Summer fun is for everyone! We rounded up activities that are tailor-made for children who have special needs, whether that’s a physical difference, developmental disability, a sensory sensitivity or something else. Check out these 19 all-abilities parks and indoor play areas around Dallas-Fort Worth (and some even worth making a road trip for) to get your kiddo’s energy out this season.
1.Kids of all ages and abilities can have fun at the kidMania playground at Allen’s Celebration Park. Choose from dozens of activities, with each colored section designating a difficulty level. Head to the sprayground for water fun after you wrap up at kidMania. Allen; 214/509-4700
2. Make a family visit to Mary Heads Carter Park in Carrollton. There’s synthetic turf that’s smooth enough for wheelchairs, an accessible merry-go-round, slides and climbing features (including play rocks and a tower). Carrollton; 972/466-3080
3. Child’s Play is accessible playground in a picturesque location alongside Bachman Lake. The nautical-themed park has an extensive ramp system and features a glider, slides, a tower and play stations. You can also watch airplanes land and take off—this playground is right by Love Field. Dallas
4. Flag Pole Hill Park in the Lake Highlands area has your pass to all-inclusive play. Its all-abilities playground was built with the backing of golf pro and Dallas native Jordan Spieth (whose sister has special needs), among other supporters. The play area is designed to encourage physical, cognitive and social growth, with swings, a climbing net, a spinning wheel and more features. Dallas; 214/670-4100
5. Tunnels, slides, swings with back supports, a bucket-seat zipline, a wheelchair-friendly glider, spinner and even quiet domes for kids who are over-stimulated: Dream Park in Fort Worth has it all. The all-abilities playscape, part of Trinity Park along the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, is fenced in for an extra measure of safety. Fort Worth; 817/392-5700
6. Patricia LeBlanc Park in Fort Worth has an all-abilities playground with accessible bridges and swings, sensory areas, an easy-to-navigate ground surface and other features. The park had the first playground in the nation with universal design methodology, allowing kids with special needs to play side-by-side with other children. Fort Worth; 817/392-5700
7. With a sensory area, adaptive play equipment and rubberized surface, every child can have a good time at Hope Park at Frisco Commons. The play area includes Picnic Alley, the Big Kid Lot and the Tot Lot. After you play, cool down at Frisco Commons’ spray park. Frisco; 972/292-6500
8. Your family will have a grand time at PlayGrand Adventures, a colorful, multi-acre park—built to encourage cognitive and motor skill development along with sensory engagement and social interaction. Try out the Adventure Zone, where kids (including toddlers) can climb, swing and spin. Adventure Hill has slides, climbing equipment and learning activities. The all-abilities park is part of the EpicCentral development, which houses Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark and other recreation areas. Grand Prairie
9. Your children will get accessible fun in an expansive play area at Casey’s Clubhouse in Grapevine. Part of Dove Park, this playground includes a treehouse-themed play structure, swings, slides, climbing areas, smooth surfaces, places to engage kids’ senses and promote cognitive development, picnic tables and more. Grapevine; 817/410-3450
10. The parent of one child with special needs describes Irving’s Cottonwood Creek Park as clearly designed with “accessibility in mind.” Enjoy the adaptive playground (with ramps, slides, sensory areas) as well as the park’s pond, trails and grassy areas. Irving; 972/721-2501
11. McKinney’s Bonnie Wenk Park includes an all-abilities playground, with accessible swings, sensory walls, slides, a spinner and other ways to have fun. The park also has a fitness court, which is an outdoor gym-alternative for adults of all ability levels. Other features at Bonnie Wenk Park include more play areas (such as a zip line and sky bridge), a dog park, trails and a fishing pond. McKinney; 972/547-7480
12. Jack Carter Park in Plano has a playground designed to let kiddos of all abilities to play together. Equipment and activities engage children in movement and climbing as well as tactile, visual and auditory experiences. You can enjoy the park pond and trails, too. Plano; 972/941-7250
13. Plano’s Windhaven Meadows Park is home to Liberty Playground. The accessible playground, supported by Liberty Mutual Insurance, includes a sensory garden with a water table and stream with spray features; dedicated areas for older and younger kids to encourage age-appropriate learning development; dozens of pieces of equipment; plus seat walls, benches, tables and shade. Plano; 972/941-7250
14. The Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground at Cottonwood Park, located in Richardson, provides 11,000 square feet of entertainment. There are separate play areas for younger and older kids, a rubber safety surface, four types of swings, an adaptive merry-go-round, roller slides, a sensory garden and more. Richardson; 972/744-4300
15. From tunnels and sensory activities to a robot climbing structure and ramp-accessible castle-themed playground, Kids Kingdom park in Rowlett has something for just about everyone. There are also toddler-friendly spots, smooth surfaces and a fenced area to keep kids from wandering away. Rowlett; 972-412-6170
16. Chuck E. Cheese restaurants across Dallas-Fort Worth offer Sensory Sensitive Sundays. On the first Sunday of the month, participating locations open early for sensitive-friendly play. Check with a Chuck E. Cheese near you to confirm participation. Elements include dimmed lighting, shows and music turned down or turned off, quieter arcade games and a less-crowded environment. Multiple locations
17. Explore, learn and play at We Rock the Spectrum in Dallas, a gym designed for all kids. There are open sessions where children can enjoy suspended equipment with swings, mats and pillows, a zip line, trampoline, play structure and sensory toys. Kiddos can get creative in the arts and crafts area. The gym also offers classes and private parties. Dallas; 214/468-4880
18. Sign your child up for a coach-guided Sensory Circuit session at It’s a Sensory World. The Farmers Branch destination for learning and play has two sensory gyms with swings, rock walls, slides, trampolines and other activities. It’s a Sensory World also offers an academy, social skills programs and camps. Farmers Branch; 972/239-8100
Last but not least, an amusement park!
19. Here’s a theme park everyone can enjoy. Morgan’s Wonderland, located in San Antonio, is a first-of-its-kind park built for people with disabilities or special needs in mind. Ride the wheelchair-accessible Ferris wheel or carousel, visit Sensory Village, board the Wonderland Express train, play in accessible swings, engage in pirate make-believe, create sand sculptures and music—the options are endless. Then take a trip to Morgan’s Inspiration Island for splash pads and a sensory-friendly boat ride. Anyone with a special need gets free admission. Go to the website for more information on an organization that helps fund trips for families who are traveling to the area. San Antonio; 210/495-5888
Photo courtesy of Morgan’s Wonderland Inclusion Foundation.