How Dog Friendly is Tampa, Really?

Nearly 160 people move to the Tampa area every day, making it one of the fastest-growing metropolitans in the nation. And nearly half of them are bringing along their four-legged friends.

Tampa ranks in the top ten of just about any dog-friendly study, thanks to its plethora of dog parks and beaches, pup-friendly stores and constant canine-centric events.

A study by RewardExpert even found that the Tampa area has highest ratio of pet-friendly hotels per capita (32 per 100,000 residents), like the Don CeSar hotel, which even has its own dog massage therapist and room service menus.

Why is Tampa such a great place to live if you have dog? Here are just a few reasons:

Shopping

Tampa has a slew of doggy-boutiques, like the swanky Downtown Dogs in Hyde Park Village, which has locally-crafted dog treats set up in a display you would see in any bakery. Typically the employees bring their own dogs to work and have tested most of the products themselves.  An open-air, renowned neighborhood shopping center, most of the shops in Hyde Park Village are happy to host you and your furry shopping partner.

If that’s not convenient enough for you, just about every corner of the metro area has its own independently-owned pet store where you can find everything from grooming services to all-natural treats and new toys.

Dog beaches and parks galore

One of the top reasons to move to Florida is to be closer to the water, and there’s nothing better than enjoying the sand and sun with your dog. After all, the Florida Peninsula has 1,350 miles of coastline, and Tampa boasts some of the best spots where you can do just that.

From downtown Tampa, the most convenient dog beach is on Davis Island, which also boasts a sprawling park. Further south is Picnic Island Park, where you can often spot parasailers and catch a beautiful view of St. Petersburg across the bay. For a weekend or daytrip, you can even rent a waterfront site at the Fort Desoto Campground, less than an hour drive away from the city.

For a full list of dog parks and beaches, visit the city’s “Barks and Recreation” web page.

For waterfront walks, try the Riverwalk at Curtis Hixon Park and the longest continuous sidewalk in the country, Bayshore Boulevard, where you can spot dolphins, sharks and even the occasional alligator in the bay below.

Restaurants

Because Tampa’s weather is so beautiful throughout the year, most restaurants have outdoor seating where dogs of all sizes are welcome.

Some of the top attractions, however, are the waterfront Sail Pavilion in Downtown Tampa, the pirate-centric Gaspar’s Grotto in Ybor City and the booming Cigar City Brewing Company near the airport. But the mother of all dog attractions is The Dog Bar across the bridge in St. Petersburg, which has live music, swimming pools, on-leash and off-leash areas, a full bar and is even available to rent for your pup’s next birthday party.



Alli Knothe