The Most Accessible Must See Destinations
Summer is officially here and it’s time to plan the great summer getaway. Whether it’s just you and your spouse or a car full of kids, it’s important to pick a destination that will be memorable, interesting for everyone, and easy to navigate and access for individuals with disabilities.
Pick a spot that will “wow” your kids, big and small, and inspire them to put the smartphone or iPad down, even if just for a solitary moment.
While there are a ton of educational and entertaining museums and attractions throughout the U.S., from Graceland in Memphis to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota to the EMP Museum in Seattle, don’t pass up the chance to visit some of the great outdoors along the way.
For centuries, we have been continuously in awe of nature, so take a step back and take a break from being “plugged in.” Bonus: There are a lot of perfect photographic moments to capture, for those who can’t part with their camera phone.
Although the summer season is a popular time of year to travel and hit up all the popular sights, don’t let the potential crowd scare you away; choose a place that is big enough to enjoy, yet easy to access. These sights have stood the test of time for good reason; explore them yourself to experience nature at its best.
When was the last time you walked through the forest and listened to the birds, smelled the pine, and felt the brush and leaves crunch beneath your feet? Head to the Redwood Forests, in Northern California, and relive the experience…just magnified. Whether you fly in or drive, your eyes will feast on a breath-taking sight of gigantic Redwood trees.With walking trails (either solo or led by a park ranger), camping opportunities, views of the ocean, gray whale sightings, and numerous opportunities to hike or take some unforgettable scenic drives, the Redwood Forests of California are meant to be experienced in person.
- A Note on Accessibility: While some of the park is not suited for trailers or mobile homes, there are enough places for motorists and non-motorists. Additionally, there are several trails that are wheelchair accessible.
Another super sized destination that is a “must see it to believe it” is none other than the Grand Canyon. This expansive sight, all 1,217,403 acres of geological history, attracts millions of tourists each year and despite the high traffic during the summer months, there’s plenty to view for everyone. From river rafting to camping to hiking, there are a variety of ways to experience the canyon.
While this National Treasure is easy to enjoy and access, experts urge tourists to know their physical limits as some trails can be particularly difficult. Take the shuttle to check out the night sky in the South Rim or if you’re feeling like a daredevil, walk the glass walkway of the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
- A Note on Accessibility: Because The Grand Canyon is naturally rugged terrain, some trails may not be suitable for all visitors, but there are ways for everyone to view the Canyon despite age or ability.
“America’s Oldest State Park” continues to draw millions of tourists from around the world every year. These roaring waterfalls, bordering between Ontario and New York, cast perpetual rainbows across the elaborate walkways of The Cave of the Winds tour. While all visitors, young and old, will get wet despite their bright colored rain gear, Niagara Falls is an experience made easy-to-access for visitors of all ages and abilities.
Whether you choose to view the falls from afar or get up close and personal at the base, you’ll hear the raging waters long after you’ve left.
- A Note on Accessibility: Although options to view the Falls are at many levels, there are elevators and flat viewing spots available for those who prefer not to (or unable to ) navigate a lot of stairs. Either way, visitors will get a good view.
When planning a summer getaway, many tourists forget about some of the hidden gems of the Midwest. Mackinac Island is a perfect, if not literal, example.
This island, located in Lake Huron and separating the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, is rich in history and frozen in time. Most popular in the summertime, visitors from all over the world flock to its “days gone by” charm of famous fudge and historic museums. Mackinac Island is a perfect getaway for a day trip or for a lengthier stay at a quaint cottage or B&B.
- A Note on Accessibility: The only way to reach the island is by ferry or a small plane. Once you arrive on the island you’re only transportation is horse, walking, or bicycling (just like the olden days). Take the chance to learn how to ride a horse or learn to appreciate a true “pedestrian & bicycle friendly” paradise. For those who are a bit hesitant to be too disconnected, there’s modern amenities (like the Internet).
With so many breathtaking and unique sites across the United States, it’s hard to pick just one for your summer destination. You can use your smartphone to send Whatsapp pictures to friends and family. Choose a place best suited for everyone’s needs and abilities and start traveling right away.
Sarah Domeier is writing this on behalf of the Charleston West Virginia SSD firm of Mani Ellis & Layne in order to promote safe and accessible travel for those that may be suffering disabilities.