Dogs in Destin: 5+ Things to Know

What you need to know before you pack your pup

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Many of our guests include a beloved furry family member and stay with us because Ocean Reef Resorts has one of the widest selections of Pet-Friendly Vacation Rentals in Destin and all along the Emerald Coast. We offer almost 50 wonderful pet-friendly properties from Destin all the way down to the end of Scenic 30A in South Walton, so you have come to the right friendly place for your pet! Before you pack the pup, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about Dogs in Destin:

Can my dog go with me to the beach?

Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes if you are a full-time resident of Walton County with an annual permit, but not anywhere in Okaloosa County. However, if you stay at one of our beautiful beachfront properties they can sit with you on a gulf front sun deck, near your private pool or on the balcony overlooking the gorgeous gulf, but ordinances do not allow them right on the sand. You are certainly welcome to bring your dog for a walk nearby on one of the gulf front boardwalks on a leash or in your arms. Popular boardwalks include the long palm-lined promenades at James Lee Park on Scenic Highway 98 near the Destiny neighborhoods and at Pompano Joe’s beach access that overlooks the gulf on Scenic Gulf Drive. Well-behaved leashed dogs are also allowed at Harborwalk Village next to the bustling marina in Destin and at the charming Village of Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin.

Can our dog visit any of the state beach parks?

You will be happy to know that all Florida State Parks allow the entry of leashed pets in specific areas for exploration and sniffing scents. These include Henderson Beach in Destin, Topsail in Miramar Beach, Grayton Beach State Park off Scenic 30A and Deer Lake near Seacrest. Dogs are not allowed right on the beach at state parks but may explore trails on the nearby-designated dunes. Many of these parks also include interior trails that go past remote coastal dune lakes, lagoons and marshy wetlands so there is plenty of room to go exploring.

Are there any Dog Parks in Destin?

Yes, you may take your dog over to make new puppy friends at the Destin Dog Park, which spans across almost three acres of grassy lawn and is a popular rendezvous spot for pet owners and their dogs. It is located at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail at the northwest corner intersection of the rotary on Commons Boulevard just east of Airport Road and north of Highway 98. A partially forested perimeter provides lovely shade and benches are located all around the park so you may watch your pal play while relaxing with other dog lovers. Waste receptacles are available. Water fountains are provided for dogs and their human companions. They are free to roam unleashed in the fenced-in grounds with a specific area for large and small dogs. The Destin Dog Park is open every day from dawn until 10:00 pm since it is lighted at night except on Tuesdays when is open from 10:00 AM till 10:00 pm due to weekly maintenance. The park is free of charge but donations are encouraged by pet lovers who use it. More information may be obtained by calling (850) 837-4242.

Are there any dog parks in South Walton?

Yes, there are two! If you are staying with us in Miramar Beach or along South Walton’s Scenic 30A may check out Alaqua Unleashed located in Santa Rosa Beach at 342 J D Miller Road just one block west of the Route 331 and Highway 98 intersection. This park is divided into three separate areas for large, small and senior or handicapped dogs. It is open weekdays from sunrise until sunset. Hours are noon until 5:00 pm on weekends. “Alaqua Unleashed” has been named The Best Dog Park on the Emerald Coast among Emerald Coast Magazine readers. Bark Park is located off a lovely wooded raised boardwalk that meanders beside the marina leading into Baytowne Wharf. It is a large fenced area set among Magnolias and ancient Live Oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Besides Fido, there are a couple of tree houses along this route, which will be a magical delight for your kids. 

Can our dog join us anywhere for lunch or dinner?

Destin has quite a few Dog-Friendly restaurants. They are not allowed indoors but are welcomed at the outdoor cafes, porches, sundecks, and patios that adjoin them. Some bring water and even treats. These restaurants include Boshamps Seafood and Oyster Bar in Destin (that was named after the owner’s dog), Poppy’s Hammerheads on the Destin Docks; Dewey Destin Seafood Harborside and the original overlooking Crab Island; Joe's Crab Shack on Highway 98; Camille's on Scenic Gulf Drive and Harry T's at Harborwalk Village. In Sandestin Hartell’s Diner, The Village Door, Acme Oyster House and the Marina Cafe are pet-friendly at Baytowne Wharf, which also features the aforementioned “Bark Park” near the marina. A very special complimentary “doggy dessert” can be found at Bruster's Real Ice Cream on Emerald Coast Parkway just east of Destin Commons as well as Kilwins at Grand Boulevard. When you place your own order they will give your pampered pet a free ice cream sundae à la crumbled dog treats!

Where should we stay with our Dog?

Join others and check the huge amount of pet-friendly accommodations at Ocean Reef Resorts as you plan your next trip down with your beloved “fur baby”.  Use the search bar at the top of the page.  Be sure to check the box for “Pet-Friendly” and it will pull up all of these special pooch properties along with multiple images, descriptions, seasonal rates and calendar availability. Enjoy and don’t forget the doggy treats!