Destin Vacation Guide for Dogs

Pet Friendly Vacation Rentals, Dog Parks, State Parks, Restaurants, & Excursions!

Posted on 12/28/2021

Everyone loves to get away for a wonderful vacation at the beach, and Ocean Reef Resorts has been providing fine vacation rental properties for generations of visiting guests. Everyone means everyone, as no one wants to leave behind their favorite furry friends. We're happy to let you know we have scores of "Pet Friendly" accommodations, including condos and homes on or near the beach! To pick out your favorite vacation rentals with us, simply search Pet-Friendly rentals on our website. Destin, Miramar Beach, and all the coastal villages along Scenic 30A and Panama City Beach have tons of restaurants, dog parks, and fun places to take your pet. Here is a look at all of the "dog destinations" that are located here in Northwest Florida.


Destin Area Dog Parks

Destin Dog Park

The "Destin Dog Park" is centrally located on this part of the Emerald Coast at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail, which is at the northwest corner intersection of the rotary on Commons Boulevard West. This is just east of Airport Road and north of Highway 98 near the City Hall. Here dogs can exercise and have some fun with other canine travelers. It includes three fenced-in acres of green grassy grounds. A field of lush Bermuda grass provides plenty of open space to frolic, run and play. Tree-shaded areas around the perimeter provide a retreat from the heat, plus watering stations for both dogs and their human companions. Benches are interspersed throughout the park so you may relax with other dog lovers, watching your pets run and play as you compare notes on your favorite fur babies. Waste receptacles are conveniently available, and each owner is responsible for making their own "deposits." There is even a big red and green fire hydrant replica to inspire dogs to make, shall we say… other types of deposits. The Destin Dog Park is open daily from sunrise until sunset, except on Tuesdays when it doesn't open until 10:00 AM due to weekly maintenance. Although dogs are free to roam unleashed in the fenced-in area, they must be kept on a leash until released within the park. There are two separate areas for large dogs over thirty pounds in size as well as small dogs under this weight. Any aggressive dog must be leashed at all times or whenever they show aggression towards other pets or humans.

Alaqua Unleashed

If you are staying in Miramar Beach or along Scenic 30A, you may visit a dog park called "Alaqua Unleashed." It is located at the corner of J D Miller and Chat Holly Roads, just one block west of Route 331 and the Highway 98 intersection. This park is run by a nonprofit organization, and there is a small fee for its use. It currently consists of two acres of fenced grounds with separate spaces for large and small dogs. Seating is situated around the park so that you may enjoy watching your dog at play. Future plans include expanding about twenty acres of forested grounds with walking trails, a sheltered seating area, special sections for senior or handicapped dogs, and restroom facilities for humans.

Dog Beach

For those of you staying at one of our Pet-Friendly vacation rentals in Panama City Beach, there are two great dog parks located here where your favorite pooch can sniff around and play. They include Dog Beach, which is a precious little piece of the park next to Pier Park. Since dogs are not allowed elsewhere along the shoreline in Panama City Beach, this is a great place to take them. Dogs can go into the water to splash around and play fetch. Pier Park itself is Pet Friendly for dogs on leashes and is a great place to go with lots of restaurant bars that have live music, and that allow well-behaved dogs to be with you on outdoor patios or decks.

Frank Brown Dog Park

Frank Brown Park is located at 16200 Panama City Beach Parkway just east of the County Highway79 intersection. It encompasses one large area of grounds with two separated areas for "Slow" (senior, shy or disabled) and "Fast" (young or highly active) dogs. There are pavilions with seating on both sides, and water is available for humans and dogs. Full restroom facilities are located nearby, across the convenient parking lot. This is part of a 200-acre, premier park that includes walking trails for your leashed dog to sniff and explore.


Destin Area Pet-Friendly State Beach Parks

There are some lovely state beach parks in Destin, Miramar Beach, and along Scenic 30A, where leashed dogs are welcome to roam on nature trails with their favorite human companions. Beaches here only allow dogs for residents who have an annual permit, however, there are promenades and areas overlooking the sugar shoreline that do allow dogs. These parks include James Lee Park and Henderson Beach in Destin, Topsail in Miramar Beach, Grayton Beach State Park off Scenic 30A, and Deer Lake near Seacrest Beach. Here is a brief look at each one.

James Lee Park

The James Lee State park has an opulent setting on Scenic Highway 98 in Destin, nestled among multimillion-dollar mansions in the heart of the Destiny neighborhoods where many Ocean Reef Resort rentals are located. It has a long promenade that spans beside the bright, beautiful beach with picnic tables and a restroom facility with showers is conveniently nearby. In the center of this beach promenade is a popular restaurant known as "The Crab Trap." This charming golden Americana-styled building looks like the kind of place that would have sat near the seaside over 100 years ago. They specialize in fresh seafood and have a Tiki bar right on the beach serving cocktails, cold beer, wine, and frozen tropical drinks. Leashed, well-behaved dogs are allowed on a side dining patio with a bar.

Henderson Beach State Park

This park is located on the Emerald Coast Parkway, across from Wal-Mart, where you can stock up on picnic supplies and cold drinks for your day at the beach. It is open from 8 AM till sundown, and admission is only $6 per car, which is a bargain since it covers an entire day of pleasure in paradise. You can also come and go throughout the day with your receipt. Beach access is provided by a boardwalk that runs to the water between protected dunes covered with Sea Oats that sway in the ocean breeze. This boardwalk is even accessible for wheelchairs and those who may be ambulatory impaired. Clean bathrooms, dressing areas, vending, and shower facilities are available, as well as a friendly staff to maintain them. Two large covered Picnic Pavilions with multiple tables and charcoal grills overlook the jewel-toned waters of the gulf. Here you may enjoy exploring the sensational seascape with your leashed dog on a ¾ mile nature trail that meanders through the protected ecosystem complete with migratory birds, native species, natural grasses, golden sea oats, and wildflowers.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

This expansive park is located east of Miramar Beach near Sandestin, right off Scenic 30A near Dune Allen Beach. It is made up of 1,643 acres of heavily forested land, spanning from across the Emerald Coast Parkway, south of Sandestin's Grand Boulevard to Scenic 30A, and down to the beach. Over three miles of protected sugary dunes rise over twenty feet tall into the forested area, which parallels the beautiful beach. From far out in the gulf, these white dunes resemble tall mast sails for which the park was named. Two large lovely forested lakes called Morris and Campbell are located in its center, where you may catch Bass, Bream, Pan Fish, and Catfish. You may also explore the forest with your leashed dog along a 2.5-mile nature trail that borders Morris Lake and a 5-mile trail that meanders around Campbell Lake. The forest itself is mostly towering old-growth Loblolly Pine Trees with a smattering of Palmettos, Scrub Oaks, and Magnolias. They almost look primeval in this tropical surrounding. This location is so remote that many times you feel like you have the whole place to yourself. The park is open daily from 8:00 AM till sunset, and admission to the park is $6 per vehicle with convenient parking near the entry gate off Scenic 30A.

Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park was recently reported to be one of the topmost beautiful beaches in America by Forbes Magazine after the completion of an extensive nationwide environmental shore report. It spreads across nearly 2,000 acres of pristine forested land, embracing an exotic Coastal Dune Lake and bright shimmering shoreline. Coastal Dune Lakes of this kind are a rare natural treasure and are found hardly anywhere else in the entire world. Creek-like tributaries flow intermittently across sandy dunes, flowing in two different opposite directions related to the low and high tide flows. This creates a magical mixture of salted artisan spring-fed water, which supports a thriving habitat for wildlife, a variety of fish, and lots of waterfowl. Miles of nature trails cross through the forest where your beloved pet can sniff and explore while you enjoy catching a glimpse of the precious wildlife around you. This park is open from 8 AM till sundown, and a $5 fee per vehicle is collected at the gate entrance.

Deer Lake State Park

Down along Scenic 30A near Seacrest Beach, you will find Deer Lake, which encompasses over 2,000 acres of natural beauty. A raised walkway carries you across about a mile of Cypress studded marshlands down below that also includes Magnolias and Scrub Oak trees. Coca-Cola-colored creeks from a coastal dune lake meander toward ancient sugary dunes beside the gulf. Although your dogs are not allowed on the beach itself, they will enjoy the beautiful journey with you. The bordering coastal dune lake supports a vast ecosystem that includes deer and waterfowl year-round. Colorful migratory butterflies arrive in autumn while summer wildflowers are in abundance. They included Blue Lupine, Spoon Flowers, Asters, Black-Eyed Susans, and Golden Rod, to name a few, so your pup will have plenty of fragrances to sniff!

Eden State Gardens

A gorgeous yard and gardens surround a beautiful classically columned Greek Antebellum-styled mansion that is well over 100 years old. Here you may walk the lovely grounds with your pet. This special place is located north of Highway 98 on a bayou at the far eastern end of Choctawhatchee Bay in Pt. Washington. The extensive grounds include giant Live Oak trees, beds of azalea bushes, camellias, and rose gardens. A big Koi Pond with spurting fountains extends beside a lush lawn in front of the house, where the grounds extend down to the bayou. Picnic tables and a pavilion provide wonderful outdoor places for family meals.


Destin Area Pet-Friendly Restaurants

You will be happy to know that Destin, Miramar Beach, and the coastal villages along Scenic 30A have well over 100 Pet-Friendly Restaurants throughout the area to choose from. These dining establishments allow dogs to be with you on outdoor patios and sun decks while you eat and drink. Quite a few of them will also deliver bowls of water for your furry pal, and some of them even provide dog treats! The top ten most popular include Boshamps Oyster Bar (which is named after the owner's dog!), The Craft Bar, Brotulas Seafood House & Steamer, Dewey Destin Seafood, Kenny D's Bar & Grill, The Gulf on Okaloosa Island, Margaritaville at HarborWalk Village, Boathouse Oyster Bar & Grill, and Café Destin.


Destin Area Pet-Friendly Excursions

Well-behaved dogs on leashes are allowed at three wonderful villages, including HarborWalk Village, Destin Commons, and the Village of Baytowne Wharf.

HarborWalk Village

HarborWalk Village is the captivating crown jewel of Destin prominently placed right on the marina, which happens to be home to the largest private charter fishing fleet in all of North America! This golden Americana-styled village has a long wide promenade that extends beside the docks. It features quite a few Pet-Friendly restaurants with bars that play live music, specialty shops, outdoor concerts, fun festivals, and exciting seasonal fireworks. Of course, though your pet might hate the loud fireworks, they surely would love everything else.

Destin Commons

Destin Commons is a highly popular pedestrian and dog-friendly retail village that provides an idyllic shopping experience with avenues lined with Royal Palms, charming European-styled turret towers, an old-fashioned clock tower, a classic fountain, and a plaza with spurting geysers for kids to enjoy some refreshing frolic. Destin Commons features a myriad of fine clothiers, fashion boutiques, shoe shops, jewelers, specialty shops, restaurants, and friendly bars. It is anchored by a huge Bass Pro Shop, a Belk's Department Store, and the one-of-a-kind Uncle Buck's Fish Bowl & Grill.

Village of Baytowne Wharf

The Village of Baytowne Wharf is located at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Miramar Beach. This enchanting village was inspired by the charming architecture found in the New Orleans French Quarter. The village straddles a lovely lagoon and the wide-open expanse of Choctawhatchee Bay. A long wharf at the end is a popular place to take your dog, especially during the summer months when the sun sets spectacularly right down into the bay. It hosts a variety of restaurants with bars that have live music many of which have dog-friendly outdoor patios or decks. Baytowne also features unique family attractions, fun festivals throughout the year, outdoor concerts, and exciting, vibrant seasonal firework displays.


We hope this Destin Vacation Guide for Dogs helps fellow Animal Lovers have all the information you need to enjoy your stay here with us at Ocean Reef Resorts with your favorite fur baby. Enjoy taking a look at all the fine Pet-Friendly vacation rentals we have available for your ENTIRE family! We look forward to having you stay with us.


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