6 Favorite Day Trips for Special Needs Families in Boston

As a mom of a special needs kid, I know how stressful, difficult, and frustrating it can be to plan a family trip. Here are some awesome places to go with the family that accommodates all types of special needs.

Boston Children’s Museum

Photo courtesy Boston Children’s Museum.

Boston Children’s Museum has a program called Morningstar access. The museum opens a couple hours early or stays open late to give access to special needs families. They only allow 100 families access per event in order to keep crowds smaller, and you must contact the museum to reserve your spot. The Children’s Museum also offers ASL-interpreted programs and assistive listening devices for all performances in the KidStage Theater and in other exhibits when possible.

Canobie Lake Park (Salem, New Hampshire)

Photo courtesy Canobie Lake Park.

This old-school amusement park is just the right size. If you go to guest services and get a wristband, your special needs child can take advantage of the accessibility entrance and cut down on the lines. Your child may take up to three other companions through the accessibility entrance as well. I have also heard the park allows children to wear their headphone on certain rides if they have sensory issues.

Story Land (Glen, New Hampshire) and Santa’s Village (Jefferson, New Hampshire)

Photo courtesy Story Land.

These are both definitely more for overnight trips, but they’re well worth it. Both Story Land and Santa’s Village have accommodations for special needs individuals. You simply go to guest services with your child, and a staff member will give you a card (and will write what your child is wearing so the card cannot be transferred). You can use this card to access rides through the exit instead of the entrance, so you avoid the lines.

AMC Movie Theaters

Too hot to be outside? AMC movie theaters provide sensory-friendly films on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Lights are left on, and volume is turned down so as to not overwhelm your kids. Check your local theater for showtimes.

Sesame Place (Langhorne, Pennsylvania) 

Me and my kid at Sesame Place.

Need a real getaway? Sesame Place is our favorite. It’s about a five-hour drive, and we usually make a few stops on our way down to Pennsylvania. We like to leave the park at night so the kids sleep in the car on the way home. This place has been recognized as the first amusement park to be a certified Autism Center. At guest services, you can get a wristband to cut the lines on rides (both dry and water rides), and they will never kick you out of the lazy river if you have a wristband on. They provide quiet rooms, noise-canceling headphones, and staff trained to recognize and help special needs families. It’s a wonderful experience and maybe the perfect three-day trip for your family.

Leah is a Massachusetts native who grew up in the MetroWest area. She met her husband in 2006 and they bonded over all things Boston. After moving to North Carolina for 4 years, they realized they had to move back to New England. (love that dirty water!) In 2011 they welcomed a son into their family. Then 2014, 1 week before having their daughter, their son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The last but not least little guy came in 2017. With three kids and special needs in their life, they rely on an amazing support system of friends and family. Leah is a stay at home mom, who is also growing a small business, and enjoying the independence and freedom it has given her. Loves: Great food (mostly made by her talented husband), playing with the kids, the beach, date nights, The Pats, The Sox, The B’s, new socks and bras, and American history, and movies. Can’t stand: Cotton balls, weeds, broken crayons, pollen, and vacuuming up Cheerios every half hour.