In the midst of a global pandemic such as Covid-19, it is sometimes hard to take our mind off the pleasures of getting away with family and friends, even for a little while. We all need time for some R & R and venture out into the great outdoors. However, not everyone can easily hike up the Rocky Mountains or skydive over the Grand Canyon. Seniors with limited mobility would probably have to find other ways of excitement and adventure. I am here to say, fear not! In today’s world there are now many popular places where seniors can vacation and still find ways to explore the open road without worrying about how to get to their ultimate destination. Here are the top ten U.S. Vacation spots for Seniors with limited mobility.
1. Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale is known for lots of activities and events, and seniors who enjoy the outdoors can pretty much find almost anything to do, even with limited mobility. The temperature is dry and warm, with a mountainous background. Most of Scottsdale is pedestrian-friendly and has several senior communities. One place to explore is the Arts and Cultural district, with its demonstration of public art, several galleries and museums, including places to take art classes. Scottsdale is also a great place for shopping in the Old town area, play a game of Golf, or taking a stroll through the Desert Botanical Gardens. Most places are handicap or wheelchair accessible. There are also numerous restaurants and dining areas for both young and old. Some other options are the Phoenix Zoo and surveying the beautiful waterfront areas. The Phoenix Zoo provides some parking areas for handicap vehicles and the walk paths are paved for easy access with a wheelchair/walker. Seniors who don’t want to get too much of the Arizona sun can take their chances with several of the nearby Casinos for gambling and entertainment. For seniors, Scottsdale is truly one of the top vacations for senior citizens with limited mobility in the USA.
2. Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs, California is among the most beautiful vacation spots that seniors love to visit. It provides scenic views of the Colorado mountains in the distance, lots of bike trails throughout the city, hills of golf courses, and plenty of luxury resorts and spa treatments available. Due to the high demand of accessibility needs for seniors, the city of Palm Springs in California has recently carried out numerous ADA projects to help seniors become more mobile. For example, the city installed audio pedestrian push buttons at traffic signal intersections throughout the city for visually impaired seniors and all disabled citizens. There is a Buzz Trolley providing free transport services for disabled seniors and tourists. The city of Palm Springs has also upgraded many of their sidewalks and newly paved streets to add accessible curb ramps for wheelchairs and motorized scooters throughout the city limits. The city of Palm Springs is dedicated to provide any appropriate aid or services to all citizens with limited mobility, in reasonable modifications to policies and programs.
3. Branson, Missouri
Branson, Missouri may be third on this list, however, it is the one place that Seniors with limited mobility flock to every year. Branson is well-known for their love of theatrics. The town provides a wide variety of live shows, attractions, and museums. Places such as Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction offers delicious food and entertainment, with the main floor completely accessible for seniors with limited mobility. Another option is the Silver Dollar City Theme Park and Attraction. It provides accessible handicap parking for guests with government-issued license plates or tags on a first come, first serve basis. The town is located among three crystal clear lakes, where water skiing, fishing, kayaking, and camping is popular. Branson offers romantic dinner cruises, amusement parks, and even a National Tiger Sanctuary just outside the town’s limits. For seniors with mobility issues, most of these options are still accessible and seniors are ready to participate while in Branson. Branson is also known for their winery tours and tastings.
4. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina is one of the most beautiful cities to visit for both seniors and family gatherings. Charleston is among the oldest towns off the east coast and offers many scenic attractions, entertainment, and adventure opportunities for all ages. As one of the oldest cities in the US, it is no doubt that it may prevent some mobility issues for the disabled and elderly. However, the city has been working to accommodate all who come to visit and make the town more accessible over the past decade. Downtown provides many attractions to appease all visitors. The streets are laid with cobblestone, so it may be tricky with a wheelchair; specifically due to uneven sidewalks and steps off of certain historic buildings. Yet it still attracts many seniors to visit the populated district. Places such as Patriots Point, Fort Sumter, the Morris Lighthouse and the South Carolina Aquarium are very accessible for seniors with limited mobility. Many offer free parking to handicapped individuals, elevator access for wheelchair-bound seniors, and oversized bathrooms for better accessibility. Another place to visit is the Battery and White point Gardens. They offer packed gravel walkways, making it easy for a wheelchair or motorized scooter to navigate through.
5. Disneyland (California)
Everyone knows Disneyworld in Florida; however, did you know that Disneyland in Anaheim, California is the original Disney Park Founded by Walt Disney? The Disneyland park is a great place for family vacations, holiday getaways, and fun events. Disneyland park also offers a variety of accommodations and services for guests with disabilities. The staff at Disneyland wants your stay as pleasant as possible. They make sure everyone, including seniors, are comfortable and accommodates all your personal or unique needs. Disneyland provides a Disability Access Service, which many seniors take advantage of each time they come to visit. Seniors who do not have a wheelchair and need to rent one, Disneyland offers manual wheelchair rentals as well as electronic conveyance vehicle rentals(ECV). The wheelchairs make it convenient and easier to get from one section of the park to the next, especially for guests that find it challenging to travel long distances. The only back draw is wheelchairs are only available on a first come, first serve basis. Companion bathrooms are also available throughout the Disneyland park and resort. In addition, the park provides advanced ticket purchasing, allowing seniors with limited mobility to move forward in the lines without the long waiting time. Disneyland also considers guests that have visual and hearing disabilities, including light sensitivity. Now you know why Disneyland in Anaheim, CA is one of the best vacation spots for senior citizens with limited mobility.
6. Great Smoky Mountains (in Tennessee)
Exploring the Smoky Mountains is one of the most enjoyable pastimes for people of any age, this includes seniors of limited mobility. They run through parts of Tennessee and North Carolina; however, Tennessee offers more accessibility for seniors with limited mobility. Many parts of the smokies can be adored by the comfort of your vehicle. There are several facilities such as campgrounds, cabins, and paved hiking trails that provide accessible features throughout the park, allowing seniors to still enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, even in a wheelchair or motorized scooter. Some cabins offer wheelchair accessible ramps and handicap parking spots. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also a very wheelchair accessible vacation destination, due to free national parks passes available to seniors with permanent disabilities. The application process is available in-person; however, due to social distancing it is recommended to mail-in the application. Other areas that provide accessibility to seniors are Cades Cove, Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Most parts of the trails are paved and usable with a wheelchair.
7. Multnomah Falls, Portland
Located off the Columbia River Gorge, the Multnomah Falls offers prestigious scenic views, popular restaurants, and busy attractions year round. The Falls are the second highest waterfall in the US and it is also one of the most historic places to visit in Portland. There is also a nearby vineyard for seniors and other guests to do some taste-testing. Seniors with limited mobility can enjoy many of the pleasures that other guests participate in as well. For example, in 1994, an elevator was added in the nearby Multnomah Falls lodge to make it wheelchair accessible. The lower level of the lodge offers a snack bar, gift shop, and visitor’s center for easy access. The visitor center also provides brochures in several languages and free trail maps as well. The restaurant and bar is upstairs and is accessible by the use of the elevator. There is disability parking at the lodge and on the other end of the falls where Interstate 84 runs, however, it is limited. The trail leading up to the falls is partly paved, so wheelchair access is limited to certain areas.
8. Washington, D.C.
Washington, DC is by far one of the most accessible cities throughout the Nation and around the world. Many visitors come to Washington, DC to explore American History and what makes America one of the greatest Countries in the World. This is what makes Washington, DC one of the best vacation spots for senior citizens. The Capital provides a wide variety of accessible activities and events. Places such as the National Mall, Lincoln’s Memorial, Washington’s Monument, and local museums offer accessible restrooms, wheelchair ramp entrances, elevator access, wheelchair rentals, and handicap parking to accommodate seniors and all guests with limited mobility issues. The city provides a wheelchair accessible trolley called the Metro for those who need help getting around the city. The Smithsonian is also one of the most popular places for seniors to visit while vacationing at the Capital. Providing a number of museums and research centers, the Smithsonian can entertain visitors for hours. Seniors can spend a whole weekend visiting different parts of the grounds. Having an electric wheelchair would make your trip go much smoothly and allow you to explore more places. There are some places throughout the city that offer scooter rentals; however, they usually have a minimum of three days requirement or more.
9. Morgan’s Wonderland (San Antonio, TX)
Morgan’s Wonderland is located in San Antonio, TX; where many vacationers come to visit to tour the Alamo, discover the rich Culture, and experience great entertainment throughout the city. Morgan’s Wonderland is the World’s first ultra-accessible theme park, making it one of the best vacations for senior citizens with limited mobility. The park is completely wheelchair-accessible for all ages- and created with special-needs individuals in mind. Morgan’s Inspiration Island, located next to the main park, provides waterproof wheelchairs, wheelchair-accessible dressing rooms, oversized restrooms with Hoyer lifts inside-convenient for transferring adult individuals, and much more. The park also offers over 25 elements, which includes playgrounds, rides, and many colorful attractions. All individuals with special needs enter free of charge. The Wonderland park actually has several subsections, providing entertainment for all visits, disabled or not. The grounds offer laser-poured concrete to ensure better accessibility and custom tinting to reduce heat during hot, summer months. The whole park is designed for maximum flexibility with the spirit of inclusion at its core. All its guests, including Seniors with limited disability will feel completely relaxed and right at home.
10. National Parks
The United States National Parks provide some of the most beautiful scenic backgrounds, cultivating waterfalls, and natural wildlife for individuals and families to explore. Many National parks have paths and trails that are wheelchair accessible, and offer special access passes to seniors with limited mobility.
Here are two more popular and accessible parks throughout our country.
- Statue of Liberty National Park– Although social distancing is still in effect, Liberty Island is reopened for business. The Statue of Liberty National Park provides entertainment through exceptional food service(outdoors only), gift shops, and museum entries(now reopen). Most of the park is wheelchair accessible. The Statue itself provides an elevator to take guests up to the top. Experiencing a parametric view of New York Harbor is something nobody can forget. If you do not have a wheelchair there is a limited amount available for rentals. Accessible ramps are also put in place in and around the island.
- Denali National Park and Reserve– Denali National Park and Reserve is located in the great state of Alaska, where you can find beautiful scenic mountain views, gorgeous sunsets, and astonishing wilderness to travel through. Senior citizens travel to this state for vacations and something to do when retirement arrives. For those who deal with limited mobility, traveling can sometimes be challenging. However, Denali has worked hard to provide as much accessibility to seniors and all guests with limited mobility. Most hiking trails and campgrounds are well-paved and leveled for easy use with a wheelchair. Restrooms in certain areas provide large stalls, accessible with a wheelchair and can accommodate people those with physical and mobility concerns. A special travel permit is available for those with disabilities at the Denali visitor center. Some of the Shuttle busses that provide tours offer wheelchair lifts as well. Busses may also provide a step-stool to aid passengers getting on and off the bus. Those who decide to travel privately, must obtain a road permit to use the entrance road.
Traveling across the states can be a great way to explore our natural landmarks, cruise our beautiful rivers, and adventure to new heights. Yet seniors with limited mobility may find some complications or challenges compared to those without any disadvantages of health or wellbeing.
However, it does not have to be this way. Vacations for senior citizens with limited mobility are becoming more accessible than ever before. Nature trails are being paved and leveled, to provide safer pathways for those using walkers/wheelchairs. Companion restrooms are being installed at national parks and museums for better accessibility for wheelchair users and family members. Historical buildings are receiving an upgrade by adding elevators to accommodate guests that are confined to wheelchairs and ECV’s.
Seniors and other wheelchair users and people with disabilities can find:
- wheelchair accessible buses
- accessible attractions
- accessible tours
- accessible bathrooms
- accessible room on a cruise line
Multiple destinations, like Las Vegas, offer accessible hotels; resorts offer accessible beaches; even cruise ships have accessible entrances. Popular tourist attractions like the Rocky Mountain National Park offer mobility scooters, wheelchair accessible paths, and accessible overlooks. Planning family vacations with a mobility device has never been easier. Major attractions like the San Diego Zoo offer offer accessible transportation from services like the san diego trolley and a wheelchair accessible shuttle.
Vacation ideas no longer have to be limited. Niagara Falls, the golden gate bridge, daytona beach, and even outdoor activities are surprisingly accessible. Whether it’s accessible pools with grab bars or accessible seating for entertainment, the best accessible attractions make mobility limitations no problem.
As we all age, our once mobile body prevents us from moving forward, or at least slower than we expect. So to feel and stay active, we look for places that can accommodate our new norm and have an enjoyable vacation. This list shows seniors with limited mobility that they can still go wherever they want and enjoy life in the Great Outdoors.