Plano is such a welcoming city for all families (it’s no wonder that Plano was awarded the Best City in the U.S. for Staycations by WalletHub in 2020). So, if you are here for a short time with kids or young adults with physical, sensory or other types of special needs, we have outlined several great options for things to do in Plano.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, please check the business’s open status, restrictions, and hours before planning your adventure.
Places to Visit
Interurban Railway Museum
The team behind this Downtown Plano museum have provided a host of information on accessibility, including wheelchair access and doorway widths. Also for our sensory-sensitive kids, they have sensory guides which indicate which senses each exhibit engages, to what degree each sense is engaged, and how difficult an exhibit will be to use.
The museum is typically calmest on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (10 a.m.-11 a.m.) and rainy days. Avoid Fridays from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Crayola Experience Plano
Head north to the Crayola Experience at The Shops at Willow Bend for Sensory Sundays. This fun, hands-on attraction is great for the entire family and is offered every month on Sundays from 9 a.m.-11 a.m.
They host a special morning programming for kids and families looking to experience the attraction adapted just for sensory needs with accommodation including dimmed lights, no music and quiet spaces.
Purchase discounted tickets here.
Get Outside at Jack Carter Park
Jack Carter Playground is a community park with an inclusive playground designed to allow children ages 2-12 of all abilities to play together and engage a range of movement, climbing, tactile, visual and auditory play equipment.
Things to do include: hike and bike trails, inclusive playground, practice fields, and a sand volleyball court.
Check out the local 6 Awesome Accessible Playgrounds in Collin County.
What is an inclusive playground?
Also known as all-abilities playgrounds, these are the best playgrounds in DFW that provide safe play opportunities for children of all ages and abilities. These types of playgrounds typically offer wheelchair accessibility, and areas for kids who deal with sensory overload to escape the playground commotion. Ideally, it’s a play space where kids with cognitive and physical disabilities can easily play alongside their friends and siblings and develop social skills. It’s a perfect special needs playground nearby for special needs children but allows for inclusive play.
Also check out Liberty Playground – Inside Windhaven Meadows Park
Recently opened inside the new Windhaven Meadows Park in West Plano near the intersection of Windhaven Parkway and W. Spring Creek Parkway. The new park includes Liberty Playground, a 20,000-square-foot playground designed to be accessible for children of all abilities.
Laid on a ground of synthetic turf, you’ll find a balanced mix of sensory play activities and physical play structures. The equipment focuses on the six elements of play: social, emotional, physical, sensory, cognitive and communicatory.
There is also a sensory garden with wooden elements, water features and ample shade structures and 50 new trees to give us shade in the heat.
The park itself spans 123 acres with multiple amenities in addition to Liberty Playground.
- 9 miles of walking trails
- A pond
- Natural open spaces
- A 5 acre dog park including shade, seating areas, drinking and rinse stations and pet waste and litter cans.
- A reservable pavilion
- 320 parking spaces including 12 accessible spaces
Head out on Nature Walks
A fun and laid back experience for sensory-sensitive kids is a walk in nature. We have two great spots in Plano for that. You can put together a checklist for them to find squirrels, acorns, feathers, leafs and other items at a slow pace.
Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve
This 800-acre park has tons of great trails and pretty nature – you won’t believe you are still in the City of Plano when you head out there for a leisurely walk or hike.
If their abilities allow them to, the pond at Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve is open for kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding from dawn to dusk. The general public is welcome to use their own watercraft (canoe, kayak, stand up paddle board).
Arbor Hills Nature & Retreat Center
At this 200-acre park, the paths are wheelchair accessible but not the widest, so on busy days it may not be as fast to navigate your way around, however, the views are great from the highest vantage points and it’s so peaceful to work your way around it. There are varying trails of different lengths, so pick the right one ahead of time.
See the Animals
Our favorite place to do this in Plano is at the Heritage Farmstead Museum. Call ahead of time to ask for specific details for accessibility for special needs, as some of the buildings may not be easy to navigate. However, the goats and farm animals are there onsite and provide a calming experience.
Things to do in the Summer with Parks & Rec
If you are planning to visit or spend some time in Plano during the summer, check out the programs and camps provided by Plano Parks and Recreation especially adapted for kids and adults with special needs.
For adults 18+: they offer an Adult Adventure Camp with games, educational activities and field trips to enhance their social, mental and physical skills. Offered Tuesday – Friday for one week at the end of May.
For young adults aged 16-22: Teen Trek is a fun outdoor camp run throughout the summer, with field trips to local attractions, designed to give a full day experience and build social and vocational interactions.
For kids with autism aged 14-25 years: Specifically for individuals on the Autism spectrum, they have designed a Video Production Camp to build on teamwork and interaction with others.
For kids aged 11-15: Throughout the Summer, Plano Parks and Recreation offers a Friendship (full day) and Buddy (half-day) camp which are both focused on building social skills and friendships. The Buddy camp enables one-to-one buddy relationships with volunteers to create a safe and non-judgemental environment.
Year-round: Plano Parks and Recreation offers a chance for young and older adults to dance the night away at the Monthly Dance Club. This is a DJ-led themed dance with light refreshments towards the end. The dance is held monthly from 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. at the Sam Johnson Recreation Center for Adults 50+.
Every child is different of course, so we hope that these ideas give you a starting point to make plans to enjoy the City of Plano as a family and you choose the right options for you and your family.
For more Mom-inspired things to do, check out PlanoMoms.com – the go-to, one-stop resource for local moms around Plano, TX.