Planning a vacation should be an exciting and joyful experience for everyone, regardless of physical abilities. Unfortunately, accessibility can often pose challenges for individuals with mobility limitations or those who use wheelchairs. However, with the growing awareness of inclusivity in travel, wheelchair-friendly vacations are becoming more accessible and attainable than ever before.
In this article, we will explore the top 5 wheelchair-friendly vacation destinations in the USA. From stunning beaches to iconic cities, there is a place that should fit each traveler's desired getaway.
1. Maui, Hawaii
Known for its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and warm hospitality, Maui offers an unforgettable experience for wheelchair users. The island has made significant strides in providing accessibility, making it an ideal destination for a wheelchair-friendly vacation.
Accessible Activities and Attractions in Maui
Maui offers many wheelchair-accessible attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From scenic drives along the Road to Hana, to whale watching tours on a boat, and adaptive surfing in Maui's warm water, there is no shortage of wheelchair-friendly experiences on the island.
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- Haleakala National Park: Breathtaking landscapes, scenic sunsets and unique flora and fauna, the 30,000-acre Haleakala National Park is a must stop when visiting this beautiful island. Hosting the Haleakala mountain, Maui’s highest peak, experiencing and photographing natural surroundings can be inspiring and memorable.
- Maui Ocean Center: Focused around Hawaii's diverse and one of a kind marine life, this place exhibits the unique Pacific coral extensively, well known green sea turtles and sharks.
- Adaptive Kayaking: Paddle out to enjoy the incredible and inspiring views of the Makena coastline and the rising green hills up Haleakala. You may even see a turtle or two! Each tour includes two guides for safety and comfort.
- Sunset Dinner Cruise: This tour consists of a boat trip combining food, music and the best sunset views Maui has to offer!
Accessible Beaches in Maui
One of the highlights for wheelchair users in Maui is the availability of wheelchair-accessible beaches. Some of the top beaches to consider going to are Ka'anapali Beach, Kamaole Beach, and Wailea. You can also rent beach wheelchairs in Maui that will help you move around on the sand, get into the water, and immerse yourself in that beach lifestyle.
Where to Stay in Maui
There is a plethora of accommodations in Maui that are equipped for wheelchair accessibility, many of which are located in prime areas such as Ka'anapali and Wailea. Below is a list of hotels with guaranteed accessibility.
Hotels in Maui with guaranteed accessibility
For a hassle-free vacation experience, Wheel the World offers customized multi-day packages in Maui. These packages include accessible things to do, ground transportation, and accommodations tailored to your needs. Discover the best of Maui with peace of mind, knowing that every aspect of your trip is planned and designed for accessibility and enjoyment.
2. San Diego, California
Located on the picturesque southern coast of California, San Diego offers a delightful mix of sunny beaches, vibrant neighborhoods, and world-class attractions. The city has made significant efforts to ensure wheelchair accessibility, making it a fantastic destination for wheelchair-friendly vacations.
Accessible Activities and Attractions in San Diego
- USS Midway Museum: Named after the famous World War II naval and aerial battle, The Midway is a retired aircraft carrier and museum in San Diego. With restored aircrafts and 10 acres of exhibits, not only helicopters and airplanes can be found, but also real objects and testimonies about crew members are exhibited.
- La Jolla Shores Beach: A perfect beach for surfing, scuba-diving and paddle boarding, La Jolla Shores is a 1 mile long sandy beach in San Diego. A permanent lifeguard station is available and shops and restaurants are nearby. There is a park with seating areas and a playground for children to play in, with beach views and palm trees.
- San Diego Zoo: Considered one of the top zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo offers many unique experiences, tours, and attractions.
- Fleet Science Center: The goal for its visitors is to learn and appreciate the power of scientific inquiry. With more than 100 kid-friendly interactive exhibits, visiting this scientific powerhouse can be a fun and a learning family activity.
Where to Stay in San Diego
San Diego has several options for accessible accommodation depending on your preferences. You can check them out below.
Hotels in San Diego with guaranteed accessibility
3. San Francisco, California
If you're looking for more of a city destination, this may be the one. Often regarded as one of the most wheelchair-accessible cities in the U.S, San Francisco offers a blend of captivating landscapes, cultural diversity, and renowned landmarks. Public transportation is also very accessible in this city, making it a great option to get around and see as much as you can. The city's commitment to accessibility makes it an ideal destination for wheelchair-friendly vacations.
Accessible Activities and Attractions in San Francisco
- The Golden Gate Bridge: See San Francisco’s skyline from its most famous landmark. Running, walking, strolling, and wheeling can be possible and accessible. A cafe and a step-free visitor center can be found on-site, as well as accessible restrooms.
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Focusing on 20th-century modern art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is composed of over 26.000 pieces of art. Paintings, sculptures, photographs and even design and architecture exhibits, the museum has had a library since 1935 with extensive resources to explore and research.
- Guided Handbike Tour: Hit the trails, the streets, and idyllic San Francisco walkways as you make the most of the adaptive biking equipment available and cycle to see one of San Francisco’s most prominent monuments – the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Fisherman's Wharf: Explore the waterfront of the San Francisco Bay. A lively area with beautiful views, fun street performers, the famous Ghirardelli square, and delicious seafood.
- Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour: This accessible tour will take you out of San Francisco to explore California’s scenic landscapes.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
San Francisco has a range of wheelchair-accessible hotels that cater to the specific needs of guests with mobility challenges. With over 25 guaranteed accessible hotels, you are sure to find something that fits your needs. Check out the full list of hotels here.
4. Orlando, Florida
A renowned vacation destination known for its world-class theme parks, entertainment options, and warm weather. The city has made significant strides in becoming wheelchair-friendly, ensuring that visitors of all abilities can experience the magic and excitement it has to offer.
Accessible Activities and Attractions in Orlando
- Disney World: The park has done a significant job at accommodating people with disabilities. It has wheelchair-accessible attractions, accessible transportation within the parks, and designated viewing areas for shows and parades. An ideal place for some family fun.
For a free option, you can go to Disney's BoardWalk which is located within Disney Resort. It can easily be navigated in a wheelchair and is a fun experience where you'll find many shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
- Wekiwa Springs State Park: Relax in grass settings and bathe in tranquil waters. Wheelchair-friendly restrooms are available and there is an accessible entrance to the water, through a ramp as well as a stair-lift.
- Orlando Science Center: Learning in an interactive and accessible way about the latest science discoveries is possible at the Orlando Science Center. Focusing on an array of science research areas, such as animals, dinosaurs and space, learning experiences are offered for children and adults.
- Daytona Beach: An accessible beach that should be on your list of places to visit. It is known as the ‘World Center of Racing’, and Daytona International Speedway has attracted drivers from around the world since 1902. There are accessible parking spaces and ramps to access the beach in a wheelchair.
- Lake Eola Park: Located in downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is a breath of fresh air in the middle of a bustling city. With accessible pathways that surround the lake, wheelchair users can circle around and enjoy the views. There are swan-like boats at the lake that are also wheelchair accessible.
To find more attractions and activities in Orlando, click here.
Where to Stay in Orlando
As one of the most wheelchair accessible cities in the U.S, there are numerous hotel options that provide full accessibility features. Check out the full list of hotels here.
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
With it's rich culture and lively atmosphere, New Orleans is another amazing accessible vacation destination. Explore the vibrant streets of the French Quarter, indulge in delectable Creole cuisine, and immerse yourself in the city's iconic jazz scene.
Accessible Activities and Attractions in New Orleans
- French Quarter Food Tour: Led by a local guide, this tour showcases the highlights of New Orleans cuisine where you'll taste some of the most delicious food available in the famous French Quarter.
- Treme Cultural and Food Tour: This accessible private tour features the highlights of New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in the country. See Creole architecture, try classic Creole cuisine, and immerse yourself in New Orleans culture.
- National WWII Museum: This accessible, immersive museum offers a captivating journey through the war's history, with interactive exhibits, personal stories, and artifacts that bring the era to life
Where to Stay in New Orleans
New Orleans has a variety of different hotels that are accessible and cater to travelers needs. To check out the full list of guaranteed accessible places, click here.
Bonus Vacation: Accessible Cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage
Are cruises wheelchair accessible? This one is. Embark on the beautiful Koningsdam Cruise from Vancouver to Alaska, sailing through the stunning inside passage: an intricate web of waterways famous for its stunning landscapes, ice fjords, and mossy rainforests.
The cruise line guarantees wheelchair-friendly rooms, world-class dining, and live entertainment. Every stop of this trip offers accessible activities, many of which are listed on the itinerary. If you are looking for more fun things to do, please get in touch with our travel experts and they'll be able to work with you.
Join the Conversation
These are some of the best accessible vacations you can go on this summer in the U.S. Hopefully something was able to catch your eye, but regardless, it is possible to plan accessible trips in many countries, cities, and different places all around the world.
Let us know what some of your favorite accessible destinations are by commenting down below!
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