I’ve written a lot about wheelchair accessible vacations around the world. Many of them have been places that I’ve personally been to and others are places that I simply dream of visiting one day. Whenever I’m researching new handicapped accessible travel destinations for wheelchair accessibility, I often search Google for hours upon hours.
Many times, the information is not out there or it’s extremely difficult to find. Also, trusting non-wheelchair users when they explain how accessible a destination is can be tricky. I’ve called hotels before and been told that they were completely accessible, only to later find out that their only accessible feature was an elevator.
As I’ve grown Curb Free with Cory Lee, I have met other wheelchair-using travelers and I love hearing their stories about places they’ve been. There’s really no better way to learn which destinations are accessible than hearing it directly from people who need the same kind of accommodations as you.
We all want to find the best place to travel to, especially the best vacation spots for wheelchair users. Over the past few weeks I have reached out to other wheelchair users and they have graciously shared their picks for accessible travel destinations. When searching for the best travel destinations for a disabled person, it’s often difficult to find vacations for people in wheelchairs. Here are the most wheelchair accessible destinations that these 8 wheelchair users have ever been to, and what I think are the top destination ideas for the disabled:
Sonoma Valley, California
By Jeanne Allen of incredibleACCESSIBLE
The scenic 17 mile Sonoma Valley, with its spectacular mountain vistas, ancient oak trees, and sunlit valley vineyards, is California’s original Wine Country, dating back to 1824.
Winding from the historic pueblo of Sonoma to the tiny hamlet of Jack London’s Glen Ellen, the Sonoma Valley is one of the world’s most romantic and wheelchair accessible travel destinations.
Surrounded by mountains, the valley floor is flat, making a walk/roll around Sonoma’s historic plaza with its renowned restaurants and one-of-a-kind quaint shops easily accessible. Wineries, restaurants, shops, and country inns dot the landscape with the vast majority having been renovated or built new for wheelchair accessibility.
Case in point, Buena Vista Winery, California’s oldest winery founded in 1857, recently completed a massive ADA upgrade, incorporating ramps and elevators to make tours, tastings, and restrooms an accessible travel experience for all.
With Mediterranean temperatures rarely below freezing, Sonoma Valley is an idyllic world-class, year-round handicap accessible travel destination.
Thinking of visiting Sonoma Valley? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.
Western Wall in Israel
By Emily Ladau of Words I Wheel By
Wheelchair-friendly vacations, are few and far between. Too often, wheelchair users come up against structural barriers when visiting the world’s most well-known historical sites. While visiting Israel, I initially expected to experience this problem almost everywhere we went. Not so!
I had the opportunity of a lifetime to visit the Western Wall, which is the world’s holiest Jewish site. It is a beautiful, peaceful place welcoming to people of all religions and all abilities.
So long as you make sure to approach the Western Wall through the vehicle entrance area, nothing stands in your way and the ground is even and flat. Few moments have been so breathtaking as the moment I was able to roll right up to the Western Wall and place my hands on it.
Thinking of visiting Jerusalem? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
By Sheri and Tony of Happy on Wheels
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware may not sound like an exotic getaway, but it is the perfect beach vacation for individuals who use wheelchairs. My husband and I are both wheelchair users, and we have been vacationing there for years, including our upcoming 10th-anniversary celebration.
We love it for many reasons:
- The boardwalk is long, wide and fully wheelchair accessible for handicapped travelers.
- There are ramps down to the sand and free beach wheelchairs.
- You can navigate the boardwalk, surrounding stores and streets without using a vehicle.
- There is a wide choice of accessible hotels and condominiums in Rehoboth Beach with roll-in showers.
- It is clean and the beach is beautiful
- There are many accessible shops, restaurants and bars
- Most importantly, the people that live, work and vacation in Rehoboth are friendly and helpful to individuals with disabilities.
Traveling with a disability can be frustrating. Rehoboth makes it easy. That is why we love it.
Thinking of visiting Rehoboth Beach? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.
By Rob of The Bimblers
Dublin, a 1000-year-old city, rich in heritage, culture and charm but is it a wheelchair accessible travel destination?
This was the burning question we had when we visited the Emerald Isle’s capital city earlier in the year. Older cities are notoriously difficult to navigate in a wheelchair.
Cobblestones, archaic walkways and random stone stairways are all part of the fabric. Somehow, Dublin’s managed to keep them all intact without impacting on access; which makes it a truly wheelchair accessible city.
Considering its international appeal Dublin is surprisingly compact and for the most part flat. There seems to be an innate desire to welcome everyone, it runs through its veins; much like the River Liffey which cuts the city in half.
Apart from an abundance of accessible accommodation in Dublin, easy access public transport, dropped kerbs and delayed traffic lights, our lasting memory is the Irish people.
Wheelchair accessibility is made so much easier when everyone you meet is happy to help; sometimes when you don’t want them to! The main tourist attractions, shopping areas and entertainment venues are either fully accessible in a wheelchair or with a bit of the Irish craic made accessible.
We have no hesitation describing Dublin as one of the world’s most handicapped accessible cities!
Thinking of visiting Dublin? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.
By Rob of The Bimblers (#2)
Home to the world’s best poet and playwright, Stratford-upon-Avon is much more than a shrine to William Shakespeare. This chocolate box, picture perfect Tudor town in the heart of England has somehow kept its period charm whilst meeting the access needs of wheelchair users and people with mobility problems.
Bridget and I spent a couple of days in Stratford-upon-Avon and were pleasantly surprised how wheelchair accessible it is. You’d expect the main public areas to be accessible and they are.
The town has dropped kerbs, flat pavement’s and, believe it or not, level cobblestones, but all the main tourist attractions are also accessible which we didn’t expect. Ordinarily, tourist attractions should be accessible and there can be no excuses for it if they’re not but given most of the attractions in Stratford-upon-Avon were built in the 15th century, any kind of access is commendable.
We visited most of the main Shakespeare attractions, attended the theatre and investigated the tours; we didn’t encounter one access problem and can’t wait to return.
We have no hesitation encouraging you to visit Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s by far the most wheelchair friendly vacation we’ve been on!
Thinking of visiting Stratford-upon-Avon? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
By Ellie Potts of Freewheelin Through Life
One of my favorite vacation spots is St. Simons Island, Georgia. St. Simons is both beautiful and wheelchair accessible. Accessibility is important to me because I have Cerebral Palsy and experience life in a wheelchair.
One of the most accessible places on St Simons is the beach! The sand is very hard and packed, so I am able to roll on it without using a beach wheelchair.
We always stay in the same condo, which has a very unusual feature, a personal elevator! The condo itself has a very open floor plan, which allows me to move easily from place to place.
St. Simons Island is very old and historic, so not every store in the “village” is accessible. Even though it is annoying that not every store is wheelchair accessible, the atmosphere of the village makes up for that.
St. Simons is definitely a place that everyone should experience! Especially for the handicapped travelers among you!
Thinking of visiting St. Simons Island? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.
By Denise DiNoto of DeeScribes
When people think of traveling to Australia, they often think of Sydney, Melbourne or the Great Barrier Reef. Those are amazing destinations, but if you have the time I think you should travel to Tasmania.
Tasmania is the island state of Australia, located about 150 miles (240 kilometers) to the southeast of the mainland. Hobart, the capital city, is the second oldest capital city in Australia.
Seeing as the city is located on the banks of the Derwent River under kunanyi/Mount Wellington, you’d think that wheelchair accessibility would be a big problem. Island vacations tend to be a bit tricky for those in a wheelchair or those that have other accessibility issues.
The greater Hobart area includes municipalities on both the eastern and western shores of the river.
Hobart is a hilly city, but the sidewalks are well maintained and have curb cuts at intersections. Wheelchair access at stores, restaurants and attractions is good.
If the main entrance is not wheelchair accessible, there is often a sign directing you to the side or rear for access. This is something I find so valuable and wish more places would implement.
The historic waterfront and Salamanca Place attract many visitors. The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is one of the largest private collections of modern art and antiquities.
The panoramic view from the summit of kunanyi/Mount Wellington is worth the steep, curvy drive. Public buses are accessible and there are wheelchair accessible cabs as well, plus a plethora of wheelchair friendly hotels.
It is possible to rent an accessible van but you should do this well in advance as it books quickly. If you use a large power chair and plan to visit Hobart, be advised some airlines only use smaller regional jets which may not accommodate your chair.
By now, I feel that accessibility on planes should have improved, but it still proves to be an issue on many flights.
JetStar uses Airbus planes, which provide a larger cargo opening, unobstructed by the engine. Measure your chair and ask your airline in advance when making your reservations to make sure you are on a plane which can accommodate your needs.
Hobart is a travel destination for cruise ships as well, offering you the chance to spend a day exploring the city as part of a larger Australian tour. This a great way to travel for wheelchair users as cruise ships tend to be a lot more wheelchair friendly than planes.
Thinking of visiting Tasmania? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.
… and finally, here is my pick:
By ME, Cory Lee (hey, that rhymes!)
Sydney, Australia is by far the most wheelchair friendly destination that I have visited.
As you may remember if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I traveled to Sydney in early 2014. I researched accessibility online before going, but wasn’t exactly sure how true it would be. However, I quickly discovered that wheelchair accessibility in Sydney was superb!
All of the ferries had a loading ramp and many of the taxis were accessible also. Getting around Sydney was an absolute breeze! Transportation is always one of the biggest obstacles that I come across as a powered wheelchair user, but I was extremely happy that I didn’t even have to worry about calling and waiting on wheelchair accessible transportation while in Sydney.
I stayed at the wonderfully accessible Swissotel Sydney while in the city and it was actually one of my favorite stays ever! Nearly all of the attractions, restaurants, and shops are easy to get into as well.
There really wasn’t anything that I wanted to do and couldn’t. So if you can stand that looooong flight to Australia, I promise that it will be worth it.
What is the most accessible place that you have been to?? Please comment below and it may get added to this post!
*A Note from Curb Free with Cory Lee: This post includes affiliate links. When you click on a link, I may receive a small compensation, which will help this blog grow into a better resource for disabled travelers.