ORLANDO, Fla. – I love taking my dog to the beach!
He loves getting out and stretching his legs, swimming in the surf and lounging in the sun.
A tired dog is a good dog and the beach does the trick.
Here are five dog-friendly beaches in Central Florida.
1. Canova Beach - 3299 N. Highway A1A, Indialantic, Fla., 32903
Let's be clear right off the bat, not all of Canova Beach is dog friendly, but there is a stretch to the south that is not only dog friendly, but dog encouraged.
This beach is located just north of the Melbourne city line, right off of Highway A1A.
Doggie bags are provided before you enter the beach, and the city has recently revamped the dog wash area.
2. Lori Wilson Park, 1500 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach, Fla., 32953
The beach area at Lori Wilson Park is now open to our four-legged friends. In fact, 12 blocks of Cocoa Beach, from South 4th Street to South 16th Street, is open from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m.
Of course, if the sand is too much for your pooch, there's the tried-and-true grassy dog park that still sits where it has for years.
This is a big leap forward for dog owners who clean up after their pooch.
3. Fort DeSoto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, Fla., 33715
This is one of my favorite dog beaches for many reasons.
First, it's a large beach area with lapping waves instead of the intense Atlantic waves.
Second, it's a large space. The dog-friendly beach spans hundreds of yards in this park, which features overnight camping and fishing.
Third, there are also grassy dog run areas with dog washes.
You can bring a picnic and stay the day, or just pay the $5 fee and hop in and out.
4. Smyrna Dunes, 2995 N Peninsula Ave., New Smyrna Beach, Fla., 32169
My first advice about Smyrna Dunes is get there early.
I usually target 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a weekend, because when I leave, there is a line of cars waiting to get in.
What do I love about this park?
First, you have choices. You can choose the lapping waves on the river side of the park or the rushing waves on the Atlantic side.
Second, this park is so scenic. From the shores of either side of the park, you can spot the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. Just when you think you're feeling very "New England," you put your toes in the warm water and remember you're in Florida.
Third, this park will tucker you and your dog out. The park just refurbished its boardwalks, which shuttle you from the entrance and parking lot to the key points of the beach. To the Atlantic side, it's a half a mile. To the river side, it's a short walk.
5. Baldwin Park, 2000 S. Lakemont Ave., Orlando, Fla., 32792
OK, OK, I know this isn't on the ocean, but it IS a beach within the confines of the City Beautiful.
This dog park sits on the banks of Lake Baldwin, allowing dogs to swim and play fetch. It also hosts walking trails flanked with palms.
I love a Sunday morning stroll along these trails with my dog, and I clean him off in the great washing stations before I leave.