Pet-Friendly Travel and Leisure in Sarasota

By: Jessi Smith, Visit Sarasota County

We believe that the best vacations are the ones that you can take with your best friend—so pet lovers may be thrilled to learn that wet noses and sandy paws are always welcome in Sarasota. 

From the beachside resorts to sidewalk cafes, dozens of hotels and restaurants in Sarasota County offer a first-class experience to travelers and their four-legged friends. Whether you and your pup are the rugged outdoors adventure types, or pampered poodles that prefer the finer things in life, Sarasota has activities and accommodations to satisfy even the most finicky Fido. 

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Leash-Free Paw Parks 

There’s nothing like a little fresh air and freedom—in a safe and supervised environment—to make any dog’s day. Sarasota and Venice are home to several off-leash dog parks that allow pups to exercise, explore and play in a fenced environment where owners can rest assured their four-legged friends can’t wander too far. 

17th Street Paw Park 

The 17th Street Paw Park is the longest running dog park in Sarasota County, established in 1999. The park comes with all the amenities a pooch could want: doggie drinking fountains, separate fenced areas for small and large dogs, and plenty of waste disposal bags and trash cans so that their caregivers can help keep the park clean. Humans visiting the 17th Street Park without their pups also have access to softball and soccer fields, as well as an archery range. 

Canine Club at Gillespie Park 

Located on the corner of North Osprey Ave & 10th St, this dog park provides two fenced areas for pets near the basketball courts. This canine club is the most recent addition to the Gillespie Park, which is named after Sarasota’s Scottish first mayor: John Hamilton Gillespie. Other park amenities include picnic tables, a playground, fitness trail, three tennis courts, outside fitness areas and a pond. Leashed pets are also allowed outside of the dog park. 

Arlington Paw Park 

Arlington Paw Park, near downtown Sarasota, is another popular hangout for Sarasota’s canine set. Like other paw parks in the area, Arlington offers separate fenced areas for small and large dogs, as well as access to drinking fountains to help pups keep cool during the ‘dog days’ of summer. On-leash dogs can join their owners for a walk in the public park. 

Lakeview & Woodmere Paw Parks 

The Lakeview Paw Park  south of the city of Sarasota and the Woodmere Paw Park in Venice both provide a safe space for dogs under owner supervision to exercise and play, with access to water fountains and shady spots. 

The Dog Beach 

For beach-loving pups, we’ve saved the best for last: Brohard Beach and Paw Park is one of the most unique dog parks on Florida’s Gulf Coast. An enclosed paw park offers all the amenities of other dog parks in the area, but pups with a taste for sand ‘n’ surf will also love the opportunity to splash and romp on the pet-friendly section of the beach. Brohard Beach offers the only dog-friendly, off-leash beach area in Sarasota County. 

The Great Dog-Friendly Outdoors (On a Leash, Please!) 

From salty beach and bayside havens to the untamed Florida wilderness, there’s a bounty of nature to explore in Sarasota County. Fortunately, adventurous pups have access to several of Sarasota’s parks and hiking trails—as long as they are on a leash no longer than six feet, and accompanied by a responsible human pal. 

Myakka River State Park 

Like all state parks in Florida, Myakka State Park welcomes pets that are leashed, supervised and well-behaved. Located in east Sarasota County and portions of Manatee County, Myakka River State Park spans over 58 square miles of pine forest, scrub and prairies. Accessible hiking trails lead to true Florida adventure, where visitors have a chance to encounter native Florida wildlife, like the rare roseate spoonbill, bald eagles, and armadillos. Dogs are welcome, not only on day trips to the trails, but also on Myakka River State Park’s overnight campgrounds. 

Red Bug Slough Preserve 

Located off of Beneva Road Red Bug Slough Preserve is one of Sarasota’s best-kept secrets, featuring 72 acres of natural Florida wilderness in the middle of the Sarasota suburbs. Quiet, unpaved hiking trails wind through Red Bug Slough (pronounced “sloo”), providing paw-friendly passage through the wilderness. Red Bug Slough also features a butterfly garden as well as a fishing dock, picnic tables and restrooms. Just don’t forget to bring a bag to collect Fido’s waste! 

Bayfront Park 

Sarasota’s most popular bayside urban park, Bayfront Park is one of the most dog and family-friendly spots in town. Located near downtown Sarasota, Bayfront Park is a 32-acre peninsula with breathtaking vistas of Sarasota Bay and the Ringling Causeway. Leashed dogs are welcome to stroll with their owners through the grassy park and around its paved perimeter, which is bordered by the bay. Bayfront Park features a playground and waterpark for kids, and is home to O’Leary’s Tiki Bar— a waterside restaurant that welcomes dogs on its spacious patio.

Venetian Waterway Park 

In Venice, the Venetian Waterway Park connects with the Legacy Trail and Caspersen Beach. Dogs on leashes are welcome on the scenic 10-mile, paved Venetian Waterway Park trail—but please keep in mind that the pavement can be hot on doggie paws on sunny days! Although some parts of the park are in an urban setting, most of the walking trails on either side of the Intracoastal Waterway offer quiet, peaceful paths where you may spot a native Florida scrub jay, gopher turtles, or even alligators. 

Pamper Your Pooch 

Perhaps someone got a little too wet, wild and sandy at the Brohard Paw Park and dog beach… Or maybe your dog is simply feeling overdue for a spa day. Pamper your pup at Sarasota’s fine pet spas. 

Wet Noses Sarasota offers full grooming services to get your pup squeaky clean and feeling fancy in downtown Sarasota. In addition to grooming services, Wet Noses offers an extensive retail selection with canine-themed gift items, dog accessories, and gourmet treats. 

The Bayside Pet Resort has three locations in Sarasota County, in Sarasota, University Park, and Osprey. Bayside Pet Resort offers canine lodging and daycare, as well as grooming services and dog training. 

For top of the line treats and pet supplies visit the posh Woof Gang Bakery in Sarasota. Dogs are welcome in the store, which features premium house-baked dog cookies and other treats, top dog food brands, accessories, stylish doggie outfits, and dog-related gifts.