Let Me Show You How Florida Can Be a Perfect Destination for an Autism-Friendly Vacation
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
Have you been on the fence when it comes to traveling to Florida with your autistic family? Are you in the process of making sure Florida is the best destination for your next family vacation?
Well, I have spent some time in Florida over the years. And each visit has been filled with so many fun adventures for my autistic family. I could spend hours simply telling you how Florida is the perfect destination for an autism-friendly vacation. I would rather show you though. I am going to do that by sharing all the fun activities and attractions your family can experience down in the Sunshine State. By the end of this post, you will be imagining your family’s reactions if they were to do at least a few of the 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 walk you through why Florida can be a perfect destination for an autism-friendly vacation.
Let Me Show You How Florida Can Be a Perfect Destination for an Autism-Friendly Vacation
Florida is a state that experiences warm weather, and sunshine, throughout the year. There are plenty of beaches, which most autistic children love. In this state, you will also find natural parks, sensory-friendly attractions, and scenic waterways.
The best part about all these things is 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
Okay, I am going to start with the city in Florida that is visited the most by all types of families. Orlando is almost always the city of choice for vacations in Florida. This is due to it being the location of Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World.
All these theme parks provide assistance to those families who have 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. It can be picked up at guest relations. An autistic person with this pass 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 Sea World is customized for every individual’s needs. Other sensory-friendly options at Sea World include the underwater viewing areas for the orcas and dolphins. The Wild Arctic Habitat is also sensory-friendly and quiet.
Other amazing attractions for autistic families in Orlando include WonderWorks, LEGOLAND, Central Florida Zoo, and 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 get started with planning a thrilling vacation in Orlando for your autistic family.
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 even possible at both 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 days each month.
Tampa Bay is one of the cities in Florida that has an attraction that was 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 when they are having a sensory-friendly session.
It is all about the animals at 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 staff at this museum has been trained, so they know how to address the needs of autistic families appropriately. The website offers a support story you can use before your visit. And if you need extra support, I recommend visiting when they turn the entire museum into a sensory-friendly experience once a month.
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 members, love 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 in the future, and everyone will be able to explore this museum once 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 are waiting for 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 go paddling. 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, go on a boat ride, or check out the visitor centers.
And if your kids are only interested in water, then Sam’s Surf City will be your number one priority while on vacation in Pensacola. Seven pools, twelve slides, and two kiddie pools will keep everyone busy. Although, you may prefer to spend all your time on the seven hundred fifty-foot lazy river.
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.
Nature is everywhere in the North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area. This natural area is one hour to the north of Fort Lauderdale. It is part of the Greenways and Trails System in the state. One of the trails is designated as autism friendly. Once you have hiked the trail, you can wander along the boardwalk or hang out on the fishing pier.
The Anne Kolb Nature Center and the Flamingo Gardens are two other options for those times you want to be outside 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, as well as 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. It is the largest butterfly park in the world. More than twenty thousand butterflies can be seen flying around inside.
Miami might be known as a party city, but it is also very autism friendly. Whether you decide to take your autistic family to Zoo Miami, the Miami Children’s Museum, or the Miami Seaquarium, you will have an amazing 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 a little 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.
There are many other destinations within Florida that are autism friendly. But these destinations will get you thinking of how an incredible autism-friendly vacation is possible in this state. So, start imagining 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 get to 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.