Travel Destinations for Wheelchair Users
Looking for the best wheelchair-accessible cities to travel to? The following information will help you to decide which accessible destinations are right for you and will ensure that your mobility concerns don’t cause a single missed moment on the vacation!
What Makes an Accessible City?
Accessibility can mean a variety of different things, from wheelchair access to comprehensive information. When analyzing the accessibility level of cities there are several markers to consider, including:
- The built environment and public spaces
- Transport and related infrastructure
- Information and communication, including new technologies (ICTs)
- Public facilities and services
Top Wheelchair Accessible Cities in the U.S.
There’s no doubt that the United States is one of the best countries to travel to or within. With 50 states to choose from, you can find the perfect travel destination for anyone!
But not all states or even cities are created equal, especially in terms of providing facilities for those with disabilities. INSIDER found some of the most accessible cities the US has to offer, according to various studies and rankings. From hydraulic lifts to a wheelchair-friendly zipline, the following are a few of the most wheelchair-accessible cities in the US.
- Washington, D.C.
- San Francisco, California
- Denver, Colorado
- Orlando, Florida
- New York City, New York
Our nation’s capital is home to iconic attractions like the Washington Monument, National Air, and Space Museum, Lincoln Memorial, and of course, the White House. As the home of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s only right that D.C. would be at the top of the list for wheelchair-accessible cities.
The sidewalks are wide and the Metro is known for being one of the most accessible transportation systems in the world. Visitors will also find several accessible accommodations, restaurants, and restrooms in the city. Plan a spring getaway if you want to catch the cherry blossoms and avoid any snowy or icy pathways.
San Francisco, California
Initially, San Francisco’s famously hilly landscape may not seem like a very wheelchair-accessible place, but luckily that is not the case. Not only are their main public transportation services BART, Caltrain, and MUNI accessible, their drivers are also trained in securing wheelchairs.
Enjoy accessible facilities while visiting accessible sites like Alcatraz, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Denver is a hidden gem of accessibility. The Mile High City’s Metro is very wheelchair accessible. In addition, people with disabilities get priority seating on the metro and city buses. Those with wheelchairs also have access to an accessibility service that takes them anywhere within a ¾ mile radius of transportation.
The city’s paratransit system operates 23 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers unlimited rides. True to its reputation for fantastic outdoor activities, there are accessible campsites, hiking trails, and river rafting.
You may have heard of a little theme park called Disney World. Walt Disney parks and resorts as well as Universal Studios are two theme parks known for their great accessibility. LYNX, their public bus service, features hydraulic lifts and restraining belts for the seats.
And when you’re not riding roller coasters or visiting Harry Potter World, visitors will find that the majority of establishments provide accessible experiences and accommodations as well.
New York City, New York
Most of the attractions in the Big Apple are wheelchair accessible, and a wheelchair user can get a discount by purchasing a City Pass, which provides entrance to some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, including the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial & Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Although not included in the City Pass, you should definitely add accessible destinations like Central Park, Chinatown, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Brooklyn Bridge to your must-visit list too!
Which Countries are the Most Wheelchair Accessible?
Would you like to experience some of the most wheelchair-accessible travel destinations in the world? Luckily, there are an array of places that are perfect for any globe trotter and offer accessible travel options. Whether you’re looking to stay closer to home, or head outside the United States, these famous vacations are sure to create memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some of the top international wheelchair-accessible destinations:
- Hong Kong, China
- Sydney, Australia
- London, England, U.K.
- Barcelona, Spain
- Vienna, Austria
- Paris, France
Hong Kong, China
One of the most magnificent attractions of Hong Kong for wheelchair users is the multimedia show A Symphony of Lights. This 14-minute show is the largest light and music show in the world and can be comfortably viewed from the Avenue of Stars located in Kowloon.
The bus and subway systems are wheelchair accessible, although the buses rotate between wheelchair-equipped doors and regular doors, which requires closer inspection than in some cities.
Being an island, many accessible beaches and areas are reachable only by ferries. The Star Ferry at Victoria Harbor is wheelchair accessible and offers panoramic vistas of the soaring city line.
Victoria Peak provides visitors with an eagle-eye view of the city. Adventurous travelers can reach the mountaintop by tram or car. The tram is not wheelchair accessible, so a private car or taxi is needed to accommodate wheelchair users. Once atop this spectacular mountain, visitors will enjoy paved, level walkways perfect for traversing by wheelchair.
To start, consider a stroll along Coogee Beach’s accessible walkway. This walkway hugs the coastline and offers views of the ocean as well as many wildlife viewing opportunities. There are a number of accessible parking lots nearby and a keyed accessible bathroom just a short distance from the walkway.
Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens feature wheelchair-accessible entrances, restrooms, paths, and indoor venues. The gardens are also a perfect spot for seeing sights such as the famous Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The gardens are home to a well-known Wollemi Pine, a tree once thought extinct, dating back over 200 million years.
Speaking of the Sydney Opera House, this world-famous Sydney theater is committed to accessibility and offers level access seats, wheelchair locations, and companion seating.
One of the most notable wheelchair-accessible travel destinations is London, England.
London features the Black Taxi Cabs, the most accessible taxis in the world. These wheelchair-accessible taxis are designed to be fully accessible with wheelchair users in mind. Every car has a ramp, high door openings, and extra room inside for wheelchairs.
The Black Taxi Cabs are an excellent way to visit royal landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews. Buckingham Palace offers step-free access through a private front entrance, and the Royal Mews has level access throughout.
London includes wheelchair access to the 360-degree views from the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel-like structure where you can view Big Ben. The glass-enclosed capsules of the Eye are also step-free.
Cruises remain one of the most wheelchair-friendly forms of travel. Why not consider a cruise along the Mediterranean on your list of wheelchair-accessible vacations!
The port of Barcelona is beloved by wheelchair users because reservations are not needed to use the fully accessible routes to the city center. All-access points offer ramps, elevators, and level walkways.
Land travel throughout the city offers equally good options. The buses are 100% accessible for wheelchair users with extendable ramps at the rear doors and priority spots for wheelchairs. Additionally, the metro is fully accessible and offers step-free access or elevators to the platforms.
Barcelona has designed accessible walkways throughout the city and one can mostly avoid cobblestones.
Don’t forget to visit the medieval district of Barcelona. This area features an excellent rolling tour and includes sights such as the Barcelona Cathedral, built over 500 years ago, and the Santa Maria del Mar church, erected in the 14th century.
You’ll also take in the sights and sounds of Sant Jaume Square, Las Ramblas boulevard, and the former Royal Palace. Outdoor cafes and restaurants dot this area, so you can take time to enjoy paella, bombas, and so many other Spanish-themed culinary delicacies.
If you’re looking for a wheelchair-accessible city flooded with history and culture, look no further than Vienna. Aim to visit warmer weather months, from April through October, when snow is less likely to be obscuring your path.
Vienna has a wheelchair-friendly public transit system and many accessible attractions, restaurants, stores, and hotels. Luckily, this city is flat and has level paving, and the plentiful outdoor cafes and parks offer a welcome break from sightseeing and rolling about.
Vienna’s Stephansplatz is a pedestrian-only area in the heart of the city. Here you can roll by centuries-old cathedrals, monuments, souvenir shops, and many restaurants with level entry access, all within a span of an hour or less.
Home to the famous Lipizzaner stallions, the Spanish Riding School offers visitors the chance to experience the elegance of the horses while listening to a classical repertoire of the famous composer Johann Strauss. Wheelchair seats can be purchased by phone or email. When you arrive at the school, you’ll push a wheelchair access button by the main entrance and a staff member will take you to a private entrance with a manual wheelchair ramp.
Additionally, the Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, and the Albertina art museum offer accessible accommodations that highlight the history and art of this fine city.
Believe it or not, the Eiffel Tower is accessible for wheelchair travelers! The Tower has three levels, and the first two are wheelchair accessible. A reduced rate is available for those in wheelchairs and the guests who accompany them.
Other fan-favorite sights with wheelchair accessibility include the Louvre Museum, Champs-Élysées Avenue, Tuileries Garden, Musée de l’Orangerie, Notre Dame Cathedral, Palais Garnier, and the Palace of Versailles.
Go Further with the Redman Power Chair
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We invite you to learn more by continuing to explore our website.