Your dog is a member of your family, and no member of your family wants to be left behind when you head on a beach vacation. That's especially true when 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, Charleston is home to many dog-friendly beaches and parks, even within the downtown peninsula. We've scoured the city and its surrounding areas for the best beaches to take your pup, so you don't have to waste any time during 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 subject we're discussing is pet-friendly beaches, but it's important to note that your dog is welcome at numerous parks, farmers' markets, restaurants, and even luxurious hotels throughout downtown Charleston and surrounding areas.
Fido is welcome to walk with you along the Charleston Harbor to the steps of Town Hall, and at the waterfront park.
Tips for Visiting Charleston With Your Dog
Traveling respectfully and responsibly with your pet is one of the best ways to ensure you have an enjoyable pet-friendly getaway. It will also help ensure that many of Charleston's restaurants, hotels, parks, and beaches remain pet-friendly in the future.
The following are a few tips to keep in mind when exploring a new city or beach with your furry friend:
always carry waste bags and pick up pet waste immediately
bring plenty of water for your pup and yourself
ask about any special rules that apply to pets at pet-friendly restaurants or hotels
research specific pet-friendly establishments before your trip (like you're doing now)
ensure your pet is properly trained and behaves well in hotels, restaurants, and social settings.
always keep your pet on a leash unless it is clearly stated that pets may remain off-leash
Being respectful of others and their furry friends will help you 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 permitted during certain hours or in certain areas. Understanding the regulations that apply to each beach can help your getaway run more smoothly.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Taylor via Flickr CC2.0
Folly Beach is one of the closes beaches to downtown Charleston. It is also known as one of the most laid-back and pet-friendly. The Lost Dog Cafe is an ideal place to eat a mouthwatering southern breakfast outdoors with your furry friend by your side.
Folly Beach allows beach access to dogs between October 1 and April 30, each year. During the remainder of the year, dogs are allowed on the beach before 10 am and after 6 pm. You can take your dog on the beach every day of the year, as long as you time it correctly.
Dogs must remain on leash at all times when on the beach.
Isle of Palms Beaches
Photo Credit: Barb & Dean Russ & Williams via Flickr CC2.0
Isle of Palms is known for its vast beaches that span as far as the eye can see. These beaches are also favorites among dog lovers, as pups are allowed on the sand year-round.
It's essential to be aware of the time when you're traveling with your pup on Isle of Palms.
Dogs are allowed on the sand from 5 am to 8 pm during the busy spring and summer months from April 1 to September 14. They're also welcome on the beach from 4 pm to 10 am during the off-season from September 15 to March 31.
Local patrol officers enforce that dogs must be on-leash and under control at all times, even when swimming in the Atlantic and other waterways.
Photo Credit: Frank Kehren via Flickr CC2.0
Sullivan's Island is a favorite beach among Charleston locals. Just a short drive over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, and you'll be minutes from the charming town and beaches of Sullivan's.
Taking your pooch to Sullivan's Island is a bit more difficult than visiting the beaches of Isle of Palms. That's because all pets, whether visiting for the day or an extended time, need a dog permit issued by the town. Annual permits cost $50 for visitors and $35 for residents.
Visitors and residents seeking a permit will need to provide proof of rabies vaccination and a completed application.
The perk of going through all of this work is that dogs are allowed to be off-leash on the beach from 5 am to 10 am. Dogs can be on the beach with a leash anytime from 6 pm to 10 am. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10 am and 6 pm.
The hours may not seem easy to follow, but the off-leash hours are a major perk for some dog owners.
Kiawah Island is a barrier island south of Charleston. It is known as a private resort community with pristine beaches and award-winning golf courses. The privacy of the island allows dogs and their owners a bit more freedom.
Dogs are allowed on the beach off-leash between November 1 and March 15. They are allowed on the beach on a leash from March 16 to October 31. Pets will have to be leashed if it is requested by the beach patrol or another beachgoer.
The only public beach access on the island is at Kiawah Beachwalker Park. This is where beach patrol officers, and likely 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 run wild 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 for dogs to play and swim together off-leash.
Additional features at the James Island County park dog park include water fountains, a dog washing area, benches, tables, nearby restrooms, and more.
Pets may remain off-leash when within the fences of the designated dog park. Visit the James Island County Park dog park webpage to review all the rules before taking 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 symbolizing the city's hospitality.
The 12-acre park includes an off-leash dog run that's fenced for your furry friends to 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 remain on leash and under control 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 spaces.
Some of the top dog-friendly restaurants in downtown Charleston include Juanita Greenberg's, which offers a spacious outdoor patio, and the Tattooed Moose with its fun outside area. Fuel and the Bay Street Biergarten are other favorite pet-friendly options for delicious food and drinks as described by locals.
Other pet-friendly options can be found just outside of downtown in West Ashley at Home Team BBQ and in Mount Pleasant at The Shelter Kitchen and Bar.
Don't hesitate to call restaurants ahead of time to find out about their pet policies. Pet-friendly restaurants can be found throughout all areas of the Lowcountry, from 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. The King Courtyard Inn, located on the city's iconic and luxurious King Street, welcomes pups with a full "Puppy Package." Pet-friendly rooms here offer easy access to the hotel's courtyard.
The Belmont Charleston Place is a prestigious downtown hotel welcoming dogs that are well-mannered and aptly trained. Similarly, the historic Wentworth Mansion and Wentworth Street welcomes well-trained pups with open arms. However, pet-friendly rooms can 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 pounds, but exceptions have been made in the past.
Pet-friendly accommodations can be found throughout the Charleston area, whether you're interested in vacation rentals, luxurious bed and breakfasts, or high-rise hotels.
Take Your Furry Friend to Charleston and Beyond
Charleston is generally a pet-friendly city, and it is surrounded by many other dog-friendly vacation destinations. Nearby communities like Beaufort, Myrtle Beach, Seabrook, and Hilton Head Island also offer beaches, hotels, restaurants, and activities for you to enjoy with your entire family, including your pets.
Don't let your furry friend stand in the way of an unforgettable beach vacation in the Lowcountry.