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Fun With Furry Friends: Dog-Friendly Vacations in Fort Myers

Picture your perfect day out with your best friend: sunbathing on beaches and cooling off in Gulf waters; exploring local restaurants to find the perfect shaded patio; traipsing through preserves and state parks; and retreating to pet-friendly hotels where your pup will be as pampered as you. Create a vacation full of dogs-allowed activities and places where they’re not just accepted but warmly welcomed.

When it comes to things to do with your pup in and around Fort Myers, the beach is probably at the top of your list. From dawn until dusk, Bonita Springs Dog Beach invites dogs to run off leash in calm back-bay waters. Low tide exposes the beach while high tide offers plenty of opportunity for swimming and running in the shallows.

Lighthouse Beach Park
Lighthouse Beach Park Lighthouse Beach Park

Several beaches in the area allow leashed dogs, so just be mindful of keeping them safe and clean up after them. While Bowman’s Beach Park on Sanibel Island attracts seashell collectors from all over, it’s also a fun place for pups to splash in the gentle waves. On the southern tip of Sanibel Island, Lighthouse Beach Park also welcomes leashed dogs to explore.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Walking the dog reaches a whole new level when you’re out in pristine natural surroundings. Look for protected areas that are open to leashed dogs, including Koreshan State Park, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the Mound House. Several parks also have off-leash dog areas and/or allow dogs on leashes to roam around with their people. Check out the complete list here (please note that accessibility and amenities may vary; contact the parks directly for the most up-to-date information).

Woman Dog Walk Hike Nature Buckingham Trails Preserve
Buckingham Trails Preserve Buckingham Trails Preserve

When it’s time to dine, most restaurants with outdoor seating areas or patios allow pets. Buckingham Farms is an authentic farm-to-table experience where your best furry friend is welcome to enjoy the views and a treat on the patio. Cheer on your favorite teams from the patio at Fat Katz Sports Bistro, and grab an outdoor seat with your pet at Parrot Key Caribbean Grill for live music with a view of Salty Sam's Marina.

Curl up for the evening in your pet-friendly hotel, and your family vacation is truly complete!