How Pet-Friendly is St. Augustine?

Visitors on vacation in St. Augustine, Florida don't necessarily have to keep their furry friends at home--check out dog-friendly amenities in the old city!

  • Visiting St. Augustine soon and not sure whether you can bring Fido or Fluffy along? The oldest city is a pet-friendly town with plenty of accommodations and things to do that welcome dogs. Read on for some insider tips on pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, things to do with your dog, and even some options for your pup to enjoy his or her own vacation with other furry friends.

    Pet-Friendly Hotels

    Whether you are looking for a pet-friendly accommodation on the beach or in the historic area of downtown, there are lots to choose from that welcome cats and dogs. If you have a larger dog, be sure to inquire about size and breed restrictions. A few hotels that do accept bigger dogs are Holiday Isle Oceanfront, Old City House Inn, Beachers Lodge, and the Southern Oaks Inn.

    Pet Friendly Hotels in St. Augustine:

    Restaurants

    What is better than going out for a bite to eat and the waiter bringing out a bowl of water for your pooch? A simple gesture like this is similar to the feeling of finding out a new acquaintance is a fellow dog lover. It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just nice and makes you smile. In St. Augustine, this kind of acknowledgment happens all the time for visitors who bring their pets.

    There are over 20 restaurants that are more than okay with man’s best friend tagging along in St. Augustine.

    Pet Friendly Restaurants in St. Augustine:

    Pet Lodging

    Maybe you would like to bring your pet with you but don’t want to have to worry about them the whole time you’re on vacation. In that case, a hotel/day care service for pets would be an option for you. St. Augustine has a couple of doggy care providers who can really show your pup a fun time.

    Pet Paradise is less than five miles from downtown. With their web cam service you can check on your pooch any time of day. You might catch them swimming in the bone-shaped pool, having playtime with the friendly staff, or relaxing in their own air-conditioned suite.

    Dog Town USA is another pet hotel that is especially convenient if you are driving in from Jacksonville or points north. Located on US 1, about 10 miles north of Historic St. Augustine, Dog Town USA will pamper your pet with one-on-one playtime, swimming options, and even “fitness classes” on request.

    Things to Do

    Go to the Beach

    The most obvious choice for a dog-friendly activity in St. Augustine is a trip to the beach! Canines are allowed on all of the beaches in St. Augustine, except for Anastasia State Park. Dogs are required to stay on a leash, so you may want to wear your running shoes if your dogs are anything like mine. They see a seagull and are immediately on the chase—I imagine they hear “mine, mine, mine…” like in Finding Nemo.

    Just as we don’t want people to leave trash on the beach, please be sure to clean up after your pet. Most of the entries to the beach have bags, but you may want to bring your own just in case because sometimes they run out.

    If you are bringing your dog down to the beach for an extended period of time, I recommend bringing along an extra umbrella or a doggy tent for your friend. Even with swimming in the ocean and charging at the white water, the sun is often too much for dogs and they can get overheated. Of course, this goes without saying as a pet owner, but remember to bring plenty of fresh water for them. Word to the wise: bring extra. I have had numerous experiences when one of my dogs flips the water bowl over and I have to run off to the gas station for another bottle of water.

    If you have a smaller dog you might be able to rinse some of the sand off them under the outdoor showers. Most of the public parking lots that lead to the beach have these showers available.

    Walk Around Downtown

    You can soak up some of the history of St. Augustine while giving your dog his daily exercise by walking around downtown. Taking your dog through the brick streets of downtown will give him tons of opportunities to socialize with humans and other dogs, if you like. St. George, Hypolita, and Aviles streets all have lots to see and many pet friendly stops along the way.

    You can also plan a picnic on the lawn of the Castillo de San Marcos, or just bring a blanket and people-watch for a while. Dogs are not welcome inside of the fort, but there are plenty of areas for your pets to smell some ancient smells while you soak up some history along with the Florida sun.

    The Spanish Military Hospital Museum on Aviles Street welcomes pets on their fully guided tours. Step inside the hospital to learn about the medical practices of Colonial times and take a break from the heat for a bit.

    With a size restriction, dogs are allowed on tours of the San Sebastian Winery and at the Cellar Upstairs, a rooftop bar, as long as they are on a leash.

    A lot of the ghost tours, like Ghost Tours of St. Augustine, are outdoors only. If your dog is well behaved, he or she is welcome to tag along for the stroll and the stories.

    A long walk or a short car ride to the Fountain of Youth and your dog will be amazed by the long tails of the peacocks sashaying around. They might even be able to take a sip of the water to keep them in their puppy years.

    Dog Parks

    There are a handful of public no-cost dog parks located throughout St. Augustine, where your dogs can stretch their legs off the leash. The one at Treaty Park, just south of town, is one I frequent with my three dogs. The park has separate divisions for small and large dogs, along with plenty of water, a few toys, clean-up bags, kiddie pools, a mock fire hydrant and plenty of other friendly dogs. With one very high strung miniature pinscher, I have learned that taking a walk along the nature trail within Treaty Park is a nice way to wear your dog out a bit before going into the dog park.

    If you are staying on St. Augustine Beach, you can visit the Ron Parker dog park off Old Beach Road by the CVS on Pope Road. It is a mulched park, shaded by trees and also offers two areas for different-sized dogs. Every time I have been there, it’s a mix of big and small dogs in the large dog area, though, and everyone has gotten along just fine.

    Vilano Beach has a smaller grassy dog park at North Shore Park. The few times I have been there, the park has been pretty empty of other dogs. As long as I bring a tennis ball I can get them to run around, and of course they enjoy being off the leash.

    If you are staying downtown, the dog park inside Pomar Park (off S.R. 16 on Masters Drive) may be the best bet for you. With grass, a few trees, and a gazebo for you to sit under, this is another nice place to bring your dog to be free for a while. My dogs love to jump in the kiddie pool and then jet off towards the trees for a lap, and then back into the pool.

    Concerts

    If you are lucky enough to be visiting the oldest city during the week, you should add a free outdoor concert to your list of things to do with your dog(s).

    The Concerts in the Plaza series runs from the end of May through September. Local and regional musicians perform every Thursday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Plaza de la Constitucion. All you need is a chair or blanket and your fur ball to enjoy an evening of tunes outside.

    Between May and September on Wednesday evenings, beginning at 6 p.m., Music by the Sea concerts are held at the pier in St. Augustine Beach. You can listen to music and bring food and drinks in your cooler, or buy a meal from the spotlight restaurant supplying the food that week.

    Lots of people attend these concerts so you may want to keep your pet’s leash short so he’s not smelling every other person that walks by. I’m always surprised, but there are those people that just don’t like dogs and you have to be respectful.

    Boating

    As long as you trust your dog not to flip the boat, you can explore St. Augustine’s coastal waters by renting a kayak. You could even take a dolphin tour with St. Augustine Eco Tours— just give them a heads-up that you are bringing your dog when you make the reservation. I don’t recommend letting your dog jump in the water though, only because there are so many oyster beds they can cut their paws on. If you pull up on a sandy beach, of course, they should be okay for a swim.

    If you plan on renting a boat, a doggy life jacket might be a good idea (just like a life jacket for you might be a good idea). Even if your dog can swim, you should be wary of the strong currents. Shade is another thing to consider. Some of the beaches you can pull up on have trees and offer a reprieve from the sun, but an umbrella or makeshift tent area on the boat may be needed to keep your pet cool.

    Groomers

    After a hard day of chasing seagulls and running from waves at the beach, a bath may be in order. Luckily there are dog groomers located throughout St. Augustine to get your canine sand-free before heading back to the hotel. If their nails need a trim or you have a shaggy dog in need of a quick haircut, these groomers can help you with that too.

    • Park Avenue Paws
      425 State Rd 207 #101
      St Augustine, FL 32084
      (904) 460-1080
       
    • Society Pet Spa
      1665 Old Moultrie Rd,
      St Augustine, FL 32084
      (904) 824-8895
       
    • Country Cottage Dog Grooming
      1660 Masters Dr.
      St Augustine, FL 32084
      (904) 377-0796
       
    • PetSmart
      1779 US Highway 1 S
      St Augustine, FL 32084
      (904) 495-0785

       
    • PetCo
      430 Cbl Dr,
      St Augustine, FL 32086
      (904) 824-8520​
       
    • Dog Town USA
      6988 U.S. 1 #301,
      St Augustine, FL 32095
      (904) 347-2363
       
    • Pet Paradise
      125 Ponce Harbor Dr,
      St Augustine, FL 32086
      (904) 797-9770

    St. Augustine is known for being a friendly place to visit, but now you know that goes for more than just homo sapiens!  With a wide choice of pet-friendly hotels and restaurants and plenty to do with your pet around town, you shouldn’t even be considering leaving Fido home on your next vacation to the nation’s oldest (and maybe furriest?) city.





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Updated: Monday, March 16, 2015

Meaghan Alvarado

Local St. Augustine blogger Meaghan Alvarado is a Flagler College alumni who writes on many topics ranging from fashion and food to crafts and local St. Augustine happenings.