Dog beaches offer the perfect mixture of sun and sand for those wishing to kick back and relax and rolling waves for those who want to splash around with your favorite four-legged friend. Dogs are considered part of the family for many people today and it can be a lonely day at the beach without one. Whether you're playing fetch down a sandy stretch or strolling along the shoreline as the waves come in, a dog friendly beach makes the day that much more fun.

However, when it comes to deciding which dog beach is the best, there are many things to take into consideration. Does the beach have any special restrictions or amenities for dogs? Many beaches unfortunately require dogs to be kept on leashes of six feet or less, so always make sure to check ahead of time to ensure the best time possible for you and your canine friend.

Here we take a look at some of the best dog beaches for fido and their owners alike.

Photo Credit: Kalyn Biever

Bonita Beach Dog Beach, Fort Myers, Florida

Bonita Beach is a perfect place for the dog that loves the water. The gorgeous stretch of beach is located on the outside edge of Lover's Key State Park along the Fort Myers/Bonita Springs line and boasts an off leash policy that leaves your dog the freedom to splash around in the shallow, calm water of the Gulf of Mexico. There are no fences and typically plenty of fellow canines for your pet to run around with. The park also attracts many visitors that don't even have dogs, but enjoy watching them run and play with their owners. Best of all, the beach is secluded from the main road, so having your dog wander into harm's way is not a big concern. There is a portable toilet for humans, but no running water so remember to bring some for you and your pet.

Photo Credit: Robert Robles

Carmel City Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel City Beach is the ultimate dog lover's paradise. In fact, Carmel City Beach is so canine-friendly that it even has its own doggie-centric newspaper, The Doggie Gazette, which features stories from the perspective of beach dogs, as well as helpful information from writers from all over the world. The beach is leash-less and the community is extremely dog oriented, as many of the area's shops allow dogs inside to browse with their owners. Canines of all breeds, ages and sizes can be seen frolicking in the waves and along the sandy shore and fresh water for drinking is available free of charge at many of the nearby restaurants and stores. However, while your dog is given free reign of the beach, be sure to clean up their messes, as the city is known for producing hefty fines for dog owners who let their pets get a little too crazy.

Photo Credit: Peyri Herrera

Coronado Dog Beach, Coronado, California

Coronado Dog Beach, located near the Naval Air Station in Coronado, California, is well known for its 24-hour access and dog friendly policies. Its Western portion is leash-free year-round and the scenery doesn't get much better. Bordered by the beautiful Hotel del Coronado on one side and the majestic Point Loma skyline to the North, parking is available along nearby Ocean Boulevard. Be sure to keep your dog leashed on the walk to the beach, as Coronado Animal Patrol maintains a zero-tolerance policy with fines of up to $500 for dogs that are unleashed in designated leashed areas. The stretch of beach is a great place for dogs and their owners who love to run and the city provides free dog litterbags at the main entrance. While there are no restrooms, there is a foot shower south of the beach's entrance from Ocean Boulevard, that gives you and your dog ample opportunity to clean up before heading back to the car.

Photo Credit: Steve Conger

Cape San Blas, Port St. Joe, Florida

Although you can't walk your dog on the beach within St. Joseph Peninsula State Park at Cape San Blas, every other beach in the gorgeous Gulf County, allows dogs to romp around as long as they are kept on a leash. While the beaches in Cape San Blas, are a little off-the-beaten-path, they offer uncrowded miles of pristine shoreline that allow the perfect environment for you and your dog to run around free of worry. Gulf County also has 20 pet waste disposal stations along the beach access points for the public, so it's easy to keep the beach clean and beautiful. The area also has an abundance of vacation rental properties that offer pet friendly accommodations, so Cape San Blas is a perfect destination for out-of-towners who want their companion to enjoy the Florida sun with them.

Photo Credit: Matt Stratton

Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Illinois

Montrose proves that you don't have to live in a sunny beach town to have some fun in the waves with your dog. As the only legal off-leash beach in Chicago, Montrose is located on the northwest corner of Montrose Beach in close proximity to the city. Perfect for early risers, the beach is open roughly from sun-up until 9pm and features unobstructed terrain for those who wish to get in a little jogging time with their dog. While the waters at Montrose Dog Beach may not be the warm, crystal blue of other coastal cities, they still offer a closer-to-home alternative for dogs that have the swimming bug and their owners who love to splash around with them.