With school out, there is only so much time before kids become bored. With the great weather comes a push to go out and do something fun as a family. Unfortunately, options can be limited for the family of a child with special needs due to constraints like lack of accessibility, financial challenges and more. With those factors in mind, we want to highlight a few fun ideas for your family this summer to get away and have a blast with the great weather.
Summer Trip and Family Fun Ideas
Free National Park Access Pass
The United States government makes available to any individual with a permanent disability a free, lifetime pass to national parks and federal recreational lands. ‘Permanent disability’ is defined as
“permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.”
This definition makes almost all children with special needs a candidate to qualify for the pass. You can request a pass in person by going to one of the locations listed here or by mailing an application.
What’s great about this pass is beyond allowing you to see wonderful parts of the county, it can also get you a discount on additional options like camping, swimming and more. Find out more about parks that are accessible by clicking here.
We have mentioned this unique place before but our recap would not be complete without mentioning it again! A park built around accessibility, Morgan’s Wonderland, located in San Antonio, Texas, is a one-of-a-kind destination for families due to its focus on those with special needs.
This focus is so exceptional that the park draws families from all across the country, even the world, to enjoy a place where everyone can have fun. One family that visited the park moved from California to Texas just so they could be closer and spend more time there as a family:
You can see additional videos about Morgan’s Wonderland by clicking here.
While the park is built to allow fun for anyone, any person with a special need is admitted free of charge. What’s more, the park has been such a success that it is expanding to include water park features in 2017! If you live in the southern states, or are simply looking for a fun destination, you should visit the Morgan’s Wonderland website to find out more about this unique summer option.
Your Local Zoo
By their very layout, most zoos are effectively accommodating to the special needs community. With ramps, wide walkways and large attractions, zoos provide an opportunity of fun for the entire family. Most major zoos are able to go the extra mile to ensure your family is able to feel welcome, including closer parking, accessible restrooms, visual maps of accommodations and more.
Some zoos even have special needs events you might not hear about without reaching out
A helpful note: be sure to check out the website of the zoo before you visit. Doing so can not only reveal unique features you weren’t aware of (for instance, the St. Louis Zoo has a Visual Schedule with children with autism in mind), it can also get you a direct line for special needs accommodations. The Detroit Zoo, for instance, has a long line of special needs assistance options regarding wheelchair rental, assistive listening devices and more – the zoo near you may as well and it could be just a click away. Our hope is that by using the zoo’s website, you can plan ahead and make the most of your day at the zoo!
Get even more information, including tips for before, during and after your visit, by checking out our post on visiting the zoo!
Accessible Attractions Closer to Home
Not every summer activity needs to be a park or rides, though. There are a number of accessible attractions closer to home that can be a great chance for your family to get out of the heat and see some amazing things. Friendship Circle published a list of 32 vacation destinations for those with special needs that features entries from across the country. Other options include Splore in Utah (outdoor activities for those with special needs), options outlined by Special Needs Travel Mom on her fantastic website and hotel chains that have established special training and assistance for those with special needs, destinations like Great Wolf Lodge and more (have a look by clicking here).
Be sure to also check out apps like AXS Map that use crowd-sourced data and reviews to outline accessibility options across the US. This can help in finding new options you never knew possible within your own town. It can also help you support businesses making the extra effort to accommodate with your purchasing power.
Any fantastic destinations we left out? Looking for ways to connect with airlines to ensure your child’s needs are met before you get to the airport? Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling us at (800) 692-4453!