Taking the Catalina Eco Friendly Jeep Tour with Kids

Catalina Island sits off the coast of California, lying within LA County. It was originally settled by the Pimuvit, who called the island Pimu. It has a history of trading ownership between Spain, Mexico, and the United States as well as for its use in illegal trades and activities such as smuggling. William Wrigley Jr turned the island into a tourist destination in the 1920s, and it was later taken over by the Catalina Island Conservancy in the 1970s.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour sky

We’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for over two decades and somehow never made it out to Catalina. Finally this year we went on a day trip with Catalina Express. We got to check out the main attractions on Avalon including Falconry, the Casino, and the Glass Bottom Boat. The second time around we decided to explore the island with the Catalina Island’s Eco Jeep Tour.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour boats

What You See

Catalina Island is most noted for its impressive ecosystem, a mixture of gifts from its various inhabitants over history. The Pimuvit people brought foxes to the island, the Spaniards brought mountain goats, the Wrigley family brought deer, and a movie producer in 1924 brought bison. Naturally, many who visit Catalina want to see this interesting wildlife and plant life.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour ship

We stopped in Catalina during our Carnival cruise. The ship itself doesn’t dock, as it is too large for the harbor, so we went to the island via tenders. We wanted to explore the island’s natural, wild areas. We also wanted to see the spectacular views from the hilltops and observe bison, foxes, and oversized squirrels up close. Therefore, we booked the conservatory’s Eco Jeep Tour.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour restaurant

The two to three-hour tour takes guests through the most remote, natural parts of Catalina Island as a guide discusses fascinating island history. We were dropped off in the same place that the Catalina Express boats dock. From here, our family walked to the offices on Clarissa Street, which took roughly ten minutes. Since we got there early, we stopped by the Lobster Trap Restaurant to sample their delicious lobster roll.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour food

The Jeep Tour starts promptly at 12:30. We were seated with four other passengers in an open jeep with a top cover. At the time, the LA area had just experienced a month of rain. The grounds were covered in lush green which the guide explained would last until the end of May.

Taking the Catalina Eco Friendly Jeep Tour with Kids catalina eco tour pin

 

The tour itself consisted of a leisurely drive up a semi paved road to the local airport, nicknamed Airport in the Sky. Here, visitors can stop for a quick bit at the local DC-3 Restaurant.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour map

Our Takeaway

We loved the beautiful scenery but unfortunately didn’t see much wildlife.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour fox

All we saw was a lone bison in a field and an old fox begging for table scraps outside DC-3. However, this might be due to the fact we took the shorter tour with a condensed route.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour harbor

The jeep ride itself wasn’t too bumpy, especially for us sitting in the middle seat. The narrator was also engaging. However, it was relatively cold and two hours proved a bit too long for our son with autism.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour hills

Overall the trip was entertaining and a decent value for those interested in geology and ecology.

 

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour bison

Price

The two-hour tour is seventy dollars, while the three-hour tour is one hundred and nine dollars.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour sand

Autism Travel Tips:

  • We recommend this trip for older kids only. Kids under six years of age are not allowed on the tour.
  • They do offer blankets in the jeep, but these blankets are fuzzy which might cause problems for those sensitive to certain textures.
  • Parents should bring blankets, jackets, hats, and ear muffs for their kids as it does get chilly, especially during winter.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour mirror

  • They offer the tour no matter what weather conditions. Parents should check the weather report before booking to avoid prices.
  • The restrooms at Lobster Trap and DC3 were both incredibly clean.
  • At the Airport in the Sky, kids can have fun watching small plans land and take off on the short runway.
  • Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour airpot
  • The Jeep Tour is offered in a three hour and two-hour version. The three-hour version is best to take for those who want to see a lot of wildlife up close. However, for those who might get antsy, the two-hour version would work best.
  • The tour runs on an unpredictable bumpy road. Those who might have problems with this fact should probably not book the tour.
  • Everyone on tour needs to be able to walk independently.Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour homes

City Sightseeing with San Francisco’s Hop On Hop Off Bus

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus PIN

Many movies set in San Francisco will show a Hop On Hop Off bus at some point – a brightly colored, usually red bus where riders can sit on top and take pictures of famous attractions while listening to a tour guide.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus heartThese buses run through Downtown  San Francisco, showing passengers areas like Union Square and the SOMA district. Travelers can hop off these buses to explore the city and hop back on when they’re ready to go, listening to the City by the Bay trivia from a local guide. Particularly for families with autism, the Hop On Hop Off bus is an excellent option to see the local sites.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus bay

What you will See

The two level buses have a closed area on the bottom and an open area on the top. The top allows for a beautiful view of the city, while passengers can return to the lower part during rainy or windy weather conditions. The seats are comfortable, and riders are allowed to bring food and drinks on board. We’ve listed a few distinct stopping places here.
City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus bus

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a touristy area with restaurants and souvenir stores. Kids will love seeing the sea lions basking in the sun on a specially built platform. History buffs can take a cruise to visit Alcatraz Island. Kids who like arcade games can head to Musee Mechanique for old fashioned games that cost a quarter each. Travelers craving dessert should head to Ghiradelli for an ice cream sundae and watch the staff make cones while waiting in line.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus wharf

Golden Gate Bridge

Some people like to get off the bus and cross the Golden Gate Bridge by foot. It can be an exciting experience for anyone visiting the city for the first time. However, it is typically cold and windy, and fog frequently covers the area.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus bridge

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park, slightly larger than New York’s Central Park, was built in the 1860s on the barren sand and rocks then known as “The Outside.” While enjoying the sights, visitors can also explore the California Academy of Science, a renowned museum. Travelers looking for dramatic views can visit the Palace of Fine Arts. Finally, kids will love the Exploratorium, a hands-on museum for exploring art and science.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus park

Haight-Asbury District

The Haight-Asbury District is an excellent place for walking around and experiencing the spirit of 1960s San Francisco. It is also the best place to get second-hand clothing and unique souvenirs.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus hippy

Chinatown

San Francisco is home to the largest and oldest Chinatown outside of Asia. This Chinatown is the perfect place to experience authentic Chinese eateries and buy bargain priced memorabilia. Visitors should stop and check out the entrance gate with the impressive lamp posts.
City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus view

Unless anyone in the traveling group is interested in getting off to explore specific places, travelers can certainly stay on the bus for many of the sites. We recommend staying on the bus for the Painted Ladies, Victorian Homes, City Hall, Market St, Cable Car Turnaround, Union Square, and Transamerica Pyramid. The guide will explain the history of these places in intricate detail, making staying on the bus worthwhile.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus china town

Time and Cost

Hop On Hop Off buses run daily from nine AM to five PM every half hour. The entire loop can take around two hours, longer if there are any stops.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus cable

Tickets are valid for twenty-four hours from first use. Meeting PointTickets must be exchanged before boarding at 1331 Columbus St. Visitors may board or leave the bus from any of the stops. Potential travelers can buy tickets on the spot, and there’s no need to pre-book.
City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus guide

Our Takeaway

Our son wasn’t feeling well the day we went, so he didn’t want to get off at any stops except for Pier 39 and the Ghiradelli chocolate factory. He happily sat in the comfort of the bus listening to the stories and jokes of our entertaining guide.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus ghiardelli

The Hop On Hop Off bus is an excellent way to get a sense of an otherwise difficult to navigate hill filled city. The service is convenient and relatively inexpensive, especially in a bundle offer.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus museum

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Those with kids who are temperature sensitive should sit in the closed area while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, as it is usually cold and windy.Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando:Tmom Travel Disclosure
  • Most buses don’t have a bathroom on board. Therefore, parents may need to get off to use the public facilities.
  • Parents shouldn’t wait to return on the last bus if they are pressed for time or across town since they may miss it.
  • Parents can bring noise canceling headphones for kids who are noise sensitive.
  • There are microclimates in San Francisco, so parents should bring jackets with hoods as it may get cold even on a sunny day.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus church

 

 

 

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood’s Universal Studios

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios pin

Photo credit K Casey

Many young people grew up with J KRowlings’ Harry Potter, and the next generation is quickly getting to know this fantastical world of magic and wizardry. The main series spans seven books, eight movies, and a recently welcomed prequel titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Hence it was only a matter of time until theme parks based on this world would be created. After its successful launch in Orlando, Universal  Studios finally created a Harry Potter World in its Hollywood Park.

 

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios door

Photo credit K Casey

History

The Wizarding World was first built in Universal Orlando in the summer of 2010. Due to its popularity, Universal developed a version of the park in Universal Hollywood in the summer of 2016. Since, Universal Hollywood has access to much less land than Orlando, the park section in Hollywood more compact but still, includes all Orlando park highlights.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios gate

Photo credit K Casey

What You Will See

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios smoke

Photo credit K Casey

When we first got there, we got to pay at an automated kiosk since we purchased our tickets by credit card. Unfortunately, the kiosk malfunctioned and didn’t print us our tickets. Luckily, we were directed to the service area where the customer service agents not only gave us our tickets but handed us two front of the line passes as compensation for our time.

Hogsmeade

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios bannister

Photo credit K Casey

We made a beeline for the Harry Potter World as soon as we got in the park. Guests enter this section of the park through a stone gate. The first thing we saw was a recreation of Hogsmeade, the small shopping town where Hogwarts students go to have fun. This area was an almost perfect recreation of the one seen in the movies, complete with off-kilter chimneys and magical window dressings. Needless to mention, the rooftops were covered in fake snow, which looked perfect during our Christmas visit.

The Three Broomsticks

We headed to The Three Broomsticks restaurant first. As we had arrived near lunch time, we did encounter a bit of a line. The other half of our party arrived before us, and apparently, people are not allowed to save seats inside, so we sat separately.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios pictures

Photo credit K Casey

Appropriate for Christmas, the Three Broomsticks offered a Holiday Feast. The Holiday Feast included  Turkey, Beef Wellington along with various vegetables, delicious stuffing and cranberry sauce.The portions were large and could easily feed a family of four, maybe more. WE were told that during the rest of the year, diners can still try the Great Feast, which includes chicken, spare ribs, corn, roasted potatoes, and salad.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios food

Photo credit K Casey

Along with the holiday platter, we also tried the Spare Ribs and the Fish and Chips. The Three Broomsticks venue offers many different British-based food items, such as Bangers and Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, and Beef Lamb and Guinness Stew.
For breakfast, patrons can try Eggy Bread, a traditional English Breakfast, an American Breakfast or a Continental Breakfast. They do have a children’s menu which offers smaller versions of most of the adult meals.

Butterbeer

While at The Three Broomsticks, we, of course, had to have our first taste of butterbeer!
Butterbeer is a signature drink of the Harry Potter franchise that fans all over the world wish to sample. Butterbeer in the park came in three types-frozen, regular, and hot.
We tried the regular in a specialty mug. It tasted much like a cream soda mixed with butterscotch and was delicious yet incredibly sugary. The Three Broomsticks also serves a Butterbeer Potted Cream, and adults can enjoy Butterbeer with a shot of whiskey.

 butterbee rExploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios

Photo credit K Casey

Buying a Wand

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios owls

Photo credit K Casey

After dining at The Three Broomsticks, the Harry Potter area got exceptionally crowded, so we decided to check out the rest of Universal until the crowds died down. After going on the Studio Tour and checking out the Simpsons area, we returned to the Harry Potter area to buy ourselves a wand at Ollivander’s.

Just like at the Orlando Park, Ollivander’s does offer a wand choosing event. However, we only recommend this for the patrons willing to wait in long lines for the chance to be chosen for the ceremony. Word of warning-only one child is selected per event. Those wishing to skip the ceremony can just go straight into Ollivander’s shop and just buy a wand directly.

Ollivander’s turned out to be a small shop. The staff at the door limit those coming in and out, but even then we still moved through crowds. The store stocks all the wands in long boxes on shelves. One one side of the room featured all the “celebrity” wands, aka wands based off those owned by the characters. On the other end of the room we saw wands sorted by “wood type,” and along this side, patrons could read little descriptions of the various wand woods, how they looked, and how they matched up to distinct personalities.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios car

Photo credit K Casey

Interactive Wands

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios cage

Photo credit K Casey

One of the most interesting aspects of Harry Potter world is getting an interactive wand. These are a little more pricey but well worth it for its ‘magic ‘ capabilities. We bought one of these interactive wands, which came with a map to show us where we could use them. One of the first places we went was to a decorative flower in the window of a shop. By standing on a point and waving the wand in a particular pattern, we got the flower to bloom. There’s plenty of other places where one can cast spells throughout the park to various effects.

Something that I noticed was that I sometimes had difficulty making the wand work. We figured out it was because I am left-handed, and therefore making the wand movements with my left hand, with my arm likely blocking whatever mechanism the item uses to communicate with the scenery.

Honeydukes/Zonko’s

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios sweets

Photo credit K Casey

We wandered around for awhile casting spells in various places before going into Honeydukes.
In the Harry Potter books, Honeydukes is a sweet shop that sells all sorts of magical candies. We bought a chocolate frog, which came in a box that looked exactly like the ones in the movies.
We also purchased a bottle of pumpkin juice. The store had stacks of Bertie Bots Every Flavor Beans on sale, specialty jelly beans that come in interesting (and disgusting) flavors. Other items we found interesting were chocolate wands and cauldron cake pastries. The shop was very crowded and filled with merchandise, so it was sometimes difficult to move around.

Honeydukes in Universal is in the same building as Zonko’s Joke Shop (Universal Orlando has Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes instead.)In the Zonko’s area, guests can buy all sorts of nonfood merchandise, such as old fashion joke and prank items, many of which have some magical theme.

 pygmy Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios

Photo credit K Casey

Flight of the Hippogriff/Frog Choir

We decided to go ahead and check out Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride now that we could wait in a reasonable line. On our way, we passed Flight of the Hippogriff, a more traditional roller coaster suitable for younger kids. We also saw the stage on which the Hogwarts Frog Choir was performing, and we stopped to watch. Four Hogwarts students sang magic themed acapella songs accompanied by the croaking frogs they held aloft on pillows. Those who observe the show for awhile can see the students interact as they sing, part of which includes three of the students getting terrified in various ways by the fourth Slytherin student.

The Castle

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios SIGN

Photo credit K Casey

They don’t allow guests to take bags or even their wands on the ride, but they do provide lockers at the ride’s entrance. It was crowded, so it took us some time to find a free locker, but once we did it was a breeze to store our items. Guests get the first two hours free for lockers.

 

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios flag

Photo credit K Casey

The line itself is worth walking through, and we highly recommend it even for those who don’t want to go on the final ride, since there are plenty of exit doors along the way. We first walked through a greenhouse area which was calming and got to see Mandrakes in pots.
Once we got inside the castle, we saw lots of moving paintings which communicated with each other. In one room, they had portraits of the four Hogwarts founders which all bickered with each other as we passed. In a nearby classroom, a screen replicated Harry, Ron, and Hermione appearing above us from under their Invisibility Cloak to talk to guests. There were lots of interesting little details that any Potter fan will enjoy.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

To get on the ride itself, guests walk on a moving platform similar to Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Overhead bars straps guests in the seats, but visitors should be prepared that their feet will be dangling in the air.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios CART

Photo credit K Casey

This version of the ride is different from the Orlando version in that the 3D elements were excluded to alleviate headaches and motion sickness for riders. However, the ride itself can still cause plenty of motion sickness. Riders move through simulated environments, partially on a 360 view screen, occasionally through constructed environments with animatronics. Though no one is entirely upside down or moving down or up at fast speeds the seats do tilt back and forth to simulate movement.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios DISPLAY

Photo credit K Casey

Filch’s Emporium

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios FROG

Photo credit K Casey

Once we got off, we walked right into Filch’s Emporium, another merchandise shop. There’s plenty of items here for guests to show off their house in mugs and plates as well as cute stuffed animal toys and puppets. We got a plush Fawkes the Phoenix as a gift.There are plenty of other great shops throughout the park, such as the Owl Post. These stores sell items like house robes, perfect badges, and other great things to get for oneself or as a gift.

Ending the Day

We decided to end our day at the Three Broomsticks again. Most people had cleared out, so we could freely walk in and sit wherever we wanted. We decided to get the warm butterbeer this time. After trying it, we think they use a different recipe for each type of Butterbeer, as it tasted distinct. Either way, it was still delicious and the perfect way to end our time at Harry Potter World.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios MUGS

Photo credit K Casey

Location, Cost, and Hours

Universal Studios is located at 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608.
Prices vary depending on the season and day, but typically sit at around $105 for adults, with discounts for kids. We highly recommend ordering tickets online for the best discounts.
Universal is usually open from nine AM to ten PM.

Exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hollywood's Universal Studios STATUE

Photo credit K Casey

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Guests need to empty their pockets of all metal items and go through a metal detector. If the metal detector beeps, a staff member wands the guest before they can continue walking.
  • We went right after Christmas, a particularly busy time for Universal. However, there are still crowds in this small part of the park. The shops are also smaller and filled with lots of merchandise, making for tight spaces. We recommend going to the park either early in the day or the evening.
  • Universal’s Front of the Line pass doesn’t work on any of the attractions in Harry Potter World.
  • Those visiting should stop at Guest Relations before entering the park. Universal Studios offers a special assistance card similar to the one in Disneyland. Parents just have to have staff scan the card at the ride to receive a return time to avoid lines.
  • At The Three Broomsticks, as guests walk through the line they can see a display of most dishes the restaurant offers. This display is an excellent way for parents and kids to look at the food and see portion sizes and what looks appetizing.
  • The Three Broomsticks does not allow patrons to save seats during busy times. However, those who get to the front of the line before the rest of their party can wait to the side.
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey features some “4D” effects like heat and water sprays.
  • Those who want to cast spells with their interactive wands should know that the spells only work for one person at a time. Guests might sometimes have to stand in small lines to try out spells. The spells are also sometimes fickle, which can be frustrating, especially if there’s a line forming behind the spell caster.
  • The main bathroom in this part of the park is right next to The Three Broomsticks. Parents should be aware, however, that in the bathrooms a voiceover of the ghost “Moaning Myrtle” speaks to guests. This fact can be frightening for some kids – it was certainly a little unsettling for some of our adult party members.

Fourteen Tips for Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World

Fourteen Tips for Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World pin

Disney World with its five parks is vast, and there’s so much to experience. No parent wants to deal with a meltdown on vacation, let alone at Disney World where admission tickets are so pricey. In reality, chances are the intense activities of theme parks might kids with autism into sensory overload. To help parents mitigate such an occurrence here are our tips.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World plant

Plan a Longer Vacation

Parents of kids with autism may find that visiting the parks over the course of a few days is much less stressful for everybody. Though it might sound less budget friendly, there are plenty of great deals on multiple Disney tickets as well as lodgings. At a minimum, parents should try to allocate one separate day for each park.

Rest Well

For the lodgings, even those on a budget should try to get their kids a good night’s sleep. Parents could pay extra for a rollaway or, if possible, getting the kids their own room. Sleeping in beds with siblings or parents can get in the way of an optimal night’s sleep. If kids are more rested in the morning, they’ll be more able to handle their emotions at the park.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World castle

Take Frequent Breaks

Plan snack and lunch break times during the day. Parents of younger kids or those not used to spending the entire day at a theme park should schedule more frequent breaks and see how it goes.

Stay on Property

If at all possible, parents should find lodgings on the property for easy access to the park. For parents looking for a cheaper alternative to the Disney pricey hotels, the Wyndham has a property near Disney Springs that is affordable and still gives its guests access to the complimentary Disney transportation.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World red

Avoid Crowded Areas

Parents should avoid crowded areas, like the parade thoroughfare during the shows.In fact, they should skip the shows since they tend to be crowded anyway and try to go on typically full rides during that time since they’re mostly empty. Moreover, families should also eat meals on off hours, meaning before or after traditional lunch or dinner times.

Limit Shopping

Limiting the shopping adds to time spent enjoying the park itself and reduces arguments with kids. Parents should tell their child before entering the park that they are going to shop at the end of the day for a set time or online as an alternative.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World alice

Plan Outdoor/Indoor Rides

Parents need to know that the weather in Orlando is usually warm and humid no matter the month. Though Disney accommodates autism on many of their rides, there are often still waits. These waits can be challenging for kids who are temperature intolerant.

Parents should do the indoor rides in the middle of the day, then try to do the outdoor rides in the early morning or late evening when the temperature cools down and the crowds are gone.

Stay Hydrated

This advice applies to all parents traveling with kids but is of particular importance in a theme park situation where there’s a lot of walking involved.So, parents should either purchase several beverages for their kids during the day or bring refillable water bottles to fill up at water fountains in the parks.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World sky

Avoid Sugary Snacks

Most theme parks, especially Disney, have sugary snacks available for purchase literally at every corner of the parks. Pumping kids on sugary snacks and driving them into a sugar rush is seldom a good idea. Parents should discuss ahead of time with their kids what snacks they are allowed to have every day to avoid disappointments and meltdowns later.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

If kids get wet or sweaty, they might react adversely. It is a good idea for parents to make them as comfortable as possible. Since staying in a theme park for ten hours in a stretch is enough of a challenge for most kids,  parents should bring a change of clothes for emergencies.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World dumbo

Bring Headphones or Earplugs

Some noise sensitive kids will react to sounds and noises in the park. These sounds can include screaming, shots, or explosions from fireworks. It is, therefore, important to bring headphones or earplugs for these situations. It is important to note that some rides will not allow kids to wear headphones while riding for safety reasons.

Don’t Use Park Hoppers

It is better, especially for younger children, to spend the entire day in one park. Also, using the Disney Transportation from park to park can add a layer of stress for some kids due to the waiting time and buses that might be crowded.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World car

Get a Stroller

Renting a stroller for younger children or those who can’t walk much is best for families. Visiting the Walt Disney World parks involves a lot of walking, and no parent wants to argue with children or try to force them into anything. So, even for older kids, a stroller may be a good place to relax if they get tired or cranky.

Keep your group small

Going in a large group to a theme park can be overwhelming, and the needs of a child with autism might be overlooked. Kids with autism might want to explore at a certain pace or adhere to specific mealtimes. The best ratio is two adults per kid so the adults can alternate taking care and helping accommodate their needs.

Fourteen Tips For Preventing Sensory Meltdowns at Disney World teacups

Clothing Tips for Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World

Clothing Tips for Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World pin

Unknown to many, clothing choices can be quite important for a theme park visit. For those who deal with sensory issues, clothing can make a day visit unpleasant and lead to meltdowns. Here are our tips for making good clothing choices for Walt Disney World.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World train

Shoes

Visiting Walt Disney World involves a lot of walking throughout the four large parks. Even groups who set themselves to one park a day can expect a lot of walking. Also, the parks have areas with water attractions, and Florida often has lots of afternoon showers. As a result, the ground frequently gets slippery, which can be dangerous for kids running around.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World walt

Non-slip shoes, like crocs, are essential. Parents can use fabric on/off shoes for the best results. Everyone in the family should avoid flip-flops, heels, or wedges. They should especially avoid leather or suede shoes, as they can get ruined by rain and shrink.

Pants

Choice of pants is of particular importance for those who want to go on the water attractions. Thick denim pants will not dry out easily, leaving kids with wet denim sticking to their legs for the duration of the trip.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World water

The best option is pants made of thin, lightweight material that quickly dries. Parents can find pants like these in most travel and camping stores. Alternatively, parents can bring a change of clothes for their kids.

Colors

Bring colors that stick out in a crowd is best, especially for little kids. Parks get crowded, and kids can easily slip away. In this situation, he or she would be easier to find if they’re wearing, for example, a bright orange jacket.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World car

Ponchos

As we mentioned before, at Walt Disney World it frequently rains in the afternoon. Ponchos are the best option for people who don’t want to have to stay indoors for the two to four hours these afternoon rains last.

Long ponchos are best, and parents can either bring them from home or buy them from the parks. We like buying them from the parks because they double as an excellent souvenir for kids to get from Disney. We suggest not buying expensive ponchos since ponchos are an item that one can easily lose. Also, if someone forgets their poncho in a bag, these expensive ponchos can develop mildew.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World clock

For the most budget friendly option, parents can buy a one time use poncho from the dollar store.

Jacket

Easy to dry, thin jackets are best for theme parks. The jacket should preferably have a hood that it easy to take off. The jacket should also zip, not button.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World rest

While it may seem like a good option, parents shouldn’t take heavy coats. The kids are not going to be wearing them the entire time, and nobody wants to walk around with a jacket all day for miles.

Pockets

Clothes with multiple pockets are always helpful. Parents and kids can either wear cargo pants or a jacket with many pockets. There’s a lot of knick knacks that parents will want to store, such as phones, wires, wallets, and small water bottles.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World red

Expensive or favorite items

Parents and kids should not bring expensive clothing or items into the parks for many reasons. These items can get snagged on rides, lost, or stained by food items. Jackets can especially get easily lost or misplaced between attractions.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World gaston

Bags

While tempting, parents shouldn’t bring large bags into the park. Many of the rides will not allow riders to carry large bags. And dragging these bags through the park gets tiring quickly.

Instead, parents should either wear clothing with lots of pockets or wear a fanny pack for small items.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World butterfly

Tight fitting

Mini skirts and tight pants might be fashionable, but they’re not optimal theme park attire. Being confined in tight clothes for an entire day can be challenging to many.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World building

Loose fitting cotton clothes that breath are best for these environments. Dressing in layers is also crucial since the temperature can be highly variable throughout the day.

Costumes

Although the idea of letting the little one walk around in a princess dress might seem fun, having kids dress up in costumes is not the best idea.

Clothing Tips When Taking Kids with Autism to Disney World sign

The costumes are often pricey and can easily get ruined in a theme park environment. In some cases, the costumes are long, such as with princess dresses or capes, and can get caught in ride mechanisms or doors.

After reading our tips it is your turn to chime in! What are your clothing tips when visiting the theme parks?

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum

 

 

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum pin

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles is a museum of modern art that all members of the family can enjoy. When we first heard of the museum, we thought it would not be the best destination for little kids since it wasn’t interactive. However, after visiting, we highly recommend it for all ages.
It seemed like every room was filled with whimsical elements that will fascinate visitors of all ages.

And as a trailblazer in its field, the Broad also has a fun smartphone app. This app features audio guides with talks from the artists and a kid-friendly guide narrated by LeVar Burton. Visitors can also look on the app’s map for specific pieces of art or nearby bathrooms as well as plan their next trip.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum america

What You Will See

The escalator into the building carries passengers through an impressive tunnel. One of the first things we saw when we got to the top was a see through glass elevator from the ground to the second floor. While most elevators have the wires on top, this elevator had the wires on the bottom. Our son said it looked like it was straight out of the Willy Wonka movie.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum tulip

The third floor displaying the art is built in a circular fashion, meaning guests will start and end at the same place no matter what direction they walk.

A huge theme of many of the exhibits here is that viewers have to take a second look. For example, one of the first sculptures guests see is a giant “balloon” sculpture. If one walks around the sculpture, they will see these “balloons” are giant metallic tulips.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum color

On the wall in the entrance, room is a huge eighty-two-foot long painting, called In the Land of the Dead Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow by Takashi Murakami. This picture covers two walls and has lots of interesting details put together.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum curve

The museum features plenty of abstract and political paintings. Several of the featured paintings are highly abstract, made up of only colored shapes. Some of the displays are collections of items that have no meaning individually, but in a group setting creates art.

Some areas show more political art, such as one art piece made up of several provocative essays displayed on the walls in different colors. Parents should be aware that a few of the art pieces are more macabre and adult, like Kara Walker’s African’t.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum art

The building itself features lots of spacious rooms which let in natural light through a series of giant “honeycomb” windows. These windows ensure the rooms get a lot of light without actually reflecting directly into the chamber.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum stairs

Kids will love the giant balloon animal in the Jeff Koons room. This entire place is lively and colorful, featuring such interesting art pieces as a metallic train set and Michael Jackson with his pet monkey Bubbles.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum room

Another great art piece for kids is Robert Therrien’s Under the Table, a giant table with several large chairs that guests can walk under.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum pink

Fans of the artist can visit the Andy Warhol Area with his depictions of Elvis and Jackie O. There’s also a Roy Liechtenstein area with several pieces, including Full Fishbowl.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum warhol

Finally, when we went, we got to enjoy Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room temporary exhibit. This area is a fully mirrored room lit with several LED lights. It feels like walking in space among hundreds of stars. They only allow one person in for a minute at a time for safety reasons and since it was so popular..

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum stars

Location, Hours, and Cost

Visitors can find The Broad 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Admission to The Broad is free. However, those wanting to see the Infinity Mirrored Room need to make a free separate same-day reservation after arriving at the museum.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum dog

Visitors can park either in the garage under the museum for $12 for three hours or at the California Plaza Garage for $8 with validation from the museum.

The Broad is closed on Mondays. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the museum is open from 11 AM to 5 PM. Thursdays and Fridays, the museum is open from 11 AM to 8 PM. On Saturdays, the museum is open from 10 Am to 8 PM. And on Sundays, the museum is open from 10 AM to 6 PM. The Broad Museum is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum chair

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should talk to kids about not touching the art since many of the pieces are inviting to feel.
  • Visitors can always ask a volunteer to explain various pieces to them. The museum is well staffed with dozens of volunteers.
  • We recommend making a reservation to avoid a wait.
  • The museum has lots of areas to sit and observe pieces or take a selfie.
  • Some of the art in his museum is more adult oriented. Some of the pieces also display frightening images. Therefore, parents of younger kids should keep this in mind while exploring.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus pin

With 250,000 inhabitants calling the place home at the height of its popularity, Ephesus in Turkey was once a prominent city in its own right. The town was also the epicenter of the cult of Cybele which later produced one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. Ephesus was additionally a seaport and a prominent trading stop, but the ruins are now located several miles inland.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus sea

Time and the forces of nature have clearly worked their combined powers on this destination and, as a result, it has taken over one and a half centuries to bring this once thriving place back to life. Archeologists have currently uncovered less than 20% of the city. However, there is plenty to see here for traveling families who love history.
Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus ruins

 

What You Will See

Library and Terrace House

Impressive restoration efforts have taken place at the library, once home to a vast collection of documents, and Terrace House, which houses some beautiful mosaics. Travelers should also keep an eye out for one of the oldest advertisements still in existence and what passed in those days for upscale bathroom facilities. Another point of interest is the town’s theater. It dates back to 200 B.C. and until recently bands used it as a venue for large rock concerts. Nowadays, only smaller acts can use the facility in keeping with the ongoing preservation efforts at the site.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus entrance

 

Seven Sleepers

Travelers might find interest in the plight of the legendary seven sleepers imprisoned in the nearby hills. According to legend, as a result of their beliefs, the local emperor forced these individuals to leave town. Unfortunately, the emperor also decided to imprison them in the cave they now called home. The only reason they didn’t notice their imprisonment is because their nap lasted almost two hundred years. Upon waking, they found their entire town had become Christian. The sleepers died shortly after this revelation. The cave on the slopes of Mont Pion where they supposedly slept remains a tourist attraction to this day.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus rest

 

Mount Nightingale

The house where the Virgin Mary possibly spent her final years sit on Mount Nightingale (a.k.a. Mount Koressos). A Catholic nun rediscovered this site in the nineteenth century, claiming she saw the place in a vision. While the Catholic Church has issued no official verdict on the matter, several Popes have visited the site, and the ruins do date back to the time of Christ. Even travelers who aren’t religious frequently mention in Trip Advisor reviews that they found the place “peaceful.”

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus candles

 

The building itself is comprised of a small chapel area and a room off to the side where the lady is believed to have slept. Of course, the ground’s well-kept gardens contain a well whose holy waters are said to have miraculous healing powers. It stands to reason that those who choose to have a drink do so at their risk. This site nonetheless makes an excellent stop for travelers heading back to Selçuk after a day’s sightseeing at Ephesus.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus mary

 

Location, Hours, and Admission

From May to October, Ephesus is open between the hours of eight am and seven-thirty pm. The rest of the year the ruins shut down at five pm. New guests are admitted until an hour before the site closes, so there is plenty of time to get here.
Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus mosaicAdmission prices are currently thirty Turkish liras for adults and twenty for students. Of course, the best place to stay for those who plan on seeing the ruins is the nearby town of Selçuk.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus home

Ephesus sits in Turkey’s Central Aegean region. Although taxis to the site can be arranged for about fifteen Turkish liras, it is still much cheaper to use the minibusses available for about four lire per person during the busier portions of the year.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus pottyThese conveyances leave from Selçuk every fifteen minutes. Travelers who bring their vehicles should also know that parking at the site costs approximately eight lire.

Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus table

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Ephesus is home to many vendors selling food and drink. However, these services are expensive when compared to what is available nearby. Travelers should instead bring beverages and snacks.
  • It is a good idea to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes so that everyone can walk around the city with ease.
  • There is little shade on the site. Therefore, parents may want to take along items that will protect them from the sun’s rays. We recommend broad-brimmed hats, parasols, and high-powered sunscreen. Parents can also arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat.
  • Visitors to Ephesus may want to hire a guide to avoid missing out on anything.
  • Ramps to the house on Mount Nightengale are provided for disabled guests. However, anyone who attempts to get up the mountain in a wheelchair will probably need assistance from another member of their party.Taking Kids with Autism to Visit Ephesus statue

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey

 

 

taking-the-family-to-istanbul pin-turkey

As a city that has sat at the crossroads of Western and Eastern civilization for centuries, Istanbul has a lot to offer visitors. The sprawling metropolis now exists in both Asia and Europe on either side of the Bosphorus Strait. Of course, the city once known as Constantinople used to be at the forefront of Christianity until the Ottoman Turks conquered it and subsequently converted the inhabitants to Islam. However, travelers of all faiths are welcome these days.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey fresco

Grand Bazaar

An incredibly popular spot with visitors to the city, this undercover market, started in the mid-1400s. Today, it is one of the world’s oldest still operating markets. The Grand Bazaar took three hundred years’ worth of work to complete.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey sky

The marketplace remains in much the same shape today as it was in those days. The narrow lanes still form a labyrinth that houses a wide variety of merchandise. Shoppers can easily spend hours or even days perusing the goods. Bargaining over tea is still the fashion here, though it has gone out of practice in other places.

The Grand Bazaar is open between eight-thirty am and seven pm on a daily basis except for Sundays and on holidays. Travelers arriving via public transportation should get off at the Vezneciler metro station or the Beyazıt-Kapalı Çarşı tram station.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey cat

Turkish Baths

There are five historic Turkish Baths or hamams in the city of Istanbul as well as numerous modern equivalents. The traditional baths include a fifteen-minute scrub administered by a staff member of the same gender as the one bathing. This experience costs around eighty Turkish Lire in public bath houses but will cost a bit more at local hotels. Of course, guests should bring some cash to tip the attendants upon departing the premises.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey blue

Men can often get away with wearing nothing but the towel hamam visitors are given as long as they avoid flashing anyone during their trip. Ladies should leave on their swimsuit bottoms for the entire process but be aware that going topless is typically considered acceptable behavior. In some hamams, it is deemed acceptable to bare more and in others covering up is encouraged.

Topkapi Palace

Once the Ottoman Turks took over the city, this is where they made their home for the next four centuries. Eventually, the rulers moved out, but the site functioned as an auxiliary unit with the royal mint, the library, and the Treasury remaining present in the building for some time after that. The palace is now a museum and a UNESCO site.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey ceiling

Although the palace has hundreds of rooms, only a few important ones are currently accessible to visitors. As is the case with many former royal residences, a lot of history took place here, and there is subsequently much to see. Some but not all of the gems from the royal treasury are on display in the public areas of the palace. Other treasures found here include the sword and cloak said to have belonged to the prophet Muhammad.

To visit both the palace and the harem area is thirty-six Turkish Lire for those over the age of twelve. Admission is free for children. The museum is open from nine am to six pm from the middle of April to October. It closes two hours earlier than the times above between the months of November and mid-April.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey interior

Hagia Sofia

Although the present structure dates to 532 AD, earlier churches had been built on the same spot. The current building started off as a Byzantium church in and continued as such for a little over a thousand years. After the conquest of the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the Ottomans turned it into a mosque. Hagia Sofia became a museum in the 1930s and remains so to this day.

The former religious house is known for its ancient mosaics and other works of art that date back centuries. Travelers should plan to spend several hours taking in everything this place has to offer, but they should also keep in mind that that the museum can be crowded at times.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey castle

Buying online tickets is a good way to avoid the lines upon entry. Admission is free for children and 30 lire for those over the age of twelve. The site is open from nine am to four pm from October to the middle of April. From then until September, the building remains open until six pm.

Blue Mosque 

Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, this religious edifice was constructed between the years 1609 and 1616. While many of the opulent decorations from earlier years have since been removed, the building retains a great deal of its original charm.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey building

It is also still used as a fully functioning mosque. Therefore, women that want to view the site will be required to cover their heads with a scarf to obtain entry. Travelers of all faiths and genders should also keep their arms and shoulders covered as well. Cover-ups and veils are provided for those that have arrived without them, but anyone that is worried about the cleanliness of these garments may want to bring clothes to wear instead.

There is no admission charge for visiting the mosque, but the site often gets crowded, and travelers will want to plan accordingly.

Taking the Family to Istanbul Turkey floor

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The most difficult part of planning a trip to Istanbul is finding a time when the weather is pleasant. The city is known to fluctuate between temperature extremes. The months of September, October, May, and June are considered the best time to visit.
  • Travelers will want to bring along warm clothing and an umbrella any time they visit.
  • Those making their way to the city should double check the weather reports and adjust their packing lists accordingly.
  • Those at the Turkish baths who find the prospect of being bathed by someone else alarming can always scrub themselves. This choice will also save around 25 lire per trip.
  • The events and attractions that have lines offer no accommodations for autism.
  • The food in Istanbul might be spicy, which can be a problem for kids with food sensetivities.
  • The Topkapi Palace features a lot of walking areas. Parents should make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes.
  • The Topkapi Palace can get crowded. Parents should try to arrive at times when it isn’t as busy, usually early in the morning or late in the day.
  • At the Blue Mosque, parents should make sure kids stay quiet out of respect.
  • Most of the areas in Istanbul are not interactive. Parents should make sure kids know what they can or cannot touch.
  • Topkapi Palace is vast, so parents might just want to see the highlights.
  • Haggling is a way of life in Istanbul, so parents should check prices before buying anything.

Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism

Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism pin

 


Hello Margalit,

My name is Dondria, and I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana.
We are traveling to Madrid, Spain next month and my husband, and I were trying to decide on something. Our twin fourteen-year-old sons have autism. We have taken them places and done road-trips, and they have flown before, and we survived.
Now for this trip, they are older, and we think they will be able to cope even better. We were wondering whether we should take them to a Flamenco show or not since everybody that I spoke to seems to recommend it. Have you been to Spain? Did you go to a Flamenco show? I know so little about that country and the shows so I was hoping you could give me some tips and pointers.

Thanks in advance,

Dondria

Dear Dondria,

I’m so excited for you.
There is so much to see and do in Spain so be sure to read our posts. With the increase in the interest and popularity of Flamenco recently, there has been a new awakening to this art and dance form. About five years ago, it was declared to be one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. In fact, there are dance academies dedicated to teaching Flamenco all over the world.

Because of this, I have to agree with your friends. If you are going to be in Spain, you should try to go to a Flamenco show. It is authentic and a real cultural experience at the place where it all began.
I will share what I know and one of my personal experiences so it will be easier for you to make an informed decision regarding taking your sons along.

 

Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism man

Booking and Length of Time

As you can imagine, Flamenco shows are very popular with tourists visiting Spain – in particular for the first time.
Flamenco shows typically happen during the evenings and can last anywhere between two to four hours depending on if they include a dinner. The best show need to be booked ahead otherwise you will struggle to get in, especially during the holiday season.
I’m glad you mentioned the age of your boys since shows like that are not necessarily recommended for children younger than the age of 10.

Specific Autism Concerns

With that said, though, taking children with autism to shows, may prove quite challenging. Scheduling can prove to be difficult since no parent can know for sure how their child is going to feel on that day.

Given the nature of the performance, the show can be quite loud. You should consider this if one or both of your sons has any sensitivity to noise.

The shows can be quite pricey anywhere between 50 to 100 euros. You don’t want to unnecessarily waste that money by not attending as planned or by leaving because your children are overwhelmed by the sensory experience.

Another issue is the fact that many of the most up-scale venues require a dress code. This fact can be a difficulty with a person who has sensory problems and might not be comfortable wearing button-down shirts or even a jacket.

One of the shows we attended was four hours long.! The venue had very few food choices coupled with uncomfortable seating close to the dancers. The room itself was also somewhat crowded and dark. The tables were placed close together forcing people to sit close to one another. It was almost impossible to move or get up to take a break.

Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism ladies

Recommendations

Here are my recommendations for if you DO  decide to take your children.

Explain to them in advance what Flamenco is all about. You could show them a few clips on YouTube so that they can get an idea of what to expect.

Get a table that is not too close to the stage so that the experience is not as intense. Also, if you do have to leave early, it is easier and less disruptive to move.

Plan to go to one of the shorter shows. If they can sit through a movie, they will be able to sit through a shorter Flamenco performance.

Have a meal before attending the show. This way, the kids won’t get hungry or deal with food that they don’t want to or can’t eat.

I hope you have a wonderful time of making memories and that this will be the first of many good experiences for your boys.

Margalit

 

 

 

 

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids pin

Philadelphia was the heart of the American Revolution, the location where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. There is so much to this city for traveling families to experience, even aside from its historical value. Here are our best destinations in Philadelphia for families with autism.

Philadelphia Zoo

This zoo is most known as America’s first zoo ever, located in the Centennial District of Philly. The zoo opened on July 1, 1874, with 1,000 animals. The city of Philadelphia takes pride in their zoo for being one of the premier zoos in the world for breeding animals that are difficult to breed in captivity. With forty-two acres, home to more than 1,300 animals, the Philadelphia Zoo welcomes visitors to explore and learn about endangered animals and how we can help them.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids cow

This zoo features a total of fifteen permanent exhibitions. One of these is the much loved First Niagra Big Cat Falls. Here, guests can walk through a naturalistic habitat and come face to face with endangered big cats around the world like Snow Leopards, pumas, lions, and jaguars. Visitors can also experience the Treetop Trails which is the first component to the zoo’s zoo360 animal exploration system. The Treetop Trails is a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails that allows animals to leave their traditional enclosures and explore more of the campus.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids item

Franklin Square

Parents looking for something fun for the kids to do outdoors should head to the Franklin Square. William Penn planned Franklin Square along with five other open-spaced parks when he laid out the city in 1682. Also, this location is called Franklin Square to honor the founding father, Benjamin Franklin. In the beginning, the square was used as an open common use for grazing animals, storing gunpowder during American Revolution and drilling soldiers during the War of 1812. Local legend also states that this square is where Benjamin Franklin performed his famous “kite and key” experiment in 1752. While there, guests can take a ride on the Liberty Carousel, play a round of mini golf, visit the Franklin Square Fountain or run around at one of the two playgrounds.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids building

Independence National Historical Park

At Independence National Historical Park, visitors can see the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and the Ben Franklin Museum. The park comprises much of the Philadelphia’s most-visited historic district. Visitors can also stop at the Liberty 360 3D show. The show is located in the PECO Theater inside the Historic Philadelphia Center. The screen is 360 degrees and stands fifty feet in diameter and eight feet high. The show is about fifteen minutes and uses the most modern technology to tell a story led by Ben Franklin about our nation’s symbols of freedom from the bald eagle to the Statue of Liberty.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids street

Betsy Ross House

Travelers who have the chance should go on over to the Betsy Ross House. At this house, visitors get to see where the seamstress lived and sewed the first American Flag. Guests can tour the house and learn about Betsy and her life or meet her themselves in her upholstery shop. There, visitors can ask “Betsy Ross” in person about her life and work as well as learn firsthand how to use the upholstery tools she used herself.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids interior

Rodin Museum

This art museum features the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works. It was originally founded by Jules Mastbaum, who started collecting Rodin’s works in 1923. While Mastbaum didn’t live to see the museum’s opening, it opened in 1929. Here, travelers can see Rodin’s most famous work, The Thinker, sitting in the entry courtyard. Other works such as The Kiss, The Age of Bronze, and Eternal Springtime can be found here.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids rodin

The Franklin Institute

This museum, named after Benjamin Franklin, is one of the oldest centers of science education in the United States, having been founded in 1824. Here, visitors can see many of the interesting permanent exhibits. These include Electricity, showcasing Franklin’s discovery of electricity and how it is used today, The Giant Heart, a replica heart built in 1954, and The Train Factory with a real, moving Baldwin 60000 steam locomotive. The Franklin Institute sits at the intersection of 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids tree

Please Touch Museum 

One of the best museums in Philadelphia for kids has to be the Please Touch Museum. The Please Touch Museum has been opened since 1976. It was the first museum in the nation that intentionally targeted families with children seven and younger. The mission of the foundation is to “enrich the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play” as stated on their website. The museum is famous for being an area where children can freely play and touch whatever they like. Meaningful interactive play-based experiences encourage imaginative thinking.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids inside

Autism Travel Tips:

  • In 2013 the zoo opened the KidZooU for the special needs communities. KidZooU includes Braille, sign language and a picture exchange system for children on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, on selected days the zoo has autism awareness days so parents should check the zoo website for the dates.
  • The Please Touch Museum is a highly interactive museum that kids will love.The museum offers a quiet Space for children and families who need a  break , Quiet Kits containing items and special events for families with autism.
  • Kids on the spectrum interested in science will enjoy the Franklin Institute particularly on Sundays when the venue offers their sensory friendly Sundays.
  • Franklin Square Na Independence Park are great outdoor places to take kids to burn off some energy.

 

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids

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