Planning a holiday is always challenging. You’ve got to get time off work, book an affordable flight, find accommodation, and map out things to do and places to see. However, when you throw in traveling in a wheelchair (or any form of restricted mobility) into the equation, things can get a lot more complicated.
Recently, this HuffPost story of a Marine Corps veteran and amputee who successfully summited Mount Everest inspired us all and made us think about how restrictions in mobility shouldn’t hinder one’s goals for travel and adventure. It also made our travel experts dig deep to find 7 major US cities that are not only convenient to get around on wheelchair, but also great travel destinations with lots to do. Here’s our list, in no particular order of preference:
The colonial architecture and rich history aside, Boston has a lot going for it when it comes to being wheelchair friendly. The Freedom Trail gives you wheelchair access from the picturesque Boston Common all the way past sites such as the Massachusetts State House and Faneuil Hall. The iconic home of the Red Sox, Fenway Park, is also easily accessible and has wheelchair friendly tours. Boston’s public transport system, be it the “T” subway system, buses, or taxis, all allow for easy getting on and off at major stops. You can easily wheel around the must-see New England Aquarium as well as the numerous other museums and historic sites.
2. Washington DC
The nation’s capital has arguably one of the best wheelchair access systems in the world. Wheelchair users visiting DC can easily tour the White House, Capitol Building and the Supreme Court of the United States. Making your way around important landmarks such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial are also extremely convenient.
Chi-Town doesn’t take a back seat to other cities when it comes to its infrastructure for those with special mobility needs. Whether it’s the Magnificent Mile full of its upscale boutiques and restaurants or the impressive view from the Willis Tower, Chicago is so easy to access. You can effortlessly roam around the famous pathways of Grant Park (don’t miss the water show at Buckingham Fountain!) and soak up the energy of the pier. Even though its “L” elevated train system is not the easiest to wheel on and off, the local buses and taxis are more than capable of accommodating you.
4. San Diego
With its temperate climate throughout the year and pristine beaches, San Diego is an excellent destination for the summer. The city’s central Balboa Park, with its many museums and theaters, is super easy to wheel around, while the San Diego Zoo and the Maritime Museum have also made accessibility a top priority. In addition, if you feel like getting close to the water, free of charge manual and powered beach chairs are available on reservation basis at 7 main beaches, including at Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Coronado Beach, and Silver Strand State Beach.
While some downtown areas may be difficult to wheel through due to steep sidewalks and streets, public transport – including the Link Light Rail, buses, and taxi services – is totally capable of getting you around most of Seattle. You can easily visit the historic Pike Place Market and even go to the top of the iconic Space Needle. The Seattle Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoo are also highly rated sites to visit while being convenient to access.
Tropical beaches and friendly people can make Honolulu the perfect getaway this summer. You’ll find no difficulty in accessing sites such as the Polynesian Culture Center (where you can try a great authentic Luau) and the historic USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor. Wheel along the scenic Waikiki Beach and you can sample some great food in one of the beachfront’s many restaurants. You’ll find that many beaches also provide manual or powered beach chairs for wheelchair users to get close to the water.
7. Las Vegas
Sin City’s investment in making the city completely wheelchair accessible is laudable. While all Las Vegas casinos and hotels have top-class services for the mobility restricted, you’ll find that watching a Cirque Du Soleil show or catching your breath on the High Roller (the world’s tallest observation wheel) are equally as easy. You can even dare to zip line at the Freemont Street Experience and take in the lights and hustle and bustle of The Strip with ease.
Whether you, a loved one, or a friend need to travel to one of these vibrant cities, you can take comfort in knowing that experiencing them to the fullest doesn’t have to involve a compromise.
Have we left out any wheelchair-friendly cities on our list? If you do know of more great cities please mention them in the comments section below and explain why you think they are good.