The 12 Best Dog-Friendly Fall Activities in Miami
From dog beaches and restaurant patio hangs to puppy pub crawls.
Few places make for as wonderful a dog-owning experience as Miami. Yes, there are the perpetual thunderstorms that can set off hours of barking. And that whole alligators-in-the-water thing. But beyond that, we’ve got everything from sandy beaches to tranquil lakes to balmy brewery patios perfect for toting along our beloved best friends. As the weather cools off this fall—and dogs can withstand the outdoors a bit longer—here’s a look at the best ways around South Florida to spend quality time with your pup.
Enjoy a cold lemonade in a waterfront dog park
South Florida has no shortage of great dog parks, whether you’re soaking up the bayfront breeze at Margaret Pace Park, the South Dade Trail, or Tropical Park. But the absolute coolest dog-friendly slice of green is Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove. Not only is it shaded under banyan and palm trees, it also enjoys a cool wind off Biscayne Bay nearly all year round. An added bonus: Kennedy is home to A.C.'s Icees, Miami’s legendary frozen lemonade truck that’s been cooling the Grove for over 40 years.
Tour Wynwood breweries with like-minded dog-lovers
Strolling the beer-soaked patios of Miami’s art district is one of the best things to do this fall, (ir)regardless of whether or not you’ve got a dog. But if you’re keen to bring your pet along, J. Wakefield, Veza Sur, and Wynwood Brewing are all exceptionally pet-friendly. And if you prefer touring in a pack, book an organized dog-friendly beer crawl via Airbnb, and possibly meet others who share your love of canines and cervezas.
Sure, riding down the highway with your head out the window is cool, and all, but has your dog ever stuck their head off the side of an airboat speeding through the Everglades? Provided your pet is cool with loud noises and high speeds, Coopertown Airboat Tours is the odd operator who is open to shuttling Fido through the grassy black water to a small island with an abandoned cabin, only accessible by airboat. Alligators abound along the way, so leash up and make sure that little head is staying well above the water line.
Spend the day at the lake
Some dogs love water almost as much as they love people walking through the front door, and in Ft. Lauderdale, you’ll find a couple of spots where they can splash around to their heart’s content. Snyder Park sports a big lake that’s constantly filtered to ensure a (relatively) clean experience. A little further west, Performance Pups purports to have the cleanest freshwater lake in Broward County, plus the chance to watch agility competition dogs do their thing.
Dade County’s most mysterious construction project isn’t a condo or a complex system of canals—it’s Coral Castle, an 11,000-pound sculpture garden, carved out of coral by one man between 1923 and 1951. In addition to being one of the funkiest ways to experience Miami, it’s also surprisingly dog-friendly, as Coral Castle welcomes leashed dogs every day along with their two-legged compadres. Just make sure your pet can distinguish between a coral sculpture and a fire hydrant.
The 83 lush, tropical acres that make up Fairchild Gardens open themselves to dogs and the people who love them every Sunday from 8 to 10 am. For those glorious two hours, you can explore the entire property, provided your pet stays on the leash. To sweeten the experience, Fairchild’s Glasshouse Café serves up special dog treats and drinks starting at 9 am. And, as you may have noticed, Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. Fairchild certainly did, so that day’s stroll will include a Garden Party-themed costume contest, plus music and other spooky fun.
Paddleboard across the bay
If you’ve managed to master the balancing act that is paddleboarding through South Florida’s treacherous waters, challenge yourself and add a four-legged passenger to your board. While we’ve got plenty of places to rent paddle boards around the city, the calmest waters can be found around Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. An added bonus of renting your board along the Rickenbacker? You’re not far from one of the city’s few dog-friendly beaches at Hobie Beach.
Sprawl out on the sand at the dog beach
Bringing your dog to the beach can be dicey, as sometimes you’ll stroll along and find nobody bothering you, and other times beach patrol will shoo you both away as soon as the paws hit the sand. A few spots around SoFla guarantee a stress-free beach day for you and your dog, though. Hobie Beach in Key Biscayne is the closest to downtown Miami. You can also head north to Haulover, where the dog beach sits just beyond the clothing-optional section. In Broward, the Dog Beach of Hollywood is open weekend afternoons throughout the fall, while Ft. Lauderdale’s Canine Beach welcomes pups on weekends from 3 pm until dusk.
Order off the dog menu
At this point, pretty much every restaurant in Miami with outdoor seating and a laid-back attitude welcomes dogs. But a number have taken it a step further and crafted entire menus of dog-approved eats. Casa Sensei went so far as to make an entire canine-centric sushi menu, with rolls stuffed with chicken or veggies and rice. LoKal offers cleverly named dog treats like Chichi Get the Meatloaf and Yeyo’s Chicken and Rice. Even ice cream shops are getting in on the action, as Wynwood Parlor just launched a whole line of fall-flavored dog treats including pumpkin and bacon with peanut butter.
Drink with your dog
Just so we’re clear, we’re in no way encouraging you to give your dog alcohol, even if they were born before 2018. But around town you’ll find a few spots who’ve made drinking with your dog much more fun than parking them at a bowl of water and calling it a day.
Sistrunk Marketplace hosts a weekly Yappy Hour on Wednesdays from 4 to 6 pm, which includes $5 Shady Distillery drinks for you and special dog meals for your pet. Both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale Wharf locations host frequent dog meetups, including an October 16 bash with Melissa Marrero and her goldendoodle Ollie. Brimstone at CityPlace Doral offers a berry-flavored frozen doggie cocktail as part of its monthly Bark and Brunch, and LoKal peddles a non-alcoholic beer just for dogs called, adorably, Bowser Beer.
Hit up a park that’s not just for dogs
Again, dogs-friendly parks can be a mixed bag, but some offer a lot more than others. South Pointe Park maintains special off-leash hours in the big, grassy space near the Washington Avenue entrance. Head there between sunrise and 10 am, or again from 4:30 to 8 pm, and your dog can roam free while howling at the cruise ships. Down south, the western end of Matheson Hammock Park isn’t an official dog park, but the big, open fields and throngs of pooches make it pretty darn close. It’s also got loads of trails to explore when Spot inevitably loses his tennis ball.
Take a staycation
Getting out of the house and taking advantage of South Florida’s world-class hotels doesn’t have to mean stuffing your dog into a suitcase and sneaking her in. A number of top properties around the region offer dog-centric specials, perfect for a few days away with your pooch. Downtown’s Gabriel Hotel hands out doggie bags upon check in, complete with treats at toys. Once upstairs, you’ll find a special dog bowl and bed, plus a guide to dog-friendly restaurants and walking routes.
In South Beach, the Balfour has a similar program, which comes with a portable water bowl, treat, toy, and a fully loaded clip-on bag dispenser. They also waive the pet fee, which is a major plus. Even the venerable Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has gotten in on pupmania, letting guests bring up to two pets as part of its new Unleashed program and doling out a “pet tracks” Spotify playlist, access to exclusive hotel amenities, and a special sWag bag.