Manatee County emerging as top pet-friendly destination

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Summer is quickly approaching, and families are getting ready to vacation. But for pet owners, leaving your pets at home is always the biggest hurdle to getting away. Manatee County tourism officials say worry no more.

Manatee County is emerging as one of the top pet-friendly destinations in the U.S.

The Suncoast's Bradenton, Anna Maria, and Longboat Key are quickly becoming top dog among pet-friendly destinations in the county, providing options for families who want their pets to enjoy vacation with them.

"There's something for everybody; even the dogs." Billie Westberry and her rescued puppies enjoy the bay at Palma Sola Causeway Beach, where families and their pets can catch some rays. It's one of many outdoor destinations Bradenton tourism officials say are perfect for vacationing with your pet.

Lizzy Lemons and her dog Bear made the move to Bradenton just a week ago, and she's already finding it the perfect fit for her and her companion. "There's a lot of areas. I've already taken him two or three places that allow pets, so he loves it, I love it."

Pet parents appreciate how Bradenton's iconic Riverwalk accommodates their dogs. Pauline Pemberton walks Poppy along the Riverwalk often; in fact, the Pembertons pretty much don't go anywhere without their little one. "We're allowed to take him everywhere we go; restaurants, most of the restaurants, and they all have outside seating.”

Restaurants on Anna Maria Island's Pine Avenue make it easy for visitors to grab a quick lunch. "We're just really happy that we have this porch and that dogs can come here and their owners can come sit and enjoy a meal with them," says Patrick Coleman, owner of Poppo’s Taqueria.

Whether coming into Manatee County from out of town or getting away on a staycation, hotels are opening their doors to every member of the family. "Our pets get a doggie bowl. They get a pet treat and of course the doggie bags when they check in," says Kelly Ann Dixon at Bradenton’s Hampton Inn & Suites.

That’s just one of dozens of hotels accomodating more visitors. "We're such a pet friendly downtown. Being in such close proximity to the Riverwalk, in such a fun walking friendly downtown, we couldn’t not be pet friendly," says Dixon.

There are plenty of options for you and your entire family this summer in Manatee County. For more information visit