Dunes are prevalent in Florida. They can be found on the east coast, west coast, panhandle, and even throughout the state if you know where to look.
These dunes have become tourist destinations for their natural beauty or rare ecosystems. Others are just great places to camp out under the stars with friends and family. But, all of them provide an escape from everyday life that everyone should experience during their lifetime.
Here are 15 of our favorites!
1. Siesta Key
Siesta Key has the rare distinction of being a barrier island that allows cars – something very few can claim.
The beach is breathtakingly beautiful with its white sands, great waves for surfing, and stunning sunsets. There are plenty of hotels to rent out rooms in if you want to spend the night after a day at the beach, but I recommend spending the night camping in one of Florida’s state parks instead. You’ll get a fantastic view of the Milky Way!
2. Honeymoon Island State Park
This is one of the few places in Florida where you have a good chance of seeing manatees playing around in the water or sea turtles nesting. However, don’t disturb them if they behave that way – observe from a distance.
3. Lovers Key State Park
Lovers Key State Park is located just south of Siesta Key. It has 10 miles worth of beaches – less than Honeymoon Island but still plenty to keep you occupied for days on end.
Many people visit this park for kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, and scuba diving opportunities. There are no specific regulations against bringing your dog with you to this park, although I wouldn’t recommend it because there’s a lot of wildlife here, and a leash is an excellent way to keep your dog under control.
4. St. George Island State Park
St. George Island State Park has 11 miles worth of pristine beaches along the west coast of Florida.
The specialty of St. George Island State Park is that it offers a wide range of activities for visitors to do. These include swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, bird watching, and hiking. It also has several beautiful beaches that are perfect for relaxing on.
This park was affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, but everything seems to be back to normal now (the main issue here was that some parts of the beach had oil on them, which you can see if you look closely). Unfortunately, no dogs are allowed within this park because it’s full of Spanish Oak trees that house gopher tortoises – Florida’s state reptile.
5. Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach State Park has five miles worth of gorgeous beaches along the west coast of Florida, with white sands and clear blue waters.
At Grayton Beach State Park, there are many different activities for visitors to do. These include swimming, fishing, and kayaking, as well as hiking on beautiful beaches with views that stretch out over the clear blue waters of Florida’s gulf coast in all directions!
The setting is perfect-peaceful but not too quiet, so you can hear nature when she speaks without intrusion or interruption from other humans who might be nearby.”
This park is perfect for hikers, kayakers, campers, fishers, snorkelers, scuba divers… essentially anyone who loves spending time outdoors. Dogs are welcome on leashes!
6. Stump Pass Beach State Park
Stump Pass Beach State Park is located just south of Grayton Beach State Park. Its golden sands are home to many endangered species – especially loggerhead sea turtles!
Stump Pass State Park’s specialty is that it offers visitors a wide range of activities. These include swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and bird-watching or hiking on their many beautiful beaches, which are perfect for relaxing with friends!
There are plenty of hiking trails here that lead through the dense wildlife areas where you’re guaranteed to see some pretty cool things if you have a sharp eye. You can also visit Stump Pass Beach’s historic lighthouse! A word of warning: there are no dogs allowed on the beach.
7. Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island State Park is located just north of Stump Pass Beach State Park. It’s another barrier island that has a car-free environment, making it perfect for a peaceful day trip or overnight camping trip.
The beaches here are some of the most untouched in Florida, and they offer great swimming, kayaking, fishing, and bird-watching opportunities. This park also has a nature trail that will take you through the mangrove forests and past some beautiful Caladesi islands. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but they are welcome on the trails.
8. Anclote Key Preserve State Park
Anclote Key Preserve State Park is a small, undeveloped park located north of Tarpon Springs. It’s only accessible by boat, making it the perfect place to get away from it all.
This park is home to some of the best fishing in all of Florida, as well as some of the most beautiful sunsets. Unfortunately, there are no amenities here – not even a restroom – so come prepared if you plan on visiting! Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.
9. Curry Hammock State Park
Curry Hammock State Park is a large park located on Grassy Key. It has over 60 campsites and offers kayak and canoe rentals and fishing and swimming opportunities.
A dog park and beach are located on the southwest side of the island for your furry friend to enjoy. Dogs must be kept on leashes at all times, though!
10. Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park is another huge state park with over 100 campsites (some of which are RV accessible) and kayak rentals, fishing piers, and more.
Bahia Honda also has some spectacular beaches with white sands and crystal clear waters, making it an excellent place to visit if you like relaxing or watching shell hunting sea creatures like blue crabs and horseshoe crabs (don’t touch them!). Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
11. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is located on Key Biscayne and offers some of the best views of Miami from its beaches.
There are also plenty of activities available here, such as kayaking, fishing, biking, and bird watching. You can even visit the historical lighthouse! Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
12. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is located in Mexico and is only accessible by boat or seaplane.
This park is best known for its impressive fort built-in 1846. There are also great snorkeling and diving opportunities here and camping and picnicking areas. Dogs are not allowed on the island.
13. Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve is a vast preserve located in the Everglades that offers plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, bird watching, and more.
You can even go alligator spotting here! And if you’re lucky, you might even see a Florida panther or black bear! Dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.
14. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is about as big as Cypress, and it has plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, fishing, biking…the list goes on.
If you’re lucky enough to go during the dry season (winter), you may be able to see some pretty cool birds migrating through here. You’ll also have a chance to see otters, American crocodiles, West Indian manatees, Florida panthers, and more! Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on the islands or beaches within this park.
15. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a vast park located in Key Largo that offers plenty of activities for visitors, such as snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, and swimming.
This park is also home to the Manatee Observation and Education Center, a great place to learn about these gentle creatures. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
There are so many fantastic parks and beaches in Florida where you and your furry friend can go to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So if you’re looking for a new place to explore with your dog, check out one – or all – of these fun-filled places!