Traveling with a child with autism can be extra challenging—and extra wonderful—whether you are hitting the road for a week, heading across the country or just spending a day at the beach. There is so much to consider: Will it be crowded? Noisy? Hard to get to? 

It’s little wonder Autism Travel reported that 87 percent of parents with an autistic child do not travel. However, the same study revealed that 93 percent would be more likely to travel if the destinations were more accommodating to individuals on the spectrum.

For all these reasons, and more, we have compiled a list of 5 autism-friendly destinations for you. There are many more all the time, a trend we love to see!

5 ASD-Friendly Destinations

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Before you head to Myrtle Beach, head to this website to pick up your CAN Card. CAN is an acronym for Champion Autism Network, which is a nonprofit autism awareness organization founded in 2012 by a mother with a child on the spectrum. The CAN travel card provides special accommodations at hotels, restaurants and attractions. The card lets participating businesses know you are an autism family in a quiet, dignified way. 

If time allows, make the short trek to Savannah’s Playground, an ADA-approved facility with sensory-friendly features.

Hershey Park, Hershey, PA

Does the idea of going to a theme park with your child with autism seem too stressful on every level? You know your child better than anyone. It’s good to know, however, that nearby Hershey Park offers guests a “Ride Accessibility Questionnaire” before they venture too far. Your answers will determine which attractions might be best for your child.

Mesa, Arizona

Did you know that Mesa, Arizona, is among the first cities in the U.S. to be autism-certified? Log onto the city’s website for a directory of autism-friendly hotels, restaurants and attractions. You can also download a mobile passport listing the spots to go if you are traveling with someone with autism. 

Legoland U.S. Resorts

All three Legoland resorts in the U.S. are now Certified Autism Centers. They are among a growing number of theme parks striving to be more accessible to individuals with sensory concerns. These theme parks, located in Winter Haven, Florida, San Diego and Goshen, New York, have provided their staff with special training to ensure everyone can have some fun without getting overly stimulated.

Visalia, California

Located about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is the charming town of Visalia, best known as a gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. It’s not just a natural wonderland, but was also designated California’s first Certified Autism Destination by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). 

And, of course, you don’t have to leave home at all to enjoy a theme park experience. Our very own Sesame Place was the first theme park in the world to be designated as an autism center.

Potential’s Extended School Year (ESY) Program offers a couple of breaks in August to accommodate family vacations without disrupting learning. Click on the link below to learn more.

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