Are you planning a trip to Greater Palm Springs with a family member who has autism? Visit Greater Palm Springs is proud to promote Certified Autism Centers (CACs) in the area, ensuring that visitors with autism and sensory needs have equal opportunities and accessibility to participate in memorable, engaging, and inclusive experiences. 

Here's a guide to help you make the most of your visit: 

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens 

The Living Desert

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a Certified Autism Center™, designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). As part of this certification, the Zoo Living Desert offers various amenities for autism visitors: 

  • Sensory bags containing fidget tools, noise-canceling headphones, and other resources are available for checkout. 

  • The zoo boasts wide, paved pathways, making exploring accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. 

  • Wheelchairs and electronic convenience vehicles (ECVs) are available for daily rental. 

  • Monoculars and Assistive Listening Devices are provided for guests with low vision or hearing impairments. 

  • Complimentary daytime admission tickets are offered to aids accompanying guests who need assistance. 

 JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa 

JW Marriott Hotel Pool

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, located in Palm Desert, has achieved the prestigious designation of a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC), making it the first hotel in Greater Palm Springs and the first JW Marriott property to receive this certification. This makes the property As an autism-accessible hotel, offering the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa offers inclusive options for its global visitors. Here's a guide to help you make the most of your stay at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa with a family member who has autism. 

The hotel's staff has completed training and certification in best practices for assisting autistic individuals, ensuring that they are equipped to provide exceptional service and experiences to all guests. General Manager Nusrat Mirza emphasizes the hotel's commitment to recognizing areas for support and assisting guests of all interests and needs, ensuring they have equal opportunities and an enjoyable stay. 

Here's a guide to help you make the most of your stay here with a family member who has autism. 

  • Upon arrival, guests receive sensory maps and information packets describing the level and types of stimulation.  

  • Additionally, sensory guides are posted in high sensory locations throughout the hotel. 

  • Outdoor spaces include low sensory areas such as large lawns, a mini golf course, and a designated low sensory pool area. For indoor high sensory experiences, guests can visit the 12,000-square-foot Sq.-ft JW Entertainment Zone —- the largest hotel resort arcade in California, offering a variety of interactive games. 

  • The hotel provides sensory bags, weighted blankets, sound machines, headphones, and fidget toys to make traveling with an autistic family member less stressful. All guestrooms feature a mini refrigerator for special foods, while the on-site Rockwood Grill Restaurant and room service offer special children's meals, and as well as gluten-free, and vegetarian options. 

Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory 

In the pursuit of this certification, the Rancho Mirage Library and & Observatory underwent extensive training and an on-site review by IBCCES to enhance its accommodations for visitors with autism. As a result, the facility has developed sensory guides for each area, as well as a sensory kit including noise-canceling headphones, weighted blankets, fidget toys, and sensory lights, ensuring that individuals with sensory sensitivities can fully engage with the diverse offerings at the library and observatory.

Aaron Espinosa, Director of the Rancho Mirage Library and & Observatory, emphasized the institution's longstanding commitment to inclusivity, stating, "The ability to become a Certified Autism Center™ through the Greater Palm Springs initiative allows us to show our autistic and sensory-sensitive patrons that they are welcome." 

Restaurants Paving the Way 

FARM, Tac/Quila, Front Porch, and Clandestino have all successfully completed comprehensive autism-specific training from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES)IBCCES and are now Certified Autism Centers™ (CAC). 

Liz Ostoich, the owner of these restaurants, emphasized the importance of understanding autism through education and expressed the philosophy of providing excellent service in a welcoming environment for all guests. These efforts align with the Greater Palm Springs’ community-wide initiative to become a Certified Autism Destination™ (CAD), aiming to offer inclusive options for autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals and their families across various sectors such as lodging, recreation, and entertainment. To facilitate communication and accommodation, the restaurants encourage guests needing special attention to reach out ahead of their visit. 

Each of these restaurants has its own unique charm and offerings, from traditional European dishes at FARM to the fusion of gourmet Jalisco-style cuisine and specialty tequilas at Tac/Quila, the intimate and inviting ambiance of Front Porch, to the hidden gem of Clandestino exuding the ethos of Old Palm Springs. Visitors are invited to indulge in exceptional dining experiences while supporting these establishments' commitment to inclusivity and accessibility. 

Traveling with a family member who has autism may require some extra planning and consideration, but it can also lead to unforgettable experiences and memorable moments. With the presence of Certified Autism Centers in Greater Palm Springs, visitors can rest assured that their needs will be accommodated, and they can fully enjoy all that this destination has to offer. Learn more about Accessible Attractions in Greater Palm Springs