I am pleased to be the guest speaker at the Pacific Northwest’s Here and Now Forum, scheduled for
June 2, 2021, 6-8 PM..
This will be a virtual presentation of worldwide wheelchair accessible travel, starting right here in beautiful Washington State. Please join us from the comfort of your own home to explore some wonderful places accessible to all!
A great way to know if something is truly wheelchair accessible is to learn—firsthand—from a wheelchair user who has been there. This is what I offer in this travel guide.
I am C5-6 quadriplegic, and over the years, I have been to many wonderful vacation spots and sights throughout the world, starting with my home in Washington State. I have documented and collected information describing the beauty, the ambience—and most importantly—I have verified the wheelchair accessibility—of over 100 sites around the Evergreen State. In this guide, I include lovely towns, worthy wheelchair accessible trails and walks, and recommended parks, cultural centers, landmarks and museums. I also make sure to include locations of ADA restrooms along the way. My perspective is from my power wheelchair for these excursions.
In planning my trips, I typically choose a charming small town or scenic national park or other intriguing destination, then I fill in nearby wheelchair-friendly activities, hikes and things to do. I have found so many delightful, nicely accessible adventures in Washington State that I decided to write this guide to share the bounty with other wheelchair users who don’t necessarily want to do all the required research.
I hope this guide encourages wheelchair users to get out and about and enjoy more of what life has to offer without having to be concerned if the destinations will really be wheelchair accessible once you get there. Happy trails to you!
I was faced with no choice but to fly across the nation with my medically high risk family during Covid so my son could have the right expert perform his surgery at the Cleveland clinic. This is how I planned to stay safe. And how my plan worked out
New Mobility Magazine October 2020
Visit these four European-esque places here in beautiful America! Travel safer during these Covid days and still enjoy wonderful, accessible sites.
New Mobility Magazine, August 2020
My friend has sung praises of Nuevo Vallarta for years. I decided it was time for me to check it out for myself. I was thrilled to find that Puerto Vallarta and nearby Nuevo Vallarta are situated in tropical rainforest along the Pacific coast with the Sierra Madre mountains as a backdrop. It is spectacular!
We stayed at the Vidanta Resort in the Grand Luxxe. We used a free certificate for our stay, but it can also be rented through VRBO. I was absolutely impressed with the wheelchair accessibility of this 300-acre resort complex. Most everything that I experienced was up to American ADA standards – the trails and boardwalks that meander beneath the rainforest canopy, the ramps leading to the restaurants, of which there are 28, and the walkways along the beach— it was well-designed and absolutely fabulous! Our apartment (unit #7141) had a roll in shower, short-length grab bars by the toilet and sinks that I could pull under to use.
It was hard to miss the floral fragrance of fresh-cut lilies as we entered the lobby and our room. And we were eased into sleep each night by live music that drifted up from the floor below us. It was a beautiful experience for all of the senses.
Accessibility was further enhanced by the resort providing golf cart-type shuttles, including wheelchair accessible ones, that could be requested from the bellboy and would arrive within five or 10 minutes. The ramp for the shuttle was steeper than ADA standard, but many helping hands were always willing and available. Hospitality staff took us wherever we wanted to go within the expansive resort. We could also opt to wheel along the vast network of boardwalks and paths. Whichever method we chose, there was plenty of staff that was very warm, hospitable and willing to help in any way we needed. This was a real plus since my husband is aging and I seem to have a larger appetite for distance than I can push on my own—especially in beachfront tropical rainforest. The grounds were replete with wildlife. We saw snowy egrets, a crocodile, iguanas and I could hear calls of tropical parrots—a paradise!
I used only one of the eight swimming pools on the property, the enormous pool nearest the Grand Luxxe. It did not have a water chair/lift. I am able to cling to a sturdy railing and walk down a few steps so this worked for me. I enjoyed refreshing daily swims and basked in the warm sun, poolside, to dry.
Future plans at this Vidanta Resort include construction of a gondola that will take guests across the complex, providing yet another mode of transportation. It is supposed to open December 2020.
On one of our five days in Nuevo Vallarta, we ventured out on a tour called “Amazing Vallarta” with TB tours. Our guide, Gabino, provided wonderful service and it was a fun time with two other couples. We visited the Malecon, or seawall, and our Lady of Guadalupe church. We had a delicious lunch at the edge of a rainforest reserve where I could see zip-liners whizzing by above the forest canopy, whooping in delight. Around the corner, we stopped at a family owned tequila factory where we had a blast doing little mini shots of eight kinds of tequila, reminiscent of crazy college days.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the Amazing Vallarta tour, I found it to be exhausting to transfer in and out of the van. I even considered staying put on the last stop. For those who have difficulty transferring and cannot take a few steps while holding onto something sturdy, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible. The stops were sometimes challenging too, with cobblestone and very steep ramps, but worthwhile. I did see an option to book a wheelchair accessible van through Viator.com, but for 3.5 times the cost.
When I think back on my visit, I have no doubt that I will come back to this Vidanta Resort. It had excellent wheelchair accessibility and was one of the easiest and most enjoyable places I have vacationed!