Traveling has always been a popular pastime, but for people with autism it can be difficult to explore and enjoy new places. This list of 30 great vacation ideas will help you find an exciting trip just waiting to happen.
The “autism-friendly vacations 2022” is a list of 30 best autism-friendly vacation ideas. It contains everything from family activities to places to visit.
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A family vacation may be quite advantageous. It offers a change of scenery, some quality family time, and brand-new experiences that widen perspectives and develop character. However, the thought of a family trip may cause parents with autistic children unimaginable anguish. Many popular places for children on the autism spectrum are just too busy, too noisy, or too dissimilar from their regular routine.
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We set out to find the greatest vacation options for families with children with autism specifically for these families. We’ve listed a selection of locations that may be completed in one afternoon or one week since a trip that works for one kid on the spectrum may not work for another. Additionally, we looked for locations that would fit a range of budgets, from $25/night campgrounds to five-star resorts throughout the world. All of these 30 autism-friendly vacation spots have one thing in common: they all go above and beyond in some manner to accommodate autistic children and their families. This is true despite the variety of choices and variations on our list.
Best Vacations for Autistic Children
Cities are definitely not the first things that come to mind when choosing an autism-friendly vacation destination, but the city of Dallas, Texas hopes to change that perception — at least when it comes to them. Start your vacation by booking a “thoughtful” room at Austin’s Wyndham Garden Hotel. These rooms are especially designed for families with children on the autism spectrum and feature quiet locations, baskets stocked with snacks and games, special safety features, and surfaces and carpets cleaned with non-chemical cleaners. Outside the hotel, the city is home to quite a few autism-friendly sights and activities like the Austin Nature and Science Center, the Thinkery children’s museum, the Austin Aquarium, swimming at Barton Springs, and lots of places to hike, bike, or listen to live music.
Caribbean Beach Resorts
Why not let a full-service resort handle some of the hassles associated with traveling with autistic children? Every employee of the Caribbean Beaches all-inclusive resorts receives training on autism awareness and the essential tactics recommended by the Sesame Street “See Amazing in All Children” autism project. Such instruction greatly contributes to creating a supportive environment for any youngster. The resort has beaches, swimming areas, and a Kids Camp with activities for people with disabilities.
In the Berkshires
Vacation rentals and relaxing resorts abound in In the Berkshires, making this picture-perfect destination a great vacation idea for families with children on the autism spectrum. Choose just about any type of accommodation and you’ll likely find that you experience a quiet and relaxing place that is low on stimulation. Plus, there are tons of things to do! Spend your days hiking through the beautiful natural surroundings, visiting a local farm, lazing near the lake, or kayaking on a family-friendly excursion.
For many reasons, camping is the ideal holiday spot for people with autism. Camping is quite affordable, with sites going for as low as $25 a night. Furthermore, no matter where you are in the nation, there are undoubtedly family-friendly campsites nearby that are just a short drive away. Once there, many campsites resemble resorts in terms of tranquility, abundance of stunning natural settings, and facilities that range from ultramodern to wholly primitive.
If you have autistic children, a Caribbean cruise provides for an excellent holiday because of its lively — but regulated — environment and vast selection of enjoyable activities. Royal Caribbean, the first cruise company to be deemed “autism friendly,” is where we suggest making reservations. On board, there are modified kid’s activities, movies for people with autism, and toys for those with sensory issues. Additionally, each member of the crew has undergone training in autism awareness. Children with special needs will enjoy exploring the many areas of the ship, and the ports of stop provide serene beaches and a wide variety of entertaining family-friendly activities. Ship cabins are often peaceful and convenient, should the need arise. Additionally, there are cruises to the Caribbean and other destinations that are autism-friendly from Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line.
Disney Parks & Resorts
Disney has made a name for itself as a pioneer in providing entertainment for those with autism spectrum disorders Each resort will go above and above to accommodate people with any particular requirements, despite the fact that any Disney park is certain to be busy and congested on any given day. For instance, Disney cast members may provide help to guests with light sensitivity at hotels and on rides, and with a note of diagnosis from your child’s doctor, they will give them front-of-line tickets.
Another fantastic theme park to think about is Dollywood! Dollywood, which is located in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains and is itself a fantastic travel destination, is surrounded by nature (there are many trees for shade, and there are rivers that flow straight through the park). It is also highly welcoming to people with autism. Dollywood offers information about each ride, including whether it is acceptable for kids with autism and other special needs, in addition to the significant advantage of feeling less crowded and exciting than so many other theme parks. There are rides available for kids of all ages and sizes, but there are also many other things available, such as shows and displays.
Family Theme Park in Edaville
Family Theme Park in Edaville in Carver, Massachusetts, about one hour from Boston, is extremely inviting to children on the autism spectrum. The railroad-themed park — which features a Thomas [the Train] Land as well as a Dino Land — offers a train car-turned-quiet room complete with weighted blankets and toys to those who need it. Fidget toys are available for those waiting in line, and even the bathrooms are decked out to accommodate children with sensory issues. If you can, arrange to make your trip to Family Theme Park in Edaville in April, when it hosts a Sensory Awareness Weekend during which music is turned down and train whistles are shortened and altered.
Theme parks in Great America
Excellent America is a great location to bring a high-energy autistic youngster since it’s less crowded than Disneyland. The park does a superb job of accommodating families with children on the autistic spectrum by providing front-of-line permits and monitoring bracelets to reduce the danger of getting lost. The various rides and shows on offer will delight the whole family. There are two Great America locations: Six Flags Great America close to Chicago, IL, and Cedar Fair’s California’s Great America park in Santa Clara, CA.
National Park of the Great Sand Dunes
Any child (and their family members!) are sure to have a blast at National Park of the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. Take a two-hour Bison Tour and keep your eyes out for wildlife sightings. Bison, coyotes, elk, and sandhill cranes are just a few of the many species that make their homes here. And of course, a trip to National Park of the Great Sand Dunes isn’t complete without a go or two sandboarding down the dunes!
Fantastic Wolf Lodge
With more than a dozen locations nationwide, many near other destinations on this list, Fantastic Wolf Lodge makes for a great vacation destination for families with children on the autism spectrum. Each lodge is its own exotic location, complete with rustic-feeling hotel rooms and suites, restaurants, pools, water slides, kid caves, splash pads, and hot tubs. Both kids and parents will appreciate all there is to do at this family-friendly, straightforward, and affordable vacation destination.
Greece: A Thousand Senses
A Million Senses, a business that saw a need and set out to meet it, will handle all of the travel needs for a family with autistic children traveling to Greece. The organization, which presently has connections on a number of islands, will arrange anything from making sure a family’s hotel room is in a quiet area of the hotel to setting up twice-daily activities for youngsters on the autism spectrum to allow parents and other family members some alone time.
HersheyPark in Hershey, Pennsylvania does a fantastic job accommodating persons with autism, much like the other theme parks on our list of the 30 top vacation ideas for families with kids on the autistic spectrum. Fill out a ride accessibility questionnaire at guest services as soon as you get to the park. You’ll get a thorough list of the rides and attractions that are ideal for your family’s particular circumstances after responding to a few questions. This very useful customized experience is the result of HersheyPark’s collaboration with Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania to make sure their facility is as accessible to people with disabilities as it is for everyone else.
Theme Park on King’s Island
You should include King’s Island, a theme park close to Cincinnati, on your list of places to visit. Parents of autistic children enthusiastically endorse the park, praising the staff at King’s Island for their tolerance and compassion. For instance, families with autistic children may visit the park’s guest services to pick up front-of-line tickets for any autistic kid and up to three more visitors (a note from a doctor’s office confirming the diagnosis may be needed). Additionally, you are allowed to bring in outside food for kids who have dietary restrictions.
Resort at LEGOLAND Florida
None can compare to LEGOLAND Florida, which in recent years has partnered with Autism Speaks to become completely autism-friendly. While all LEGOLAND resorts—there is one in California as well as several internationally—offer some sort of accommodation for kids with autism, none can compare to LEGOLAND Florida. A large panel of interactive, sensory-stimulating activities is integrated into a calm area of the park, and additional “silent chambers” have been set up for individuals who need them. Additionally, “first of line” passes may be provided, and all employees and volunteers undergo training in autism knowledge and sensitivity.
International travel is also possible for people with autism, and London may be the best international location for a family with autistic children. Direct flights from some of the most autism-friendly airlines, such as Virgin America and Delta, to the UK are available (ask your preferred airport or airline whether they have a “rehearsal” program for kids with autism). London is a fantastic city to visit once there at one’s own speed. While tourist destinations like the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace provide engaging and dynamic experiences that are likely to wow all members of the family, museums are often silent events. Simply go to one of London’s many lovely and tranquil green spots when you need some alone time. Finally, London is among the top cities in the world for theater, and several of the city’s most family-friendly plays often provide adapted performances.
Not very many cities come with a small-town feel and laid-back atmosphere, yet that is exactly what families searching for autism-friendly vacation destinations will find in Wisconsin’s Madison. Maybe it’s because the city employs an autism expert, but either way, Madison boasts myriad activities and amenities for children on the spectrum, including programs ranging from art to yoga, museums and parks, and a local theater that specifically welcomes kids with autism once a month.
Wonderland of Morgan
Wonderland of Morgan, located in San Antonio, Texas, is the world’s first “Ultra Accessible Family Fun Park.” The 25-acre park was designed to cater almost exclusively to children with special needs and their families, and includes an impressive number of traditional and adaptive rides, swings, and activities to suit all ages. There’s even a Sensory Garden, and a lake stocked with fish for catch-and-release fun. Children with special needs, including autism, receive free admission.
South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach
South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach has long been considered one of the United States’ very best destinations for families, and the resort town wants their guests to know that they are just as inviting to those families with children on the autism spectrum. Before arriving in Myrtle Beach, head online to secure a Can Card, which provides children with autism special accommodation at area hotels, restaurants, and attractions. Besides the beach, where quiet spots can almost always be found, attractions like the Myrtle Beach Speedway offer quiet rooms for those who need them. Finally, be sure to check out Savannah’s Playground, a top-notch, ADA-approved facility that includes a ton of fun sensory-friendly features.
Portugal for all five senses
Thanks to travel agencies like 4 All Senses, which specialized in tourism for persons with special needs, lovely Portugal may be reached by families with children on the autistic spectrum. Families may sign up for one of 4 All Senses’ themed trips or request transportation or need-based lodging from the firm. Want everything? Additionally, the business may plan special tours of Lisbon and other well-known locations that will meet whatever requirements a kid with autism could have.
Zoo of San Diego
The Zoo of San Diego, as well as the Zoo of San Diego Safari Park located about 35 miles away, is a great autism-friendly vacation destination. Children who love animals will be in awe of all there is to see, and since animals don’t necessarily love loud noises either, the zoo has dozens of quiet and shady areas where kids can enjoy viewing the animals without any over stimulation. The zoo also offers an Easy Access Pass upon request, with which families can skip lines and receive information about which rides and attractions would be most appropriate for their child.
SeaWorld in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego all include facilities for kids with special needs, making them excellent vacation spots for people with autism. The amusement parks include an accessibility guide that lists the rides and pursuits that may be most suitable for people with autism. Families should go to guest services when they first arrive to get a Ride Accessibility Permit, a pass and timecard that enables families to access certain rides at particular times without having to stand in line.
Between its “See Amazing in All Children” autism initiative and Julia, a character with autism, Sesame Street has long been an ally to families with children on the autism spectrum. So it should come as no surprise that we didn’t even hesitate to include the Sesame Street theme park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania on our list of the best autism-friendly vacation destinations. The theme park is easily accessed from most of the major Mid-Atlantic cities, and includes rides, a water park, shows and programs, and lots of friendly recognizable characters who interact well with children of all abilities.
There may be nowhere better than Colorado for families that like skiing, particularly if they have kids who are autistic! Numerous ski areas in the ski-crazy towns of Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail have adaptive ski programs and instruction that are suitable for people with autism. For instance, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center offers adaptive skiing lessons at the Copper Mountain Resort in Breckenridge for kids on the autistic spectrum, complete with customized gear and a lift ticket.
Resort in Smuggler’s Notch
This resort in Vermont is ideal for families at any time of year since it offers a wide range of adaptive activities and excursions for kids with autism and their families. These programs provide a variety of enjoyable activities, such as private swimming lessons, horseback riding, and walks. To pass the time and keep both parents and kids refreshed and delighted, there are eight pools and four waterslides. Every apartment on the resort’s grounds contains numerous bedrooms and a kitchen, making it simple to prepare meals for youngsters who have special dietary needs.
Rancho Snow Mountain
Many children on the autism spectrum love spending time around animals, so why not try a dude ranch getaway? Several dude ranches across the country pride themselves on being autism friendly, including Rancho Snow Mountain in Granby, Colorado. The ranch is more like a resort, and is operated by the YMCA of the Rockies. Children with autism will love taking part in the many camps and programs designed especially for them, including therapeutic horseback riding.
the South Carolina beach of Surfside
The small coastal town of the South Carolina beach of Surfside — located near Myrtle Beach — has taken on the task of becoming the world’s first official autism-friendly destination. The town aims to become a year-round destination for those families who love the beach, but can’t head to those destinations with loud or over-stimulating boardwalks and crowded beaches. Surfside Beach already makes our list of the best vacation destinations for families with children on the autism spectrum, but the ultimate goal sounds even better. Eventually, Surfside Beach will be an entirely judgement-free zone in which local businesses host events specifically designed for kids with autism.
Resort at TradeWinds Island
As one of only five hotels in the United States to be declared autism friendly by the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities, Resort at TradeWinds Island in St. Petersburg, Florida is a great vacation destination for families with children on the autism spectrum. Staff members receive training in autism awareness, and are always willing to step in to lend a hand should the need arise. Plus, the resort offers a long list of family-friendly amenities and activities that include a water park, pirate show, beaches, parasailing, and dolphin-spotting cruises, to name but a few.
Wilderness Lodge is a great autism-friendly destination located on 60 acres in beautiful Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Book a room, condo, or villa for your family, then visit and enjoy the property’s eight waterparks. Thanks to the resort’s free transportation system, returning to your accommodations is quick and easy should the need arise. Another huge benefit is that many of the resort’s affordable rooms and villas come with kitchens so that cooking for the diet-limited or picky child is a breeze.
National Park of Yellowstone
For the child who loves nature and animals, there may be no better vacation destination than National Park of Yellowstone. Colorful hot springs, mud pots, and the famous Old Faithful geyser are sure to prove fascinating (be aware that some pools have a sulfur smell), while the near-constant views of wildlife make for good motivation to keep one’s eyes peeled. The park itself has some autism-friendly lodgings, though any accommodation inside the park tends to fill up quickly.
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.