Sarasota is a pretty dog-friendly city when it comes right down to it. Most sidewalk cafes and restaurants will allow you to sit with your pet, and many shops and boutiques don’t mind if a well-behaved pet accompanies you while shopping. Below are some of our favorite pet-friendly destinations. Go out and enjoy the summer on two legs and four!
In the Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores neighborhood in north Sarasota, walkers can admire historic homes, the occasional peacock, and amazing sunsets over Longboat Key across the Bay. Two on-leash, dog-friendly parks serve the neighborhoods: Sapphire Shores park and Indian Beach park.
Nestled in another beautiful historic neighborhood, Laurel Park, are two parks worth visiting for very different reasons. Tiny Laurel Park is a great spot to bring a book and sit with your dog on a blanket for a lazy afternoon.
Just across 301, Payne Park offers nearly 30 acres of walking paths, a skate park, café, auditorium and grassy spaces.
Located on North Lemon Avenue in downtown Sarasota, Station 400’s patio is a magical place. With its umbrellas and trees, much of the patio remains shaded throughout the morning and early afternoon, so you and your dog don’t need to worry about burning while you eat your Truffle Eggs Benedict or your Bibb Lettuce Salad. Order a side of Parmesan fries, and you (and your dog?) will be in heaven.
On the eastern end of Bayfront Park overlooking Sarasota Bay, O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill is a great place to unwind with your pooch. Sit at the picnic tables near the water and listen to live music, eat burgers and other munchies, and grab a drink from the tiki bar.
The Old Salty Dog restaurant bills itself as Sarasota’s “First Official Doggie Dining Restaurant.” There are now three locations, one on Siesta Key, one on the City Island waterfront, and a brand-new spot that just opened on Venice Island. Old Salty Dog features locally-caught fish and a host of great seafood options in a casual island atmosphere. They even feature a dog gallery on their website!
Bayfront Park, also called Island Park by many locals, offers a wonderful morning or evening stroll. Walk the 32-acre park, check out the boats in the marina, or park it on a bench and relax on the waterfront.
Robinson Preserve isn’t in Sarasota, but it’s worth a mention and the drive. Just north of Sarasota in west Bradenton, Robinson contains more than 600 acres of coastal preserve with trails traversing waterways, mangrove forests, marshland, and beaches. It’s even got an observation tower. Robinson Preserve is truly a dog hiking haven, particularly early on a summer morning.
The Legacy Trail is a nearly 11-mile long trail that begins near Palmer Ranch in south Sarasota and runs south to the Historic Venice Train Depot. The trail itself is paved and runs over the old railway line. This is primarily a bike trail, so if your dog is skittish around bicycles, it may not be your best option.
Paw Parks (Off-Leash)
Sarasota county designates its off-leash parks as “Paw Parks.” If your dog likes to run loose with other dogs, these parks are great open spaces -- and they’re good for some human socializing too. Most Paw Parks feature separate areas for large and small dogs.
Arlington Paw Park is located within the larger, lush Arlington Park (also an on-leash, dog-friendly area) and provides both wide-open play space and some shade.
17th Street Paw Park is well-liked by pet owners whose animals really want to run. While there is less shade, there are covered picnic tables and the standard water fountains.
A little further south in Venice is Brohard Paw Park and Beach. If you love going to the beach but hate leaving your dog at home, Brohard is a must-visit with its dog showers, leash posts, drinking fountains, and fire hydrants, plus the regular human amenities.
In the summer, the crowds have thinned out and the sun doesn’t set until later -- which means you and your canine buddy have more time and space to adventure and relax in some of Sarasota’s most treasured spots. I hope this give you a good place to start. If you have tips on how to maximize summer's "dog days" in Sarasota, please visit the Sarasota Property Finders Facebook Page to share!
Julian is a happy Sarasota resident and your go-to guy for information about the perks of living in paradise. For more, get in touch with Julian directly via the Sarasota Property Finders Contact Page.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist