So you want to bring your canine best friend to Sarasota, Florida? Here’s the good news: There’s no shortage of places to take your dog best friend along, as Sarasota is a town of dog lovers. From parks to cafes to markets to hotels, dogs are often part of the fun on the Suncoast—if not the main attraction.
Here’s a run-down on some of the friendliest places for dogs around Sarasota:
Dog Friendly Parks and Beaches
Beach time is part of fun time in Sarasota, and that doesn’t mean leaving your furry friend out of the picture. Take your dog to Brohard Paw Park and Beach in Venice, which is a designated off-leash dog beach area adjacent to Venice Beach. You’ll find both a traditional dog park area not in the sand as well as the dog beach. Some dogs take right to the water while others are scared of it, so keep a close eye on your dog if it’s his or her first time chillin’ at the beach.
Sarasota has several other dog parks, including the newest addition to the mix, the Canine Club in the Gillespie Park neighborhood. This mostly shaded area is near the larger Gillespie Park, so you and Fido can have off-leash time at the dog park and take a walk at the larger park area. Then there’s the busy 17th Street Paw Park, with separate areas for small and large dogs. The park is mostly in the sun, but you’ll find a few shaded areas. At the Arlington Paw Park, you’ll also find separate areas for smaller versus larger dogs, and you can round out your visit with an on-leash walk at Arlington Park. At Lakeview Paw Park, find shade, benches, and picnic tables as your furry travel companion gets to run around and make a few friends.
Food and Shopping
One no-brainer for fun with your dog in Sarasota is strolling at one of several farmers markets. At the Sarasota Farmers Market in downtown Sarasota on Saturdays, dog-watching is practically a hobby (just watch that little Yorkie greet the passing Great Dane or the basset hound get accolades for his long ears). Other area markets welcome dog visitors, including the Phillippi Farmhouse Market, Siesta Key Farmers Market, and the Venice Farmers Market. You’ll find vendors that set out water bowls specifically for your dog buddy. Check schedules in advance online, as some markets are not open year-round.
A great next destination is St. Armand’s Circle, located near Lido Beach. St. Armand’s is a European-style circular area with shopping and restaurants, with several outdoor restaurants that regularly cater to dog and human customers. Some of the stores also have dog-themed gift items. When your dog needs a break from the many humans attracted to St. Armand’s, just go to the “circle” part of St. Armand’s for some green space.
There are other restaurants around town that welcome dogs, including Libby’s, The Daiquiri Deck on Siesta Key, O’Leary’s Tiki Bar near Marina Jack in Bayfront Park, Amore Italian Restaurant in the Burn’s Court neighborhood, and Big Top Brewery.
If you need to fit in some canine-themed shopping during your time in Sarasota, there are the usual big-box pet stores. However, Sarasota also has a great boutique-style shop called Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming, with hand-baked dog treats, leashes, decals, grooming services, and much more. You’ll find a Woof Gang in St. Armand’s Circle, on Bee Ridge Road, and in Lakewood Ranch.
Pet-Friendly Hotels in Sarasota, Florida
With more people opting to travel with their furry best friends, there’s a growing number of hotels willing to accommodate them. The snazzy Lido Beach Resort allow dogs, as does the newer Westin Sarasota. The Residence Inn hotel chain from Marriott often allows dogs, as do many of the area Holiday Inns. Even The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota welcomes pets. When you make reservations, ask about any weight limits for dog guests.
Some Final Tips for Traveling With Your Dog in Sarasota
- Always have with you a small water bowl on hand to share water with your furry friend.
- Think ahead about the restroom situation—for both you and Fido. Make sure your dog has places to go potty; if you’re traveling alone (aka, without another human), give some thought to how or where you can take restroom breaks with your canine in tow.
- For car rides, bring a favorite bed and toy for maximum relaxing.
- Watch the heat. Some dog breeds are especially heat-sensitive, so your idea of taking in the sun all day is too much for Fido. Plan accordingly.
- Travel with vaccination paperwork. It may come in handy if you end up using a local doggy daycare that requires specific shot records.
- Know when to say when. Your planned day of adventures may be overwhelming for your dog. Be prepared to scale back and low-key things if needed.