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Best Autism-Friendly Destinations for 2023

Updated: Jan 16



A photo of the sunset of Myrtle Beach.  There is a title that reads Autism Friendly Travel Best Autism-Friendly Destinations for 2023.  Are you ready to start planning an autism-friendly vacation for 2023?

Are you ready to start planning an autism-friendly vacation for 2023? I understand that travel can be slightly difficult for your autistic family. There are so many things to consider when it comes to your autistic child’s needs. As a mom of two autistic children, I get it. That is why I have dedicated my time as a travel advisor to helping families like yours. I have the expertise, and experience, required to plan a vacation that meets your entire family’s needs and wants. To get you started on this journey, I have found the best autism-friendly destinations for 2023. Look them over to see which one seems perfect for your family. Then we can chat, and I can show you how wonderful traveling with your autistic family can be.


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The owner of Spectrum Getaways sits with her two sons on the San Antonio River Walk.  She is holding her youngest son in her arms and looking at him while both of the boys look at the water.

Best Autism Friendly Destinations for 2023


A dusk photo of Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

You may have realized by now that Myrtle Beach holds a special place in my heart when it comes to autism-friendly vacations. It is one of the most autism-friendly places in the country. And honestly, despite all the work they have done already, the area is continuing to become even more inclusive.


It’s amazing!


One of the first things you can do in Myrtle Beach is obtained a CAN card. I can help you with this if you decide to take a vacation in Myrtle Beach. However, to share the basics, this card was created by the Champion Autism Network. Once you have your card, all you need to do is show it at participating locations in Myrtle Beach. The employees at those establishments will then know you may need seating in a quieter area, have special requests, or may need to leave without any notice. You will also be allowed to skip the line at attractions.


Your vacation in Myrtle Beach can be spent exploring nature at Myrtle Beach State Park or simply swimming in the ocean. Another fun water activity is taking a scenic kayaking ride. WonderWorks and Ripley’s Aquarium are two of the popular autism-friendly attractions in Myrtle Beach.


There are so many other things you can do with your autistic family in Myrtle Beach. I can share the possibilities with you when we get together to chat.



The whindward side of the island of O'ahu.  There are people swimming in the water.

Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands offer low-sensory and safe activities for autistic families. You won’t find your autistic child getting overstimulated in a building with hundreds of other people in Hawaii. Instead, you will find yourself outdoors, surrounded by tropical scenery.


Days on any of the Hawaiian Islands can be spent at the beach or near a volcano. And don’t worry, you can visit a few museums and historical attractions too! Oh, and don’t forget the food. Your autistic child may be tempted to eat a few of the new foods you discover.


The best Hawaiian Islands for autistic families are O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’i, and Hawai’i. Lana’i and Moloka’i can be excellent choices, but it is dependent on what you are looking for while on a family vacation.


Over on the island of O’ahu, your family can snorkel in Hanauma Bay or explore the Iolani Palace. You may even choose to hike to Diamond Head. Other options include the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Waikiki Aquarium, and Honolulu Zoo.


During a vacation in Maui, you should consider a road trip on the Road to Hana. It is an excellent way to see many of the parks, waterfalls, and scenic lookouts on the island. This Hawaiian Island is also perfect for whale-watching tours and learning about the ocean and marine life at the Maui Pacific Ocean Center.


It is all about the water on the island of Kaua’i. Some beaches offer shallow water, which is perfect for beginner swimmers. Other beaches have plenty of waves for surfing. Catamaran cruises are a must for any family on vacation in Kaua’i. Especially when you go at sunset.


On the Big Island of Hawai’i, your autistic family can explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There are two volcanoes within the park. Mauna Loa has been quite calm over the years without any new eruptions. The same can’t be said about Kilauea. That’s good news for your family though! There is nothing better than seeing red-hot lava flow from a volcano. It will be a conversation starter!


If you decide to visit either Lana’i or Moloka’i, you will have a more authentic Hawaiian experience. You won’t run into as many tourists either, since there aren’t touristy attractions on these islands.



A photo of downtown Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas

A vacation in Houston will give your autistic family the ability to have fun at sensory-friendly attractions. Space Center Houston offers sensory-friendly events throughout the year. So does the Children’s Museum of Houston and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Other autism-friendly things to do in Houston include the George Ranch Historical Park and We Rock the Spectrum.



a photo of the caldera of the yellow stone super volcano.

Yellowstone National Park

Nature lovers will love taking a vacation at Yellowstone National Park. This outdoor wonderland offers so many unique things to do. No day will be the same at Yellowstone. And yet, it will be, which can be comforting to some autistic children.


Your days at Yellowstone can be spent wandering around, as you all search for petroglyphs and fossils. Old Faithful keeps to a schedule, so you can easily plan a visit to watch her erupt. Just remember, this geyser’s schedule has a time range. This means you may be waiting a little bit to see the water shoot in the air. I do recommend arriving for Old Faithful’s next eruption early to find a good spot to stand.


As for the hot springs throughout Yellowstone, your autistic child may not be as thrilled to be around them as you are. The sulfuric smell can be triggering to some autistic children. Try to prepare your autistic child for these smells in advance. And if you know they will struggle with the odor, try to limit your time near the hot springs.


A photo of the beautiful lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Colorado

There are a few fabulous autism-friendly destinations in the state of Colorado. Especially if your family vacation is all about skiing! Many of the ski resorts in Colorado offer adaptive ski programs, as well as autism-friendly lessons. I recommend choosing a ski resort in Breckenridge, Vail, or Beaver Creek. Although, there are a few other ski towns that will be wonderful for your time away from home.




A photo of a ski resort in Vermont.


Stowe, Vermont

Another autism-friendly ski destination is Stowe, Vermont. However, there is so much more than skiing in this autism-friendly place. The entire area is calming and relaxing, which is always a good thing when you don’t want your autistic child overstimulated. If you want to visit outside of ski season, your family can spend some time outdoors. Swimming, horseback riding, and hiking are all wonderful options.


You may want to wander down the Stowe Recreation Path. Maybe check out the Ben & Jerry’s Factory over in Waterbury. Or grab some cider and donuts at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.



A photo of Mystic Connecticut .

Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic is a small town in a small state. While there is plenty of things to do in Mystic, your autistic family can also reach other areas in the state quickly. So, this is the perfect destination if your autistic child doesn’t mind short car rides for day trips.


In Mystic, you can wander around the Mystic Aquarium or Mystic Seaport. A little shopping at Olde Mistick Village is usually agreeable for everyone. This shopping area is outside and there are plenty of places to sit for anyone who doesn’t want to go into a store.


Just a short drive from Historic Downtown Mystic is B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill. It is only open during the fall. We will need to plan your family vacation in Mystic carefully if you want to see the oldest steam-powdered cider mill in the country.


The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat will have your family cruising down the Connecticut River. A quick trip to Groton can have you exploring the submarine, U.S.S. Nautilus. And if you can’t find a favorite beach in Connecticut, you can always drive across the border to Rhode Island and be right on the ocean.


A sunset photo of Pigeon Forge, TN.


Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Not all destinations are created equal and the same is true for theme parks. A family vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee offers the opportunity to have fun at Dollywood. At Dollywood, you will find both a Calming Corner and Sensory Room for your autistic child to use.


On the days you are not visiting Dollywood, you will still have numerous autism-friendly activities to choose from in Pigeon Forge. Soaky Mountain Waterpark, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and WonderWorks are great places to start.


A photo of downtown San Diego.

San Diego, California

The sandy shoreline of San Diego can be where you spend most of your time during a vacation if you want. There are 25 beaches to choose from in the San Diego area. Each one offers unique experiences your autistic family will love. Although, you probably won’t get to visit them all in the short amount of time you are visiting!


When you are not swimming and building sandcastles at the beach, your family may be wandering around the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park. You can also choose to visit the San Diego Natural History Museum, Children’s Discovery Museum, or the Fleet Science Center.



A sunset photo of Madison, Wisconsin's lake.

Madison, Wisconsin

An autism expert was hired by the city of Madison to ensure all autistic families feel welcome in the area. Since that time, more businesses in the area have chosen to adopt autism-friendly practices. Your children will love the time you spend at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum or the Madison Children’s Museum.


The Sensory Club is an excellent place to get the wiggles out without becoming overstimulated. If your kids love watching performances on stage, you may want to check out the Children’s Theater of Madison. They offer sensory-friendly performances.


These are the best autism-friendly destinations for 2023. While you might not be able to visit them all in a single year, one or two probably stand out as places you want to see first. You will probably choose one of these best destinations according to what they offer. Or in the case of Myrtle Beach or Hawaii, the fact they offer such incredible autism-friendly options. You don’t need a reason why you chose a specific destination though. All you need is the ability to understand that vacationing in one of these autism-friendly destinations is possible with your family. I can help you by planning a vacation that meets your family’s needs. I will share resources you may need that can be helpful throughout your vacation too. And I will be there with you every step of the way to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime. Contact me today and see how travel is for everyone!



A bokeh photo of a ferris wheel lights.  There is a title that read Autism friendly destination 2023.

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