Florida is one of the most interesting and entertaining states to visit, with attractions and natural beauty that are unique to its geographic location in our nation. It also showcases a diversity and culture that is a microcosm of what it is to be an American. Being the number one tourist destination in the U.S., Florida has an endless supply of accessible attractions for people of all ages and abilities.
Florida is an ocean-goers paradise. Beautiful beaches such as St. Augustine Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Destin provide access to beautiful scenery and warm water. In addition, almost every major beach statewide provides beach wheelchairs for free. In Clearwater, for example, beach wheelchairs are provided on a first come first serve basis by the Clearwater Fire & Rescue Lifeguard Division. Simply ask a lifeguard, and they will assist you in acquiring your beach wheelchair.
There are some essential things to remember when borrowing these chairs for beach use. First of all, although the tires are buoyant, these chairs are not designed to go too far out into the water. A good rule of thumb is to go no deeper than six inches above the tires. Also, be sure to limit wheelchair use to the beach. These chairs are available in limited numbers, so taking them off the beach to visit a restaurant or attraction can limit another person’s access to this free service. Finally, these chairs must be used on a flat surface in order to avoid damage to the conveyance, so keeping them off the dunes or other man-made raised features is crucial.
Accessible Attractions in Tampa Bay, FL
Tampa Bay is the jewel of Florida’s Gulf Coast. The TECO Line Streetcar is a fully accessible and free form of transportation. This service provides access to the numerous restaurants and shops of Downtown Tampa and Ybor City. The 2.6-mile riverwalk is a very well-maintained pathway that can take you to attractions such as the Florida Aquarium or the Tampa Bay History Center, along with many more options for restaurants and nightlife. Ocean Reef Park in nearby Riviera Beach is the local choice for where to access free beach wheelchairs on a first come first serve basis.
Accessible Attractions in Miami, FL
Shake-A-Leg Miami is a free program whose mission is to “utilize the marine environment to improve the health, education, and independence of children and adults with physical, developmental, and economic challenges, in an inclusive community setting.” Their various programs involve fishing, nature tours, kayaking, and much more; each aimed at building confidence for disabled children, adults, and veterans. The flagship of their fleet, the Impossible Dream, is a 56’ catamaran that can accommodate up to 15 people and their wheelchairs.
Many of the beaches and neighborhoods of Miami offer endless options for nightlife, dining, and shopping. Lincoln Road is a fully accessible pedestrian-only road in South Beach with statues and meticulously maintained gardens. The area offers free accessible parking spaces on the street and in parking structures and is an excellent choice for wheelchair-users looking to explore Miami with easeAccessible Attractions in St. Augustine.
St Augustine is known as Florida’s ancient city. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Designed to protect the city and the Atlantic trade routes, the Spanish completed the fort in 1695. The 450-year-old historical site is maintained by the National Park Service. While a couple of the areas require using stairs to maintain the historical integrity of the site, it is otherwise a highly wheelchair-accessible piece of history.
The Marineland Dolphin Adventure offers discounted tickets to visitors with a valid handicapped card. There is an abundance of marine life and entertaining shows to see, and the park comes complete with close parking, accessible seating in the show areas, and ramps that access the restrooms.
The Colonial Quarter is another fully accessible area of the city. With plenty of street-level shops and restaurants, this area is a wonderful example of colonial architecture and offers many hands-on learning experiences and tours.
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Accessible Attractions in Orlando, FL
Orlando is ranked as one of the top 10 most accessible cities in the world by Valuable 500. It is also the #1 tourist destination in the United States. Guests with disabilities can expect every accommodation at the seemingly endless array of theme parks, including Walt Disney World, LEGOLAND, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, try visiting your theme park of choice early in the morning or later at night to avoid the largest crowds and the hottest weather. In addition to wheelchair rentals, many of the parks also offer disability services that will assist those who have difficulty waiting in long lines or need assistance to enter the ride.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is another very popular attraction in the Orlando area for those who use mobility devices. Here, you can take in the history of the space program or catch a rocket launch at nearby Cocoa Beach. Service animals are welcome and manual and electric wheelchairs are available for rent at the facility. Almost all of the facility is wheelchair-accessible, including bathrooms, gift shops, and even bus tours.
Tips for Wheelchair-Accessible Travel Florida
Weather is a significant factor when traveling anywhere in Florida and the south, especially during summer. Always make sure to drink plenty of water, regardless of how strenuous the activities you’re doing are. Having a hat that provides extra shade and wearing sunscreen can also go a long way to save you from suffering from the famously intense Florida sunburn.
When traveling in an electric wheelchair, always make sure it’s fully charged or bring extra batteries along with you. Investing in a clip-on fan can be a lifesaver during Florida summers, especially when temperatures rise well into the 90s. If you’re traveling in late fall to early spring, the daytime weather may still be very warm but make sure to pack a few warmer clothing items in case the temperature drops at night.
Plan Your Florida Getaway with Wheelchair Getaways
Wheelchair Getaways is your source for wheelchair-accessible vans. With over 200 locations throughout the United States, we can provide the perfect accessible vehicle for your trip to Florida. Whether you’re road-tripping to the Sunshine State or need a rental delivered to a local Florida airport, we can help. Visit our website for more information or to request a quote today.