Nothing beats a great family road trip; however some destinations are just a better option for folks with mobility issues. Whether it’s mom or dad in a wheelchair, junior in a stroller, or grandma who just needs to go a little slower, these road trip stops are great choices for the whole family – no matter what their ability level.
Hop on the lift-equipped Old Town Trolley for a good overview of the city, and stop along the way to visit Old Town, the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park and Coronado Island. If you’d like to enjoy the beach, power beach wheelchairs are available for free loan at lifeguard stations at Coronado, Oceanside, Mission Beach, Silver Strands and Imperial Beach.
Although Las Vegas is typically considered an adult playground, the kids will love the Sirens of TI (Treasure Island) and the Fountains of Bellagio shows, both of which can be seen from level viewing area on the street. And if you need a hotel with a very accessible room, Treasure Island’s “high needs” accessible rooms feature ceiling track lifts and bathrooms with a roll-in shower.
Take a stroll on the River Walk or hop on the wheelchair-accessible Rio Taxi for a good tour of this historic area. Soak up a little history at The Alamo, where you’ll find level flagstone paths to the Long Barracks, and ramp access to the front entrance of the shrine itself. And for a real treat, spend the day at Morgan’s Wonderland, a 25-acre theme park which features several rides, all of which are 100% wheelchair-accessible.
Start your day with city tour on the Historic F-Line Trolley, which runs from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Castro, and features roll-on access via boarding platforms and wayside lifts. Hop off and explore Fisherman’s Wharf, then walk down the level street to Pier 39. Last but not least, take an accessible boat ride out to Alcatraz, where you’ll find shuttle service up to the hilltop prison.
Known as the quintessential family road trip, this national park features an accessible boardwalk around the iconic Old Faith Geyser. After the eruption, take the barrier-free asphalt trail in front of the general store to Upper Geyser Basin, to Castle Geyser and Crested Pool. And don’t miss Norris Geyser Basin, located just a short drive away. Even if you can’t manage the trail, there’s a great view from the accessible overlook behind the museum.
This open-air living history museum feature 301acres filed with historic buildings and costumed docents. Access maps and rental wheelchairs are available at the barrier-free Visitors Center. The capitol building has a unique concealed lift, while there’s level access to some buildings like the blacksmith’s shop. Other buildings, like the Governor’s Palace, the Raleigh Tavern and the Randolph House only have lift or ramp access to the first floor, with photos of the tops floors available
The best way to see the sights in the capitol city is on an ANC bus tour. If you are unable to transfer or need a lift-equipped vehicle, they provide an on-call service for their lift-equipped bus. It’s a great way to see the sights, and it’s almost like a personal tour. No advance reservations are required for the on-call service; however they are recommended, especially during peak travel times.
Yosemite Falls tops the must-see list in the park, with a ¾-mile accessible trail leading from the shuttle bus stop to the base of the falls. Just up the road, you’ll also find an accessible trail at Happy Isles, which is covered with decomposed granite and crosses the Merced River in several places.
Enjoy a Boston Duck Tour, which features a tour of Boston’s historic sights, followed by a splashdown in the Charles River. A portable lift makes this fun tour accessible to everyone. Save some time to explore the Freedom Trail, which features a 2½ mile wheelchair-accessible pathway past 16 historic sites in downtown Boston. And don’t miss the Paul Revere House and the Old North Church, which both feature ramp access. And although the doorway at the house is narrow, it’s still doable for most folks.
Stretching from Titusville to well past Melbourne, Florida’s Space Coast offers a number of fun family attractions, including the Kennedy Space Center. An access brochure is available at the front desk, and there are level walkways, wide doorways and ample space to maneuver in all the exhibit areas. A lift equipped bus runs from the main visitors complex to Launch Complex 39 and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Don’t miss the 3-D presentation at the IMAX theater; and save some time to walk (or roll) aboard the Space Shuttle Explorer.
Known as the guru of accessible travel, Candy Harrington is the author of several accessible travel guides including the classic Barrier-Free Travels; A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. Her newest title, 22 Accessible Road Trips; Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers, features 22 driving routes across the United States with information about wheelchair-accessible sites, lodging options, trails, attractions and restaurants along the way. A great resource for Baby Boomers, couples, families, or anybody who wants to hit the road. Candy also blogs about accessible travel issues at www.barrierfreetravels.com.