Dog's Day Out in Jacksonville, FL
You know how a dog just loves that head-hanging-out-the-car-window feeling? Well imagine that same sensation experienced from the bow of a passenger ferry cruising down the river. Amelia Island River Cruises is just the ticket for the true (or occasional) salty dog. Pet-friendly daily 1.5 to 2-hour cruises take passengers along the coast of Cumberland Island for a views of wildlife - including the beloved wild ponies - living among the ruins of the once-stately Carnegie Dungeness mansion. On the new three-hour Eco Tour, guests toss out an Otter Trawl shrimp net and learn a little something about the creatures they pull in, displayed in an onboard aquarium, then released back into the waters. Daylong Discovery Tours feature cruises to one of three history-steeped spots: Fort Caroline and the Kingsley Plantation; the Jekyll Island Club or St. Augustine.
Caribbee Key is a favored spot for the laid-back type. Decorated with a tiki hut theme, surfboards and beach-inspired art lining the walls, it serves up a range of tastes from homemade Florida Keys conch fritters to blackened, seared jumbo scallops with Grand Marnier mango sauce, to the Surf & Turf specialty - filet mignon paired with cold water rock lobster tail. Pets are welcome in the sidewalk dining area that lines Atlantic Boulevard. Water dishes are kept full at all times and patrons have been known to slip their pets a quick taste of crab cake.
What pooch doesn’t love to play in the sand and surf? Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park in sunny Jacksonville, Florida’s Mayport neighborhood offers days and days of warm sunshine, soft sands and cools dips in the Atlantic Ocean. Nature trails wind through lush green forestland and provide a great workout for dogs and dog lovers. Take a canoe ride in the 60-acre freshwater lake or play some Frisbee along the 1.5-mile beach. Little tykes love the water playground complete with colorful fountains and water-squirting devices. Once you've worked up an appetite, it's time to grill some grub. Hanna Park features nearly 200 picnic tables, 17 covered picnic shelters and 344 grills. Dig you paws into the sand once more and watch the sunset before retiring to your tent, RV or Cozy Cabin.
If ever a cad of the canine persuasion felt like a celebrity, it surely was during a stay at the post One Ocean Resort and Spa in Atlantic Beach, Florida. This ocean-front, high-rise resort hotel pampers pets with specially-made, luxurious pet beds and a full menu of veterinarian-approved haute pet cuisine. The Beagle Burger or Chow Chicken followed with a chewy rawhide desert always pleases. Concierge service includes dog walking services while owners are out on the town. Plus, One Ocean is in walking distance from a bustling beach-front and pet-friendly district of shops, eateries and art galleries.
Posh Ponte Vedra Beach is just the place for the well-heeled hound visiting Northeast Florida. And Pussers Caribbean Grille is a favorite stop for pets and pet lovers with a discriminating taste. Adjacent to the also-pet friendly Marriott at Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa, Pussers invites well-mannered, leashed pooches to relax on the dining deck overlooking the water. Diners devour the Oysters Rockefeller topped with spinach, bacon, parmesan, and bread crumbs and chase it down with a local favorite: the infamous Pusser's Painkiller, a blend of blend of Pusser’s Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut, served on the rocks with an orange slice and a cherry, then topped off with freshly grated nutmeg.