Category Travel Ideas

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Travel Ideas

FOR WheelerS AND

Slow Walkers

Recommende Reading

Accessible VACATIONS


ven though I spent years researching destinations for this book, I still consider it a starting point as far as vacation planning goes. It goes without saying that you should contact hotels, restaurants, attractions and transportation providers directly to make sure they can meet your access needs. But beyond that, there are many other good resources out there to help you in the planning process.

Let’s start with the free ones.

One of the best free information resources around are the local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs). These organizations are funded by the tourism industry and they provide free information and services to visitors...

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have to admit, I have a certain fondness for the rugged Oregon coast. Indeed it’s where I go to relax, enjoy nature, kick back and just plain get away from it all. But can a place described as rugged also be accessible? Surprisingly, it can. In fact, my little chunk of heaven is also billed as one of the most accessible wildlife and ocean-viewing venues on the Pacific coast. From wheelchair – accessible tide pools to a first-rate aquarium, there’s something for everybody on the rugged Oregon coast.

The crown jewel of Oregon’s coastal accessibility is located in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, just three miles north of Newport.

This 100-acre coastal headland area was established by Congress in 1980...

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s an avid birder and the chair of the 2005 Texas Tropics Nature Festival, Ron Smith is quick to sing the praises of the McAllen area. In fact, I had a hard time keeping up with him as he rattled off accessible birding sites, board­walks, trails, blinds, and even a hawk-viewing tower in the area. Indeed, Ron is a true expert on local access, as he’s been rolling along South Texas birding trails for many years.

But the Rio Grande Valley wasn’t always as accessible as it is today. Enter the World Birding Center (WBC), a network of nine birding sites dotted along 120 miles of south Texas river road. As the sites were developed, accessible trails, viewing platforms, blinds, boardwalks, and interpretive cen­ters were added...

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ew Zealand is the often-forgotten (and sometimes neglected) stepchild of the South Pacific. Many tourists flock to Australia, however the masses seem to completely overlook New Zealand. Some visitors do manage a cur­sory Kiwi side trip, but most don’t realize that New Zealand is a destination in itself. In fact, you can spend weeks exploring just the North Island. That’s exactly what I did, and, if you’re looking for great scenery, budget accommo­dations and good accessibility, then I encourage you to do the same.

New Zealand is a driving destination, and, as far as transportation goes, you have two accessible choices on the North Island. Galaxy Motors rents adapted vans and cars equipped with hand controls, whereas Mobility Motorhomes rents accessible motorhomes...

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et’s face it, caves by their very design just aren’t acces­sible. So does that mean wheelers and slow walkers should give up on the idea of ever seeing a stalactite or a stalagmite? Hardly. The good news is, a few popular caverns have made their sites accessible. Granted, you can’t just drive up to any old cave and expect to roll right into it; however you can explore a few of these accessible caverns.

Known as the granddaddy of caves, Carlsbad Caverns has been a popu­lar national park since the 1930s. Of course in the early days, wheelchair access was nonexistent and visitors had to enter the cave in guano-mining buckets...

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just love factory tours. Let’s face it; it’s just fun to see how things are made. Plus they’re a nice departure from the standard tourist fare. And the good news is, most factory tours are at least partially accessible, and many are fully accessible. A few may have an area or two with a step, but for the most part they need to be accessible for their employees. Of course you should definitely check on the access before you head off to the factory, but fortunately you have a lot of accessible choices these days.

A good resource for factory tours is Watch it Made in the USA, by Karen Axelrod and Bruce Brumberg. This guidebook lists more than 300

factory tours across the US. The tours are grouped by state, so it’s easy to

The tasting room at Ben and Jerry’s.

find the...

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get a lot of questions about Hawaii, as it’s a very popular destination. Even though it’s just a tiny speck on the map, there’s a lot to see there, so ultimately some choices have to be made when planning a one-week getaway. Personally, if I had only a week, I’d rather spend it on just one island. But which island? For me that choice is easy. The Big Island is my top pick — more specifically, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Located 30 miles southwest of Hilo, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It’s a low-key destination, so if you are looking for luxury resorts, spa packages and cabanas on the beach, you won’t find them here...

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‘ ave you visited a college or university lately? Not to take a class or to visit your kids, but as part of your. holiday itinerary? Seriously. That’s right, I’m sending you to school for your vacation! To be fair, it’s something I completely over­looked, too,, until one day when I was strolling across the University of Missouri campus in Columbia. Truth be told, it all started with an ice cream cone.

In my search for Bucks Ice Cream (a MU-operated ice cream parlor that serves the best ice cream in Columbia, if not in the state of Missouri), I happened across two incredible campus museums: the Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Art & Archeology. Not only did both of these museums have excellent access, but there was not admission charge to either one...

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lenever I’m asked to name my favorite accessible vacation destinations, Vancouver consistently tops my list. Not only does this diverse city feature some very accessible attractions and a great public transportation system, but it’s also relatively easy on the budget. Factor in some very mild fall temperatures to this winning equation and you can see why Vancouver continues to nab the top slot on my favorites list.

Stanley Park is my traditional first stop whenever I visit Vancouver. This 1,000-acre urban park is lined with hemlock trees and filled with wild­life, yet it’s located just minutes from the downtown core. A 5.5-mile seawall provides an accessible promenade around the park; however the best way to get a good overview of the park is to take a carriage ride.

Gerry O’Neil op...

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any years ago I took Amtrak from San Francisco to Chicago. I could have flown, but I chose to

travel by train because I wanted to enjoy the

beauty of the Rocky Mountains from the comfort of a club car. Like many of my ideas, it seemed like a good plan at the time. Unfortunately my plan hit a few snags when we were delayed in Sacramento and then again in Reno. In the end, we rolled through the Rockies at midnight — not very scenic at all, and definitely not what I had planned.

Last year I decided to give the Rockies another shot, but this time

I chose the Canadian Rockies. Since I was older and (presumably) wiser, this time I searched for a rail trip that would allow me to enjoy the scenery, even in the event of unexpected delays. And of course access was also a top priority...

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