When a loved one has special needs, it can be challenging to get out and enjoy all the great activities St. Louis has to offer. Luckily, there are several local organizations and attractions that make accommodations and kid-centered activities easy on busy families with a variety of abilities. Here are some great family events and activities that are inclusive of everyone.
Accessible playgrounds Based in St. Charles, Unlimited Play has become a leader in designing and building inclusive playgrounds for every child to enjoy with swings, slides and other elements that meet and even exceed ADA requirements. Though it started with just one playground in Lake Saint Louis, Unlimited Play now offers accessible playgrounds throughout the St. Louis area. Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland in Forest Park and Tilles Park in Ladue offer accessible playgrounds as well.
Performances for children with special needs To help ensure that all families have an opportunity to experience the beauty of this local circus, which blends European traditions with modern techniques for a captivating performance, Circus Flora offers a peanut-free preview of its upcoming shows, as well as a sensory-friendly performance for those on the autism spectrum.
With dark theaters, bright lights and loud noises, movie-going can be sensory overload for some families. AMC Theatres offers special showings of family-friendly movies for those with special needs. Lights are turned up and the sound is turned down so that children may get up and move as needed. B&B Theatres also offers sensory-friendly showings of family films. Visit the B&B Theatres website for information on sensory-friendly presentations. Marcus Theatres offers Reel Movies for Real Needs at its Ronnie's Cine + IMAX location.
Summer adventures for all abilities Whether your child enjoys exploring sports, theater, art or nature, there’s a local summer camp for every interest and ability. Several local camps provide accommodations to meet the needs of children with health concerns, sensory processing disorders or developmental delays. Learn more in our Best bets for camps for kids with special needs.
Saint Louis Zoo The Saint Lous Zoo offers Sensory Saturday sessions in the Monsanto Education Gallery Wild Wonder Outpost Room. Guests will find dimmed lighting, less sounds and a quiet area. Sessions are offered at 9:30 a.m. the second Saturday of each month.
We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym, with locations in Edwardsville, Illinois, and Fenton, Missouri, is a fun, safe destination that supports children’s physical, social, emotional and neurological growth and development. The gym is equipped with mats and pillows, a zip line, an indoor play structure, suspended equipment with swings and a trampoline. While the equipment is designed for those with sensory-processing disorders, the gym is designed to be a fun place for children of all abilities to play together.
St. Louis County Library Various branches within the St. Louis County Library District offer Sensory Story Times for families with children of all abilities. Participants are treated to a story, songs and more. Sensory Story Time is for families with children ages 3-9.
KEEN STL KEEN stands for Kids Enjoy Exercise Now. The group's focus is to provide one-to-one fitness programs free of charge to youth with disabilities. Sports programs, swimming and more are offered throughout the area.
Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis offers group outings that provide some extra support for kids with disabilities along with a whole lot of fun for the entire family. For information on future trips, visit the Variety website or call Variety at 314-720-7700. Among other programs, Variety also offers camps and a theatre program.
St. Louis Arc Family Center For indoor fun and an opportunity to meet other families raising kids with unique needs, join the Capable Kids and Families Community Playgroup. The free play group is a program of Belle Children's Services of the St. Louis Arc, and is open to any family with young children with or without disabilities. Play groups are held on the first Friday and third Saturday of each month from 10-11:30 a.m. at the St. Louis Arc Family Center, 1177 North Warson Rd., St. Louis, MO. Play groups are non-structured, so participants are welcome to drop in anytime during open hours. While the playroom is designed for those 6 and younger, older siblings are welcome. RSVPs are highly recommended in case of schedule changes. Contact Julia Schaffner at 314-817-2247 or email [email protected].
Looking for even more things to do, including sports and camp opportunities? Get in touch with the Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis for referrals, loaner equipment and additional support for including your child in recreational activities. Call 314-726-6044.
Best Bets articles represent the views and the research completed by St. Louis Sprout & About journalists and are not driven by advertising or requests by vendors or venues. Best Bets do not imply an endorsement of a business or activity.