Best Places to Explore with Your Dog in Sarasota and Manatee Counties
With the weather finally starting to cool down, it’s a great time to go on a hike or check out some new outdoor hangouts with your four-legged friends.
Looking for adventure?
Robinson Preserve is located in northwest Bradenton just before you reach Anna Maria Island. This park is open sunrise to sunset 365 days a year. Consisting of 679 acres there are miles of paved, dirt and shell pathways for you and your furry friend to explore.
*Dogs must be on a leash (max. 8ft long). Dogs are not allowed to swim or disturb any other natural habitat.
Open 8am to sunset 365 days a year, Myakka River State Park encompasses 58 square miles including a 38.9 mile hiking loop. This park offers all kinds of activities from kayaking, hiking, biking, boat tours, camping and more. Pets are welcome on trails and in developed campgrounds. Pets are not allowed into buildings or structures including the Canopy Walkway. There is a fee to enter the park $4 for a single occupant vehicle or $6 per vehicle with 2-8 occupants.
*Dogs must be on a leash (max, 6ft long). Dogs are not allowed to swim.
Oscar Scherer State Park is nestled between housing developments and highways, but offers 15 miles of trails full of fresh air and adventure. This park is also part of the Legacy Trail that runs through the heart of the park. Pets are allowed on the campgrounds and in visitor recreation areas. There is a $5 charge per vehicle that enters the park.
*Dogs must be on a leash (max. 6ft long) and are not allowed to swim.
Located next to University Town Center (UTC) Mall, Nathan Benderson Park has become a popular spot for all types of exercise and local events. You can easily find festivals, races, fundraisers, concerts and more located near the Finish Tower. This park features 3.4 miles of paved and unpaved trails wrapped around a large 400 acre lake designed for rowing competitions.
*Dogs must be on a leash
Want to be social?
Motorworks Brewing, located near downtown Bradenton, boasts the largest beer garden in the state of Florida with over 16,000 square feet. Luckily your four-legged family can enjoy it too. On the third Sunday of every month, Motorworks hosts Yappy Hour from 1-3pm which includes local vendors, prize raffles and drink specials benefitting local pet rescues. Don’t forget to try their Adoptable Lager that features local rescues from Manatee County Animal Services.
*Leashes are required
Mandeville Beer Garden is another great family-friendly location near downtown Sarasota that welcomes leashed dogs. Enjoy outdoor games like cornhole and ping pong while sipping on one of the 33 beers on tap. Mandeville also has a full menu featuring savory dishes like: French Onion Grilled Cheese, Hangover Burger, Grilled Salmon Club Sandwich, and for dessert: donut bites. Happy hour happens most days from 4-7pm.
Located on the Manatee River, Caddy’s Bradenton features outdoor seating under two tiki huts, outdoor stage featuring live music, lawn games, fire pits, sand volleyball court and gorgeous water views. You can even pull up from your boat to dock and dine.
Just a few steps west of Caddy’s is the Bradenton Riverwalk, a 1.5 mile park that features an amphitheater, splash pad, fishing pier, beach volleyball court and beautiful grassy lawns.
*Dogs must be on a leash
A great place to catch Florida’s colorful sunsets is Bayfront Park. This waterfront park features paved walkways right along the water with shaded swings and benches for relaxing. There’s also a Children’s Fountain and playground for the little ones. When you’re ready to eat, take your four-legged friend and enjoy a casual meal at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill or take a seat on the Blue Sunshine Patio Bar & Grill at Marina Jacks
Looking to shop?
There’s nothing like taking a stroll through one of our local Farmers Markets. Leashed pets are welcome at all farmers markets listed below.
- Sarasota’s Farmers’ Market runs 7am – 1pm on Saturdays year-round and is located on Lemon Avenue in downtown Sarasota.
- The Market at Lakewood Ranch is every Sunday from 10am – 2pm November through April. It is located in the parking lot of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
- Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market runs 9am – 2pm on Saturdays October through May. It is located on Main Street in downtown Bradenton.
- Phillippi Farmhouse Market runs 9am to 2pm on Wednesdays from October through April at Phillippi Estate Park.
Ready for a swim?
DeSoto National Memorial Park is located in northwest Bradenton with spectacular water views. This park is pet friendly and allows dogs on the beaches and trails. Desoto National Memorial Park offers the B.A.R.K. Ranger program that introduces visitors to responsible behavior on park trails. Complete four tasks with your dog and be sworn in as a BARK ranger and get a dog tag.
*Dogs must be on a leash (max. 6ft)
Palma Sola Causeway is found on your way out to Anna Maria Island on Manatee Avenue. This beachside park is dog-friendly. Please note that this park is next to a very busy road so keep a close eye on your pet. This 9 acre park includes amenities such as grills, picnic shelters, picnic tables, restrooms and water fountains.
Brohard Paw Park is the only beach in Sarasota County that allows dogs. Amenities include picnic tables, benches, dog waste basks, showers and drinking fountains for both you and your dog.
Before your adventure, please make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations. As you’re out and about, bring doggie waste bags so you can pick up after your pet and leave the area just as nice as you found it. Also be aware that while you love your dog, not everyone you meet will too. Make sure you have control of your dog and keep them off other people and their belongings.
Hopefully you now have a few ideas for the weekend. Happy trails!