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Best Special Needs Family Vacation Spots in 2018

Does the winter weather have you feeling down? Are you tired of dealing with the snow and bitterly cold temperatures? If you are ready to get away for a few days or longer, here are some of the best special needs family vacation spots in 2018!

The Skydeck at Willis Tower  – Chicago, Illinois

You may know Willis Tower by its once long-time moniker, the Sears Tower, in Chicago. Not long ago, Willis Tower added a clear Skydeck from which visitors can get an unforgettable view of the city and Lake Michigan. The large Skydeck is ideal for accommodating wheelchairs or children who simply need larger areas to feel comfortable. While you are in the city visiting Willis Tower, you can also take in some of the incredible museums Chicago has to offer. They are all handicapped accessible and have fantastic displays all visitors will love.

Kings Island Amusement Park – Cincinnati, Ohio

If your family’s idea of a fun vacation is taking in an amusement park, then you need to head to Kings Island in Cincinnati. Not only does this amusement park have rides and attractions the entire family will love, it has won awards for its awesome children’s area that many people consider to be the best in the country. But, they do not stop there. The powers-that-be at Kings Island know that many families need accommodations for special needs kids, and it delivers in this area as well.

The National Sports Center for the Disabled – Winter Park, Colorado

Sports have a way of bringing people together. Whether you are a fan or a participant, sports provide a means of bonding with others. This incredible sports center in Winter Park takes this concept and applies it to people with special needs. The center provides adapted sports activities and recreation programs for people of all ages and abilities. So, it is the perfect place to bring your special needs and able-bodied family members where everyone can have an awesome time.

Autism on the Seas

Traveling with a child who has autism brings many of its own special challenges. But, this cruise that is specifically designed for people with autism is the perfect solution. The ship is staffed with people who are trained to work with autistic people. There are several activities on the ship to help autistic kids with cognitive and educational development. The ship also provides socialization opportunities in a sensory-friendly environment. Parents are not a forgotten entity on this cruise. There are also plenty of opportunities for you to get a well-needed break as well.

Morgan’s Wonderland – San Antonio, Texas

Morgan’s Wonderland is widely known as the world’s first “ultra-accessible family fun park”. It boasts more than 30 traditional, adaptive and wheelchair-friendly swings as well as an area known as The Sensory Village and a music garden. Of course, what amusement park would be complete without a train ride? This amusement park has also recently added a new fully-accessible water park for special needs kids to enjoy as well. To top it off, all visitors with special needs are admitted to the park at no charge.

Disney Resorts

Disney resorts and amusement parks are a favorite destination for many people. All of the parks and resorts are also great places to go if you have a child with special needs in your family. Disney prides itself on accommodating all guests with special needs. Their staff will provide special accommodations for guests who have cognitive, visual, hearing and mobility issues. They are also able to accommodate those who are sensitive to light or are in wheelchairs.

Shared Adventures – Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz is a fantastic location in general. The weather is always beautiful and it has a great boardwalk area on its beachfront. Another great aspect of Santa Cruz is Shared Adventures, a non-profit organization that caters to people with special needs. If you plan your vacation for July, you can join in their annual Day on the Beach, which includes assisted kayaking, canoe rides, SCUBA diving and flotation for people of all ages and abilities. There is also excellent wheelchair access on the beach as well as special beach-friendly wheelchairs. This awesome day winds down with live music and free food. It is an experience everyone in your family will remember for a long time.

Splore – Moab, Utah

If your family loves adventure, then you need to head out to Splore for your next vacation. Splore is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to providing outdoor activities at affordable prices to people with special needs. Splore partners with Red Cliffs Lodge to provide experiences such as river trips, rock climbing, and hiking. For those who are a bit more adventurous, you can also go four-wheeling, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The rooms at the resort are all wheelchair-accessible. Also, although the meals at Splore are traditional “cowboy fare”, the kitchen staff is always willing to rustle up any kind of grub your picky eater wants.

Smugglers’ Notch – Jeffersonville, Vermont

Vermont is generally known for its skiing opportunities. But, Smugglers’ Notch offers a superb summertime family experience. Not only does it offer both indoor and outdoor activities that the entire family can participate in, but it also runs the Smugglers’ Notch Adaptive Program (SNAP). This program includes nine adaptive activities such as swimming, wall climbing, hiking, and kayaking. They also offer an inclusion program that helps kids with special needs to integrate into group activities. Plus, you do not need to wait until the summer to visit Smugglers’ Notch. The resort offers season-specific activities all year long. So, if you prefer skiing to swimming, they have you covered.

Mont Tremblant – Montreal, Quebec

If your family loves to ski, then you need to head north of the border to Mont Tremblant in Montreal. Not only can all of the able-bodied members of your family hit the slopes, but your special needs kids can as well. The ski resort has many staff members who are trained to work with special needs children and even offer private ski lessons for them. Plus, there is so much more than skiing at Mont Tremblant. You can also go snowmobiling, take a sleigh ride, go ice fishing or try your hand at ice fishing. For the wheelchair-bound, there is also sit-skiing and sledding.


It’s Time To Have Fun

These offerings are but a few of the many opportunities in North America that cater to the needs of special needs individuals. So, if you are ready for a vacation, pick the one that sounds best to you and head on out there. If you have any other suggestions for some special needs friendly resorts or places. Please feel free to comment below letting us know of any ones we may have missed! 

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