The beach is a wonderland from a dog’s perspective. On dog friendly beaches, there are all of those great scents, you can run around a bit, there’s sand to dig in, and there are birds to keep an eye on. The ocean also tends to be a bit of a novelty: Do you chase it? Do you swim in it? Do you just splash in it? And you certainly never turn your back to it, that’s for sure! It’s a dog’s life, indeed. But sometimes finding beaches that allow dogs can be a challenge. Not to worry, I’ve got four great East Coast dog friendly beaches that you’ll love.
While many beaches don’t allow dogs during the summer, the offseason is prime season for a beach vacation with Man’s Best Friend! But there are many beaches that allow dogs even during the peak season.
Coney Island, New York City
Brooklyn’s Coney Island is famous as a place for entertainment. But that doesn’t mean humans have to have all the fun! The NYC spot features nearly three miles of wide sandy beaches and boardwalk that leads right into Brighton Beach. Much of the western section is lined with attractions, such as the popular amusement park and food stands. Most notably, the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs shop is just a block from the beach.
Dogs on a leash are always welcome on the Coney Island Beach boardwalk and, from October 1st through May 1st, on the beach itself. The boardwalk also leads to a pier out into the Coney Island Sound. It’s a frequent fishing spot for many.
Because this is New York City, you can always expect to find some people out along the boardwalk, on the beach, or along the pier. Even when the amusements are closed for the year, it certainly adds to the personality of the boardwalk.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
North Carolina‘s Outer Banks is a popular vacation spot for many East Coasters. Part of the appeal is the family-friendly atmosphere, and that extends to furry members of your pack.
Growing up, I spent countless summers in Corolla. When my husband and I adopted our dog George, I was thrilled to be able to take him to the same beaches and spots I had enjoyed in my childhood. In fact, you could spend the whole day out and about in OBX (as the region’s commonly called) with your dog.
Many restaurants offer outdoor dining but Pigman’s BBQ allows you to bring your dog inside while you eat. As the animal-loving owner told me, he doesn’t want to see any dogs left in hot cars. Then after lunch, you and your dog can enjoy Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the East Coast’s largest active sand dune. Or you could head to Elizabethan Gardens to enjoy the botanic garden on Roanoke Island. Or, you could simply head to the beaches that allow dogs to unwind.
Each town along the Outer Banks has its own rules in terms of when they allow for dog friendly beaches. Because the area is made up of quite a few small towns, you can try all or some of the dog friendly beaches North Carolina has to offer in the Outer Banks. For example, on the 4×4-only beach of Carova dogs are welcome year-round on a leash. But in Kill Devil Hills, they are not allowed during the majority of the day during the peak season. So be sure to do your research depending on where you plan to be.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May sits on the southernmost tip of New Jersey. The charming beach town is popular year-round for its small-town feel full of historic Victorian-era buildings featuring fantastic gingerbread architecture and a spectacular rainbow of colors. And, yes, Cape May is one of the dog friendly beaches New Jersey has to offer.
Because of the small-town feel in the center of Cape May, it is easy to get around with your dog using the sidewalks. There are more than two miles of East Coast dog friendly beaches that you and your pup can enjoy.
According to the rules, dogs are generally permitted during the offseason. And even in winter, there are plenty of things to do and enjoy in Cape May. A paved promenade runs parallel to the beach, providing a sturdy spot to walk with a great view as the ocean waves crash upon the sands. There are also restaurants and shops lining the beach road as well as a few blocks off the beach.
If by some strange twist of fate your dog isn’t a natural beach bum or you need a little variety, there are some other great things to do together in Cape May. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry runs across the Delaware Bay and links the Jersey beach town with Lewes, Delaware. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor decks of the ferry boat.
Cape May also has a lighthouse and a World War II Lookout Tower that you and your furry friend can admire from outside. (Dogs aren’t allowed inside of either building.)
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Delaware‘s Rehoboth Beach is yet another option to consider if you’re in search of East Coast dog friendly beaches. Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach and boardwalk from October 1st through April 30th. State parks in the region, like Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore, also allow dogs as does nearby Dewey Beach (before 9:30 am and after 5:30 pm) if you have a local dog license.
Rehoboth Beach is overall relatively welcoming of dogs. Dogfish Head Brewery, for example, calls this area of southern Delaware home. They welcome dogs at their restaurants and also at their hotel, Dogfish Inn. But there are quite a few options for accommodations and restaurants that are dog friendly in the area. You’ll also find a few shops specifically targeted to furry customers, too!
Tips for Visiting Beaches that Allow Dogs
- It always bears repeating: be sure to clean up after your dog and dispose properly of the waste.
- Most, if not all, regions will require your dog to be licensed and vaccinated against rabies. If challenged, you will have to provide proof.
- Generally, the rule is that leashes should not exceed six feet.
- Be sure your dog doesn’t disturb birds or other animals. We want not only dog friendly beaches but wild animal-friendly beaches, too.
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All photos, as well as all opinions, are my own. This post contains affiliate links.