North Carolina is an ideal place for a beach vacation. With over 300 miles of beaches, warm mid-Atlantic waters, a host of cute seaside towns (many with picturesque lighthouses dotting them), wild horses, and a place in American history, the coast and islands of the Tar Heel State are beckoning not only you but also your best friend. Here are eight dog-friendly beaches you can enjoy in the company of Fido.

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Dog Friendly Beaches in North Carolina

1. Duck Beach

The beach is the only place in the Town of Duck where dogs are allowed to roam free — without a leash that is. The only issue is the beach has no public access, which means visitors must either be Duck renters or the guests of Duck residents to get to the shore.


2. Freeman Park

This park, located in Carolina Beach, allows dogs year round, though they must be leashed during the high season from April through September. Carolina Beach is a resort area with a vintage seaside town feel and an old-fashioned boardwalk to match.


3. Oak Island Beaches

Oak Island, a small island off the North Carolina coast that is accessible by bridge, is home to three different beaches, all of which are pet friendly. Dogs are allowed off the leash from mid-October to mid-March and allowed on a leash the rest of the time.


4. Nags Head Beach

Dogs are allowed between mile marker 10 and mile marker 21 at Nags Head Beach year round as long as they’re kept on a leash. The Outer Banks town of Nags Beach is a perfect family-friendly destination for sailing, kayaking, hang-gliding, or just relaxing by the shore.


5. Bald Head Island

The beach on Bald Head Island, the southernmost of the state’s barrier islands, allows dogs on a leash during the daytime, and off a leash after sunset and before sunrise. The picturesque village just south of Wilmington is only accessible by ferry, but the trip is worth it, whether to see the oldest still standing lighthouse in the state or the sea turtles that nest there each year.


6. Atlantic Beach

Depending on whether your dog’s a water baby or not, Atlantic Beach might be the place for you. The beach allows dogs on the sand all year, but not in the ocean or too close to where lifeguards are present. Atlantic Beach is located on Bogue Banks and also home to Fort Macon State Park, where the Battle of Fort Macon was fought.


7. Kitty Hawk Off Leash Beach

Kitty Hawk, famous for being the site of the first airplane flight by the Wright brothers, is also a beautiful vacation destination. The Off Leash Beach allows dogs off the leash between Labor Day and Memorial Day, as well as before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. year round. During busier, mid-day summer, times, however, dogs must be on a six-foot leash.


8. Topsail Beach

Like Kitty Hawk, Topsail Beach allows dogs off the leash between September and May, and leashed year round. Topsail Beach is known as being one of the quieter beach destination areas in the state, so enjoy your time relaxing with man’s best friend.


This article was written by Isabella Sayyah.