Traveling with pets can be a bonding experience or a complete flop. Dog-friendly beaches in Alabama are an option, but only if you know where to look. Most beaches are sanctuaries for children and adults to relax. If your dog is young or high-energy this can lead to safety restrictions and additional rules. It’s easy to understand why dog owners avoid beaches due to their specific policies. Exploring the beach with your best friend is almost always easier if you plan ahead.
Table of Contents
- What are some dog-friendly beaches in Alabama?
- Dogs and Alabama Beaches
- What Beaches in Alabama Are Dog Friendly?
- Additional Dog-Friendly Attractions in Alabama
- A Dog’s Life at the Beach
What are some dog-friendly beaches in Alabama?
Alabama beaches have different rules depending on their location. Dauphin Island Beach allows dogs all year round, but Dog Beach is only open to dogs from November until April. Pets are not permitted on Gulf Shore Public Beach areas, but approved dog beaches do exist in Alabama.
Going to the beach is an exciting adventure for dogs. In Alabama, dogs are able to sniff out sea turtles and chase blue crabs along the shore.
Even if a specific beach prohibits off-leash play, dogs still enjoy land creatures like monarch butterflies and green herons. Visiting a public beach or state park is completely doable with the right preparation.
Traveling to Alabama beaches with my own Portuguese water dog was a challenge until I found specific places for big dogs. Unlike Orange Beach where you might be able to sneak in a pug, I was required to seek out the best dog-friendly beach locations.
Dogs and Alabama Beaches
Going on vacation with your dog is a bonus for multiple reasons. It’s fun for the dog. It’s fun for you. It’s also less of a hassle. If you’re going to Alabama for an extended vacation, finding a dog sitter or kennel is often a headache.
Even researching reviews doesn’t give the full picture of a dog business and getting daily updates isn’t always possible.
If there’s a way for you to bring Fido along, this is ideal for everyone. Regardless if you’re taking a day trip or a two-week vacation, the right Alabama beaches provide a dog-friendly atmosphere for both the dogs and their owners.
Alabama state parks can not only provide pet-friendly beaches but may also allow your dog to sleep with you in a cabin rental. There are basic rules to follow. Proof of rabies vaccination is required before entering the premises. Dogs must also be leashed unless there is a specifically designated area for dogs to roam free.
Among locals, the beaches are up for debate. Orange Beach does not allow dogs, however many people bring their pets anyway. While this may work for some dogs, their is a fine if you get caught.
What Beaches in Alabama Are Dog Friendly?
Most of Alabama’s coastline has white sand with lukewarm water from the Gulf of Mexico. Bigger dogs love it for the waves that can provide hours’ worth of playtime. While many dog owners love to let their dogs run free along the shoreline, only some of these beaches allow off-leash fun.
Fort Morgan Historic Site
Fort Morgan is located in Mobile Bay near the Engineer’s Wharf. There is a fishing pier that both humans and dogs are welcome to use in addition to its actual beach. Once a National Historic Landmark of the Civil War, both locals and tourists like to visit.
This is one of the only Gulf Shore beaches that does allow dogs. Regardless of whether you own a small or large dog, there are plenty of outdoor activities they can enjoy. I personally recommend hiking trails because of all the new smells and new terrain. They also have a picnic area where you can stop and rest.
Unfortunately, dogs need to be leashed at all times. This is true even if your dog is well-trained. Also, if you decide to go past the Old Fisherman’s Wharf, plan on leaving your dog with someone else. The area is designed to protect wildlife and dogs of any kind are not permitted.
Dauphin Island Beach
Dauphin Island is known for its fishing spots. The town’s fishing pier is located directly across the Red School House and stretches 850ft into the sea. There is no fee to access this pier and dogs have plenty of room to hang out while you fish or have a picnic.
Dog owners must clean up after their pets. This is a clean public beach and most pet owners understand the importance of doggie waste bags. Dauphin Island Beach does provide bags and public trash cans, but they are not always available depending on the day. It’s best to bring your own scooper and bags just in case.
I am partial to this beach for its views of the ocean. There is a wildlife area and plenty of bird nests throughout the island. Although dogs are welcome on most of the beach, the West End side does not allow them. This is a reserved space for migratory birds.
All dogs must be kept on a leash. The measurements of the leash are not specified, but I’m guessing it’s around 6ft. Although they do not seem to be aggressive about patrolling the area, disobeying leash laws can lead to a fine.
Orange Beach Dog Park
If you want to truly take your dog out, Orange Beach Dog Park is the way to go. The park has a separate fenced-in area for dogs of all sizes.
If you have a smaller dog, it’s important to keep an eye on them. Larger dogs may be overly friendly and can’t always tell how big they are.
In addition to letting your dog run around without a leash, the park has several other dog-friendly areas. Training stations are available as well as freshwater. Since the average temperature in July is approximately 93 degrees, dogs need to stay hydrated throughout the afternoon.
Shade is another important factor to consider. Orange Beach offers a significant amount of shade in its dark park area. They also have multiple benches if you want to cool off while playing fetch.
Perdido Beach is right between Pensacola and the border of Alabama. It is known for its quiet and calm atmosphere. Because it’s on the Gulf of Mexico, there is a consistent breeze that isn’t cool enough to stifle an evening swim.
Unfortunately, since it is one of the most beautiful getaway beaches in Alabama, it can be a bit of a tourist trap.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach. Fortunately, the Perdido Key River Road Dog Park is located directly behind the Lost Key Golf Club and is easy to spot. This is an enclosed dog park that has water access from the river. No leash is necessary and dogs both big and small are allowed to swim.
When it’s extremely hot out, dog parks can tend to feel oppressive. There are shade options available in addition to a unique pavilion.
The pavilion area is covered and provides a consistent shade that’s there regardless of the wind. Dog owners often congregate here to socialize or picnic.
Additional Dog-Friendly Attractions in Alabama
Although Alabama does not have dozens of dog-friendly beaches to choose from, there are other places to visit. Some of these options even include outdoor swimming.
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
The Backcountry Trail is not just one path. Instead, this park has over 27 miles of different passages to choose from. Because they interconnect at various points along the trail, it’s easy to loop back around once you or your dog becomes tired.
As for the climate, it tends to get more humid as you approach the swampy areas. If you’re hiking during the summer months make sure you and your dog have plenty of water. There are freshwater marshes and small ponds for your dog, but drinking the water can be dangerous.
Graham Creek Nature Preserve
Nature walks are a great way to cover some ground without playing fetch. If you need a break from doggie games, the nature preserve is both interesting and rewarding.
Graham Creek Nature Preserve spans over 500 acres of wildlife. For dogs that like interacting with others, this is an ideal place to visit. Walking through the reserve you are likely to see turtles and deer. Since snakes are also common you’ll want to ask a guide which ones are dangerous. The Black Racer may look scary with its dark shine, but it’s actually non-venomous.
Dogs must be on a leash at all times. This is true even for well-trained, older dogs. Although the rule is non-negotiable, the size of the leash doesn’t seem to matter. It is not a crowded preserve, but you must have control over your dog in the event of another animal.
Renting a pontoon in Hudson Marina is fun for both humans and pets. The water is usually calm and you can rent one for an entire afternoon or evening. If you have a group of friends this is especially fun because everyone is allowed to bring dogs.
Dogs are expected to stay leashed during the ride, but they won’t feel cramped. A typical Alabama lampoon is comfortable for walking around and picnicking. For safety precautions, it’s important to bring your own doggie vest for swimming. Most pontoon rentals will not provide them for free.
Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park has a two-mile beach that humans are welcome to use even during the offseason. If you are spending a vacation here, there are dog-friendly houses available. Although dogs are not allowed on the beach, there are several walking trails that are perfect for dogs.
There are over 20 miles of trails inside the park. Unlike the nature preserves, all these trails are paved. If you choose to bike, this is completely acceptable. They even rent bikes at their camp store.
The horseback riding trails are not dog-friendly. This is done for safety reasons. Both dogs and horses can become easily spooked by one another and even the most controlled dog can feel anxious. Other than the horse trails and the beach, most other areas inside the park are open for dogs.
There are a few dog-friendly restaurants in Alabama. For those who are staying at the beach longer than an afternoon, these restaurants may be a nice way for your dog to cool off. Even when there’s shade, the air conditioning feels cooler.
The Royal Oyster
The Royal Oyster is located on the Gulf Shores Parkway. They serve oysters, and shells, in addition to burgers and pasta. It’s a casual restaurant that serves cocktails outside. The waterfront view is enjoyable for both you and your dog.
Dogs are typically leashed, but it’s so casual that you might not even need to if the dog is well-trained. The wait staff provides fresh water for dogs but does expect that you will handle any doggie cleanup.
Cosmo’s Restaurant and Bar
This restaurant serves exquisite seafood. You can order sushi or oysters while looking out over Orange Beach. At night there is often live entertainment during the tourist season. Although most out-of-towners eat here, it does have a welcoming vibe.
Dogs are allowed on their outdoor patio. They must be well-behaved but not necessarily leashed. If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant with your dog, this is the perfect place.
A Dog’s Life at the Beach
A dog’s life at the beach is filled with entertainment. This is a bonus for both the dog and its owner. Even though I work from home I don’t always have the time to play with my dog during the afternoon. On the beach, I feel like I can give him the attention he deserves.
Most dogs love the water, especially the ocean, because it’s one way to expend a huge amount of energy while playing. Although this is the reason why many dog owners bring their pets to the beach, it’s not the only attraction.
Dogs have new smells, new creatures to play with, and endless space to run. Even dogs who are too small to play in the water can still benefit from some of the best beaches in Alabama.