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Disability Friendly Vacation Ideas

Updated on October 16, 2014

If you are living with a disability or know someone who is, you probably know that finding a good vacation spot that provides easy access can sometimes be a real challenge. You don’t have to go far to find a great vacation spot that offers ease of access if you face mobility challenges. Check out these great vacation spots right here in the U.S. that provide fun and relaxing options for those of us with disabilities.

Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado skyline
Denver, Colorado skyline | Source

The husband and I recently returned from our summer vacation to Denver and it was one of our favorite US travel destinations. Denver has all the great accessibility options many wheelchair users look for when choosing a vacation city, not to mention tons of great places to stop and visit.

Curb cuts can be found on most every sidewalk and Denver even placed 16th on the list of Most Walkable Cities, meaning those of us with mobility issues can avoid the hassle of finding transportation.

Look for a hotel downtown. There are lots of affordable options and you are right in the heart of the city, making it easy to walk to attractions like the 16th Street Mall, Capitol Building and Denver Art Museum. If you are looking for a great meal without a hefty pricetag, be sure to stop by Sam's No. 3 and The Mellow Mushroom on the 16th Street Mall.

Accessible taxis are a great option for visiting the Denver Zoo, Botanic Gardens and countless museums around the city which all have elevator access to all floors and push button entrances. Check out the Metro Taxi company which is easy to work with and won’t leave you waiting on the sidewalk too long for an accessible vehicle.


San Antonio, Texas

people visiting the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
people visiting the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas | Source

San Antonio is perhaps most well-known for the River Walk and site of the Alamo. For over 20 years the city of San Antonio has worked diligently to ensure its attractions are barrier free and accessible for all visitors. New ramps, pathways, and elevators have been installed over the years to allow visitors with mobility issues to access all of the shopping and restaurants that the city has to offer.

Not to mention that the weather in San Antonio is warm year-round, eliminating the need to worry about navigating through snow or ice during the wintertime. There are great hotel options close to the River Walk which make it easy to find an accessible hotel room and give you quick access to all of the city hot spots right outside your hotel room door.

The slower San Antonio pace makes it a relaxing atmosphere if you have a mobility impairment and are looking for some place where you won't be rushed or have to worry about crowds.

Accessible RV Campgrounds

Accessible RV
Accessible RV | Source

Traveling in comfort is at the top of the list for many travelers with disabilities. Avoid the hassles of flying and risking your mobility equipment being damaged by the airline and consider renting an accessible RV. Hit the road in an accessible camper or RV that now come with such amenities as wheelchair ramps and lifts, wide doorways, roll-in showers, lowered kitchen cabinets and counters and more.

Call rental places in your area to see what options they have available or check out websites like www.handicapped-rvs.com. If you have your own mobile home or RV, consider staying at one of several accessible campgrounds across the country which offer accessible bathroom facilities, full hookups, and pet friendly environments if you have a service animal.

San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge | Source

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California has many great accessible vacation hot spots. San Francisco is perhaps at the top of the list with all public transit systems being wheelchair accessible, which you will want to take advantage of to avoid navigating the hills. Request a copy of the Muni Access Guide to find out the best transportation option for you during your stay. While taking one of the many available trollies might not at first seem an easy option for wheelchair users, many trolley drivers offered a hand to load up a manual chair that easily folds if you can transfer easily out of your chair to a trolley seat.

You will not run out of things to do while you are there. The Golden Gate Park is a great option for anyone with mobility limitations as most of the area is flat and allows you to stroll around at your own pace and take in sights of the Golden Gate Bridge. Lots of neighborhoods are walkable so if you plan to stay for a few days, tackle China Town or Haight Ashbury one day which you will find to be very walkable with lots to do so it won’t require shuffling your mobility equipment to and from several locations.

Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf have been renovated to include a wide variety of shops and restaurants that are designed to accommodate large crowds and offers many options in one area so you won’t have to worry about traveling around from place to place.

Boston, Massachusetts

View of the Boston Public Gardens
View of the Boston Public Gardens | Source

If you are a history buff, Boston should be at the top of your vacation list. For a historic city, Boston is surprisingly a great option for the disability community to visit.

The Freedom Tour featuring the home of Paul Revere and the burial place of Sam Adams, among others, is fully wheelchair accessible.Wheelchairs are also available for use at the Harvard Yard Tour if you typically use crutches or walking accessories and want to give your legs a rest.

Since 1991, the city has offered Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles or WAVs that can be hailed just like a taxi if you use a wheelchair and need a ride anywhere within the city. ADA accessible Harbor Cruises can also be arranged. Boston even sponsors an ADA Celebration Day each summer with food, music, and fun to commemorate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Grand Canyon

Overlooking the Grand Canyon
Overlooking the Grand Canyon | Source

While many of the facilities at the Grand Canyon were installed well before the Americans with Disabilities Act took place, for an outdoor vacation spot, the Grand Canyon can be a great place to explore your adventurous side.

All shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible. Consider visiting with your own vehicle and take advantage of the Scenic Drive Accessibility Permit that allows people with mobility issues entry to many areas closed off to the general public. Look for the free accessibility guide at the Visitors Center when you arrive.

You won’t want to miss Mather Point, which you can easily access from the Visitors Center via paved paths and a wheelchair ramp which offers spectacular canyon views. If you have a permanent disability, you can also request the free Federal Access Pass which is good for your lifetime for any national park. Use the pass as a permit for your vehicle and look for various discounts that the Access Pass provides during your visit.

Cruises

Going on a Cruise
Going on a Cruise | Source

Cruises are a great option for people with disabilities. Look for an all-inclusive package that comes with everything you need, eliminating having to go far for meals or in between attractions. There is no need to arrange travel or get yourself from place to place – your food, drink, accommodations, and attractions are all in one spot!

Premium Lines cruises which include Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Lines, and Royal Caribbean may be a great option if you are looking for a relaxing, less active vacation. They typically offer less adventurous activities than other cruise lines and many are located right here in U.S. waters. Some cruise lines even offer a dedicated crew member to ensure people with disabilities are cared for in the event of an emergency.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas | Source

If you are looking for fun, entertainment, and accessibility all in one place, Las Vegas is the city for you. Las Vegas has more guest rooms accessible for people with disabilities than any other city. While hotels on the strip may cost a bit more, the convenience is worth it. Most hotels on the strip have all the amenities, including lots of dining options so you won’t have to go far to have a great experience. If it's your first time visiting, Caesar's Palace is a great hotel choice. It's centrally located on the strip so it makes it easy to visit attractions all around.

The strip is fully accessible with all the attractions down the same road so it’s great for navigating wheelchairs. Most hotel concierges offer scooter rental so if you are a manual wheelchair user and want to save some strength, it might be a good option. The strip is jam packed with things to see and do, but if you're going to make a day out of walking, you'll be glad you had an electric scooter to help you get to and from faster.

All shows are extremely wheelchair friendly. If you’re booking a show, be sure to ask for accessible seats so you’ll be comfortable and have a great view at the same time. Most shows are held within the hotel resorts so if you are planning a show later in the evening, you can also plan your other day activities in the same place and even eat your meals without requiring transportation to go to a different place to eat, relax, and be entertained.

Disney Resorts

Wal Disney Castle
Wal Disney Castle | Source

They don’t call this the most magical place on earth for nothing. Disney is one of the most inclusive vacation options around the world. Disney Resorts are committed to creating a great experience for the whole family and accommodating people of all abilities.

Wheelchairs are available for rent, and they even publish lists of those attractions that may require visitors to walk by themselves, be assisted by others, or be able to access with their mobility equipment so you can plan your trip ahead of time.

They are also service animal friendly. Be sure to stop by guest services when you arrive, especially if you have a child with a disability so the staff can recommend the attractions that will work best. The accommodating staff will prove to you that Disney really is the most magical place on earth.

San Diego Beaches

Beach friendly wheelchair
Beach friendly wheelchair | Source

Looking to catch some rays on your vacation? San Diego beaches are a must-see with endless views, beautiful waters, and the warm weather of Southern California.

Most people don’t think of the beach as the most wheelchair friendly environment, but the city of San Diego has ensured that visitors of all abilities will be able to have fun in the sun. Through the efforts of the city, there are now a variety of wheelchair accessible beach chairs available throughout the city for public use, making the beach a welcoming vacation for people with disabilities. The chairs are typically free of charge so be sure to stop by the rental shack as soon as you arrive.

The beach is great for a day trip, allowing you to pack your own picnic and eliminate the need to arrange travel from place to place. Most hotels will also offer shuttles to and from the beach making San Diego a no brainer if you are looking for relaxation and easy access.

What are some of your favorite disability-friendly vacation spots? Share your vacation locations in the comments!

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    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What a great idea to write about handicap-accessible vacations. Lots of interesting places listed and really pretty photos!

    • WheelerWife profile image
      Author

      WheelerWife 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for the vote & share, Bishop!

      Glad you enjoyed Annie - thanks for stopping by!

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 3 years ago from Spain

      This is totally awesome, everybody needs a vacation. We are quick to forget the less able bodied until it happens to ourselves.

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 3 years ago from USA

      Awesome hub! Voted up and shared.