Healthy Kids    

Top 10 places for kids with special needs

Playgrounds, programs and places for pretend play

special needs, playspots, places to go, playgrounds
2018 Abilities First cover kid winner Keith loves spending time at Julie's Jungle. This inclusive playground is a perfect place for kids like Keith to play.

Families with children with special needs know that home is one of the only truly comfortable (and controllable) spaces for our little ones. But cabin fever eventually gets the best of us. Although the Hudson Valley seems to have ample services available for children with disabilities, there's only a few spots I can recommend visiting for some quality out-of-the-house playtime.

Fridas bakery play area

Frida's Bakery & Café
26 Main St., Milton

Enjoy a hot cup of coffee while your kids play in a colorful and inviting playroom. Frida's Bakery & Café is one of my favorite playdate locations.

The playroom is nestled on the second floor of the café with easy elevator accessibility. The spacious area contains a fully-stocked kitchen set, tumble area and large padded blocks for building castles and tunnels. These toys are perfect for kids under five.

The other side of the playroom has plenty of seating so parents can relax and catch up with friends or Facebook. Frida's serves breakfast and lunch with an impressive menu of artisan breads, cookies, pies and tarts. There's also plenty of gluten-free and vegan options to choose from.

wonderdome at childrens museum poughkeepsie

75 N Water St., Poughkeepsie

Kids of all ages and abilities will find something fun and educational to do at the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum (MHCM). MHCM is proud to offer exhibits that get kids moving, exploring, building, pretending, collaborating, creating and discovering.

The first floor is dedicated to pretend play with small villages, a firetruck with a mini pole and ladder and a giant train table set. For each pretend area there are plenty of
costumes as well so kids can be completely immersed in their story.

Upstairs, the imaginative play continues with a pirate ship, jungle walk, stage and puppet theater.

Further over are tons of interactive stations to engage little minds in STEM. The flight lab lets kids launch pool noodle rockets and the Keva plank table inspires little builders. There's also the wondrous WonderDome where children can choose from nine different sensory exhibits to learn about light and color. There's even a neon robot arm that kids can control with a joystick.

MHCM also has a dedicated area for snack time, a cozy reading nook, as well as an elevator and family bathrooms for accessibility.

sallys dream park playground for kids

Sally's Dream Park
186 NY-416, Campbell Hall

Sally's Dream Park is one of the best outdoor play experiences for your children with special needs. The newly redesigned park now offers even more accessibility for children of all ages including ramps, full support swings and unobstructed views from all seating areas. For toddlers and babies, there's also a smaller jungle gym that provides smaller slides and activity walls.

During the warmer months, this is our go-to outdoor playground. The grounds are beautiful, there's new soft fibar ground walkways, plenty of picnic areas for lunch, and best of all, it's free.

julies jungle playground in dutchess

5 Old Lime Kiln Rd., Hopewell Junction

Julie's Jungle is the first fully- accessible playground in Dutchess county. Inclusivity has been the main focus of this playground since its inception in 2012. Julie's Jungle caters to the needs of all children including those who are able-bodied and those with visual, hearing, cognitive or physical impairments.

The state-of-the-art adaptive playground gives children who have been previously excluded the opportunity to participate in outdoor fun while improving their social skills. The grounds also offer ramps and spacious decks, shorter stairs, Braille play
panels and even a sensory garden.

sensory friendly movie theater

AMC Crystal Run 16
1 Galleria Dr., Middletown

Enjoy sensory friendly films during the month at this Orange County theater. Films are shown with the lights on and the sound down. Family-friendly films are shown on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month and more mature audiences can enjoy films on Tuesday evenings.

winslow theraputic riding center

Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center
1433 NY-17A, Warwick

Take a trip to Warwick where children and adults of all abilities can learn to ride horses. The program is meant to improve the physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being of the participants.

civic center ice skating

14 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie

Families of children with disabilities can enjoy open therapeutic ice-skating sessions or sign up for six-week sessions throughout the year. Ice skating can positively impact social skills, physical strength and balance.

mohonk nature preserve

3197 Rte. 44/55, Gardiner

Enjoy the outdoors with your family. Plan your trip with the director of education to discuss your needs to make sure you get the most out of your experience. You can even borrow an all-terrain wheelchair.

zylofone music program

3020 NY-207, Campbell Hall

Zylofone hosts an abundance of programs for all ages that use music to foster social interaction in a safe and calm environment. Their mission is to encourage creativity through the arts while enhancing social skills, confidence and independence.

hudson valley swim

Hudson Valley Swim
15 Raquet Rd., Ste. 2, Newburgh

Students with special needs can get one-on-one attention in a class that is tailored to them and their needs.

is a part-time writer and full-time mama to an adorable toddler with autism.