8 Wheelchair Users Share the Most Accessible Place They’ve Ever Been

The World's LEASTAccessible Cities-2

I’ve written a lot about wheelchair accessible destinations 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 destinations for 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. most handicapped accessible travel destinations

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. Over the past few weeks I have reached out to other wheelchair users and they have graciously shared their picks for accessible destinations. Here are the most wheelchair accessible destinations that these 8 wheelchair users have ever been to:

 

Sonoma Valley, California

By Jeanne Allen of incredibleACCESSIBLE

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

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 accessible destinations. Surrounded by mountains, the valley floor is flat, making a walk/roll around Sonoma’s historic plaza with it’s 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 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 accessible to all. With Mediterranean temperatures rarely below freezing, Sonoma Valley is an idyllic world-class accessible year round destination.

Thinking of visiting Sonoma Valley? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

Western Wall in Israel

By Emily Ladau of Words I Wheel By

 

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

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.

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

By Sheri and Tony of Happy on Wheels

 

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

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; 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; and 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.

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

Dublin, Ireland

By Rob of The Bimblers

 

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

Dublin, a 1000 year old city, rich in heritage, culture and charm but is it wheelchair accessible?
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. Access 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 wheelchair accessible cities!

Thinking of visiting Dublin? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

Stratford-upon-Avon, England

By Rob of The Bimblers (#2)

 

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

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 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 accessible town we’ve visited!

Thinking of visiting Stratford-upon-Avon? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

St. Simons Island, Georgia

By Ellie Potts of Freewheelin Through Life

 

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

One of my most favorite vacation spots is St. Simons Island, Georgia. St. Simons is both beautiful and 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 accessible, the atmosphere of the village makes up for that. St. Simons is definitely a place that everyone should experience!

Thinking of visiting St. Simons Island? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.

Tasmania, Australia

By Denise DiNoto of DeeScribes

 

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

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. The city is located on the banks of the Derwent River under kunanyi/Mount Wellington. 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 accessible, there is often a sign directing you to the side or rear for access. 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 busses 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. 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 destination for cruise ships as well, offering you the chance to spend a day exploring the city as part of a larger Australian tour.

Thinking of visiting Tasmania? Check hotel prices in the area by clicking here.

 

… and finally, here is my pick:

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

Sydney, Australia

By ME, Cory Lee (hey, that rhymes!)

 

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

 

 

Sydney, Australia is by far the most wheelchair friendly place 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 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.


most handicapped accessible travel destinations most handicapped accessible travel destinations

What is the most accessible place that you have been to?? Please comment below and it may get added to this post!

most handicapped accessible travel destinations

*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.

 

 

 

49 Comments

  • Mitch Weiner says:

    As of right now, a tie between Berkeley, California and New York City, both of which had friendly people willing to help if need be, great even pathways without worry of having to contend with hills or bumps and excellent ramps !

  • Mark says:

    Hi Corey,

    Great article, we have been on holiday to a couple of places in Spain that have been great for wheelchairs, first off was Javea which had an accessible boardwalk onto the beach, with accessible toilets and long flat promenade with access to lots of restaurants and shops. The other was Santa Eulalia in Ibiza, we went there for an afternoon and we were impressed with the provisions for wheelchair users, including beach wheelchair, adapted toilets and a covered area on the beach for disabled beach users. We have a blog post on Santa Eulalia here if you want to take a look: http://www.tripility.com/blog/accessible-travel-blog/2014/august/8/santa-eulalia-disabled-access-guide/ and we’ll be publishing another for Javea soon. Thanks, Mark

  • Paula says:

    Yosemite Valley. I grew up camping and exploring. When my son was born with a rare genetic syndrome that left him wheelchair bound, I had to adapt. Yosemite was the first time I felt like I could truly show him the world. There are a few hikes that go beyond where the wheelchair can go, but the accessible trails give you just as good of a view in most cases. Down in the valley is 100% accessible with clean bathrooms and wide paths.

  • Gord says:

    WASHINGTON, DC All the monuments are accessible and for the most part free.

  • Ryan Biddulph says:

    Excellent list Cory and a great service you’re doing too. After visiting Sydney a few times I see why they’re about tops on this list. The folks there make pretty much every spot accessible to everybody.

    Ryan

  • Altaira Hatton says:

    Switzerland. It has the best combination of structural and social accessibility I’ve found so far.

  • Heather Merrell says:

    I am curious if any readers have been on an Alaskan cruise. I am looking for a cruise to be wheelchair accessible as well as family friendly. I have an 11 year old son. I know the ships will be accessible. But my concern is about any ports of call or destinations that might not be accessible. I’d love to hear about other’s experiences and what to do and see. And were there any obstacles that I need to be aware of. Thank you!

    • ED says:

      ….I did Alaska a few years ago. Me:…..bilateral above knee amp……super effeciant in my chair…..a master per se. I found ALL of Alaska not even close to the term of “accessable”. I did do the little train thing to the gold rush areas……seems to me there were a couple of chair bound persons on board so it is possible. Juno was….ok getting around as long as you can “hop” your chair. “Fish farms”….sucked. I’m glad I went….will never go again. T’is pretty though…..OH!….whale watching on the boat I was on was an adventure…..lol…ED..

  • Bali, Indonesia

    We just came back from a three week holiday from Bali! This place, is magical and if one seeks relaxation, culture and beautiful nature is at the right destination here. Though, perhaps not all infrastructure is accessible at the first sight, people always provide a helping hand. Transport can be organised by Bali Access and we found several accommodations that are accessible (e.g. villa G, Maso Christian, The Lovina). Bali Access can also rpovide many tours to temples, bird parks etc. Daily massages are a must and as they are so cheap and unbelieveable good! Also BIPD dive school or Water Workxx provide diving services for people with disabilities…. what an amazing adventure. We will soon provide a tour on our webpage where you can get further tips. We can’t wait to be back! Verena and Tobi

  • Rob says:

    Hi Cory,
    Thanks for inviting us to contribute. It’s great to see others experiences and recommendations.
    Rob

  • Lauren says:

    Wonderful post! It is wonderful to be able to find out information about wheelchair accessible travel destinations through the Internet and posts like these before making travel plans. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kathy Christie says:

    From the pictures, it appears that everyone is only able to travel with a manual wheelchair. Is this correct ? Is is possible to take power chairs on the plane?, or to rent one at your destination ?

    • Cory Lee says:

      Hi Kathy! I actually only travel with a powered wheelchair so it’s completely possible. Just be sure to instruct the airline exactly how to handle your chair. :)

      • Kathy Christie says:

        Thank you so much Cory … I can’t imagine getting to somewhere like Rome or England and having only a walker. I’m sure I could push okay with a manual, .. but man, it would be so nice to have my power chair to see the sights. GENERALLY SPEAKING, IS THERE AN EXTRA CHARGE TO TAKE YOUR CHAIR WITH YOU? I’M SURE IT WEIGHS OVER 2000 pounds. CHARGE ? THANKS !

        • Cory Lee says:

          There is not an extra charge to take a powered wheelchair with you. The airlines cannot charge you for any medical equipment. :)

          • Kathy Christie says:

            Wow! …. It’s great to know where to go to get answers! Thank you … when I’m able to travel, I’m sure you’ll hear from me again, …Thank You So Much !

  • Sue Sommerville says:

    I found Barcelona to be accessible. The city has a hop on hop off bus with a ramp so you can go to the sites. Most of these have handicapped washrooms and the boardwalk and Las Ramblas is very accesible. We stayed at a hotel with a wonderful roll in shower and we had lots of help at the airport.

  • Alana says:

    We are wanting to plan a surprise trip for my parents in their 70s, my Mom is in a manual wheelchair, unable to use her legs at all. Looking for suggestions for that age group. One thought we had was a cruise; we read that Sun Princess Cruise Ship was accessible. I would love any suggestions!

    • Cory Lee says:

      Cruising is definitely a great option! I’ve cruised with a couple different cruise lines and Royal Caribbean was probably the most accessible. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email via my Contact page. :)

    • Joann C says:

      We’ve found most major cruise lines to be accessible, but there are a few tips to make things easier: book an accessible room that is VERY near an elevator. Hallways outside the staterooms can be narrow and often get blocked by maintenance carts, etc., so limit how far they need to travel to get to the elevator. Once they get off the floor their room is on, everything is much more open. Also, any time the crew offers to help push the chair, tell them to say yes! Ramps on and off the ship can be very steep at times, and I’ve often wished I had accepted the offer of help pushing my husband’s chair on them.

    • ED says:

      …considering their age group….i would recommend Holland America…..as they cater to this group……..been on 39 cruises so far and it IS the way to go for those ….challenged…..ED…

  • Kevin Gagne says:

    Thankyou all for shairing the info ive ben in my chair 26 years always looking fro new places to go that i can get around in keep the post comeing………………..

  • Jenny says:

    I am from Bali and I have trouble getting around my home town. some areas have been made accessible by the provincial and local government on a peace meal basis and forming a complete chain of travel. For instance the guiding which I help install in the famous Bali Bombing I which Kuta Beach are accessible to wheelchair. But the stores alongside have not been adjusted to wheelchair. MC Donald Burger is appallingly inaccessible.. Some attractions in Kuta are accessible, e.g. Water Boom and others. Public transportation are just incredibly not access, even after years of public pressure from the DPO(disabled people organizations). We definitely need a Mental Revolution to make Bali Access or friendly to wheelchairs. If you guys know and have time to do it, join me! In addition, Jakarta is worst! The Government has no idea at all about Accessible Chain of Travel. Some sidewalks have been installed tactile/guiding blocks, but there is no curb cuts… What a mess!

  • Lisa says:

    I have a question, my husband is wheel chair bound, and we worry about airplanes , how does it work with a wheelchair? is the chair removed from him? What about going to the restroom? Any answers would be appreciated

  • Steve Plimley says:

    I live in England and use a manual chair, I have tried to travel, as much as possible and have found lots of great and not so great places, but without a doubt, the most accessible (and fun) place I have visited is Las Vegas; there is not much I couldn’t do there!!

  • Liz Armeson says:

    Hm, this was definitely an interesting list, to say the least. It makes a lot of sense that if you want to go on vacation in a wheelchair, then it’s important to go somewhere that you’ll actually be able to get around. But, after visiting Dublin this last summer, I can actually concur that it is a very wheelchair-friendly destination, and a great vacation spot. Thanks so much for sharing, this was a really interesting article about wheelchair-friendly places.

  • If the world had a law for wheelchair ramps to be required in public establishments. Wouldn’t it be nice? Nice article. Love it.

  • Paula says:

    This is a great informative site! My husband and I are currently checking into a trip to Ireland and the information on Dublin is valuable to us. I will be taking my mobility scooter and I have done that in the past with no problems. It is very important though to be sure the airline is on board with you so there are no issues that could damage the scooter. We recently went to Barcelona and found it very accessible and a terrific city to visit. I rented a scooter there. If anyone has any other information about places to visit other then Dublin in Ireland, I would welcome any information. Thanks again for this terrific site!

  • Tara Allen says:

    Accessible destinations would definitely be a life saver when it comes to wheelchairs. I like knowing that those that have wheelchairs are still able to travel pretty easily. I like the list of destinations that you displayed for those in wheelchairs to easily travel to.

  • Nan Ground says:

    My husband and I got two passes to St.Peter’s Square at the Vatican to see Pope Francis on September 10. We have never been to Italy. Philip is in an electric wheelchair. He can walk with one person assist and supports. The best way to Italy, where to stay, how long to stay, travel from Rome to ? I think we should find a way to the South of France. It all needs to be wheelchair “possible” to work.

  • Yulia says:

    Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and other large cities in Japan were more accessible than anywhere else I’ve ever been. It’s a dream for anyone in a wheelchair. They leave the accessible restrooms free for those who actually need them (and they’re the best toilets and cleanest restrooms in the world). The trains and subways are all accessible with ramps and elevators to each platform. The elevators even have an added set of buttons that are at eye level for those who are in wheelchairs. And elderly Japanese were invaluable in helping me navigate when I couldn’t find something myself. The subways have special maps to show those with wheelchairs which exits to use and the platforms have yellow paths with raised bumps for those who are visually-impaired or just need help navigating to find the accessible elevators and restrooms. the design is so intuitive, I found myself able to easily spot where I needed to go without even looking up.

  • Geoff says:

    Hi wheelys just want to know if any body had a contact in Bali for wheelchair transport as I’m looking to take my son there on holidays at Xmas
    I have emailed a few company but know replies

    Thanks Geoff

  • SHIRLEY BONNETT says:

    Can anyone help ? My granddaughter is 27 and has this wish…..to swim with the dolphins. She has spina bifida and is paralized from waist down-getting around in a manual wheelchair. Would only do so in the U.S. Would also need transfer help getting her in/out of water.

  • SHIRLEY BONNETT says:

    Can anyone help? My granddaughter is 27 and a WISH….to swim with the dolphins….or at least get in with them. She has spina bifida and is paralized from the waist down-getting around in a manual wheelchair. Would only do so in the U.S. and would need transfer help getting her in/out of the water. HELP PLEASE

  • Saphyre says:

    I have just recently come from a trip with my completely wheelchair bound partner. Las Vegas was the most wheelchair accessible location I have ever been to! Elevators and walkways everywhere, you can even rent an electric chair there for your stay. On our second day we traveled around 12 miles straight, the chair we rented moved fast, and we werent limited in any way. Our accessible room at the signature at mgm grand was amazing, service everywhere was helpful, elevators and ramps throughout the whole city, it was the most amazing experience.

  • Eileen Goropeuschek says:

    I wanted to inform anyone reading that we visited Italy with a scooter for a handicapped individual. It was fabulous. We used SAGE travel to help guide us. They were spectacular. We entered the vatican, ancient rome, pompeii, venice, florance, and tuscany. The people in venice were very patient and took the time to get my mother in law in a water taxi. She scooted around cobblestone streets. She was not able to get into the catacombs but our trip was more than we expected. SAGE helped us set up tours with kind, informative tour guides. Definitely look into them. We tried to go through Disney, Taulk, Globus and Perilli tours but no one wanted to take on a handicap traveler. Happy travels!

    • Cory Lee says:

      That is so great to hear!! I’m thrilled that you guys had a fantastic accessible trip. Italy is very high on my to-visit list, and I’ll keep your recommendation in mind when I’m planning a trip. Thanks! :)

  • Becky says:

    Thank you for this information! We have a terminally ill daughter and want to get in as much as we can. ❤️

  • Jennifer Albert says:

    Thanks for this information, I really appreciate you for this. Disabled persons are also enjoy their life with various types of wheelchairs. I have also buyed travelling wheelchair from https://goesanywhere.com for my grandfather. He is very happy because he will now travel the places where he wants to go.

  • Elaine Kovick says:

    My family just came back from 3 days in Disney World, and a 4 night Disney Cruise. Both were extremely accessible, even in my outdoor rear wheel drive power chair, which has a large turning radius.
    Two pieces of advice, try to stay at a monorail resort, this greatly improved our transport times compared to using Disney buses. Some of the lifts and tie downs took a long time on the older buses.
    Second, make sure your first stop is at the customer service center to confirm with them that you are disabled. It eliminates the long wait times. The parks are HUGE, and there are many people renting scooters and chairs for convenience. It might be to call before your trip and see what is required, but they told me they would accept my state’s disability card for my handicapped parking placard.

  • Brian says:

    This is awesome! Love seeing all the places ready for those with disabilities. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Kishore says:

    Great post! Really nice to see you helping out and inspiring people to get out and see the world. Keep it Cory you are a good man :)

  • Angela Byrne says:

    Thanks heaps for your site it’s very informative. Me and my wheelchair bound partner just did parasailing here in Paihia New Zealand with Kiwiparasail.The crew on board the boat were amazing and lifted my partner on board in his chair and he’s no light weight either, they even gave us $20 discount each. We would love to go to Paris so any info on accommodation etc would be fantastic.

  • Marcia Levert says:

    I am about to be married and my fiancé is in a power chair. We were thinking about a cruise but my concern is wheelchair accessible transportation from the airport. Do you know how I would go about finding out how to arrange it?

    • Cory Lee says:

      Hey Marcia! Congrats on getting married!! What airport will you be flying into? I’ll try to find something…

    • Joann Connolly says:

      Congrats Marcia. I’ll leave the airport transportation to Cory Lee, but wanted to pass along a tip about cruising. Try to get a stateroom that’s not only marked as accessible but is also close to an elevator. We’ve found the hallways are often blocked by maids’ carts, food trays, etc., making it very difficult to get from the room to the elevators. I’ve found deck floor plans on some of the cruise lines’ websites, as well as on Travelocity, helpful for identifying good rooms. Best of luck!

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