California Family Attractions for Visitors With Special Needs

From giants like Disneyland to little gems like the Santa Barbara Zoo, many attractions in California proactively accommodate guests with visible and invisible disabilities.

From giants like Disneyland to little gems like the Santa Barbara Zoo, many attractions in California proactively accommodate guests with visible and invisible disabilities.

Most theme parks provide online guides that note alternative foods, entrances for the disabled and quiet spaces. They give a heads up of the specific sensory stimuli guests will find on each ride or attraction. Many zoos and museums offer simple guides as well as special hours or days of the month for children with cognitive or sensory limitations. 

The following locations offer extra support for young guests with autism and special needs:

East Bay

Oakland Museum of California: museumca.org/visit/accessibility

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Concord: sixflags.com/hurricaneharborconcord/plan-your-visit/accessibility

San Francisco and the Peninsula

California Academy of Science: calacademy.org/accessibility

CuriOdyssey: curiodyssey.org/visit/accessibility-and-inclusion/

Exploratorium: exploratorium.edu/visit/accessibility

Walt Disney Family Museum: waltdisney.org/visit/visitor-information/accessibilityy.org/visit/visitor-information/accessibility

Silicon Valley

Children’s Discovery Museum: cdm.org/visit/plan-your-visit/access-and-inclusion/

Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo: paloaltozoo.org/Visit/Accessibility

The Tech Interactive: thetech.org/visit/accessibility

Santa Cruz and areas to the south offer comprehensive tourist guides.

Santa Cruz County: scaccessguide.com

Santa Barbara County: santabarbaraca.com/itinerary/activities-for-kids-with-disabilities

Los Angeles County: latourist.com/index.php?page=access-guide

San Diego County:.sandiego.org/plan/visitors-information-services/accessible-traveling/attractions.aspx

Statewide: visitcalifornia.com/experience/great-california-attractions-special-needs-families/

Nationwide: autismtravel.com/travel-directory/?search_keyword&directory_category

Cities

The cities of Concord and Visalia cater to travelers with autism and special needs at tourist attractions as well as at hotels and on public transport.

Concord:

General disabled visitor information: visitconcordca.com/accessible-concord

Visitors with sensory disorders: visitconcordca.com/accessible-concord/accessible-concord

To register for Practice Stay: visitconcordca.com/things-to-do/accessible-concord-1/accessible-concord-practice-stay

Air Travel

JSX Airlines is holding a practice boarding this fall for children with autism and their families at Oakland International Airport. Register to get an invitation once the date is set.

Go to https://autismchecked.com/autism-flies/ and scroll down to Oakland.

Help for air passengers with disabilities is available from the following:

Oakland International Airport: ifly.com/airports/metropolitan-oakland-international-airport/medical-handicapped-disabilities

San Francisco International Airport: flysfo.com/passengers/services-amenities/accessibility/travel-planning-resources

San Jose Mineta International Airport: flysanjose.com/accessible-services

Transportation Security Administration: tsa.gov/travel/tsa-cares

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