Dog-friendly Port Aransas, or just “Port A” to most Texans, is perched on the northern tip of Mustang Island. Because this town’s population swells every Spring Break with as many as 150,000 college-aged revelers, the town boasts plenty of accommodations, everything from luxury condominium complexes to Mom and Pop motels aimed at vacationing birders. This small town is one of Texas’s most dog friendly with numerous dog-friendly restaurants and accommodations.
Port Aransas was hard hit by Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017, but the town is quickly recovering.
Dog-Friendly Port Aransas Attractions
I. B. Magee Beach Park. Located at the Horace Caldwell Pier, this pet-friendly park offers a relaxing place to walk, watch the boat traffic, enjoy a dog walk, and do some birding. The camping area remains closed following Hurricane Harvey. 321 North on the Beach. Free.
Mustang Island State Park. Just down the island from Port Aransas lies this state park with freshwater showers, picnic tables, and tent and RV camping. The park offers vehicular beach access but we headed to the protected portion of the beach with our dogs, an area with a paved parking lot separated from the beach so no cars were permitted on the beach and adjacent sand. Here free picnic shelters offer your dogs shade and you a place to keep your items off the sand. Dogs are permitted throughout the park (except in buildings) on a leash no longer than six feet long (and this includes in the water as well). Park Rd. 53, southwest of Port Aransas.
Port Aransas Dog Park. Located in the Community Park, the fenced dog park includes both small and large dog sections. 700 Clark Parkway off Ross Ave.
Port Aransas Beach. Many dog-friendly properties in Port Aransas are within walking distance of the beach (and golf cart rentals are very popular) but you can also drive to the beach and park in the designated parking areas. A parking pass, sold at convenience stores throughout town as well as at the Port Aransas Visitors Center at 403 W. Cotter across from the ferry landing, costs $12 and is valid all year; there’s no fee for just driving along the beach. We typically go to the beach just off Avenue G; this stretch of the beach is protected by bollards so you can set up along the beach and relax or walk your dog without looking over your shoulder for oncoming cars and carts (both of which are impossible to hear in the sand).
Roberts Point Park. Located at the turn for the ferry landing, this small park offers manicured grounds great for dog walking while you watch both boat traffic and dolphins in the channel. This park is a good option when you and Fido are ready to take a break from the beach; it’s also a beautiful sunset spot.
San Jose Island. You and your dog can hop the Jetty Boat from Woody’s to this uninhabited island (also called St. Jo) where pirate Jean Lafitte is said to have camped. Although your dog can run off-leash here, be aware that there are rattlesnakes on the island and no public facilities. It is a quiet getaway for fishing, beachcombing, swimming, or shelling.
Port Aransas has many dog-friendly restaurants. Except for peak summer months, though, be prepared for each restaurant to be closed one or two nights per week. Check with the restaurant before making your plans.
Beach Lodge. You can’t beat the beach view from the dog-friendly covered porch of this restaurant (although service can be slow). Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and offering pet-friendly accommodations). 2016 On The Beach Dr., www.portabeachlodge.com.
Castaway’s Seafood and Grill. Located in the former location of The Phoenix, this restaurant has a very large porch and patio with an outdoor bar and a dog-friendly vibe (they brought ice water out for our dogs right away). Don’t miss the coconut shrimp! 337 N Alister St. https://castawaysporta.com/
MacDaddy’s. This restaurant has a large, covered porch, and a friendly waitstaff. Barbecue is the house specialty (but we can attest to the fact that they have very tasty fried shrimp with a Saltine batter!) 118 Beach St; macdaddysfamilykitchen.com
Port A Pizzeria. This restaurant isn’t dog-friendly but offers delivery. After a long drive to the coast, we enjoyed pizza delivery from this local restaurant. Delivery was fast and free; they also offer carry-out if you and your dog would like to grab a pizza on the way out to Mustang Island State Park, Padre Island, or points beyond. Open for lunch and dinner. 407 E. Ave. G; www.portapizzeria.com.
Shell’s. When you’re ready for a more upscale dining experience with your dog, don’t miss Shell’s, known for their pasta, seafood and grilled meats. We’ve enjoyed many dinners at this small restaurant (I always get the Farfalle Alfredo with added shrimp) with patio seating. Closed Tuesdays. 522 Ave. G., http://eatatshells.com/
Stingray’s Taphouse and Grill. This sports bar serves a great shrimp basket; you’ll also find pizza, tacos, sandwiches, and burgers. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 401 Beach St. https://www.stingraystaphouse.com/
Whataburger. This restaurant isn’t dog-friendly but has a drive-through–for cars and golf carts. We usually start our days in Port Aransas with a drive through to pick up tacos, taking them to the park or the jetty for a breakfast picnic with the dogs. 729 TX-361.
These restaurants are also dog-friendly; they’re still on our to-visit list…but we’ll keep you posted when we do:
- Beach & Station Street Grill. 235 Beach Ave.; www.facebook.com/pages/Beach-Station-Street-Grill/100858296625985
- Desserted Island Ice Cream. 100 E White Ave. https://www.facebook.com/DessertedIslandIceCream/
- The Gaff. Located next door to Stingray’s, this pizza bar is best known as home of belt sander races two weekends a month. http://www.gotothegaff.com/
- Irie’s Island Food. 503 N Alister St. http://iriesislandfood.com/
- Kody’s Restaurant. 2034 State Hwy 361. https://www.kodysrestaurant.com
- Lelo’s Island Bar. 212 Beach St. https://www.lelosbar.com/
- Montego Bay Restaurant and Ziggy’s Hideaway. 118 Cut-Off Rd.
- Tortuga’s Saltwater Grill. 429 N Alister St. Formerly The Brewery.
Port Aransas has numerous dog-friendly hotels as well as vacation rentals, some which limit dogs by size, some that do not. Pre-Harvey, we always stayed at A Laughing Horse Lodge; this property closed and has been demolished.
Since Harvey, we have stayed at The Beachcomber, and we (and the dogs) love it. Rates are excellent, and the property (which welcomes two dogs of any size) is just over a block from the beach! If you are looking for rental property such as a condo or cottage, Beachcomber Vacation Rentals has a section of pet-friendly rentals.
Other dog-friendly properties in town include:
- Alister Square Inn, 122 S. Alister St .
- Amelia’s Landing Hotel, 105 N Alister Street . Includes a small fenced off-leash dog play area.
- America’s Best Value Inn Port Aransas, 306 South Alister Street.
- Captain’s Quarters Inn, 235 W Cotter.
- Plantation Suites and Conference Center, 1909 State Highway 361.
- The Port A Beach Lodge, 2016 On the Beach Drive at Mile Marker 9.
- Shark Reef Resort Motel & Cottages
For More Information
- Port Aransas Convention and Visitors Bureau