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Best Autism Friendly Destinations in North America

Updated: Mar 9

There is a road that winds down a bath.  There are trees along the road that are deciduous and their leaves are turning yellow.  There are still some spots of green.  There is a title that reads Autism Friendly Travel Best Autism Friendly Desistinations in North America.  Find out where the most autism friendly destinations are in North America

I have seen so many autistic families start to embrace travel, which makes me so happy! Especially since I believe travel is for everyone. And yet, at the same time, I see these families continue to vacation in the same destination every year. Maybe it is because they found a vacation that worked well for them, and they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’. However, there are so many autism-friendly destinations in North America. Each one offers unique experiences autistic families will love. I would love to help you find an autism-friendly destination for your next family vacation. Contact me today to schedule a time to chat.

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Best Autism Friendly Destinations in North America

A colorful photo of a city street in Cancun. There are bight pink, green, orange, purple, red, light blue and yellow flags above the stree.  There are vendows with their wares all up and down the street.  In the distance you can see a Corona Beer Sign.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach is one of my favorite autism-friendly destinations in North America. The city has worked hard to become all-inclusive for all families with special needs. When vacationing in Myrtle Beach, you must request a CAN (Champion Autism Network) card. I can help you with this, as I am planning your vacation. This card will be helpful when visiting attractions and restaurants where overstimulation is possible. Simply showing this card will allow you to skip the line, receive expedited service or private seating, and even curbside check-in at your hotel. Some of the most autism-friendly attractions in this area include Wonder Works, Savannah’s Playground, and Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach.

Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

If your family loves history and spending time outdoors, then a vacation in Valley Forge should be at the top of your list. This autism-friendly destination offers plenty of opportunities for autistic families like yours. I recommend spending time at the Elmwood Zoo Park. This was the very first zoo in the world to be given certified autism status. During your zoo visit, you can feed the giraffes or the bison. Or you can interact with reptiles, donkeys, chinchillas, sloths, otters, giraffes, or Penny the alligator. Of course, no visit to the zoo is complete without joining in on the fun of the Junior Inspector Program. There is also a playground and percussion garden to enjoy.

Visalia, California

Out in California, there are quite a few busy cities. Those aren’t always the best autism-friendly destinations, especially if you start taking vacations. In Visalia, you will find numerous tranquil locations. Two favorites include Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. You can also explore the Sequoia Riverlands Trust properties during your visit. While many autism-friendly attractions exist in Visalia, the Imagine U Children’s Museum is the most popular. Plenty of space is inside, filled with hands-on creative activities.

Mesa, Arizona

Mesa is another city like Myrtle Beach. The locals have worked hard to make many businesses autism-friendly. Over at OdySea Aquarium, your family can watch a Pal Place video when you arrive. This video will share what your family should expect during your visit. The aquarium also has a quiet room, perfect if your autistic child becomes overstimulated. Jake’s Unlimited was one of the first attractions in Mesa to be certified as autism-friendly. Your autistic family will love playing games in the arcade, bowling, going on rides, and maybe even trying a game of laser tag. The food menu has multiple options, so even the pickiest eater can find something they like.

Houston, Texas

There are a few hotels in Houston that offer sensory rooms and suites. As I am planning your vacation, I can help you book accommodations at one of them. Your time in this city can be busy, and staying in the right place can be helpful when your family needs time to unwind. A couple of must-see attractions in Houston include the Children’s Museum Houston and Space Center Houston. They both hold sensory-friendly days and events throughout the year.

Billings, Montana

Billings is one of the newer cities that offers autism-friendly things to do and accommodations. The businesses in this city are working hard to ensure every visitor feels welcome, even those who occasionally need a little extra assistance. There are so many family-friendly things to do in Billings. I recommend starting with a visit to the Wise Wonders Children’s Museum or Zoo Montana. Depending on your autistic child, you may even be able to add the Yellowstone Art Museum, Reef Indoor Water Park, or a hike along the Phipps Park Trail to your itinerary. And if you are unsure whether visiting a specific attraction is possible, I can always call to inquire as I plan your vacation in Billings.

Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, Canada

Gros Morne National Park is one of the most gorgeous areas in Canada. Exploring this beautiful natural area has long been on many travelers’ bucket lists. However, now autistic families can spend time in this park and get the support they need. Autism-friendly accommodations are now available at this national park. So, now you can enjoy a sensory-friendly experience after a few hours of exploring nature each day. There are plenty of hiking opportunities inside this national park. But your family may also want to take a boat tour of Western Brook Pond and tour the Lobster Cove Lighthouse. Don’t forget to watch for moose and the shipwreck at Martin’s Point.

Port-aux-Basques in Newfoundland, Canada

Port-aux-Basques might be considered a small town, but it has grown exponentially in its autism-friendly status. When you are not relaxing and recharging in your hotel room, your family might be out exploring the Grand Bay West Beach Trailway. Other things to do in Port-aux-Basques include cultural boat tours, visiting the Railway Heritage Centre, and taking the Rose Blanche Lighthouse Scenic Drive.

Cancun, Mexico

A few family-friendly resorts in Cancun, Mexico are also autism-friendly. So, you should never think you can’t take a family vacation in paradise when you have a child with autism. There is also plenty of water for swimming in Cancun, whether your family chooses to go to a swimming pool or the Caribbean. You will even find water at the All Ritmo Water Park. Many kids love pirates, so you may consider taking a pirate dinner cruise. Other incredible activities include swimming with dolphins, and visiting the Interactive Aquarium, and the Croco Cun Zoo.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Riviera Maya is another area of Mexico that is perfect for autistic families who are looking for unforgettable vacations. Some of the resorts are smaller, but that could be exactly what your autistic child needs for this time away from home. During your time in the Riviera Maya, you may want to spend some days at the beach. But there is so much more you can see and do in this area of Mexico. You can begin with an adventure at Xplor Park or watch the Cirque du Soleil Joya performance. If your kids love animals, the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary must be on your list. You can meet the rescued animals during your visit and even swim in a cenote.

These are some of the best autism-friendly destinations in North America. There are a few others. So, if none of these tick all the boxes for your next family vacation, I can share others that might better suit your vacation dreams. Contact me today to set up a planning session and schedule your next autistic family vacation.

A photo of Cancun, Mexico with resorts all along the beach.  It's such set so the bright lights shine in the photo.  There are waves crashing on the shore.  There is a title that reads Autistic Travel Best Autism-Friendly Destinations in North America

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