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.
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.”
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.
Visit here to see the complete list of Visalia’s Certified Autism Centers.
Huntsville, Alabama, is one of those destinations helping define the family-friendly vacation. Home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the city is lovingly nicknamed Rocket City thanks to its history of always reaching for the stars. This is where you’ll find Space Camp, where kids and families can take part in various programs at the world’s largest space museum, U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Through Dec. 31, family travelers can enjoy the most unexpected thing in Florida: a white Christmas. The Now Snowing in Celebration festival in Kissimmee, Florida, embraces winter traditions for both locals and visitors. Free to visit, families will love heading to the town built by Disney.
Let family travels take you to one of these stunning aquariums around the United States. Recently, Aquarium Store Depot analyzed TripAdvisor reviews containing words such as beautiful, breathtaking and picturesque for 175 public aquariums across America. Each aquarium ranked based on the percentage of reviews to determine the most eye-catching aquariums.
Filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, Seoul invites travelers to unearth its many gems, and Seoul Tourism Organization is here to help travelers do just that. Through thoughtfully created initiatives like the Theme Tourism County Competition, Seoul Tourism Organization works closely with local districts to identify and showcase what makes each district unique and charming in all seasons.
All aboard! A holiday afternoon tea on a vintage train winding its way through lush wine country? If that sounds a lovely to you as it does to us, the Napa Valley Wine Train is on track to offer you a great seasonal experience perfect for sharing with family or loved ones. Tea is served in a holiday-decked vintage Pullman rail car with historic features like Honduran mahogany paneling, etched glass partitions, sumptuous armchairs and gleaming brass accents.