5 Sensory-friendly places to visit - Total Education Solutions

5 Sensory-friendly places to visit

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When it comes to summer vacation, many parents need help keeping their kids occupied, entertained, and structured. Finding a balance between letting them enjoy their 3-month break while ensuring they don’t completely spend it on the couch is sometimes easier said than done. If your child has sensory processing differences, such as autism, finding activities they will enjoy may seem even more daunting. Luckily, there are plenty of options. We’ve compiled a list of fulfilling activities to try with your kid this summer.

Sensory-friendly activities: Greater Los Angeles

The Children’s Museum at La Habra 

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, The Children’s Museum at La Habra offers a new program for children with autism and sensory processing differences. Every Tuesday morning, the museum hosts “Sensory Friendly Tuesdays.” Guests are welcome to enjoy the museum in a setting with lower volume and dim lights. The museum also offers a calming area with sensory toys for guests to enjoy. Since admission is limited to prevent an overcrowded, overstimulating environment, reservations are required, and admission can be purchased for $7 for all guests over two years old.

301 S. Euclid St.

La Habra, CA 90631


Sensory-friendly activities: San Diego

The Fleet Science Center

Every third Saturday of every month, the Fleet Science Center offers early access to its galleries from 9 –10 a.m. Adults and families with children with autism are welcome to enjoy the Fleet’s exhibit galleries in a quieter environment an hour before regular hours are open to the general public. Access to a cool-off space is also available.

1875 El Prado

San Diego, CA 92101


Sensory-friendly activities: Northern California

California Academy of Sciences

While The California Academy of Sciences doesn’t specifically host any sensory-friendly events, it has made a concerted effort to create an experience better suited for guests with special needs. They have provided a list of tips and resources on their website that ensure a better experience for guests with sensory processing differences. For example, they offer in-and-out privileges so visitors can take a break between exhibits and get some fresh air. They also offer sensory kits—including backpacks, earmuffs, and fidget toys—to guests who require extra sensory support during their visit.

Golden Gate Park

55 Music Concourse Dr,

San Francisco, CA 94118 415-379-8000

Sensory-friendly activities: Ohio

Center of Science and Industry    

If you are in or planning on visiting the Columbus area, be sure to check out the Center of Science and Industry (COSI). They are committed to providing sensory-friendly experiences to their guests with special needs. Their website states, “Inclusion is very important to COSI. Recently, COSI has been working with experts from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Autism Society Central Ohio, and other community focus groups to develop video tutorials that will allow our guests affected by Autism or other sensory sensitivity the opportunity to see exhibits and learn more about COSI before visiting.”

COSI offers Sensory Bags free of charge to kids and adults with sensory needs to improve their COSI experience. These bags include tools that help better support processing and coping skills, including noise-canceling headphones, visual schedules, fidgets, and bubbles. 

They also offer a “Calming Room” to better accommodate guests who may be overstimulated. If your child needs some time away from the COSI environment, feel free to pause, relax, and regroup in this dedicated space for guests with Autism or other sensory processing differences.

333 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Sensory-friendly activities: Michigan

DNR Outdoor Adventure Center

If you are in the Detroit area, the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) offers Sensory-Friendly Days to anyone with sensory processing differences. The center features sensory-friendly building hours where guests can explore and experience the OAC in a lower-volume setting. During this dedicated time, both building and ambient sounds are lowered, and there is even a quiet room with sensory materials available for guests. Even better, the staff at the OAC are all certified and trained to ensure these sensory-friendly experiences are inclusive and fun for anybody with sensory differences.  

1801 Atwater Street
Detroit, MI 48207

Summer should be enjoyed by people with all abilities and we encourage you to get out there and explore!


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