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Visalia, California, Becomes Country’s First Certified Autism Destination

by Aoife O'Riordan

Dec 20, 2022

© Visit Visalia


Following a year-long effort by Visit Visalia and local tourism partners to address travel needs of family travelers and autistic adventurers, Visalia, California, officially became the first-ever Certified Autism Destination in the country as of last week.


© Visit Visalia

Autism Travel, a company providing families with easy access to destinations certified in autism and special needs care, found in a recent study 87 percent of parents with an autistic child do not travel. The study also noted 93 percent of these parents would be more likely to travel if autism-certified options were available. Visalia answered the call for more destinations and accommodations suitable for these travelers.


“We are truly honored to obtain the Certified Autism Destination designation,” said John Oneto, board chair, Visit Visalia. “Visalia has long-prided itself in being a welcoming and inviting community and this was a collective effort by the tourism industry to make experiences sensory-friendly and remove barriers, ensuring every visitor can feel comfortable during and enjoy their stay as they explore our vibrant downtown and nearby national parks.”


© Visit Visalia

In Visalia, 42 percent of the city’s key hotels and several family-friendly attractions are certified, making it the perfect destination for families with autistic travelers. Additionally, Visalia’s tourism businesses provide accommodations for autistic travelers, with added things like sensory guides, signage, quiet spaces, low-sensory nights and more. At ImagineU Children’s Museum, autistic travelers can enjoy sensory-friendly nights once a month.


Visit Visalia also launched the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program, in which travelers can receive complimentary sunflower lanyards and bracelets upon request. When worn, the sunflower acts as a visual cue to trained hospitality staff throughout Visalia that the traveler might need additional support during a visit.

Hidden Disabilities

© Visit Visalia

Visit here to see the complete list of Visalia’s Certified Autism Centers.


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