Best Vacation Spots for Kids with Disabilities
More theme parks and family-friendly attractions across the country are updating their services to create a more inclusive environment and welcome visitors of all abilities. If you're planning a vacation this summer, be sure to check out our list of accessible travel spots around the country — some of them may be new to you!
Arches National Park
Arches National Park, located north of Moab, Utah, is known for its natural stone arches, contrasting colors, and unique textures. With a paved scenic road and many short, accessible trails, Arches provides accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Visitors with disabilities qualify for the Interagency Access Pass, allowing for discounted admission. Additionally, they have options for physical and mobility accessibility, options for visitors who are Deaf or have hearing loss, and accommodations for folks who are blind or have low vision. Be sure to purchase a timed entry ticket if visiting the park between April 1 and October 31.
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a 45-yard indoor football field with over 50 engaging, interactive exhibits outlining the history of college football. This completely accessible venue has partnered with KultureCity to better serve guests with sensory processing needs. Team members are supplied with ongoing training to better understand and meet the needs of those with sensory processing needs. The College Football Hall of Fame also provides sensory bags containing special KCVIP badges, fidget toys, noise-canceling headphones, and other resources for no cost.
Disney World Resorts and Disneyland Resort
Orlando, FL and Anaheim, CA
Disney Resorts are well-known for accommodating guests with disabilities in their theme parks, water parks, and hotels. Their comprehensive services include assistance for those with cognitive, visual, hearing, lighting sensitivity, and mobility disabilities. Disney’s Disability Access Services, which allows for ride return times for children who aren’t able to wait in regular lines, helps make a Disney day less stressful and more magical. For lots of great insider tips, check out our Disneyland Disability Guide!
2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Located in the heart of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is a bustling resort destination located within a tranquil natural environment, with lots of trees and creeks that run through the parks. Both the Dollywood Theme Park and the Splash Country water park have “Calming Corners” for those who need sensory breaks, and Companion Care and Adult Changing Restrooms are provided. Families can plan their visit with the help of Dollywood’s Accessibility Guide.
Edaville Family Theme Park
5 Pine St.
Carver, MA 02330
Edaville Family Theme Park, located about an hour outside of Boston in Carver, Massachusetts, has created an inviting space for kids with disabilities. This railroad-themed park offers a wide variety of rides and attractions designed to accommodate children with varying support needs. From providing quiet train rides to bathrooms for children with sensory processing sensitivities, Edaville Family Theme Park works to make every family’s trip enjoyable. The park also offers a Sensory Awareness Weekend in April when the music is turned down and train whistles are shortened and altered. While you’re in the area, you can also check out Myles Standish State Forest for a peaceful, outdoor experience, or visit Flax Pond Farms to learn about cranberry bogs.
Everline Resort and Spa
Olympic Valley, CA
Near North Lake Tahoe
Everline Resort and Spa not only provides a calming sensory experience but also above-and-beyond accommodations for individuals with disabilities. With several onsite restaurants and seasonal activities for the whole family, guests can enjoy their whole vacation from the resort. If you are looking to adventure out, Everline Resort and Spa is located near accessible hiking trails, an adaptive sports program at Alpine Meadows, and other recreational activities at North Lake Tahoe.
Carlsbad, CA; Winter Haven, FL; and Goshen, NY
Legoland has historically been a hub for children to play and explore with hands-on, Lego-themed attractions. Legoland parks have also been working to make these attractions more inclusive by providing better services for guests with disabilities. The resort in Florida recently implemented a series of sensory-stimulating activities, their first effort at creating a more inclusive, autism-friendly experience for park attendees. Legoland California provides various accommodations such as designated quiet areas, sign language interpreters upon request, and an assisted access pass for guests who have trouble waiting in long lines.
5223 David Edwards Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78233
Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, is built specifically with kids with disabilities in mind. This “ultra-accessible” theme park offers everything from a wheelchair-accessible Ferris wheel to catch-and-release fishing, a calming Sensory Village, and a Music Garden. Morgan’s Inspiration Island is a fully accessible splash park with waterproof wheelchairs for a great day of inclusive water play. Visitors with disabilities receive free admission.
937 Broadway St.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29578
The city of Myrtle Beach has worked with restaurants and other local destinations to make Myrtle Beach a sensory-friendly location for families. At the Myrtle Beach Welcome Center, travelers can request a Champion Autism Network (CAN) Card, which will allow families assistance where there is potential for overstimulation. With a CAN Card, you can skip the line at crowded attractions, request seating at local restaurants in quieter areas, and receive other services that allow members of the autism community to receive the support they need. If you’re looking for additional activities in the area, plan your trip during one of WonderWorks’ sensory weekends where exhibits are altered and music is lowered to accommodate children with sensory processing sensitivities.
National Ability Center
Park City, Utah
The National Ability Center offers adaptive recreational activities for individuals with a range of abilities. Whether you attend family camp, a day program, or one of their outdoor adventure programs, they design programs that support individuals with disabilities of all ages. Located near a number of lodging options in the beautiful Park City, consider including programming through the National Ability Center in your next family vacation.
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 U.S. Highway 36
Estes Park, CO
Are you looking for an enjoyable outdoor adventure for the whole family? Visit Rocky Mountain National Park! The park offers handicap-accessible trails and is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled’s Snow Mountain Ranch, which has therapeutic and recreational offerings for all ages and abilities. You can also explore Estes Park’s beautiful downtown area or ride the tram while you’re in the area.
100 Sesame Rd.
Longhorne, PA 19047
As the first theme park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center, Sesame Place makes it their goal to provide every family with memories to last a lifetime. They offer specialized services to guests with autism and other support needs. Check out their sensory guide, ride accessibility program, and accessibility guide for guests with cognitive disabilities for information about Sesame Place’s specific offerings. Whether you’re interested in fun attractions or dining with Elmo, Sesame Place is sure to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone! You might also want to check out Washington Crossing Historic Park and Shady Brook Farm while you’re in town.
4323 Vermont Route 108 South
Jeffersonville, VT 05464-9537
Smugglers’ Notch, located in Jeffersonville, Vermont, boasts an extensive array of inclusive family fun, including eight pools, four water slides, and special interest camps, all made accessible via the Smugglers’ Notch Adaptive Program (SNAP). The SNAP program works with each family to create an inclusive daily program that meets the needs of every child, including one-to-one swimming classes, arts and crafts, guided hiking, kayaking, mini golf, and much more.
4029 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84107
Since 1977, Splore has been providing adaptive, recreational activities for all ages and abilities across Utah’s expansive wilderness. Splore offers adaptive activities such as rock climbing, paddling, hiking, and more! Splore guides have extensive outdoor training and experience working with participants of all backgrounds and abilities.
Tradewinds Island Resort
6000 Gulf Blvd.
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
Tradewinds Island Resort is committed to providing an enjoyable and memorable experience for families with disabilities. As a Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) certified resort, Tradewinds trains their staff to understand the needs of guests with disabilities and their families. They offer various accommodations from safety kits to adaptable menus. Looking for other activities in the area? Check out the Glazer Family Playground or explore the St. Pete Pier District.