Long renowned as a family vacation destination, Myrtle Beach and its coastal neighbors have expanded their offerings in recent years to accommodate all visitors, including children with autism and other disabilities.
Myrtle Beach Offers Sensory-Friendly and Disability Resources
In January 2016, Surfside Beach was recognized as the first autism-friendly destination in the country. Area beaches have since partnered with the Champion Autism Network and TravelAbility organizations working to raise awareness of autism and improve the travel experience for people with disabilities.
Myrtle Beach Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism Department has been designated a Certified Autism Center, providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for visitors and ensuring emergency first responders are equipped and trained to be aware of any situations that may arise.
For families with loved ones on the autism spectrum, wonderful traveling experiences can result in unexpected positive outcomes. The community’s “Beach is for everyBODY: Sensory-Friendly Pledge” helps create a space where everyone feels welcome, regardless of any barriers that may hold them back. This pledge partners with local businesses and the Champion Autism Network to foster acceptance and awareness, and improve the sensory-friendly experiences across the Myrtle Beach area.
Many businesses across Myrtle Beach offer special events and accommodations, such as sensory-friendly movie nights, sensory hours, and sound-canceling headphones at Ripley’s Aquarium. Champion Autism Network also offers the CAN Card, which provides families discounts on several restaurants, attractions and lodging at the beach. These cards can be requested on the organization’s website.
Savannah’s Playground in The Market Common is open to the public and free for kids of all types of abilities. The multi-acre park is filled with ADA-compliant equipment and is wheelchair accessible. To meet the needs of all ages and abilities, the playground is broken up into zones that include an early childhood playground, school-age playground and interactive playground. There is also a section called Harmony Music Park, designed to encourage creativity and music-making right on the spot.
Also available is Project Lifesaver, which provides a personalized wristband for visitors with autism, Down syndrome or Alzheimer's disease, allowing their caregivers to track their location. It relies on proven radio technology and a specially trained search and rescue team. For more information about Project Lifesaver, call the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce at (843) 626-7444 or visit the Myrtle Beach Welcome Center at 1200 N. Oak St.
Most recently, the Myrtle Beach International Airport unveiled the Sunflower Lanyard Program, which allows travelers to discreetly self-identify a hidden disability, alerting airport personnel that they may require additional assistance or patience during travel. The airport also offers one of the first Quiet Rooms in the U.S., providing families with a quiet place to decompress near baggage claim after a long travel day.
To learn more about accessible beach access points, sensory-friendly tips when traveling to the beach, and more, check out the Sensory-Friendly Vacation Guide.