Panama City Beach dog playground: This Florida Panhandle spring break favorite offers 400 feet of beachfront for leashed dogs and the new Panama City Beach Conservation Park with 12 trails (dogs must be leashed there).
Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway, Tallahassee: This park in the state's capitol is popular with local dog owners because of its beautiful trails and secluded grassy areas.
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, Lake Buena Vista: Located on 750 acres near the theme parks, this campground allows RVs with full hookups and tent camping. Some spaces allow pets, but those spaces are limited and should be reserved well in advance. Leashed dogs are allowed on some trails near the campground. There is also an off-leash dog park, Waggin' Tails Dog Park, within the campground.
Best Friends Pet Resort, Lake Buena Vista: Best Friends provides day and overnight care for pets (not just dogs) in the Orlando area. Discounts are available for Disney World Resort guests, but anyone can use the service, which starts at $27 for doggie daycare.
Loews hotels at Universal Orlando Resort: All three are pet-friendly.
La Quinta: This ubiquitous and affordable chain, found throughout Florida, is probably the best-known pet-friendly chain, with free stays for dogs.
Aloft Hotels: This Starwood boutique hotel chain offers hip decor and sophisticated style and it's also pet-friendly. Aloft offers two locations in Jacksonville (one not far from Dog Wood Park), one in Tallahassee and several opening in Miami and Orlando in the coming year. A recent weekday room rate in Jacksonville was $69, not including taxes. Aloft policies vary regarding weight restrictions for dogs, fees and deposits.
Luxury hotels: Pampered people have pampered pooches. For small dogs that need luxury (under 25 pounds) try Ritz Carlton hotels in Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Miami Beach. Nonrefundable pet fees vary, but hover in the $250 range. The Mandarin Oriental in Miami -- a swanky hotel frequented by celebrities like Jennifer Anniston -- also accepts pets up to 25 pounds. The Mandarin sells dog T-shirts bedazzled with Swarovski crystals in its gift shop and the concierge can book doggie boot camp appointments and dog massages.
While it might seem like you are in a remote area as you hike through jungle-like trails or play on deserted beaches with your dog, you're actually never far from civilization in Florida. There's usually a veterinarian, big-box pet store and pet-friendly hotel within a short drive. A quick Google search or sites like www.bringfido.com or www.dogfriendly.com can help locate them.
Larger theme parks such as Busch Gardens in Tampa offer kennel services; make sure to bring your pet's vaccination record along.
Other essentials for a Florida vacation with your dog: Drinking water, heartworm medicine and even sunscreen. With temperatures in the 70s and 80s in many Florida locations during the winter, dogs (and people) can easily become dehydrated. Sunscreen specially formulated for dogs isn't a bad idea, especially if your furry friend has a short, fair coat and pink skin.
Take shady breaks, put ice cubes in the water dish and let dogs sprawl on cool tiles. Never, ever, leave your dog in a car in sunny, hot weather, even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside cars can heat up to 120 degrees and kill animals quickly.
Heartworm, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is endemic to Florida. Plan to visit a vet before your trip to get a heartworm test and pills to prevent infection.
Many beaches in Florida allow leashed dogs on the sand, but check first. In some places, you can receive a heavy fine. Dogs are welcome in many places at outdoor cafes and along pedestrian malls.