Florida Fun for the ND Family
Cox Science Center & Aquarium
If you live in Florida, or you’re planning a trip there this year, consider adding the Cox Science Center & Aquarium to your agenda.
Science is exciting!
That’s the premise of the Cox center, whose mission is to open every mind to science. And when they say, “every mind,” they mean it. Their Sensory Saturdays are designed with the neurodivergent family in mind.
Ready to hear something exciting? Or, rather, ready to avoid hearing something annoying? All bathrooms at the Cox Science Center are “sensory friendly.” What does that mean? There are no motion sensing, auto flushing toilets, and no air powered hand dryers! There is also an accessible family restroom in the hall behind the Quantum Hall of Exploration if you need it.
Check out Sensory Saturdays if you want a more ND-friendly experience. It’s the first Saturday of the month from 9:00 – 10:00 AM. When it’s not Sensory Saturday, lights and noise levels vary by exhibit, so we recommend bringing your preferred sensory survival gear, like noise canceling headphones, darkened glasses, or cozy hoods. The planetarium and theater are likely to over-stimulate so be warned.
There are many options to make visiting the Cox Center more affordable:
- Bank of America “Museums on Us” Cardholders, present your card and photo ID for one free general admission on the first full weekend of every month. Why, yes, that is the same weekend they host Sensory Saturdays.
- Brightline Discount Ride the Brightline Train and show your ticket within 7 days to get a $2 discount on general admission.
- Museums for All Show your SNAP or WIC EBT card to get $3 general admission for up to 4 people.
- Facebook Check in on Facebook to get $2 off general admission.
The Great Outdoors
While you’re enjoying these outdoor activities, remember to protect yourselves from the sun. Or rain. Or both. But probably mostly sun; they don’t call Florida the Sunshine State for nothing.
Hit the Trail
If you and your neurodivergent family love nature and being out of doors, you won’t want to miss this the Fisher Family Science Trail. It’s a quarter mile trail that connects 15 outdoor exhibits, including a Physics Forest, Dinosaur Walk, gem panning station, and a shark tooth dig pit.
The Open Air
The open air amphitheater has daily live science shows, trivia sessions, and concerts. Just remember to bring any picnic blanket, seat cushion, sunglasses and noise-reducing gear you may need.
Time to Eat
When your crew gets hungry, there’s an outdoor eating area. Check the website in advance to see which food trucks will be visiting each weekend so you can check out their menus in advance. Picnic tables are first come first served, unless you want to call in advance and pay a fee. If you’re visiting on a day when there’s no food trucks, you may pack your own lunch, but you can only eat in the designated areas.
Just for fun, they even have a mini golf course! The Conservation Course was rated by Travel Channel as one of the best mini golf courses in the country, and it’s all-ages and included in the general admission. Each of the 18 holes is named after a plant or animal indigenous to the Florida Everglades, and it features butterfly gardens and a babbling brook.
The Great Indoors
In case you don’t want to spend the day outside in the sun, there’s plenty to see inside the Cox Science Center itself.
The 10,000 gallon Aquariums of the Atlantic displays Florida’s native fish, as well as some invasive species. Experience diverse ecosystems like the Everglades, Coral Reefs, Gulf Stream, and Open Ocean.
Journey Through the Human Brain is the most advanced neuroscience exhibition in the world. It was developed in partnership with the FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brian Institute and features a variety of immersive experiences and cutting-edge technology with something for all ages to explore.
If you’re a fan of outer space, you’ll love the Planetarium. They have a state-of-the-art full-dome digital video display, a theater (check website for what’s showing.) They even have a hurricane simulator for your brave sensory-seekers.
The Out of This World space artifact exhibit lets you see a moon rock, a mars rock. They’ll let you touch a meteorite! Need more space? Their observatory has an F/11 refractor, one of the largest in Florida. Come check out Nights at the Museum on the last Friday of the month to see more.
The Great Online
If you’re planning on staying safe at home, consider a staycation by visiting the Cox online. Check out their Facebook and YouTube channels for live science shows, Future Scientist Storytime, Aquarium Programs, DIY at home science demos, and more, all from the comfort of your own safe space. Google Cox Science Center
You can find the Cox Science Center and Aquarium at 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. It’s just off the 95, not far from Palm Beach Zoo.
They’re open weekdays 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, weekends 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
If you want to go when they’re less busy, try weekends between 10:00 – 11:00 AM, and weekdays after 2:00 PM during the school year.
If you arrive before 2:00 PM on a weekday during the school year, be prepared for field trip crowds!
Remember, Sensory Saturdays are the first Saturday of the month from 9:00 – 10:00 AM.