SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara Zoo collaborated with other statewide attractions to create an Autism-Friendly California Road Trip for the summer.
Appearing in the annual 2022 Visit California Road Trips Guide, the trip features attractions that are Certified Autism Centers across California.
Along the road is the Santa Barbara Zoo, which became the first zoo on the West Coast designated as a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards.
"The Santa Barbara Zoo is a place where everyone and all families should be able to visit and explore with ease," said JJ McLeod, the Zoo's Director of Education. "We strive to create spaces where guests, staff, and volunteers have access to safe and inclusive experiences."
Sensory backpacks are available to rent at the Santa Barbara Zoo, and there are designated quiet zones in the zoo's map outlines as well according to SB Zoo spokesperson Jennifer Zacharias.
In addition, Zacharias said that a sensory-sensitive pathway is available when entering the zoo, which offers a more calm alternative to the main courtyard.
For more information on accessibility at the zoo, click here.
"We’re honored to partner with such incredible attractions across the state to ensure that California is a place for everyone to feel supported during their adventures," said McLeod.
The Autism-Friendly California Road Trip showcases a sensory-sensitive itinerary of six family-friendly stops across the state.
Zacharias said the six curated destinations include the Santa Barbara Zoo and other stops such as:
- Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord: Open seasonally, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Concord is Northern California’s biggest and most thrilling waterpark. This 30-acre family destination features more than 22 world-class water attractions, with everything from the 100-foot tall vertical drop slide, Break Point Plunge, to the longest lazy river in Northern California, The Kaanapali Kooler. Guests presenting an IBCCES Individual Accessibility Card (IAC) to Guest Relations at the park will receive any necessary accommodations to accommodate their family’s needs. More information on accessibility at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor can be found here.
- Six Flags Magic Mountain: Six Flags Magic Mountain is known as the undisputed “Thrill Capital of the World,” featuring more world-class roller coasters than any other theme park on the planet. With over 100 rides, games, and adventures, plus one of the largest children’s areas in Southern California, Six Flags Magic Mountain offers something for thrill-seekers of all ages. Six Flags offers sensory backpacks available at Guest Relations, which include items that might be helpful for those who are sensory sensitive, including noise canceling earmuffs, stress balls, and various fidget toys. More information on accessibility at Six Flags Magic Mountain can be found here.
- GRAMMY Museum: For young music lovers, the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles offers interactive exhibits and displays that highlight the world of music. The GRAMMY Museum is the first destination to become a Certified Autism Center in Los Angeles County, as well as the first certified museum in California. On the second Saturday of every month, the GRAMMY Museum hosts Sensory Friendly Saturday, where families can enjoy the space with less crowding, quieter sound levels, lower lighting, and free admission. More information on accessibility at the GRAMMY Museum can be found here.
- Sesame Place San Diego: The recently opened Sesame Place San Diego is a 17-acre theme park based entirely on the award-winning show, Sesame Street, and features 18 Sesame Street-themed rides and exciting water attractions, including a family-friendly rollercoaster and a 500,000-gallon wave pool – one of the largest in Southern California. Offerings at the park include designated quiet rooms and low sensory areas, a ride sensory guide that provides insights on how a child with sensory sensitivities might be impacted by the rides. More information on accessibility at Sesame Place San Diego can be found here.
- Visit Visalia: Visit Visalia is California's first destination marketing organization to become a Certified Autism Center and is working to provide more Certified Autism hotels, family-friendly attractions and businesses across the destination. To help families prepare for a visit, Visalia has compiled national park accessibility videos and "Social Stories" with helpful accessibility tips for the destination. Families can also rent sensory backpacks from the Visit Visalia office with various sensory toys for children. More information on accessibility in Visalia can be found here.
This trip was curated by the Santa Barbara Zoo as well as Sesame Place® San Diego, Six Flags Magic Mountain, GRAMMY Museum®, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord, Visit Visalia and more.
For the full 2022 California Road Trips Guide, click here.