A wheelchair accessible vacation is doable but offers unique challenges. Just because a venue totes “wheelchair accessible” doesn’t exactly mean that it is comfortably so for our loved one. Consider a movie theater where wheelchair accessible means being placed at the bottom of the screen rendering it difficult to see the movie from the base of the screen. Or even some bathrooms that have the nice placard saying it is accessible only to discover that the designer clearly never had to navigate a loved one through their design. It may be ADA accessible but practically it leaves much to be desired.
Having said that, there are some special places that those in wheelchairs can go and have great experiences. Here are 5 very specific places for your next wheelchair vacation:
- Branson, MO–Sight and Sound Theater. After a not so great experience at the Moon Theater where the wheelchairs were placed in the nosebleed section and everything else was fraught with precarious stairways, we were unsure of where to step out again. But we were pleasantly surprised with Sight and Sound. A fantastic production and with enough actors and animals in the walkways that we felt a part of the action. Currently they are showing Moses which is fantastic.
- St. Pete, Florida–Sirata Hotel. What a pleasant surprise! We purchased a room with a beach view and almost outside of our balcony straight down was the sand. On a whim I called the front desk and sure enough, they had a beach wheelchair free for use. Because of the hotel supplying the chair we were able to easily roll right to the water’s edge. It wasn’t much harder than pushing a regular wheelchair. What a joy!
- Orlando, FL–Walk Disney World. This famous theme park has gone to great effort to make their grounds and even rides accessible. A lot of the rides do require the ability to be able to transfer so check first, but some of the rides you could stay in your wheelchair. Be sure to check first. Most of the time when they saw a wheelchair you could go straight to the front of the line which was quite nice.
- Jekyll Island, GA. The sand was the winner here. Along the coast it is packed enough to take a wheelchair, and the beaches do have ramps that go to the beach. I did find about 50′ stretch that was a hard push through a wheelchair so we went with walker, and then returned to the wheelchair at the beach. Supposedly there were beach wheelchairs accessible but we were unable to get through the line. Regardless, the beach was miles and miles long and was gloriously beautiful.
- Linville Falls, NC, Wisemen’s View. Walks through woods are rarely wheelchair accessible which makes this detour a pleasant surprise. It is a several mile detour but a gorgeous one in fall. At the end of 4-5 miles of gravel roads you finally end up in a parking lot that has a paved wheelchair path. About 1/4 of a mile down the path it opens up and your on the top of a cliff (that is secured with small walls) that overlook a beautiful gorge. It’s a stunning view and worth the detour. It is a medium effort to go back up the path but not insurmountable. The paving is well-done.
What are your favorite destinations for vacation that are wheelchair accessible?