places.

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12.Tierra Verde, FL

Tierra Verde, FL
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Tierra Verde is a small town in Florida’s Pinellas County, located on an island near the entrance to Tampa Bay. Fort De Soto Park is one of Tierra Verde’s highlights and is spread over five small keys. It is the largest park in Pinellas County and has one of the most beautiful family beaches in the country. The park has miles of trails, several fishing piers, an old fort, protected bird species, native plants, and a rare dog beach where dogs can roam freely and splash in the sea. In addition, Fort de Soto has two more fenced areas close to the beach, for large and for small dogs. The beach entrance is located at the southwestern end of the dog park and has several water stations.

3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, FL 33715, Phone: 727-582-2267

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13.Ft. Myers Beach, FL

Ft. Myers Beach, FL
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Fort Myers Beach is a small town on Florida’s southwest coast, located on Estero Island, famous for its long, sandy beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Just past Lovers Key State Park, before the New Pass Bridge, is a wonderful dog beach park where dogs are allowed access the beach without leashes. The beach is wild and unsupervised, beautifully untouched by development. There are no restrooms, just a portable toilet. There are doggy stations where the owners can rinse the salt and sand from their dogs. Owners must clean up after their dogs. The beach is on a tidal flat and tides can come in very fast, so time your visit accordingly.

8800 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931, Phone: 239-949-4615

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14.Sanibel, FL

Sanibel, FL
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Sanibel Island in southwest Florida is famous for miles of wonderful sandy beaches washed by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and covered with colorful shells. There are beaches that are more family-friendly, others that are party centrals, beaches near golf courses, and beaches were people can bring their best four-legged friends. One of the dog-friendly beaches is Gulfside Beach, also called Algiers Beach, where dogs are allowed on a leash and can enjoy walking in the sand and splashing in the waves. The beach is close to the nature preserve. There are restrooms and picnic tables. There is no shade, but there are dog water fountains. There are no dog bags, so bring your own.

2001 Algiers Ln, Sanibel, FL 33957, Phone: 239-472-6477

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15.Venice, FL

Venice, FL
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Venice is a popular touristy town not far from Sarasota on the magnificent Florida Gulf Coast. Venice has 14 miles of fine sandy beaches, from Manasota Key to Casey Key. The most famous and the most beautiful is Venice Beach, lying along a healthy coral reef off-coast, perfect for a day in the sun, swimming, fishing, boating, or shelling. Brohard Paw Park is the only beach in Venice where dogs are allowed off-leash. The beach has all doggy delights, from fire hydrants to water fountains to showers for dogs and humans. There are also picnic tables and benches, but there isn’t much shade.

1600 S Harbor Dr, Venice, FL 34285, Phone: 941-861-9830

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15 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Gulf Coast

Attraction Spotlight: Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is located in Gainesville, Florida. Visitors to the museum will enjoy the wide variety of art collections including Asian, African, photography, contemporary, representations of oceanic and ancient American art, and an expanding collection of natural history works put on paper.


The Harn Museum of Art is an important part of the University of Florida. The museum was and in September of 1990, and has been able to serve a variety of people with comprehensive range of programing. The Museum takes its name to commemorate Samuel Peebles Harn. His wife and daughters along with their husbands and grandchildren gifted the funding for the building of the Museum. Between the three generations, over three million dollars was generated for the museum’s construction in 1983. It was the biggest private bequest given to the University during that time.

David A.Cofrin’s family funded an addition to the museum in 2000. The addition was eighteen thousand square-feet of space to house contemporary art. In 2005 the Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion was opened. It was named to commemorate one of Samuel P. Harn’s daughters. The Pavilion showcases six thousand feet of space for exhibits and includes classroom spaces and the Camellia Court Café.

The Museum opened yet another addition in 2012. This addition was twenty-six thousand square feet and added to the Asian Art Wing. It was meant to be used for storage, conservation, and exhibition of the Asian art collection.


The Samuel P. Harn Museum hosts a variety of exhibits, most temporary, that are changed out frequently. There are a few ongoing exhibits that remain all the time.

ClayCurvyCool- This exhibit is based on Japanese ceramics. The art on display shows the large variety of innovations, transformations, and reinterpretations of these traditional ceramics. New conceptualization of form through processes, surface treatments, materials and firing methods are displayed. The artists in this exhibition include both established and outsiders. This exhibition is possible through the Cofrin Curator of Asian Art Endowment.

American Abstraction- This exhibition features American Artists that are representative example from a diverse, large variety of movements that defined abstraction beginning in 1945. Artists from these decades between then and now struggled with capturing meaning by artistic expression, the power of shape and color, the art of illusion, and the possibilities that came with experimenting with gesture and form.

Elusive Spirits: African Masquerades- This exhibition displays thirty masks from the collection of the Museum along with other works loaned out from private collections. Most of the masks originate from West Africa. The masks from the middle of the twentieth century to early in the twenty-first century display the continuity of making masks but also highlight new techniques and directions used for mask making.

The exhibition explores the process of change through the components of the mask and performance. It examines the religious and spiritual principles of masking.

Highlights from the Asian Collection- Four core galleries along with two concentration galleries contain the collections of the Asian Art collection. Over seven hundred artworks are highlighted in the collection including art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and South/Southeast Asia. Some of the highlights of this collection are on permanent display.

· Ceramics: Avenues of Exchange- This display contains ceramics from Central, South and Southeast Asia, China and Japan. They represent the Silk Road and Silk Maritime routes along with areas of new contact with other cultures.

· Wit and Wonder of Kogo Incense Boxes: The Sandra G. Saltzman Collection- These boxes are small and usually house incense or blended aromatics for use in ceremonies.

· Sculptures: Religion in the Round- This display highlights sculpture all through the Asian continent that are made from a variety of mediums such as ivory, wood, and stone. These sculptures date back to the fourth and fifth centuries. It explores traditions steeped in religion.

Educational Opportunities

The Museum offers several programs for those interested in learning more about the art collections kept by the museum. Some of these programs include:

· Lectures and Talks

· Museum Nights

· Family Programs

· School Programs

· Tours

· Performances and Films

· Outreach

· Classes

· Art Camps

· Displays: Other spaces.

More information on these programs can be found on the website.

Docent Program- Harn Museum offers a program for docents who are volunteer tour guides. They must complete two training sessions a month on a continuous basis and are required to lead at least twenty tours a year. The docent program requires copious amount of time for study and is a long-term commitment.


The Museum Store offers a variety of items to commemorate a visit to the museum such as local art, jewelry, culture themed items, and games for kids.


The Camellia Court Café offers lunch, coffee and desserts with a view of the landscaped gardens.

3259 Hull Road, Gainesville, FL 32611, Phone: 352-392-9826

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Attraction Spotlight: Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention

The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is located in Gainesville, Florida. Visitors to the museum will enjoy the museum’s unique interactive technology and science exhibits. The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention can be found in Gainesville, Florida.


The museum has been named for Dr. James Robert Cade. Cade was a musician, researcher, inventor, and physician that lead the University of Florida Team that developed Gatorade. His other inventions include high-protein milkshakes consumed by surgical patients, cancer patients, and athletes, the first shock-dissipating helmet for football players, and a diet modification method for treating people with schizophrenia and autism.

In 2004, the Cade family founded the Cade Museum Foundation. The Foundation’s purpose was to design and construct a museum in Gainesville. It was gifted with permanent funding to cover all operational and staff costs along with limited programing. The Museum opened in the summer of 2017. It reflects the Dr. James Robert Cade’s eccentric spirit, love of life and new ideas, and his continuous sincere desire to help, motivate, and encourage people of experience and ages.


The Cade Museum offers a variety of exhibits for visitors to enjoy.

The Tools: Neuroscience of Creativity- The Interactive Brain- This gallery showcases numerous interactive, modular exhibits that examine the function, plasticity, and anatomy of the brain. The gallery is organized to mimic the hemispheric organization of the brain. The interactive displays will teach guests the general properties of the brain as well as help them learn how their own brains are unique, highlighting the visitors’ interests, potentials, and talents.

The Process: The Gatorade Story- This gallery commemorates the impact of Gatorade products around the world and how it’s commercialization contributes to the University of Florida’s athletic achievement and finances. The gallery also includes a recreation of Dr. Cade’s University Lab. The lab has two modes. Its “rest” mode teaches visitors about the science and development of Gatorade. The “show” mode teaches about he creative process, challenges faced, techniques used and what encouraged them to complete the project.

The Opportunity: Entrepreneurship and Gator Tank- This gallery teaches visitors about how powerful entrepreneurship can be. Visitors also are provided the opportunity to “pitch” their own ideas and concepts to investors and the general public.

The Environment:

· American Ideals and Innovation- The highlight of this gallery is a display of more than eight million patents that have been given out over the year since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was built in 1836. These patents are stacked in a way that creates an American Flag.

· Creativity Labs and Studios- This gallery features studios and labs for visitors to experience hands-on activities and interactive partnerships, and tools, equipment, and supplies visitors won’t find anywhere else for them to try their hand at invention.

· Traveling Exhibits- This gallery will rotate out new exhibits every three months. Some of these exhibits will include loans from institutions that the museum partners with such as the Smithsonian and the US Patent and Trade Office.

Educational Opportunities

The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention provides several educational programs.

Living Inventor Series- The Museum hosts a different inventor every month that come to the Creativity Lab to teach a class about solving problems with creativity. Students are given the opportunity to learn the scientific principles that had a hand in the invention being taught about. Hands-on experiments are also part of the class.

Early Entrepreneurship Program- This program is geared toward high school and middle school students. Students learn how to realize their ideas and make profits off of them. Students are provided with the opportunity to start up a real business. They go through each process of inventing including designing, creating, packaging the product, and marketing and branding it for the public.

Field Trips- Field Trips are offered by the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. These field trips include professional education in STEAM, interactive experiments and labs, “real” lab equipment and setting exposure, and a Cade Lab “loot bag” with “make-n-takes.”

Creativity Lab- The Creativity Lab teaches students through use of the “Cade Way.” They learn how to think with creativity like inventors using their imaginations and combining it with a combination of history and art. The lab puts the emphasis on WHO, not just WHAT and WHY on new ideas and technology.

Fab Lab- The “FAB” is a shortened version of fabrication. Basically, this is an area for inventing, manufacturing, and constructing. It provides students the opportunity to work with materials and tools such as computers, 3D scanners and printers, soldering stations, laser cutters, hand tools and regular everyday objects. Students can work alone with others to build robots, design in 3D, set off rockets, and come up with ideas for prototypes with a STEAM centered approach.

811 South Main Street, Gainesville, FL 32601, Phone: 352-371-8001

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