BONITA SPRINGS (Lee County)
Also known as the "Lee County Off-Leash Dog Area." Located on Bonita Beach Blvd., just north of New Pass between Bonita Springs and only a few miles south of Fort Myers Beach. Can be reached by car or boat. Open dawn to dusk, this is basically a sandbar and so it's best to visit at low tide. Offers parking, plastic bags and disposal stations.
BOYNTON BEACH (Palm Beach County)
Dogs are not permitted on area beaches. There are nearby dog parks and beaches where you and your dog can have some fun. See other cities listed under "Southwest Florida."
CAPE CORAL (Lee County)
1. Dog Beach
Located at Blind Pass, south of Fort Myers Beach, this beach is more of a sand bar and there's about two acres of land at low tide. Readers tell us that leashed dogs are allowed on all area beaches. Fort Myers and Cape Coral are very pet friendly.
Located inside Rotary Park, 5505 Rose Garden Road at the end of Pelican Road, between Pelican and El Dorado. Offers two fenced and sodded areas, one for small dogs and one for big dogs. Users must pre-register (see link for instructions) and provide proof of immunizations and residency. There are benches and doggie poop bags available for humans to clean up after the pets.
3. Private Communities
As further proof developers are capitalizing on the love people have for their dogs, three communities by Bonita Bay - Veranda, Sandoval and Ave Maria - are providing fenced dog park no-leash areas for residents only. The Sandoval community's dog park is aptly named, "Barkley" and has separate fenced areas for small and large dogs.
CHARLOTTE HARBOR (Charlotte County)
1. Paw Park
Located at the Edgewater Park at 22410 Bayshore Road, in Port Charlotte. Offers two fenced-in areas for dogs to run off leash, one for big dogs, another for little dogs. There is a playground for kids outside the fence, picnic tables, a water hose and water bowl, and public restrooms.
DAVIE (Broward County)
Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed to visit all Broward County Parks except Hollywood North Beach Park (beachside) and the following Nature Centers: Anne Kolb, Secret Woods, Fern Forest, Tall Cypress, Hillsboro Pineland, and Deerfield Island.
Located at 3900 SW 100th Avenue in Davie. Check Web site for hours. This 358-acre park is for nature lovers and leashed dogs. A 6-foot leash is required. Guardians must clean up after their pets.
FLORIDA KEYS (Monroe County)
Monroe County parks allow leashed pets only.
Located at the corner of White Street and Atlantic Boulevard, across from the White Street Pier. Offers small and large dog areas, each with its own water fountain. The park has lots of room to run, plenty of shade, and a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Please be sure to adhere to the rules posted at the entrance and, as should be done anywhere, always pick up the poop.
3. Dog Beach
Dogs are welcomed along the 80 miles or so of beaches and bridges from Key Largo to Key West. This is the only beach in Key West where they are welcomed. It is located adjacent to Louie's Backyard Restaurant near the southernmost point, at Vernon and Waddell. The area is about 20-30 feet wide and we're told there's a strong undercurrent, so be careful. On a positive note, the area is quite dog-friendly and well-behaved dogs are welcome at some nearby outdoor restaurants. Reader Note: "Your comment above that 'dogs are welcomed along the 80 miles or so of beaches and bridges from Key Largo to Key West' is inaccurate. There are VERY FEW places in the keys where someone can take a dog. Besides one beach in Key West and certain areas of Bahia Honda Park, Anne's Beach in Islamorada is the only other dog friendly beach in the keys that I've found."
Located at 36850 Overseas Highway on Big Pine Key. Leashed pets are welcome in designated areas. Offers shaded picnic tables and grills, guided nature trail walks, three cabins, camping, boating and boat tours.
FT. MYERS (Lee County)
1. Pet friendly beaches
Reader Notes:"Leashed dogs are allowed on Fort Myers beach. Baggies are provided by all of the entrances that I have been to. I use them to clean up after my dog and my family. There are trash cans through out the beach. There are hotels and rentals that are pet friendly as well. Fort Myers and Cape Coral are very pet friendly."
Located inside Buckingham Community Park at 9800 Buckingham Rd., in eastern Lee County. Offers 1.5-acres, a separate small dog area, benches, fences, handicap facilities, lights, handy parking, poop bags, restrooms, shelters, trash cans, water, walking trails, with more features planned for the future. There is a pond, but dogs are not permitted to romp in it. As far as we know, a usage permit is still required. Reader Notes: "I have been to Barkingham Dog Park with two [dogs] and I think it's the greatest place. They have a puppy pen /small dog pen with benches for the people to sit at. They also have water fountains with doggy fountains at the bottom. They also have several doggy disposals available and they have a doggy shower once your finished. Then you can take a walk around two different trails made just for walking your dogs. Another reader says, "When you first go into the area they have a double gated system for your dog's protection. They separate the large and smalls dog. Each side has water for them to run through along with trees. The park is 1 -1/2 acres of wonderful free space for our pets. Also what is great is this facility is in with a baseball field, and other recreational facilities so it is really a family environment. Being from the north where they do nothing for our pets, this is one of the greatest place I have seen. I commend the county for their assistance in allowing pet owners to be able to take their pets with them and enjoy some freedom."
3. Dog Beach
Located on County Road 865 between Bonita Beach and Fort Myers Beach, in south Lee county. Described by some as "a coastal tideland area." The reader who told us about this area said it's "more a sandbar that is out of the water some of the time and then it is mucky sand."
4. Calusa Nature Center
"Dog Day Sundays" take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. the first Sunday of every month at the nature center, located at 3450 Ortiz Avenue. Families can walk their dogs, which must be leashed, on three different trails. Cost is $5 per dog; humans admitted free. We are uncertain whether or not this is a year-around situation, so for more information, call (239) 275-3435.
5. Pooch Park
Located in Judd Park, 1297 Driftwood Drive, North Fort Myers. Offers separate areas for small and large dogs. Irrigated and fenced park.
6. K-9 Corral
Located in the southeast corner of Estero Community Park, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd. in Estero. This two-acre dog park offers separate fenced areas for small and large dogs. Has disposal cans and water facilities.
7. Ten Mile Linear Park
Accessible at Daniels and Metro Parkways or where it crosses Six Mile Cypress Parkway. This is a nice path where you are allowed to walk leashed dogs only.
NAPLES (Collier County)
1. City Parks
Back in 2006, the Naples City Council approved allowing leashed dogs in city parks as long as they were kept off playgrounds. We haven't heard that this has changed. Doggie bags and trash cans are provided and if you don't pick up after your dog, you can get a citation and a $65 fine.
2. Rover Run
Located at Veterans Community Park, 1900 Immokalee Road, about 1 mile west of Airport Road. Open dawn to dusk. Fenced, benches, handicap access, poop bags, trees, parking, water, trash cans. Lots of trees and places for pooches to sniff and explore; a separate fenced area for small dogs to run. Reader Notes: "I'm a regular at this park, and I'm thankful it's finally improving. It was absolutely rundown; it was a big sand hole that would fill with water that had who knows how many parasites and bacteria in it. But over the summer, they put grass down across the whole park. Some of it didn't last, so they have set another date for pouring concrete in certain areas, like under the picnic tables and a path to the front gate. We had problems with rabbits getting in and dogs catching them, so they put rocks down bordering the entire fence and we've had very few problems since. As far as I know, the little dog side has not seen or needed any changes or improvements." Another reader says, "Rover Run is extremely run down and seems like an afterthought of the parks & recreation dept. The park needs a grass roots volunteer group that would work closely with the dept. so programs in Rover Run could be addressed in a more timely manner. It's disappointing not to have a safe, clean place to be with your dog. It's embarrassing that with all the beauty of Naples, the Rover Run is left to rot and be forgotten."
Also known as "Central Bark," this park is located at 99 Riverside Drive, near the corner of Goodlette-Frank Road and Central Avenue. It opened March 2, 2011 and offers separate off-leash areas for large and small dogs. The 2 areas are connected by a shaded area, drinking fountains and benches for the humans. There are also wash stations. Usage fees are not required, but registration will be required - visit the website above for more info. The park will be open from dawn until dusk seven days a week.
4. Big Cypress National Preserve Leashed dogs are allowed on the trails only in this National Park in Collier County.
MARCO ISLAND (Collier County)
1. Canine Cove Dog Park
Located at the southern edge of Frank E. Mackle Community Park, 1361 Andalusia Terrace, this off-leash dog park encompasses a 1.25-acre fenced area set aside for large dogs and a .19-acre fenced area for small dogs. Hours from sunrise to sunset. Offers water and a pedestrian walkway.
2. Parks on Marco Island
Leashed dogs are permitted in parks on Marco Island.
PUNTA GORDA (Charlotte County)
1. Hounds of Henry Street Park
Located at Henry and Shreve Streets, next to the Public Works building. Offers a nice big dog area and a very small puppy park area, but no bathroom facilities. Reader Notes: "This park can also be accessed from Shreve Street, just over the bridge from the Bayshore Dog Park in Charlotte Harbor. The park isn't as big as the one on Bayshore, but it offers more tables for owners to sit and more trees for shade. The large dog area isn't as big as Bayshore either, but the small dog area is a little bigger than the small dog area at Bayshore. The small dog area at this park has a lot of visitors. More so than Bayshore. The large dog park is hit or miss. Of course, weekend mornings and evenings bring many visistors in both areas."
2. Laishley Park
A kind reader tells us leashed dogs are allowed in this park. Doggie comfort stations are provided around the sidewalks.
Southwest Florida is