Philly Fun for All Kinds of Families
Enjoy outings with everyone in your family with the accessibility options provided by these Philadelphia attractions!
Does heading out for an adventure with the family take a bit more planning? Do you find yourself thinking a few steps ahead and wondering if it will be a successful outing for all family members? Check out these local favorites for sensory-friendly and modified program options.
Museums and Attractions
Memorial Hall, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia
The Please Touch Museum offers many accommodations through their Play Without Boundaries event series. The ongoing series provides those with sensory needs and other learning differences an opportunity to visit the museum during designated hours. The quiet and calm environment along with tools such as pre-trip guides and trained educators add up to a fun and comfortable experience for the whole family. Designated therapists or caregivers can request a complimentary ticket when visiting with a guest requiring their assistance during their visit. Service animals are welcome with advance notice.
22 North 20th Street, Philadelphia
This nearly two hundred year old science museum now offers “sensory alert maps,” allowing families to prepare and plan ahead for their visit. The maps detail which exhibits may be loud or overstimulating for those with sensory challenges. Conversely, there are also maps of exhibits that are calming and quiet. The museum supplies sensory backpacks with a variety of fidgets, headphones, and weighted toys to help ease anxiety. There are accessible entrances, seating, and restrooms, and tickets for Personal Care Attendants are no charge. If other accommodations are needed visitors can reach out to the museum for help.
3260 South Street, Philadelphia
This museum housed on the University of Pennsylvania campus holds centuries-old treasures and artifacts. The Penn Museum is committed to providing access to people of all abilities. Upcoming programming includes a Saturday evening sensory-friendly event, a homeschool family day focusing on autism and emotions, and a program designed specifically for the visually impaired. Some floors of the museum require using the stair lift where elevators aren’t available, all museum staff can assist with this, as well as the opening of certain doors that are not motorized. Service animals are welcome, and there is no fee for a personal care attendant who is accompanying a visitor with disabilities.
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has developed an app called “PMA for All.” Designed for families with autistic children, the app offers a variety of tools to help navigate the museum including a social story, exhibit details, a communication board, and more. Available for free download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The museum also has many ways to be accessible for all including a color-coded map to help find your way through the building, free admission for personal care attendants for visitors with disabilities, large print materials, an audio tour, free canes and wheelchairs (first-come, first-served), accessible entrances and seating, sign language interpreters are available with two weeks notice, assistive listening devices, scripts, and closed captioning on museum-produced videos.
525 Arch Street, Philadelphia
Sensory friendly days are offered on select dates at the National Constitution Center. Families are provided with pre-visit guides, modified programming, trained staff, a sensory room, and more. To inquire about dates, please find contact information in link provided. Assistive listening devices, opened captioning and scripts for the majority of videos in the exhibits, sign language interpretation (with five days advance notice), handheld captioning devices for the Freedom Rising performances, large print scripts, free admission for personal care attendants, and wheelchair accessibility are all available to make your museum visit as smooth as possible!
3400 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia
In addition to everyday accessibility and inclusion, America’s first zoo also holds an annual Autism Acceptance Day. Every April for over twenty years, members of the autism community gather to enjoy the animals, sensory-friendly play areas, autism resources, entertainers, and arts and crafts. The Philadelphia Zoo permits service animals that are properly leashed or harnessed, and reminds visitors that geesem, peafowl, squirrels and other local wildlife roam freely, and requests that if any Zoo animals become upset or exhibit behaviors that indicate distress that you move away from that exhibit (some areas may require a Zoo staff escort along with the service animal). Accessible entrances are located at The Tiger Parking Lot and the Zoo Garage. Wheelchairs and electric vehicle rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis (no reservations allowed). Personal care attendants are admitted for free with a ticket holder, please email guest relations in advance.
1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ
Adventure Aquarium hosts sensory friendly F.I.S.H Nights (Family Inclusive Sensory Hours). During these select hours, the aquarium has reduced crowds and lowers music volume, creating a comfortable atmosphere for autistic children and those with sensory challenges. Check in regularly for upcoming nights.
300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia
Mark your calendars for this year’s sensory-friendly performance of The Nutcracker on December 26th. This Pennsylvania Ballet performance will include adjusted sound and light, relaxed rules during the show, and pre-visit materials.
1420 Locust Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia
The program Sound All Around is a sensory-friendly series. These informal, family focused events introduce children to members of the string, woodwind, brass, and percussion families. Sound All Around performances take place at The Academy of Music on a carpeted ballroom floor. Children are free to get up and move around while experiencing the music. Registration is limited to ensure a smaller numbers of participants. Pre-visit stories, trained staff, fidget toys, and more are available to help make the experience a success. For all shows there are listening devices available, and for subscription performances there are large print programs.
825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia
To find out about sensory-friendly shows at the oldest theater in America, contact the Education Department at 215.574.3550, ext. 510. Autism Spectrum Friendly performances and programs are available and there is a video that walks viewers through the theatre and what to expect at a show to help prepare in advance. Services such as wheel chair seating and assisted listening devices are available, as well as open caption, sign language, and audio described performances at select shows and/or dates. It is advised to contact them in advance.