8 Awesome Accessible Attractions In The USA

accessible attractions

Photo via Snufkin/Pixabay

By Katie Foote, Epicure & Culture Contributor

Limited mobility and other disabilities don’t have to restrict your fun. If you’re looking for things to do in the United States that everyone can enjoy regardless of physical abilities, there are plenty of accessible attractions to choose from. We’ve rounded up our eight favorites, including hiking, caving, cruising and more.

accessible attractions

Stagecoach Guest Ranch. Photo courtesy of Stagecoach.

1) Stagecoach Guest Ranch

Yucca, Arizona

Stagecoach Guest Ranch was built with the founder’s wheelchair-bound daughter in mind. For awhile the family tried traveling domestically to dude ranches, but could never find any that could accommodate a person in a wheelchair. Instead of giving up, they decided to make one.

You won’t find any stairs at the ranch. Moreover all doors — including bathrooms in the guest rooms — are extra wide, while the swimming pool and hot tub come with a chair lift. They also have special wheelchair ramps to help guests with limited mobility mount a horse, and provide a side walker or a helper in the saddle if balance is also an issue.

accessible attractions

Maid of the mist. Photo courtesy of Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation

2) Niagara Falls

New York State

Visiting Niagara Falls is a dream for many. Thankfully, this natural wonder is not off limits to those with limited mobility. The iconic Maid of the Mist boat ride is accessible for wheelchairs.

You can also take in the majestic beauty of the falls from the State Park’s handicapped-accessible paths, ride the Niagara Scenic Trolley and get misted by the Bridal Veil Falls on the Cave of the Winds tour. The Cave of the Winds tour allows disabled visitors to reach the permanent deck, just 75 feet away from the falls.

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accessible attractions

Family fun at Fantastic Caverns. Photo courtesy of Fantastic Caverns.

3) Fantastic Caverns

Springfield, Missouri

Exploring a cave isn’t usually something you likely associate with accessible travel; however, Fantastic Caverns, just north of Springfield, caters to people with different levels of physical disabilities.

Fantastic Caverns boasts being the only cave in North America large enough to drive through. Guests get to see the cave via a Jeep-drawn tram that can hold a wheelchair. You can also learn about the cave’s intriguing history  — it was discovered by a farmer’s dog, and was later used as a speakeasy — and the environmental issues at the site.

accessible attractions

Backcountry Trails. Photo courtesy of Backcountry Trails.

4) Back Country Trail System

Orange Beach, Alabama

The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail encompasses over 15+ miles and seven different paved trails through Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama. The entire trailway is wheelchair accessible and was designed to highlight the six unique ecosystems that thrive on Alabama’s beaches.

The trail runs through the Gulf State Park, which includes two miles of beachfront, a fishing area, a campground (with cabins, cottages and primitive sites) and a Nature Center. You’ll also find butterfly gardens, freshwater marches and coastal swamps. Beach Power Rentals rents powered beach wheelchairs so your explorations aren’t limited to paved areas. There are also numerous water activities that you can try like kayaking and paddle-boarding.

accessible attractions

USS Midway Museum. Photo courtesy of the USS Midway Museum.

5) USS Midway Museum

San Diego, California

Travelers with audiovisual impairments should consider visiting the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California. The museum organizes adapted tours for people who have low vision or are deaf, so they won’t miss out on the full experience. The Antenna International hybrid tour pairs non-sighted visitors with a docent, who guides them to the points of interest on the ship and helps them navigate the ship’s four levels. Even able-bodied visitors sometimes struggle with climbing ladders, ducking under hatches and walking across cavernous spaces.

Visitors listen to the audio recording once they arrive at the designated spaces. For those who can’t hear, there’s a sign language tour that provides lively narration.

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accessible attractions

Morgan’s Wonderland. Photo courtesy of Morgan’s Wonderland.

6) Morgan’s Wonderland & Inspiration Island

San Antonio, Texas

Morgan’s Wonderland is an amusement park built for the enjoyment of all. Gordan and Maggie Hartman were inspired to create an amusement park when their daughter Morgan, who has physical and cognitive challenges, struggled to connect with children at a local swimming pool.

When the park opened in 2010, it made history as the first-ever fully handicapped-accessible theme park. The park features more than 25 elements, including rides, playgrounds and other colorful attractions that appeal to those with and without disabilities. People with special needs are admitted free of charge, no questions asked.

The company is also building Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a neighboring water park which will be fully accessible for children and adults of all abilities. Expected to open in Spring 2017, the tropical-themed park will have a river boat ride and five water play areas. Like Morgan’s Wonderland, every part of the park will also be wheelchair accessible.

accessible attractions

Taylor’s Dreamland Playground. Photo courtesy of Taylor’s Dream.

7) Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground At Kreager Park

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground is named for an 11-year-old girl who brought the idea of an inclusive space to Fort Wayne. Taylor Reuille and her friends raised funds and worked with Parks & Recreation to create a space where kids with and without disabilities can build skills for life through play. It has features and amenities catered toward children with physical, developmental, cognitive and sensory disabilities.

The 42,000 square-foot playground opened on June 10, 2011 and has three equipment and activity areas, a spray ground, accessible ramps and walkways, a picnic pavilion and accessible parking. It also includes safe surfaces and sensory stimulation.

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accessible attractions

YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park. Photo courtesy of Visit Estes.

8) Wilderness Trails

Estes Park, Colorado

If the free lifetime entrance pass to all US National Parks for those with permanent disabilities wasn’t enough motivation to get outdoors, Colorado’s Estes Park offers more reasons for you and your family to explore the wilderness.

Thanks to its wheelchair accessible trails, visitors can enjoy a hike in the adjacent Rocky Mountain National Park. Sprague Lake Trail and Lily Lake Trial both have wheelchair-friendly restrooms, picnic and fishing areas. Coyote Valley Trail, which follows the Colorado River, is also accessible.

Stay at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park for ADA approved lodging and inclusive activities. The Estes Park Center hosts camps for children with cochlear implants, people with epilepsy, families who have a member with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and more. Customized schedules allow groups to enjoy numerous recreational opportunities, such as the climbing wall, accessible swimming pool, arts & crafts and zip lining. The park’s trained staff specialize in diversity and inclusion, making sure everyone feels welcome.

What other accessible attractions in the US would you add to the list? Please share in the comments below!

Further Exploration:

The Secret To Navigating Public Transportation With A Disability [Blog Inspiration]

Discovering: Accessible US Travel Guide for Wheelchair Users [Great Reads]

Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves [Style Meets Safety]

accessible attractions

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Katie Foote may be a physicist by trade but she travels the world any chance she can get. After four years of semi-nomadic life as she finished her PhD, she's recently moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Despite beginning a more traditional life, she has insight on how to travel the world on a graduate student budget (cheap!), explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and authentically experiencing new places by connecting to locals. When she's not doing physics or globe-trotting, she likes to swim, do yoga and hike (or "tramp" as they say in New Zealand). Check out Katie's blog to follow her adventures around the world.

2 Comments

  1. This list will definitely be useful for many readers. Fantastic Caverns seems especially exciting. A Jeep-drawn tram that can hold a wheelchair would put a smile on many visitor’s faces.

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