Looking to plan a wheelchair accessible vacation for yourself, a friend or family member? Start with this list of America’s most wheelchair accessible destinations. We limited our search to the country’s 30 largest cities by population, and each of these top 5 are backed by an excellent rating in our wheelchair accessibility scoring metric, which considers the following:
- Barrier-free access to public transportation.
- Availability of taxis with wheelchair ramps.
- “Rollability” – Sidewalk quality, curb cuts and slope.
- Accessibility of the city’s top attractions and sights.
- Hotels with ADA compliant rooms and bathrooms.
Let’s start with number 5.
#5: Chicago, Illinois
Winter weather may not make The Windy City the most livable for wheelchair users, but it is an excellent tourist destination in the summer and fall. Get a glimpse of the incredible skyline from the observation decks at the Willis (Sears) Tower or John Hancock Center. Lose your voices cheering for historic sports franchises like the Bulls and Cubs. Spend
hours days shopping along the Magnificent Mile. Take a dinner cruise and enjoy the breeze off Lake Michigan at Navy Pier. The pier, built in 1916, boasts a wheelchair accessible ferris wheel and beer garden.
The city should invest in making the elevated train system more accessible, but city buses will get you everywhere the ‘L’ can’t. Don’t forget to try some of the famous Deep Dish-style pizza before you leave! Read more in our detailed Chicago wheelchair accessible travel guide.
#4: Las Vegas, Nevada
Are you prepared for the excitement of Sin City? Everything Las Vegas has to offer is accessible to those in wheelchairs. If you are interested in entertainment, take your pick of eight Cirque Du Soleil features, comedy acts, magic shows, music performances by top recording artists, and so much more. Take a spin on the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel. Careen down a zip line at the Fremont Street Experience (YES, you really CAN do it!). Indulge yourself with the finest cuisine, from the large spreads at the casino buffets to the inspired dishes at luxurious 5-star restaurants.
We haven’t forgotten about the gambling! You can try your luck at the slot machines, place your bets at the table games, and set your wager in the sports books — it’s all easily accessible. Jump between casinos using the city buses and trams. In a city that is made for rolling, you’ll get to experience exciting displays along The Strip, from the Volcano eruption at The Mirage to the Fountains at Bellagio.
Find out how to experience it all in our Las Vegas wheelchair travel guide.
#3: Washington, D.C.
We don’t have to tell you what there is to see in America’s capital city. Rest assured – the District of Columbia is easy to navigate, with perhaps the most accessible public transportation system in the world. Uncle Sam has also made it easy for you to visit the national monuments and museums. Don your red, white and blue and prepare to unleash your patriotism.
Need more information? Check out the Washington, D.C. wheelchair travel guide.
#2: Boston, Massachusetts
Bean Town is calling. It can offer you exciting sporting events, popular beer and a load of Revolutionary War history.
Roll your wheelchair along the Freedom Trail. The path will take you 16 historically significant sites: museums, meetinghouses churches and burial grounds. Start at Boston Common, and take the 2.5 mile journey past the Massachusetts State House, Faneuil Hall and the USS Constitution. You’ll also get to see-and enter-the Old North Church, where Paul Revere lit two lanterns to signal that the British would attack by sea.
Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. Despite its age (opened in 1912), the ballpark is easily accessible to wheelchair users. Excellent seats are available at nearly all price levels. Take yourself out to the ballgame!
Boston didn’t make it to number two on this list by being stingy on access. Its public transportation system is one of the nation’s oldest, but also near the top in our accessibility rating. The subway system can be navigated easily by wheelchair, even if the downtown stations are a bit cramped. Access to taxis with wheelchair ramps is also very good – you won’t be waiting around for an hour. Our Boston wheelchair accessible travel guide has answers to all of your questions.
Boston is calling. Will you answer?
#1: Seattle, Washington
The only thing that will keep you Sleepless in Seattle is the city’s incredible beauty. In spite of the onscreen characterization of the local weather, rain won’t ruin your trip to the Emerald City. It isn’t as bad (or as frequent) as they say.
The Pacific Northwest is one of, if not the most picturesque, regions in the United States. The City of Seattle is located between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Parts of downtown, particularly those closest to the Puget Sound waterfront, are difficult to navigate in a wheelchair due to the steep grade of sidewalks and streets. Public transportation can be used effectively to climb these hills, which rarely lasts for more than a few blocks. With the exception of one streetcar line, public transportation is completely accessible.
So, what is there to do? Start with a sightseeing cruise on the Sound. Follow that with a visit to the historic Pike Place Market and the very first Starbucks Coffee location. Ascend to the top of the iconic Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair. Visit the EMP Museum, one of the nation’s most impressive tributes to rock music, science fiction and popular culture. If you’re looking to show your appreciation for the natural wold, check out the Seattle Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoo. All of these attractions are fully wheelchair accessible.
Located about an hour outside the city in Everett, Washington, is the Boeing Aircraft Factory and Museum. Take a tour and watch the construction of the manufacturer’s latest airplane, the 787 Dreamliner. Hail a wheelchair accessible taxi cab to get you there – Seattle has one of the largest such fleets in the United States!
Consult our complete Seattle wheelchair travel guide for more information on visiting America’s fastest growing (and most accessible) metropolitan area.