Paws & Play: A Guide to Pet-Friendly Spots in Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach

The soft sands, crystal-clear waters, and epic Gulf Coast sunsets are a treat for you and your family. But what about your four-legged companions? We assure you they'll enjoy a vacation here too!

This region offers plenty of pet-friendly spots, including waterfront dog-friendly beaches, scenic dog parks, and off-leash areas for dogs of all sizes.

Our pets are like family, and planning a vacation with them can be challenging. Wondering where to take your dog on the Gulf Coast? We've got you covered.

This blog presents a curated list of top pet-friendly spots along the Gulf Coast, featuring Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach. Can you already picture that tail wagging with joy?

Top Pet-Friendly Spots in Cape San Blas

Salinas Park Bayside

This beautiful bayside park with a gorgeous beach of soft sand and calm waters is great for you and Fido. The park is pet-friendly, making it an ideal spot to bring your pup for a picnic or a beach day.

Salinas Park has everything you need, including a boardwalk, picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and beach access. Your furry companion will undoubtedly enjoy exploring this scenic location.

The beach access itself is beautiful, featuring large expanses of white sand, great views, and plenty of shade nearby. For you, the boardwalk provides lots of information about local wildlife and vegetation. The area is well-maintained and includes a water fountain for filling up water bottles and bowls. This allows your buddy to have access to a water bowl that can be filled and drained on its own, as well as a place to rinse off if needed.

Recent additions to the park include the Serenity Trail Boardwalk and Pickleball Courts. Just note that pets are allowed, but dogs must be on a leash while on the park grounds.

Cape Palms Park

Just south of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Cape Palms Park offers another great dog-friendly beach with a white sand seashore. With grills, picnic tables, and a pavilion, this is an excellent spot for a picnic. The beach is like a gateway: uncrowded and clean, ideal for a stroll along the water or running around while exercising yourself and Fido. The waters are calm and inviting for a nice dip.

It's fun to keep your eyes open for shells as well as brown pelicans, terns, and other seabirds. Oh, there are also the little ghost crabs that live along the peninsula. Look at the water, and you may even catch a dolphin or two.

Just keep an eye on your pet to ensure they don't cross boundaries with other animals in the area, and you're good to go!

Cape San Blas Beaches

A day at the beach is mandatory at Cape San Blas. The beautiful beaches of Cape San Blas are dog-friendly at any time of year, and you can play in the sand or simply enjoy a relaxing time with your dog by your side. It's certainly fun for them, but they still have to remain on a leash at all times.

When visiting the dog-friendly beaches of Cape San Blas, always be mindful of other beachgoers and make sure to clean up after your puppy. They make the latter easy for you with doggie waste disposal stations located at many beach access points.

Also, make sure your dog doesn't go near the turtle nest areas. With clearly marked areas, it's very easy for everyone to have a place in the sun!

Top Pet-Friendly Spots in Port St. Joe

Port City Trail

Easy to get to from downtown, Port City Trail is the ultimate spot to get some exercise done in Port St. Joe, and we're talking about you and Fido! The fully paved and wide trail extends for four miles. The scenery is made up of beautiful parks, lakes, historic sites, and charming eateries. Along the way, you'll find all you need: restrooms, informational signage, and water fountains.

If you feel like a detour, you can head to other parks like James "Mr. Benny" Roberts Sports Park, Forest Park Par 3 Golf Course, Forest Park South, Buck Griffin Lake, Centennial Park, and Lamar Faison Park — all connected to and easily reachable from Port City Trail.

St. Joe Beach

Good news: the famous St. Joe Beach in Port St. Joe, FL is also dog-friendly, providing more miles of beautiful shoreline for you to enjoy. Take a stroll along the shoreline with your dog, savoring the sights, sounds, and smells of the beach together. Some dogs love to chase waves, so it's a great idea to let your dog lay along the shoreline, chasing the incoming waves.

As with most other beaches, all you need to worry about is keeping your friend on a leash and cleaning up after them. Then it's all about some sand and surf doggy fun!

Bow Wow Meow Beach Shop

Need to buy Fido a treat or replenish some of their supplies? Head to Bow Wow Meow Beach Shop, a cute store that offers a great selection of high-quality foods, treats, toys, and anything else you might need.

You know how it goes, it's the same with kids - no matter how much you plan, you always forget something for your little buddy. But worry not! Bow Wow Meow Beach Shop will always have you covered when you visit Port St. Joe. The prices are more than reasonable and the staff is super helpful and nice. And guess what? They often have free samples of treats available. It's a dog lover's paradise!

Pet-friendly Restaurants in Port St. Joe, FL

  • Krazyfish Grille: relaxing and close to the beach, this dog-friendly spot offers a seafood-centric menu, sushi, and sandwich bars, along with a wide selection of beer, wine, and signature drinks. Pets are allowed at the outdoor tables.

  • Joe Mama's Wood-Fired Pizza: Joe Mama's features a dog-friendly back patio where they craft coal-fired pizza, offering amazing pizzas and great starters such as oven-roasted wings and parmesan bruschetta; dog treats are available at pet-friendly outdoor tables along with water bowls.

  • Provisions: with a diverse mix of local and internationally-inspired dishes, this laid-back spot also has a lovely dog-friendly outdoor area. Featuring a menu with options like goat cheese fondue, Thai chicken salads, prime rib sandwiches, shrimp carbonara, chimichurri steak, filet mignon, and snapper piccata... Hungry yet?

  • Shoobies: ice cream, anyone? Shoobies is a picturesque, dog-friendly ice cream spot in Port St. Joe, FL, where you'll be spoiled with gelato, sundaes, water ice, and various toppings; furry companions are allowed outside at the umbrella-shaded picnic tables, and there's a convenient walk-up window so you never have to leave them alone to step inside – thoughtful, isn't it?

Pet-friendly Restaurants in Mexico Beach, FL

Before we go ahead, the burning question is: are dogs allowed in Mexico Beach, FL?

Nope! Dogs are not permitted on the beach within the city limits of Mexico Beach. Sorry, Fido! Your best bet for a dog-friendly beach nearby is St. Joe, which we discussed above.

Still, there are some pet-friendly restaurants and establishments in Port St. Joe. Here's a selection:

  • Killer Seafood: located only steps from the beach, the dog-friendly Killer Seafood serves fresh and local dishes in a casual and inviting atmosphere. The menu includes fried calamari, Southern-style po'boys, fish tacos, fried or grilled shrimp, soft-shell crab, and scallops over pasta. Dessert lovers will also appreciate this place, especially for sweet potato pecan and key lime pies. Dogs are welcome outdoors at front umbrella tables.

  • Mango Marley's: this lively "floribbean" restaurant has three dog-friendly picnic tables outside. The menu offers a diverse selection of chicken wings, fried fish baskets, sandwiches, and other dishes. Drink selections include all-time favorites and great beachy drinks.

  • Caribbean Coffee & Cafe: this beachy little cafe has several dog-friendly bench seats outside. The drink selection includes coffee, espresso, tea, lattes, frappes, and more. For food, they serve paninis, croissants, and pastries, including many gluten-free options.

Extra Tips for a Successful Dog-Friendly Visit to Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach

To have the best experience when vacationing with your pet through the Gulf Coast, try to keep some things in mind:

  • Ensure that your lodging is pet-friendly. More and more hotels and short-term rentals are allowing pets nowadays. At Pristine Properties, for one, we have a great selection of pet-friendly homes — just look for the blue paw on our website.

  • If you're traveling by car, secure your pet in a well-ventilated crate or use a pet seatbelt.

  • Just in case, it's always a good idea to have proper identification for your pet, including a collar with an ID tag containing your contact information.

  • If you are going on holiday with your furry friend, schedule a visit to the vet before the trip to ensure your pet is in good health. Check if vaccinations are up to date, and if there is any new documentation that you need to bring to your destination.

  • Packing essentials for your pet including food, water, bowls, medications, a favorite toy, and bedding. Traveling can be as stressful for them as it is for us, and having familiar items always brings some comfort.

  • Use resources like this blog to research and plan the best pet-friendly activities and spots in the region you are visiting.

  • Always study local pet regulations, including leash laws and any restrictions on pets in certain areas. You don't want to be caught with fines and unpleasant surprises.

  • Always save the location of the nearest veterinary clinic at your destination and have a pet first aid kit at hand.

  • Be mindful of your pet's behavior and comfort level in new surroundings. Some pets may need time to adjust to a new environment.

  • While we're excited about how many local businesses are dog-friendly around these parts, don't assume without checking first. It's best to avoid disappointments for you and your furry friend.

  • In Florida, some waterways are home to a familiar wild resident: the alligator. While rarely dangerous to humans (especially adults), gators do pose a risk to dogs. Be cautious along shorelines and pay attention to posted warnings.

  • In many places, you will find doggie bags and other cleaning supplies, but it's always a great idea to bring your own. Carry waste bags to clean up after your pet and be respectful of public spaces.

  • Finally, prepare yourself to be flexible and adapt your plans based on your pet's needs and the environment.

By planning ahead and considering all the above, you'll make your vacation amazing for both you and your furry companion.

Where to stay when on holiday on Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach?

Dogs typically love it when owners book short-term rentals with local characters and ample space for them to play around.

Stay like a local by booking a vacation rental with Pristine Properties. We are proud to offer a selection of Cape San Blas Vacation Rentals, Port St. Joe Vacation Rentals, and Mexico Beach Florida Vacation Rentals.

Our properties are well-located, just steps away from beautiful beaches, great dining options, and an array of outdoor pursuits. That's the secret to a perfect holiday on the Florida Gulf Coast!

Previous Late Night Delights: Drinks, Eats, and Music on the Gulf Coast Culinary Delights: Top Restaurants of Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, & Mexico Beach Next