When you’re planning your next dream vacation, your dog’s accommodations are some of the main factors to consider. If you decide to bring your furry friend along, you’ll need a place they can sleep, eat, and play with you without worry. After all, we go on vacation to relax, so we want to scout out destinations that are totally dog friendly to avoid dreading encounters with park rangers and restaurant staff. Unfortunately, the white sand of Miramar Beach, Florida is reserved for resident dogs only. You must prove residency and pay a $40 annual fee before Fido is granted beach access. But don’t call the kennel just yet! There are other dog friendly beaches and activities nearby if you’re willing to travel within an hour outside of town.
Is Miramar Dog Friendly?
We wish we could take our dogs to Miramar Beach. However, since they’re not allowed, it might be best to leave your dog at home if you have your heart set on exploring this particular beach or change your itinerary to dog friendly activities nearby if you still have your dog in tow.
Fortunately, the actual town of Miramar is very dog friendly. You can visit the cobbled streets of Baytowne Wharf with your dog, and most restaurants will welcome them with a complimentary bowl of water. While you’re out, visit Doggy Bag in nearby Destin to score a souvenir for your well-deserved dog. You can also check out pet friendly Airbnbs or hotels where you can let them rest for a couple hours while you visit the beach.
Why Isn’t Miramar Beach Dog Friendly?
Walton County, Florida prohibits tourist dogs from playing in the sand. If you’re able to prove residency or property ownership, you can pay a $40 annual fee for you and your dog to enjoy the beach together. Even then, dogs aren’t granted ultimate freedom. They must remain on a leash and are only allowed to go during certain hours. Walton County encompasses a large area of 30A, including Miramar, Destin, and Rosemary Beach.
State parks residing within the county limits make their own rules however, and some may allow limited access. Although your dog still can’t accompany you to the beach, both Topsail State Park and Henderson Beach State Park allow dogs to camp and hike on the trails.
What to Do with Your Dog Near Miramar Beach
You’ll find even more options if you’re willing to drive 20 minutes to an hour away from Miramar Beach. Here are our top five picks for dog friendly things to do near Miramar Beach (including a couple places where your dog can actually sink their paws in the sand):
1. Niceville Dog Park
|🗺️ Address:||📍 FL-85, Niceville, FL 32578|
|🕐 Open Times:||8:00 AM to 10:00 PM|
Take your good dog to Niceville Dog Park when you have about 30 minutes to spare for a scenic drive. Once you’re there, you’ll enjoy the shade provided by the sprawling oaks and the benches where you can rest while your dog romps. Separate large and small dog areas ensure safe play, and there are working water spigots where they can refresh from their day’s adventures.
2. Liza Jackson Park
|🗺️ Address:||📍 338 Miracle Strip Pkwy SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548|
|🕐 Open Times:||6:00 AM to 11:00 PM|
This hidden treasure is one of the only locations in Walton County where your dog can play on the beach. The secret? There’s a dog park with access to a low tide wading area where they can play with their fellow canines.
3. Crab Island Cruises
|🗺️ Address:||📍 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541|
|🕐 Open Times:||8:00 AM to 8:00 PM|
Explore the island with your dog on a private boating tour. In addition to crabs, you might catch a glimpse of a dolphin or sea turtle. There are dog friendly areas where you can swim, and sandy patches if your dog doesn’t prefer to get their paws wet.
4. Destin Dog Park
|🗺️ Address:||📍 4100 Indian Bayou Trail, Destin, FL 32541|
|🕐 Open Times:||Sunrise to sunset|
Let your dog stretch their legs at this grassy off-leash dog park in Destin, FL. Also known as Nancy Weidenhamer Dog Park, you can rest on a bench in this fully fenced enclosure that boasts a water fountain and two separate play areas for large and small dogs.
5. Fred Gannon Bayou State Park
|🗺️ Address:||📍 4281 FL-20, Niceville, FL 32578|
|🕐 Open Times:||8:00 AM to 5:00 PM|
Fred Gannon Bayou State Park isn’t exactly a beach, but it’s a good place to go romp in the swamp with your dog. Camping, hiking trails, and kayaking are all possibilities for you and Fido to enjoy. Since it’s less than 30 minutes from Miramar Beach, you could stay here or come visit for an afternoon.
6. Dog Beach at Pier Park Panama City Beach
|🗺️ Address:||📍 33753-000-000, Panama City Beach, FL 32413|
|🕐 Open Times:||24/7|
If you can’t wait for your pup to splash in the ocean, the Dog Beach at Pier Park Panama City Beach will be well worth the 45-minute drive. This doggie hot spot is open 24/7 for endless fun, and some tourists have even let their cat dig in the sand! All dogs must remain on a leash.
Walton County beaches, including Miramar Beach, are only open to resident dogs whose owners pay an annual fee. Liza Jackson Park is a Walton County exception, since they have a dog park with beach access. Although pets aren’t allowed on Miramar Beach, you can find dog friendly places nearby. If you’re looking to stay within the Miramar city limits, check out Baytowne Wharf. You and your dog can wander the streets, see the sunset on the water, and grab some good food. There are other places within an hour of Miramar where your dog can play in the water, such as Panama City Beach and Fred Gannon Bayou State Park. You might not be able to visit every beach, but you’ll find that there’s no shortage of things to do if you decide to take your dog to the Florida Panhandle.