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.
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.
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.Looking for accessible attractions? Check out these amazing #US nature parks and museums. Click To Tweet
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.
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.
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.These #US attractions prove the sky's the limit for people with disabilities (esp. #3!). Click To Tweet
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.
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.Fun-loving people with #mobility limitations will enjoy these amazing #family activities in the #US. Click To Tweet
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!
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