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Let Me Show You How Florida Can Be a Perfect Destination for an Autism-Friendly Vacation

Updated: Mar 9


There is a sunset beach with a title that reads Autism Friendly Travel Let me show you how Florida can be a perfect destination for an autism-friendly vacation. Traveling with an autistic child can be challenging.  There are so many things you must keep in mind.

Have you been considering traveling to Florida with your autistic family? Are you evaluating whether Florida is the best destination for your next family vacation?


Well, I have spent some time in Florida over the years. Each visit has been filled with many fun adventures for my autistic family. I could spend hours telling you how Florida is the perfect destination for an autism-friendly vacation. I would instead show you, though. I will share all the fun activities and attractions your family can experience in the Sunshine State. By the end of this post, you will imagine your family’s reactions if they were to do at least a few things I will be sharing with you. And your imagination may run away from you to the point where you will be more than ready to reach out and ask me to plan your next vacation for your family!


Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. First, let me explain why Florida is a perfect destination for an autism-friendly vacation.


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Let Me Show You How Florida Can Be a Perfect Destination for an Autism-Friendly Vacation

A photo of a sunset pier in Miami.  There are the tall buildings of Miami and boats all in the bay.

Florida experiences warm weather and sunshine throughout the year. There are plenty of beaches, which most autistic children love. This state also has natural parks, sensory-friendly attractions, and scenic waterways.


The best part is that your family will not be confined to one city within the entire state. Instead, you can choose between multiple cities and towns when planning an autism-friendly vacation in Florida.


Best Destinations to Visit in Florida

Orlando


The last in Orlando.  There tall buildings all around the lake with a water feature.

Okay, I will start with the city in Florida that is most visited by all types of families. Orlando is almost always the city of choice for vacations in Florida. This is due to its location of Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World.


All these theme parks assist families with autism and other disabilities. Disney World has a Disability Access Service Card, which can be picked up at guest services upon entering the park. This card ensures autistic guests do not need to wait as long to get onto a ride. Disney also offers break areas and companion restrooms.


Universal Studios offers the Attraction Assistance Pass, which can be picked up at guest relations. With this pass, an autistic person will not need to wait in long lines to ride any attraction. Instead, they can enter an alternative line or return at a specific time.


The Ride Accessibility Program at SeaWorld is customized for every individual’s needs. Other sensory-friendly options at SeaWorld include underwater viewing areas for the orcas and dolphins. The Wild Arctic Habitat is also sensory-friendly and quiet.


Other notable attractions for autistic families in Orlando include WonderWorks, LEGOLAND, Central Florida Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Aquatica, and Gatorland. I can help you find other autism-friendly activities outside the theme parks for your Orlando vacation. Click here to start planning a thrilling vacation in Orlando for your autistic family.


Destin

An aeriel photo of Crab Island in Destin.  There are boats everywhere with some floating bars.

Destin is much smaller than Orlando. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have any fun when you take the time to visit! There are so many outdoor adventures you can enjoy with your autistic family. Animal lovers will want to spend time at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Gulf Breeze Zoo, and the Alaqua Animal Refuge.


Getting the wiggles out is easy when you spend time at the rock-climbing gym or taking scuba diving lessons. Lots of running is possible at the Niceville Children’s Park and Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park.


Interactive activities are everywhere as your family learns about science at the Emerald Coast Science Center. And if you want to see a movie in the theater, AMC offers sensory-friendly movies on certain monthly days.


Tampa Bay


A photo of the pink, blue, purple and violet sky of Tampa with car lights and palm trees.

Tampa Bay is a city in Florida, and it has an attraction designed for autistic children. We Rock the Spectrum Tampa is a gym that offers sensory-friendly spaces. It is an all-inclusive environment your entire family will love.


Another option for getting out extra energy is visiting Sky Zone Trampoline Park during a sensory-friendly session.


The Florida Aquarium and ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Although, your kids may prefer checking out the extinct dinosaurs at Dinosaur World. The tactile exhibits, dinosaur-themed playground, and boardwalks will all provide hours of entertainment. Plus, you can take numerous breaks throughout the day to avoid overstimulation.


One of the more popular autism-friendly attractions in Tampa Bay is the Great Explorations Children’s Museum. The museum's staff has been trained to address the needs of autistic families appropriately. The website offers a support story you can use before your visit. If you need extra support, I recommend visiting once a month when they turn the entire museum into a sensory-friendly experience.


Pensacola


A pier in Pensacola at sunset the sky has puffy clouds, gentle waves and pink and blues in the sky.

There are autism-friendly museums scattered all over Florida. However, one of the favorites is the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. If your autistic child or any other family member loves airplanes, you must put this museum on your list of things to do in Pensacola. Everyone can sit inside a cockpit, wander through exhibits filled with memorabilia, and play on the Kitty Hawk playground.


Please note: Currently, only Department of Defense ID cardholders are allowed to access this museum. Hopefully, the current guidelines will change, and everyone will be able to explore this museum again.


Lots of airplane adventures can be found over at the National Flight Academy. This academy offers a STEM camp. The camp program can be adjusted to meet your autistic child’s needs.


Plenty of outdoor adventures await your autistic family when you vacation in Pensacola. There are quite a few parks and beaches. Each one will allow you to take nature hikes, swim, or paddle. A few of the parks offer playgrounds equipped for special needs children.


One of the best outdoor areas in Pensacola is the Gulf Islands National Seashore. These barrier islands are tranquil. Your family can relax on the beach, boat ride, or visit the visitor centers.


And if your kids are only interested in water, Sam’s Surf City will be your top priority while on Pensacola vacation. Seven pools, twelve slides, and two kiddie pools will keep everyone busy. However, you may prefer to spend all your time on the seven-hundred-fifty-foot lazy river.


Jacksonville


A sunset with pink, orange, purple, yellow and blues in the sky.  There are people on the beach.

Jacksonville is another Florida city that has We Rock the Spectrum. They also have another sensory-friendly gym called Sensory Towne. If your autistic child isn’t feeling those two gyms one day, you can also check out H2OM Float. It is a float therapy business. Your autistic child can float in approximately ten inches of water in a pool. The pool is filled with one thousand pounds of salt, which is what helps everyone float effortlessly.


Wandering through the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will get you outside. The Museum of Science and History is perfect for those rare rainy days. And the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens offers a little indoor and outdoor adventure.


Fort Lauderdale


A beach photo with orange sand and a lifeguard station.

Nature is everywhere in the North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area, one hour north of Fort Lauderdale. It is part of the state's Greenways and Trails System. One of the trails is designated as autism-friendly. Once you have hiked the trail, you can wander the boardwalk or hang out on the fishing pier.


The Anne Kolb Nature Center and the Flamingo Gardens are two other options for outdoor activities during a Florida vacation. A new twist on outdoor adventures is the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi. This water taxi will take your autistic family out on the water to see the million-dollar homes and the local beaches.


Interactive activities are available at the Young Art Museum and the Museum of Discovery and Science. Butterfly lovers will want to visit Butterfly World, the largest butterfly park in the world. More than twenty thousand butterflies can be seen flying around inside.


Miami


An aerial photo of the landscape of Miami.  There are budlings for miles and a long stretch of beach.

Miami might be known as a party city but is also very autism friendly. Whether you take your autistic family to Zoo Miami, the Miami Children’s Museum, or the Miami Seaquarium, you will have a fantastic time.


Time outdoors must be spent at A.D. Barnes Park with its Sense of Wonder Nature Center and Trail. Boat rides on Biscayne Bay or through the Everglades add excitement to any vacation in Miami.


And if swimming at a nearby beach isn’t enough, you can head down to Island Dolphin Care to take advantage of their dolphin therapy programs.


Many other destinations within Florida are autism friendly. But these destinations will get you thinking of how an incredible autism-friendly vacation is possible in this state. So, imagine how visiting a museum, aquarium, or other attraction will make your entire family feel. Then imagine how thrilled your autistic child will be when they step out of their comfort zone a little and enjoy doing something new. I firmly believe travel is for everyone, and I can help show you how your autistic family can fall in love with traveling the world. Let’s connect today, so I can start planning your next autism-friendly vacation in Florida tomorrow. I guarantee you won’t regret visiting an area that is so accepting and helpful to those on the autism spectrum.



A sunset photo with purples, blues, oranges and yellows.  There are a dock with yachts docked.  There are the tall buildings of Miami in the background.  There is a title that reads Autism-Friendly Florida.

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