We believe that everyone can find where they belong at The Beach! We recognize that families traveling with loved ones with autistic or sensory issues need additional support in their vacation destination – and The Beach is a place where this support is a reality. We desire to instill hope that vacation is possible at The Beach, regardless of any disability barriers.
Surfside Beach and the City of Myrtle Beach are certified autism-friendly through the Champion Autism Network (CAN). Through this certification, many attractions, hotels, restaurants, local residents, and the Myrtle Beach International Airport came together to offer sensory-friendly experiences, autism aware and specially trained staff, preferred entrances at attractions and travel discounts to make the Myrtle Beach area the ideal autism-friendly destination.
When you first arrive, the Myrtle Beach International Airport offers a Quiet Room for families who need a space to decompress and relax after a flight. CAN offers cards for families to show at participating restaurants and attractions, discretely notifying them that a family with autism is on the site. These cards can be requested through CAN ahead of time or picked up at the Myrtle Beach Welcome Center or the Town Hall of Surfside Beach. The Myrtle Beach Welcome Center also offers wristbands with a GPS tracker for children who may wander off, giving families peace of mind when visiting the beach and other attractions through Project Lifesaver.
Several hotels and resorts, like the Crown Reef Beach Resort and Waterpark or the Landmark Oceanfront Resort, offer autism-friendly amenities such as CAN-certified hotel staff, curbside check-in or check-out, and rooms in quiet, private locations. For an extensive list of lodging options, please visit our website.
The next concern for many families is the stress that can come from dining out. There are several restaurants in Myrtle Beach that assist families with special needs. With your CAN card, restaurants, such as Johnny D’s Waffles and Bakery and NY Pizza Kitchen on Ocean Boulevard, will offer special discounts, trained staff, preferred seating, and more.
There are quite a few attractions that offer sensory-friendly experiences and inclusive environments for the entire family. Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach offers guests the option of noise-canceling headphones and monthly sensory-mornings. At WonderWorks, families can attend special sensory days where the music is lowered, and exhibits have limited stimulation to accommodate children with special needs. Other attractions include Big Air Trampoline Park and many more.
Savannah’s Playground located in Market Common is the Southeast’s first enabling playground with all ADA approved playground equipment. This playground is designed for children of all abilities and offers a music park, interactive playground, early childhood playground, school-age playground, picnic area, challenge ropes, ziplining, and more across three acres. This is the perfect place for your children to play and socialize with shops, restaurants, and entertainment close by for the entire family to enjoy.
Many families have shared that their children who are autistic or have sensory issues find the rhythm of the waves on the beach calming and soothing. The sensory aspects of the sand and the waves bring a level of comfort and fun. Our beautiful beaches stretch 60 miles down the coast, providing a plethora of beach access points so you can find the perfect place that fits your family’s needs.
The Stein family, reoccurring visitors with a child on the autism spectrum, shares their appreciation for Myrtle Beach in the video below:
Patty Moliterno discusses, in the video below, her gratitude for Myrtle Beach and the support it gave her family as they traveled with their five children, one on the autism spectrum. She encourages families to try a vacation in Myrtle Beach, who otherwise would not be able to dream of a beach getaway. Patty is the writer behind the blog, A Mothers Random Thoughts, and desires to create a community of families and provide hope in their struggles.
The Champion Autism Network also hosts multiple events a week that are sensory-friendly. The events below will take place in early April but check out CAN’s Facebook page for more information on upcoming events.
- On Saturday, April 3rd, the Surfside Beach Fire Department is hosting a sensory-friendly open house at 10 am with cookie decorating, axe throwing, and the opportunity to experience the day-to-day life in the firehouse.
- Surfside Beach is also organizing a sensory-friendly easter egg hunt with CAN in Passive Park starting at 10 am on Saturday, April 3rd.
- CAN is hosting a sensory-friendly shopping day on Monday, April 5th at the Tanger Outlets located on highway 501 beginning at 4 pm. Strollers will be free for CAN members, and the music and fountains will be turned off.