The Alabama Gulf Coast offers pet-friendly attractions, lodging and restaurants.

The Alabama Gulf Coast offers pet-friendly attractions, lodging and restaurants.

Do you take your pets on vacation, and does a trip to the beach with your dog sound like a welcome getaway? If you haven’t considered taking your pet along on your next Gulf Shores and Orange Beach vacation, it’s time to think of it as an option.

With the cost of kenneling high, and the difficulty faced when you try to find someone to watch your pet, it makes sense to look at other options. Here are a few pet-friendly spots and ideas for your beach vacation.

Dog parks are a great place to let your pups play and stretch their legs. Gulf Shores offers the Gulf Shores Dog Park, as well as The Dog Pond at Lake Shelby in the Gulf State Park. In Orange Beach, you’ll find Unleased in Orange Beach, the city’s official dog park. Dogs are also welcome at Orange Beach Waterfront Park, but must remain on a leash. Hiking trails are perfect for your furry friends, including the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. You’ll both get exercise, and the scenery is second to none. The Graham Creek Nature Preserve is also located in nearby Foley.

But it isn’t just parks and trails that are open to pets. Many historical sites like Fort Gaines Historic Site and Fort Morgan allow you to bring your pet as long as they are leashed. You’ll want to check before you go, but you may be surprised to discover that more places are welcoming pets these days. The Alabama Gulf Coast also has several pet-friendly restaurants like Bill’s By the Beach, where your pup can sit alongside you on the lower deck. Pirate’s Cove, in nearby Josephine, Ala., is also a pet-friendly restaurant. In fact, the waterside dive hosts the Cove Dog Olympics each October. Be sure to call your restaurant of choice prior to arrival to ask if there are any problems with this, and if your pet begins to get agitated or is bothering other diners, you may want to reconsider.

It may be trickier to find a place to stay when you’ve got a pet along for the ride, but Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have you covered. Some Gulf Shores hotels, like Staybridge Suites Hotel, and other vacation rental management companies offer lodging for four-legged friends. If you’re traveling during the high season you’ll want to book as early as possible, because in most cases there are a limited number of pet-friendly rooms. Most campgrounds like the Gulf Coast RV Park and the Gulf State Park are fine with pets, as well.

With more and more options available, leaving your pet at home no longer for has to be the only option!