UPDATE: As of summer 2017, the dog beach has moved two blocks south to Glenwood & Maple Streets.
Ever since adopting Dipper over a year ago, I’ve wanted to take him to the beach. However, Dipper’s not crazy about water or sunshine, which puts him at total odds with my love of the Jersey shore. Shortly before the end of summer, I finally got the chance to spend a few hours in my favorite place with my favorite dog — whether he liked it or not.
It was probably the best day of both of our lives.
A Wildwood Wonder
To begin, I love Wildwood. The tacky shore town catches a lot of flack, but I think it’s a great place. In fact, it got ten times better a few years ago when the City of Wildwood dedicated a block of beach at Poplar Avenue to swimmers and their dogs. Thus, the Wildwood Dog Beach became my favorite place in the entire world — but it was only this summer that I could visit with a dog.
The dog beach is marked by a gigantic 25 foot high fire hydrant sculpture (yes, really). Recently, the city added two fenced dog parks, one for little dogs, and one for big dogs. There’s fresh water, waste management, and a nice little gazebo for respite from the sun. Both parks contain some activity equipment, but I wouldn’t call them agility courses. While the parks are in the sand, they’re much closer to the boardwalk than the ocean.
We didn’t get a chance to explore the dog park beyond leaning over the fence to throw away a doggie bag — I was too excited to get to the beach, and afterwards, Dipper was too tired to stop!
My parents and I could have bet money on the fact that Dipper would hate the beach. But we would have lost. Turns out, Dipper’s desire to chase things — in this case, seagulls — trumped his aversion to the water. While he didn’t dive headfirst into the surf, he certainly didn’t avoid getting his feet wet. In fact, he’d wind up chasing the birds pretty far out while the water receded…and then it would crash into him a few seconds later.
Still, that didn’t stop him from doing it again and again. He barely took a break. When he did slow down, it was to give some of the other dogs we met a good sniff. Beyond that, he didn’t really pay them any mind. Unfortunately, all dogs on the Wildwood Dog Beach must be leashed, so there wasn’t a good opportunity for chasing or fetch. Most of the owners we saw were using retractable leashes — ourselves included — but no one really seemed to be playing with their dogs. Bummer!
Because of the leash rule, I spent most of my time running after Dipper before he could run out of leash. If that’s not your idea of fun, then this may not be the best dog beach for you!
A Quick Getaway
Dipper and I only spent an hour or two on the beach as our chauffeur (my mother) insisted we head home. It’s probably for the better, because Dipper slept the entire nearly two hour car ride home, though not before chowing down on some genuine boardwalk ice cream. Exhausted is an understatement.
Despite its on-leash regulations, I absolutely recommend that dog owners make the Wildwood Dog Beach a part of their summer vacation regimen. Had we been there for an extended stay, it would have been nice to visit the dog park. However, for a day trip, the ocean is my priority.
In fact, the Wildwood Dog Beach is the perfect getaway for a day…or less! We got there at 10 a.m., parked at a lot on Juniper Avenue, and were out of there by 1 p.m. But get there early because the lot was full by the time we left.
The Wildwood Dog Beach has turned an otherwise dog-free vacation into an extremely dog-friendly one. In the future, I’d love to find a dog-friendly motel, stay for a few days, and take full advantage of the dog park. But for now, it makes for a great day trip out of Philly.