We were surprised recently to see an article in the local newspaper from the Associated Press titled “Florida a dog-lover’s vacation paradise”. That has not been our experience traveling through Florida with our pooch. But we’re always open to a road trip and the weather has been perfect, so we headed south to check out the first place mentioned in the article–Dog Beach and Paw Playground at Fort De Soto Park.
One hundred miles south of us, Fort Desoto is part of the Pinellas County park system. According to their website, it consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands. To avoid deep budget cuts to the park, the county started charging a $5 fee in 2012.
As typical of dog parks, Paw Playground has two fenced grassy areas—one for small dogs and the other for large. Water fountains, waste bags and dog showers are available. But we weren’t looking for the dog parks, we wanted to walk on the beach with Maggie so headed to Dog Beach.
All we expected is a place where we could enjoy the beach with Maggie on her leash. We were quite surprised to find an unfenced leash free zone for all dog sizes. Terry and I were a little anxious about how the larger dogs would react to Maggie but most of the dogs completely ignored her. They were too busy chasing, running, and swimming—this was a happy place.
Maggie eventually started enjoying the experience and chasing the waves.
It wasn’t long before she was hot and exhausted so we headed out to explore the rest of Ft. Desoto. After Maggie cooled down we stopped at the North Beach snack bar, found a shaded picnic table, and shared some lunch with Maggie–hot dogs! (Thought that was appropriate.) Next we stopped at a spot where we could view the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
So all parks in Florida are not dog haters! Some places recognize that dogs and their people just want to have fun in the sun!