Salty Dog Coast: Dog-Friendly Adventures in Florida

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Summer is all about getting out there and exploring new destinations… or rediscovering old ones… with your dog by your side.  Susan Sims, Publisher of FIDO Friendly magazine, has taken to the road to explore Franklin County, Florida. Here are her picks of places to stay, see, eat and explore with your dog this summer.

With names like Apalachicola, St. George Island, Eastpoint, Carrabelle and Alligator Point making up city destinations for you and Fido to explore, you can set your watch to ‘island time’ and jump right in with the locals for a howling good time.

St. George Island is a great walking town for both you and Fido.

St. George Island is a great walking town for both you and Fido.

If shelling were a vocation, I would make a pretty good ‘shell seeker.’ On St. George Island, a 22-mile barrier island, pristine pet-friendly beaches offer up clear gulf waters for swimming, kayaking and the preverbal game of fetch with Fido. The shells are in abundance here and you can become quite picky as I soon found out by realizing my first ‘batch’ of shells needed to be tossed to make room for the more glorious shells.

Every good beach requires great digs. Collins Vacation Rentals has been welcoming families to St. George Island since 1973. There are many pet-friendly properties to choose from and if waking up to a sunrise overlooking surf and sand is your type of vacation, Collins Vacation Rentals has the perfect home away from home where Fido is welcome too. Accommodations range from luxuriously appointed five to seven bedroom beach homes to old Florida style cottages, beach bungalows, low-rise condos, and townhomes. Amenities include free long distance, free linens and towels, and an initial supply of paper products, bath soap, and dishwashing detergent. Many properties offer wireless Internet, private pools, and handicap accessibility.

Resort Vacation Properties caters to pet vacations and offers over 200 homes and townhomes on St. George Island that allow pets! One grand location is the Plantation. The gated community of the Plantation goes on for miles. Ride your bike, run and walk with Fido and then play on the beach before returning to the warm confines of your mansion with private pool. That’s right, private pool and steps from the sand. Take 20 of your closest friends, choose the Fido-friendly home with seven bedrooms and seven and a half baths, and now you have a party.

Did I say the beach is private? Five miles. And if your home does not include a pool, fear not, in 2010 a beautiful new pool area and fitness center was constructed and made available to guests. (Owner must be part of the Plantation amenities program).

Many Fido-friendly rentals can be found on St. George Island, Florida.

Many Fido-friendly rentals can be found on St. George Island, Florida.

The historic Coombs House Inn located in Apalachicola was voted the ‘Best Bed and Breakfast in Florida’ by Florida Monthly Magazine. And they are pet-friendly. They do prefer pooches 25 pounds and under, but check in with management if your Fido is not quite so petite, they may throw him a bone. Guest suites are furnished with European antiques, four poster beds, original oil paintings and oriental carpets on gleaming hardwood floors and all 23 rooms have private baths, seven with romantic whirlpool massage spas, complimentary Wi-Fi internet, in-room Starbucks coffee and flat screen cable TVs.

Let the journey begin. Journey’s is an outdoor adventure company. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or powerboat. Just make certain that Fido is included. Paddling down the New River and on the lookout for alligators, I scanned the banks in search of the deadly creature. Nightmare: me tipping over, alligator swimming up for a snack. The end. Reality: The beauty of the paddle soon vanished my nightmare and I was caught up in the beauty and serenity that St. George Island is known for.

The best place to experience fresh oysters from the sea can be found anywhere in Franklin County, Florida.

The best place to experience fresh oysters from the sea can be found anywhere in Franklin County, Florida.

Dogs are welcome at Harry A’s Porch Club, where they have their own menu and a photo-filled Doggie Wall of Fame, and the Blue Parrot Ocean Front Cafe. Fido is also welcome on the patios at Chef Eddie’s Magnolia Grill and Steamer’s Raw Bar. Fido can shop till she drops for pet gifts, apparel and treats at  Petunia for Pets and their People.

A line from the movie Forrest Gump played in my head all week:

Bubba: Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it. IMDb.com Forrest Gump (1994).

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Collins Vacation Rentals, Inc.

Century 21 Collins Realty, Inc.

Pet fees and restrictions vary depending upon property.

60 East Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, Florida 32328; (866) 731-7558l; collinsvacationrentals.com

Coombs House Inn

25 pound weight limit, 2 pets maximum. $25 per pet, per night charge added to your bill at check-in. 80 Sixth Street; Apalachicola, FL 32320; (850) 653-9199; coombshouseinn.com

Resort Vacation Properties

Pet fees and restrictions vary depending upon property.

61 West Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, FL 32328; 800-756-5470; resortvacationproperties.com

Journeys of St. George Island (fishing charter and kayaking excursion)

240 East Third Street, St. George Island, FL 32328; (850) 927-3259; sgislandjourneys.com

Blue Parrot Ocean Front Café

68 West Gorrie Drive, St. George Island, FL 32328; (850) 927-2987

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Boss Oyster is just one of the many Fido-friendly restaurants in Apalachicola, Florida where you and Fido can dine ‘al fresco.’

Boss Oyster Restaurant

123 Water Street, Apalachicola, FL 32320; (850) 653-9364; Apalachicolariverinn.com

Harry A’s Restaurant & Bar

28 West Bayshore Drive, St. George Island, FL 32328; (850) 927-3400; harryasrestaurant.com

Ira’s Restaurant at the Gibson Inn

51 Avenue C, Apalachicola, FL 32320; (850) 653-2193; gibsoninn.com

Tamara’s Tapas

71 Market Street, Apalachicola, FL 32320; (850)653-4111; tamarascafe.com

The Fisherman’s Wife

201 8th Street, Carrabelle, FL 32322; (850) 697-4533

Petunia

Unique gifts, apparel & accessories for pet and their people.  Gourmet treats, collars & leashes, designer beds, pet bath & body, clothing, toys, and gifts.

14 Ave. D. in Apalachicola; (850) 653-9144

susan-simsPublisher Susan Sims started FIDO Friendly magazine with her son in 2001. She travels extensively with her husband Greg and two rescue dogs, Jake and Junior scouting out pet-friendly hotels and destinations for purpose of review.  Sims also hosts a monthly podcast ‘Fido Friendly Travel Talk’ on Animal Radio.


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