Dog's Day Out in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Persistent dog-lovers have prevailed in staking out a stretch of famed Fort Lauderdale Beach for their very own -- at least for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Winter hours are 3- to 7 p.m., with summer shifting to 5- to 9 p.m. Temporary weekend passes are $7 per dog. Park rangers on hand often have extra pooper scoopers available to assure that your poochie will be in good sands. Annual permits (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) are $30 per Lauder-dog for residents; $45 for non-resident pooches, for purchase in-person at 1350 W. Broward Blvd., M-F, 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dog walking's allowed on A1A with canine permit 6- to 9 a.m. year-around on Sunrise Boulevard's west side to the southernmost intersection of Fort Lauderdale/Seabreeze boulevards. Happily, you can walk dogs 24 hours daily with no permit north of Sunrise on A1A's west side.
At Mary's Resort (actually, Mary is a Boston Terrier who travels a great deal), you'll be hosted by proprietor Keith Blackburn for introduction to Old Florida, seamlessly melded with modern luxury in Fort Lauderdale's historic Sailboat Bend. This oldest of all neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale (now celebrating its city centennial year) is within walking distance of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and New River's Riverwalk Linear Park. Mary's Resort features four one-of-a-kind Key West-style structures, each separated by tropical gardens with a central heated swimming pool, sundeck and Jacuzzzi. Mary's pet-friendly oasis (part of Greater Fort Lauderdale's Superior Small Lodging program) refrains from using insecticides and herbicides that might annoy you or your pet. Keith and staff don't put limits on sizes of dogs permitted, but they do like to screen personalities to make sure any and all pets on premises are compatible.
You and your four-footed one can strut your stuff for free -- 365 days, 24/7 -- if you want, at Riverwalk, a lovely shaded linear park running along both sides of historic New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Dogs must be leashed at all times, and you'll be responsible for any clean-ups. Pooper scoopers are often available in boxes along this sun-dappled park where you and yours can watch glittering yachts sail past, heading out to sea for adventure or upriver to boatyards. Benches are aplenty when you're ready for a break. Happily, several dog-friendly eateries and watering holes are nearby in Himmarshee Village at Riverwalk's west end on Second Street, and also on Las Olas Boulevard near the linear park's east end. Riverwalk is the setting for assorted events throughout the year including the SunTrust Jazz Brunch, unfolding the first Sunday of every month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Greater Fort Lauderdale's sprawling Markham Park in the city of Sunrise is situated on fringes of the Everglades. This amenity-rich park operated by Broward County features a remarkable playground designed for dogs inclined toward romping to their heart's content. The 3.5-acre dog park offers separate areas for small (up to 25 pounds) dogs and larger canines to run leash-free for play on various pet equipment. Three pavilions are within the dog park with plenty of benches for owners to socialize. Elsewhere at Markham Park are a lake, boat rentals, mountain bike trails, tennis/racquetball courts, a model plane airfield and a campground.
Your dog won't feel rejected, neglected or in any way overlooked when you're ready for a bite on Las Olas Boulevard. Dotted with a chic restaurant line-up with outdoor patios, restaurateurs are delighted to serve patrons accompanied by well-behaved four-footed pals. Folowing up on its role as a film site for Marley & Me , Big City Tavern, is happy to provide a water bowl for your furry one's comfort. Since fashionable Las Olas is widely regarded as the area's ultimate see-and-be-seen place for promenading during winter high season, you can feel free to gussy up your pet with appropriate accessories to blend with the stylish crowd. Among many Las Olas restaurants welcoming pets are Indigo at the Riverside Hotel, Japanese Village Hibachi Steak House, the sleek, innovative Johnny V, the tasty Tuscan Grill and YOLO with its expansive patio and firepit,