Playgrounds are for everyone! We rounded up activities that are tailor-made for children who have special needs, whether that’s a physical difference, developmental disability or sensory sensitivity. Check out these 19 all-abilities parks and indoor play areas around Dallas-Fort Worth (and even one worth making a road trip for) to get your kiddo’s energy out this season.
1. Galaxy Park: At the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s new outdoor park, kids can pretend to be astronauts in a geometric playground that includes interactive ground-level features, slides and a belt system. A shade structure will be added later in 2022. Fort Worth; 817/255-9300
2. kidMania playground: Kids of all ages and abilities can have fun at this accessible playground at Allen’s Celebration Park. Built in 2003 by volunteers with the Allen Parks Foundation, this playground offers 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
3. Mary Heads Carter Park: 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
4. Child’s Play at Bachman Lake is accessible playground in a picturesque location near Bachman Therapeutic Recreation Center. The nautical-themed park has an extensive ramp system and features a glider, slides, a tower and play stations. Plus, you can also watch airplanes land and take off—this playground is right by Love Field. Dallas
5. 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
6. Dream Park: 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
7. 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
8. Hope Park at Frisco Commons: With a sensory area, adaptive play equipment and rubberized surface, every child can have a good time here. 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
9. PlayGrand Adventures: Your family will have a grand time at this colorful, multi-acre park that was 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; 972/237-8100
10. Casey’s Clubhouse: Your children will get accessible fun in this expansive play area 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
11. Cottonwood Creek Park: 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
12. Bonnie Wenk Park: This McKinney 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
13. 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
14. Liberty Playground: Plano’s Windhaven Meadows Park is home to an 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
15. 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
16. Kids Kingdom: From tunnels and sensory activities to a robot climbing structure and ramp-accessible castle-themed playground, this 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
17. Sensory Sensitive Sundays: Chuck E. Cheese restaurants across Dallas-Fort Worth offer these special play days 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
18. We Rock the Spectrum: Explore, learn and play at this Dallas 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
19. It’s a Sensory World: Sign your child up for a coach-guided Sensory Circuit session. 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!
20. Morgan’s Wonderland: 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, or create sand sculptures and music.
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
Did we leave out an all-abilities park you love? Let us know at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of Morgan’s Wonderland Inclusion Foundation