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Philly Fun for All Kinds of Families

Enjoy outings with everyone in your family with the accessibility options provided by these Philadelphia attractions!

families listening to an orchestra performance

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  

Please Touch Museum 

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.

 

Franklin Institute 

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.

 

Penn Museum 

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.

 

Philadelphia Museum of Art 

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. 

 

National Constitution Center  

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! 

 

Philadelphia Zoo 

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. 

 

Adventure Aquarium 

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.  

 

Performances  

Philadelphia Ballet  

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.  

 

Philadelphia Orchestra 

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.

 

Walnut Street Theatre 

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.

Philadelphia Family Contributing Writer.

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