Explore a Variety of Sensory Friendly Vacation Destinations This Summer

Are you in search of some sensory friendly summer vacation destinations? Consider planning a trip to the Discovery Park of America in Union City. They have a 50-acre heritage park with beautiful paths and gardens to explore.

“The Japanese Garden is particularly serene, but the American Garden is also quite peaceful. The Chapel Lawn and the European Garden each have a fountain that adds the soothing sound of water,” said Discovery Park of America Education Director Polly Brasher. Also, “any of the Settlement buildings have low lighting and minimal sounds.”

If some of the main exhibits are too stimulating, Discovery Park can make arrangements for a family to enter the park without going through the main building. Also, “we do have a First Aid Station that doubles as a cool-down room for anyone in need of that,” Brasher said.

Kudos to Discovery Park for their willingness to provide special accommodations for families based on their specific sensory needs!                

Discovery Park is one of a growing list of businesses taking extra steps to make their services more accessible to people with Autism and other cognitive disorders. These efforts represent the increasing awareness and global support of neurodiversity inclusion. According to the Exceptional Individuals website, “neurodiversity is the idea that neurological variations are known and valued as any other human variation.”

In addition to that, families can visit the Autism Travel website to locate travel professionals who have completed extensive training and hold a Certified Travel Autism designation to better assist families who need help in planning sensory friendly vacations

For more sensory friendly vacation ideas, you can also request a free digital copy of the 2021 Autism Adventure Guide by visiting the Autism Travel website. This digital magazine and guide features destinations that have created more accessible activities for people with Autism and other cognitive disorders. If you don’t see one of your favorite destinations listed, you can submit your recommendation along with their business name and let them know that you would love to see them become a certified Autism center. Remember to also like and follow the STAR Center Facebook page and social media pages to learn more about our sensory friendly programs and summer camps.

Photos courtesy of the Discovery Park of America

About the Author : Wendy Mercer

NOTE: This person is a past employee or intern of the STAR Center. Their name and authorship is preserved for posterity. Wendy Mercer joined the STAR Center team in 2017. She is a job placement specialist and coordinator of the STAR Center Business Advisory Group. Wendy earned her master's degree in teaching from the University of Memphis. She received her bachelor's degree in print journalism from Clark Atlanta University. Wendy is a former special education teacher and freelance writer. Wendy is active with several community organizations. She currently serves as vice president of the Jackson Old Hickory Rotary Club.

  1. Susan Townsend June 9, 2021 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN also offers a calming room for any guest experiencing sensory overload. When planning your family vacation, you may call 1-800-Dollywood and talk to a team member about the services they provide. Once on site at Dollywood, please visit the Ride Accessibility Center and a team member can answer any questions you may have related to your park visit for the day.
    Another wonderful family vacation option is Beaches Resorts. Beaches offers Autism friendly kids camps, engaging activities with Autism training certified staff members along with custom dining options so all families can enjoy a memorable family vacation together.

    • Wendy Mercer June 9, 2021 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Great! Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Susan!

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