The pandemic put a near total stop on wheelchair travel across the world. But with the vaccine now being disbursed, people across the US are thinking about traveling again, including many people with spinal cord injuries. But where should you go? Is there anywhere that’s 100% safe for wheelchair-users? The answer to the latter is no, but if you are vaccinated or you feel you can safely travel, we have travel ideas and some safe travel suggestions for wheelchair-users below.
Florida has always been one of America’s vacation spots, and in 2021 for good or bad, it’s more popular than ever. Sadly, Miami has become a hot spot for people not wearing masks and for big crowds. Instead, we recommend traveling to other cities like Saint Augustine, which is the capitol and full of history, or Pensacola, which is less crowded and located in the panhandle of the state.
Wheelchair-users have been traveling to Florida all through the pandemic. In Saint Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is an awesome open air historical site that is surprisingly accessible and safe thanks to the largeness of the site so you can keep your distance from others. And in Pensacola, you’ll find less crowded beaches with beach wheelchair rentals.
The Kennedy Space Center located in Cape Canaveral, Florida is another great idea if you want to travel to Florida this year. And lastly, if you are set on visiting Disney World in Orlando, make sure you double mask. The crowds at Disney world are large. We recommend waiting to go unless you are vaccinated.
California is slowly coming back to life, and they need tourists just like every other state. Disneyland will be reopening in April, and most things are open, although there are restrictions. You can still go to the beach. For example in San Diego, there are several public beaches, such as Mission Beach, that offer free power beach wheelchair rentals. You can learn more about all of the beaches in California that have beach wheelchairs here.
California is such a large state and there is plenty of room to roam. There are several beautiful state and national parks located in the state which make it a great place to travel to in the summer; especially this year when there are not as many concerts and festivals happening. There are also opportunities for adaptive adventures that you can book with a small group with the High Fives Foundation and others throughout the state. Learn more about these adaptive adventure organizations here.
National or State Parks
During the Summer of 2020, camping surged due because of the outdoors being the only safe option, and this year camping and hiking will continue to be massively popular. All US citizens with permanent disabilities can go to National parks free of charge but make sure you book ahead. It is called the Access Pass. To apply for yours, click here.
Note: Many National and state parks get booked early so reserve the days you’re wanting to go as soon as possible.
There are also hundreds of accessible miles of hiking trails in various parks across the country. To find accessible trails in a city you plan on visiting or to find accessible trails near you, click here.
As usual, Las Vegas is a popular destination for wheelchair-users with several wheelchair-users traveling during the pandemic and sharing their travels online. On the strip, you will see people both wearing masks and not wearing masks. This is the same throughout the city. While most of the city is open, including all restaurants and most gambling operations, some indoor entertainment is limited.
If you want to stay at one of the most accessible hotels in Vegas, check out Aria. The accessible rooms here have ceiling lifts and adjustable beds. And the prices to fly to Vegas and stay there have dropped because of pandemic. Many people are taking advantage of these historically low prices before they return to normal. To stay safe in Vegas, avoid rolling the strip at peak times and double mask when crowds are unavoidable. And don’t forget to have hand sanitizer on you to disinfect after each slot machine use.
North and South Carolina
If you want to stick to the East coast of the US, the beaches in North and South Carolina are spectacular, with hundreds of beach towns to explore, or bigger beach towns like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which is where you’ll find beach wheelchairs. Charleston, South Carolina also offers lots of outdoor historical walks you can roll safely and the city is close to popular beaches like Folly Beach and Hilton Head. Carolina Beach meanwhile in North Carolina is amazing and has free beach wheelchairs and access mats found all along the beach. Learn more here.
Texas has been getting a lot of flak for lifting their restrictions on public businesses. While this may make it great to travel for options available to the average tourist, it does make Texas a state you should only consider if you’ve been vaccinated. With that said, there are several great cities to travel to. Austin is a super great choice because of the huge food scene and the live music you’ll discover everywhere you go. There is a lot of accessible hiking in this city as well.
If you are interested in seeing a phenomenal outdoor attraction in Texas, go to San Antonio for their great zoo or the River Walk. And if you want to see the ocean, Galveston and San Padre are cities to visit in Texas. Both cities are on the Gulf of Mexico and offer beach wheelchairs. Learn more.
Stay Close to Home
There are always new places to discover right in your own backyard. From Sioux Falls to Cape Cod, there are dozens of states and cities in the US we didn’t profile that have a ton to see and have room to spread out. The bottom line: There is so much to see in this country. Try searching popular tourist attractions in cities that are near you. Even in your own hometown. You never know what you may discover. This actually may be one of the best silver linings that have occurred because of the pandemic.
Where do you plan on traveling in 2021?