Searching for an autism-friendly vacation? Take a trip to Myrtle Beach


Posted: April 15, 2022 | Word Count: 576

For families with children diagnosed with autism or sensory processing sensitivities, traveling doesn't have to be a challenge. Vacation destinations like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, have made it a priority to create a welcoming, inclusive and sensory-friendly experience that families can visit with confidence.

Since January 2016, Myrtle Beach has provided families with additional support and accommodations, making vacation possible and fun regardless of ability. In fact, the Champion Autism Network (CAN) has certified Surfside Beach and the City of Myrtle Beach as autism-friendly travel destinations.

Dozens of local businesses at The Beach — including attractions, hotels, restaurants and the Myrtle Beach International Airport — have come together to offer sensory-friendly experiences, specially trained staff, accessible entrances and travel discounts.

Below are several programs that welcome families and visitors with autism or a sensory processing diagnosis, making Myrtle Beach the ideal autism-friendly destination.

Safety & sensory-friendly programs

Through Project Lifesaver, the Myrtle Beach Welcome Center offers wristbands with a GPS tracker for children who are prone to wandering away, giving families peace of mind when visiting The Beach and other attractions. Through this search and rescue program, Myrtle Beach area police have been trained to quickly and calmly locate the person and return them to their family or caregivers.

The CAN Card is another important program that allows families to easily inform local businesses that they have a child with autism. Trained staff members at attractions, restaurants and hotels are then able to provide the support and specialized service to visitors, without families needing to say a word.

Sensory-friendly restaurants

Dining out can be a stressful experience for people with sensory processing sensitivities. Luckily, there are several participating restaurants at The Beach that strive to make dining a sensory-friendly experience.

Wait staff members are trained to seat guests in a quiet space, expedite meals and checkouts as needed and handle potential sensory-overload situations with understanding and compassion. With your CAN Card, you can also take advantage of special discounts and offers at participating restaurants.

Sensory-friendly experiences

Whether you're visiting Ripley's Aquarium, Huntington Beach State Park, Brookgreen Gardens or the local trampoline parks, you can depend on these attractions to provide sensory-friendly experiences.

Many participating hotels have also created safe and sensory-friendly experiences for children with autism and their families, including room placements, removing potentially dangerous or trigger items from rooms and coordinating unique experiences.

During your visit, check out the sensory-friendly events and program days that are offered throughout The Beach.

Airport quiet room

Before or after your flights at Myrtle Beach International Airport, you can head to the airport's "Quiet Room" in the baggage claim area. This room allows families to decompress, grab a snack and confirm or adjust travel plans in a quiet, sensory-friendly atmosphere.

Before heading to your hotel, stop at the airport's Visitor Center and pick up a free CAN Card.

More sensory-friendly experiences are in the works

Myrtle Beach continues to expand its autism- and sensory-friendly programs and initiatives to make The Beach even more accessible. Visit Myrtle Beach is actively recruiting members to join its new The Beach is for EveryBODY: Sensory-Friendly Advisory Panel.

The panel will focus on sensory-friendly programming and will consist of experts in the autism and sensory fields, as well as those with direct experience with an autism or related diagnosis. Members will help inform, guide and grow Myrtle Beach's sensory-friendly programming this year and into the future.

To learn more about sensory-friendly initiatives and to plan your 2022 trip, check out VisitMyrtleBeach.com.

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