I was compensated for this post by SocialMoms on behalf of Alamo; all opinions are my own.
I’ll admit it, we are theme park people! With 2 kids with learning disabilities who need extensive stimulation, what’s better? When it’s time to get away for the summer, we go where kid activities are at a maximum. Here are our 5 favorite summer getaways:
- Universal Studios, Orlando: I LOVE this park. Last time we were there, we had a A BLAST. Yes, we got gluten free food. Yes, we had meals with characters. Yes, we had early disability access to rides, disability parking and 3D rides. Go to BOTH IOA and Studios and eat at CityWalk. I can’t recommend it ENOUGH.
- Hershey, PA: Yes, I live in PA, so we did this visit about a year ago. A great time was had! First, I recommend you go late summer because some of the hotels have outdoor pools and it’s a bit north of me, so it can be chilly. Totally swimmable, but you have to ease in. Now, chocolate and dairy are off our menu, but back then it wasn’t. If your kids are fans of chocolate, this is a fun place. You can take the tour at Chocolate World and go to the theme park as well. Hershey Park has a ton of rides for preschool aged kids, so it’s a great time for kids who want to ride but aren’t big enough to get on the big coasters. There is also Hershey Gardens, which features an awesome Butterfly Garden, which the kids will love! We’ve stayed at Hershey Lodge and off at the local hotels, but if you stay at the Hershey Hotel or Lodge, you get tickets included with the cost – and free chocolate! Grownups, don’t miss the chocolate martini menu.
- Indoor water park: As I recently blogged, Great Wolf Lodge has an awesome water park but the beauty of it is that it’s all indoors! This was great because during our stay it rained ..and rained and rained. We’ve also been to another park, Coco Beach, in New Jersey. A water park is great for special needs kids, and an indoor one is even better: not only is inclement weather not a problem, but no one has to worry about sunburn! These parks also come with other activities (arcades, and Magiquest at Great Wolf), so your entire vacation is in one place with no travel other than getting there. We love that!
- A day at the aquarium: We’ve been to Tampa Aquarium, Sea World of course, many mini-acquariums in Florida, and we have tickets for Adventure Aquarium for this summer (courtesy of our Coco Beach stay). What kids doesn’t love an aquarium? Many exhibits are indoors, so there’s opportunity to take cool off breaks while you watch the trainers work with and talk about the larger sea animals. I also recommend finding aquariums that support marine life, like recovery aquariums as they are doing good work and do not in any force their animals to perform. Your kids will think they are just having fun as they sharpen their knowledge in marine life!
- A day (or week!) at the beach: Once again, water sports are the way to go with special needs kids. We used to do Clearwater/St. Pete’s in Florida, but we are worried about lasting damage from the spill. Next year, we will be checking out North and South Carolina coastlines and I am looking forward to it! Before last year, Zoe was terrified of sand, but something happened last summer as she looked down at the sand. It was this weird, new, cool substance (like moon sand or something), and we could barely get her to take more than 2 steps onto the beach because she sat down and played with it! Collecting seashells, learning to jump in the waves, building sandcastles, and chasing away seabirds, watching the sun go down over the ocean, followed up by a shrimp dinner…what better way to relax and have fun with your kids this summer? Just don’t forget the sunblock.
So those are my 5 “must do” getaways. We are going back to Disney this year, but I’m looking forward to exploring new parks and coastlines in the Carolinas next summer. As always, if you have special requirements for your children, call ahead and find out amenities, costs (if extra), and options for your family so you can have a great summer!
Originally posted on 5/23/2011.