There is so much in the world to see and experience, and the desire to do so does not vanish simply because a traveller uses a wheelchair, walker or scooter.
While the United States has passed landmark laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there’s still a long way to go to ensure that tourist destinations, products and services — both public and private — are accessible to all. So, as with any trip, all it takes is some advance planning that will allow you to better enjoy your travels. To start, take a look at our travel experts' top three favourite wheelchair-friendly places to visit in the USA.
There are a ton of monuments, museums, cultural institutions and other attractions in the nation’s capital, and access for wheelchair users is widespread, with partial exceptions for some sites hampered by geography (Arlington National Cemetery) or pre-modern-era architectural configurations. In addition, admission to the national museums is free to all. One of the most accessible and inspirational sites of all is the FDR Memorial, dedicated in 1997 — which depicts President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair. Wheelchair users can easily see the White House, Capitol Building and the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
It's easy to get around the Emerald City with fully accessible light rail transit, including to and from the airport. Enjoy scenic trips on the water with wheelchair-accessible ferry service aboard Washington State Ferries.
Travelling with little ones? Head over to Seattle Children's PlayGarden to check out the community vegetable garden and play on the fort and musical structure. The PlayGarden was designed to be safe and fun for children with cerebral palsy, autism and other physical and developmental special needs. On rainy days (let's be honest, it is Seattle) there's plenty of indoor activities to enjoy at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, MoPOP pop culture museum, Pacific Science Centre and the Space Needle — all of which are accessible for wheelchairs, strollers and walkers.
Los Angeles, California
You're never short of entertainment in LA. Travellers using wheelchairs and other mobility devices can catch a concert or a game at all kinds of fully accessible venues, including Walt Disney Concert Hall, STAPLES Center, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Memorium Coliseum, Banc of California Stadium and Hollywood Bowl.
Enjoy the city's foodie scene. There's a wealth of restaurants in the city's hub which have large accessible washrooms, low tables and either ramps or no steps to enter. Don't miss out on a fun day at California Science Centre, Universal Studios Hollywood, LA Zoo, or Getty Center and Getty Villa
Best of all, the beach is not out of reach! Specialized beach wheelchairs, both motorized and non-motorized, are available to the public free of charge on a first-come-first-served basis. Additionally, you'll find beach access mats across the county's most popular beaches (see here for a helpful map showing where to find beach wheelchairs or access mats).