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Discovering America’s Most Accessible Cities

For the differently abled, travel can be a challenge. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has helped make many businesses and attractions more accessible, it’s important to know before you go – so that you can choose destinations that can accommodate special needs, and make the most of your vacation. Here are some of our top spots for travelers with disabilities:

  • Orlando – This Central Florida city is great for the disabled because of its mild weather. The modern wheelchair accessible construction, combined with its wonderful transit system, make Orlando one of the most disability friendly cities around. Plus, there is virtually an unlimited amount of entertainment in the area. Every hotel and motel in Florida is required by law to have a special room or rooms equipped for wheelchairs, often with wheel-in showers. Many attractions at the parks, especially the newer ones, are designed to be accessible to a wide variety of guests. People with wheelchairs and their parties are often given preferential treatment so they can avoid lines. The assistance available is outlined in the guide maps you get as you enter the parks. Wheelchair and electric cart rentals are available at most major attractions, but you’ll be most comfortable in your chair or cart from home if you can bring it. Keep in mind, however, that wheelchairs wider than two feet may be difficult to navigate through some attractions.
  • Portland – The city has many different transit options including, bus, light rail and even streetcars – all of which accommodate wheelchairs. However, the TriMet’s transportation system has a Lift service that provides riders with more than 250 minibuses and over a dozen cars that will take them anywhere in the city. Many of the area’s attractions are either accessible, or make appropriate accommodations. These include Rex Hill Vineyards, Argyle Winery, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail and, in the Columbia River Gorge, the Skamania Lodge Zip Tour and the Vista House.
  • Reno – This vibrant city has wheelchair-accessible buses and rapid transit systems that offer discounted fares for those with a disability. The access to a quality transit systems helps to make the city feel small. Plus they provide paratransit services within the city and to some outlying areas as well. Most of the casinos, shows and restaurants are wheelchair accessible because the city has many tourists from all over the world. This is a place where one will never get bored, and besides the great nightlife, the city has many handicapped accessible parks to enjoy.
  • Seattle – Even with boatloads of rain and numerous hilly areas, Seattle makes this list because of its modern transit system. The city offers handicap-accessible buses and light rail lines that are discounted to wheelchair users. There is also a paratransit van service that will take a user anywhere within the large city. There is a rideshare program for the handicapped and maps that show downtown routes that are accessible to those with disabilities. This helps to make a notoriously tough city easy to access. (Key reasons Seattle is ranked #1 by WheelchairTravel.org as the most wheelchair accessible city in the United States.) While some of the older parts of the city present obstacles – including steeply angled sidewalks and ineffective curb cuts – most people find the city’s culture and overall livability are worth a few challenges. Most modern buildings and facilities are readily navigable, including the Space Needle observation deck, Boeing airplane factory, Puget Sound harbor cruise, Seattle Aquarium and the Experience Music Project Museum.
  • Madison – Madison has been investing heavily in good mass transit for 25 years, and its ridership per capita almost rivals big cities. All the fixed-route buses are 100 percent accessible on weekends and holidays, and mostly accessible during the week, depending on what routes you use. All of Madison’s parks have accessible parking and paved pathways. Numerous area attraction, including the Kenosha Civil War Museum, Bristol Renaissance Faire and the Jelly Belly Center have received positive reviews on JJ’s List, a website devoted to meeting the needs of consumers with disabilities.
  • San Antonio – Though known for its history, the Texas city is ultra-modern in its accessibility. For instance, it’s home to Morgan’s Wonderland – the only large-scale theme park in the world dedicated to those with special needs (and their families). The “ultra-accessible” park offers numerous rides and attractions… and entry is free for special-needs children and adults. Meanwhile, Six Flags Fiesta is considered one of the most ADA-accessible theme parks in the nation. Sea World is also plenty inclusive for the wheelchair set, with rides like Shamu Express and Journey to Atlantis. River Walk – the state’s top tourist attraction – is brimming with shops, bar, restaurants, museums and special events, and there are plenty of elevators and ramps to transport people down, one story below the heart of the city. Finally, San Antonio Missions Historical Park, which preserves four of the city’s five Spanish frontier missions, offers several activities for people with disabilities.

To learn more about all of our accessible destinations, drop us a line at info@takethreenights.com or visit www.takethreenights.com. To receive additional information, including travel specials, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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