Your dog is a member of your family and no family member wants to be left behind when you go on a beach vacation. That’s especially true if your beach vacation is in or around the picture-perfect southern town of Charleston.
Charleston, South Carolina is known for its unwavering Southern hospitality. However, it’s best not to assume that the city’s hospitality extends to our furry friends.
Fortunately, there are many dog-friendly beaches and parks in Charleston, even on the downtown peninsula. We’ve scoured the city and surrounding areas for the best beaches to take your pup with so you don’t have to waste time on your vacation.
Is Charleston pet friendly?
According to Traveler of Charleston Magazine, Charleston is one of the most pet-friendly cities in the world.
The topic we’re discussing is pet-friendly beaches, but it’s important to note that your dog is welcome at many parks, farmers’ markets, restaurants, and even luxury hotels in downtown Charleston and the surrounding areas.
Fido is welcome to walk you along Charleston Harbor to the steps of City Hall and to the waterfront park.
Tips for Visiting Charleston with Your Dog
Traveling with your pet respectfully and responsibly is one of the best ways to ensure you have an enjoyable pet-friendly getaway. It will also ensure that many of Charleston’s restaurants, hotels, parks and beaches remain pet-friendly in the future.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when exploring a new city or beach with your furry friend:
always take garbage bags with you and clean up pet waste immediately
bring enough water for your puppy and yourself
ask about special rules that apply to pets in pet-friendly restaurants or hotels
research specific pet-friendly establishments for your trip (like you do now)
make sure your pet is well trained and well behaved in hotels, restaurants and social settings.
Keep your pet on a lead at all times unless it is clearly stated that pets are allowed to be kept off leash
By respecting others and their furry friends, you can make the most of your Charleston beach vacation.
Dog Friendly Beaches Charleston SC
The following beaches in and around Charleston are considered dog-friendly. However, this may mean that dogs are only allowed during certain hours or in certain areas. Understanding the rules that apply to each beach can help your vacation run more smoothly.
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Folly Beach is one of the closest beaches to downtown Charleston. It is also known for being one of the most laid back and pet friendly. The Lost Dog Cafe is an ideal place to eat a delicious Southern breakfast outdoors with your furry friend by your side.
Folly Beach allows dogs to access the beach between October 1 and April 30 each year. The rest of the year, dogs are allowed on the beach before 10am and after 6pm. You can take your dog to the beach any day of the year as long as you time it correctly.
Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times on the beach.
Isle of Palms Beaches
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Isle of Palms is known for its expansive beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. These beaches are also a favorite among dog lovers as puppies are allowed on the sand year round.
It is essential to be aware of the time when traveling with your pup on the Isle of Palms.
Dogs are allowed on the sands from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the busy spring and summer months from April 1 to September 14. In the low season from September 15 to March, they are also welcome on the beach from 4 pm to 10 am 31.
Local patrol officers maintain that dogs must be on a leash and under control at all times, even when swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and other waterways.
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Sullivan’s Island is a favorite beach among Charleston locals. Just a short drive over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, you’ll be minutes from the charming town and beaches of Sullivan’s.
Taking your dog to Sullivan’s Island is a little more difficult than visiting the beaches of the Isle of Palms. That’s because all pets, whether they’re visiting for a day or an extended period of time, require a dog permit issued by the city. Annual permits cost $50 for visitors and $35 for residents.
Visitors and residents seeking a permit must provide proof of rabies vaccination and a completed application.
The advantage of all this work is that dogs are allowed to run free on the beach from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. Dogs may be kept on a leash on the beach from 6:00 PM to 10:00 AM. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10am and 6pm.
The hours may not seem easy to follow, but the off hours are a big advantage for some dog owners.
Kiawah Island is a barrier island south of Charleston. It is known as a private resort with pristine beaches and award-winning golf courses. The privacy of the island gives dogs and their owners a little more freedom.
Dogs are allowed on the beach between November 1 and March 15. From March 16 to October 31, they are allowed on the beach on a leash. Pets must be kept on a leash at the request of the beach police or another beachgoer.
The only public beach access on the island is at Kiawah Beachwalker Park. This is where beach police and probably other beachgoers, dogs and dog owners will be present.
James Island County Park
The dog park at James Island County Park is an excellent place to let your dog loose and socialize with others. The dog park spans several acres with designated areas for small and large dogs. There is even a large lake with a small beach where dogs can play and swim together.
Additional features at the James Island County Dog Park include water fountains, a dog washroom, benches, tables, nearby restrooms, and more.
Pets are allowed to remain loose within the perimeters of the designated dog park. Visit the James Island County Park dog park webpage to go through all the rules before bringing your pet.
Charleston’s Waterfront Park
Downtown Charleston is generally pet-friendly, and one of the best places to take your furry friend is to Charleston’s Waterfront Park. The park is known for its famous pineapple statue which symbolizes the hospitality of the city.
The 12-acre park has a dog run that is off-leash and fenced so your furry friends can run wild. Charleston’s Waterfront Park may not technically be a beach, but it does offer postcard-worthy views of the Charleston River.
Dogs must be kept on a leash and supervised when outside the dog run.
Charleston Pet Friendly Restaurants
Charleston is known for its abundance of award-winning dining options. Many of these restaurants, even those considered high-end, offer pet-friendly outdoor dining areas.
Some of the best dog-friendly restaurants in downtown Charleston include Juanita Greenberg’s, which offers a spacious outdoor patio, and the Tattooed Moose with its fun outdoor space. Fuel and the Bay Street Biergarten are other favorite pet-friendly options for great food and drink, as described by locals.
Other pet-friendly options can be found just outside of downtown at West Ashley at Home Team BBQ and at Mount Pleasant at The Shelter Kitchen and Bar.
Don’t hesitate to call restaurants ahead of time to learn more about their pet policies. Pet-friendly restaurants can be found in all parts of the Lowcountry, from the Isle of Palms to Edisto, Johns Island and countless spaces in between.
Charleston Pet Friendly Hotels
Pet-friendly hotels can be found throughout the city of Charleston. Located on the city’s iconic and luxurious King Street, the King Courtyard Inn welcomes puppies with a full “puppy pack.” The pet-friendly rooms offer easy access to the hotel’s courtyard.
The Belmont Charleston Place is a prestigious downtown hotel that welcomes well-mannered and well-trained dogs. Likewise, the historic Wentworth Mansion and Wentworth Street welcome well-trained pups with open arms. However, pet-friendly rooms may be limited.
The Inn at Middleton Place on Ashley River Road goes above and beyond to accommodate you and your pet with a complimentary bag of dog toys and treats. This hotel prefers pets under £50 but exceptions have been made in the past.
Pet-friendly accommodations can be found in the Charleston area, whether you’re interested in vacation rentals, luxury bed and breakfasts, or high-rise hotels.
Take your furry friend to Charleston and beyond
Charleston is generally a pet-friendly city and surrounded by many other dog-friendly vacation destinations. Nearby communities such as Beaufort, Myrtle Beach, Seabrook, and Hilton Head Island also offer beaches, hotels, restaurants, and activities for your entire family, including your pets, to enjoy.
Don’t let your furry friend get in the way of an unforgettable Lowcountry beach vacation.