How Accessible are America's Top 25 Tourist Destinations?

Published on August 8, 2014

At Scootaround, we are proud to say that we are in the unique position of being able to offer mobility rentals at almost any tourist destination you might wish to travel to. Forbes magazine recently released a ranking of the Top 25 tourist destinations in the country. This got us thinking… How accessible are these locations?

As it turns out, we found that eighteen of the twenty-five destinations listed by Forbes offered reasonable accessibility options. Some of the most accessible destinations included three locations where we already know that mobility rentals are in very high demand. Take a look at the list below for the top three accessible destinations and few other great accessible locations, some of which may surprise you!  

The Las Vegas Strip

Most major Las Vegas casinos offer smooth surfaces for mobility equipment, and many offer wheelchair-accessible gaming tables. The pools at most major hotels offer a reasonable degree of accessibility, but spas should be contacted ahead of time to ensure that specific needs can be accommodated. Las Vegas also has many accessible taxis that make traversing the strip an enjoyable experience.

Disney World

The majority of attractions in the four main Disney parks are wheelchair accessible. Some rides require transferring from your mobility device, and Disney employees are not permitted to lift you, however, they can support you in a variety of ways depending on the ride. The Guest Relations kiosk at the entrance to the park offers a Guide for Guests with Disabilities which provides a list of accessible rides and sites. Buses, monorails and most boats at Disney World are accessible, and transportation is free.

Washington DC - The National Mall

Washington DC has been called one of the most accessible cities in the world. The Metro, Smithsonian, The National Theatre and all of the memorials are accessible options for the interested tourist. There are also several guided walking tours available with plenty of smooth, paved surfaces for easy accessibility.

Oahu, Hawaii 

All outdoor pools in Waikiki are equipped with lifts! Most resorts have wheelchair accessible rooms upon request as well as elevators and escalators. Many tours are wheelchair accessible and all-terrain wheelchairs are available at select beaches in Oahu that allow you to travel on sand or through trails on the island.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

The Boardwalk boasts several accessible beaches with accessible public washrooms. Along the entire boardwalk you will find access ramps. There are also beach wheelchairs available in some spots on a first-come first-served basis, free of charge. Your personal chair can be stored while you use the beach wheelchair.

The Top 25 (Continued)... 


Times Square- New York, New York

The Square: Overcrowding and curbs make New York less than ideal for a wheelchair, however the sidewalks and road are paved and it is definitely possible to tour Times Square in a wheelchair. Check out our blog post on the most accessible things to do in New York City.


Las Vegas Strip - Las Vegas, Nevada

Casinos: Floors are designed for people to meander through, however most are carpet which slows down manual wheelchair users. Certain casinos have a wooden walkway through the casino which makes it easier to maneuver a wheelchair. Many hotels have wheelchair accessible slot machines and table games. There are ramps to every casino.

Spas: When booking at a spa, ensure they have a table that lowers that can accommodate your needs.

Pools: The pool deck and lounge chairs will be able to accommodate mobility equipment users, but as of 2012 hotels with a wheelchair accessible pool lift include:

  1. Aria – Portable hydraulic lift with hard plastic chair with armrests
  2. Bally’s – Stationary lift with hard plastic seat and armrests
  3. Bellagio  – Hammock-style seat at main pool along with ramp into the pool
  4. Cosmopolitan – A portable lift at each pool, battery operated with remote. There is a hard plastic chair without armrests but a seatbelt can be added
  5. Excalibur – Portable lift with a hard plastic chair
  6. Luxor – One portable and one stationary hydraulic lift with hard plastic chair and without armrests
  7. Monte Carlo – Stationary hydraulic lift in first pool (the lagoon) with a hard plastic chair, no armrests but with footrests
  8. Mandalay Bay – Stationary hydraulic and portable with a hard plastic chair and armrests
  9. MGM Grand – A portable hydraulic lift with a soft plastic chair with no armrests
  10. Mirage  – Two stationary hydraulic lifts on either side of the pool with hard plastic chair
  11. New York New York – New manual lift with plastic chair 
  12.  Paris  – Stationary, hydraulic powered lift with a hard plastic chair with no armrests or footrest but with a seat-belt
  13. Plazzo – Portable, hydraulic lift with hard plastic chair, arm rests and a removal footrest
  14.  Rio – Portable lift with hard plastic chair
  15. Treasure Island – Stationary hydraulic with hard plastic chair and armrests
  16. Venetian  – Two portable hydraulic lifts with hard plastic chairs (one has armrests)
  17. Wynn – Portable, manual lift with a hammock-style seat

Getting around: Las Vegas offers accessible taxis which make traveling more convenient. The Las Vegas Monorail is also completely wheelchair accessible which brings you along the Las Vegas strip. There is also a paratransit service which operates 24 hours a day and is free with a paratransit ID card.  Wheeling around along the strip is also possible as the majority is flat and smooth.


The National Mall- Washington DC

Washington DC is one of the most accessible cities in the world.

Hotels: Ask for accessible rooms, but most are wheelchair accessible

Parking: Two accessible parking meters are located on every block, cars bearing disabled parking tags can park in designated spaces and park for double the posted time in metered or time restricted spaces

Metro: Each metro station is equipped with an elevator to the train platforms and extra wide fare gates for wheelchair users. All metro buses have wheelchair lifts and kneel at the curb. Disabled travelers can obtain a metro disability ID card that entitles them to discounted fares (must order three weeks in advance). Metroaccess also provides a shared-ride, door to door paratransit service from 5:30am to midnight.

Smithsonian: Wheelchair accessible and special tours can be arranged. A map can be provided that identifies accessible entrances, curb cuts, designated parking and more.

Memorials: All of the memorials are equipped to accommodate visitors with disabilities.

National Theatre: Wheelchair accessible and features special performances for the visually and hearing impaired.

Walking Tours: There are wheelchair accessible “walking” tours and others by transportation. The walkways are completely paved and smooth.


Faneuil Hall Market Place- Boston, Massachusetts

Faneuil Hall: There is wheelchair access located adjacent to both the North and South Canopy entrances of the Quincy market buildings. There is elevator access available in the Quincy Market Building for both restroom and 2nd level access. The ramps into the market are slightly hidden so you must look around or ask someone.

Streets: The road is paved with setts, which is similar to cobble stone but slightly smoother. There are also paths that a better paved

Museum: Entirely handicap accessible

Boston Duck Tours: A formal tour with guide, the vehicle is accessible for both manual and power wheelchairs using a lift, but be sure to state you use a wheelchair when booking. The vehicle is amphibious, so you get to see Boston by land and water.


Disney World- Lake Buena Vista, Florida

The Parks: The majority of attractions in the 4 main parks are wheelchair accessible. There are a small amount of rides that have inaccessible lines, such as Tomorrowland Transit. Some rides require transferring from your wheelchair and Disney employees are not permitted to lift you, however they can support you in a variety of ways depending on the ride. When you enter the park you can stop at the Guest Relations kiosk and pick up a Guide for Guests with Disabilities to provide a list of the accessible rides and sites.

Lines: you may not bypass lines in a wheelchair, but some lines require you to stand in a separate handicapped entrance but you do not get on the ride any faster.  You may bring up to 5 companions with you to use this entrance

Disney Transportation System: Buses, monorails and most boats at Disney World are accessible. Transportation is free.

Renting: scooters and wheelchairs can be rented directly from Disney, but then they cannot be taken outside the park as well, you can rent from a outside vendor which is often cheaper than Disney


Disney Land- Anaheim, California

Very similar to Disney World, rides are classified as (1)wheelchair accessible, (2)transfer from wheelchair needed for ride or (3)transfer from scooter to wheelchair at the attraction. Otherwise, same as above.                            


Niagara Falls- Niagara, New York

Renting: Wheelchairs are available upon request at the Visitor Center and the police station of Goat Island.

Paths: Most footpaths are suitable for wheelchairs and excellent views are available from handicapped accessible paths.

Tours: The Niagara Scenic Trolley and Maid of the Mist welcome disabled riders. The Cave of the Winds tour allows disabled visitors to reach the permanent deck, just 75 ft away from the falls.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park- Tennessee

Driving: Much of the Smokies can be seen from your vehicle and there are accessible parking spaces throughout of the park.

Paths: Most of the paths throughout the park are wheelchair accessible; however some are paved and packed gravel trails which may require some assistance. The Historic buildings along the loop road are not accessible due to steps, lack of hard-surfaced walkways and distance.

Buildings: All the buildings have ramps allowing access to wheelchairs and the trail through the complex of historic buildings is level and surfaced with hard-packed gravel.

Park: The park is filled with wheelchair accessible water fountains and picnic areas

Hiking: Visitors enjoy visiting the park to hike which would be a challenge for a wheelchair because of the rocks, steep climbs and fallen trees. However, there are four trails recommended as accessible for persons with mobility issues. Two of these trails are paved, but very steep and therefore the person must be highly functional in their mobility and will require assistance.


Navy Pier- Chicago, Illinois

The Pier: Very easy for wheelchairs to navigate through. There are ramps, wide doorways and restaurants that offer easy entrances. There are handicapped parking spaces right near the entrance to the pier located in the parking garage beside the Pier.

Boat Tours: Boat tours depart from the Pier daily and the Architectural Boat Tour is wheelchair accessible


Universal Studios - Orlando, Florida and Hollywood, Los Angeles Met

Stores and Restaurants: All shopping and dining facilities are wheelchair accessible. The outdoor stage also has areas reserved for guests with disabilities.

Lines: All the queues are accessible to guests using wheelchairs but there are specific boarding requirements for using wheelchairs at each attraction. In these cases, if you are capable of transferring to the ride’s vehicle seating (with assistance), you may ride.

 Rides: There are certain rides that are capable of allowing guests to remain in their standard wheelchair throughout the ride and you may find all these rides in the Universal Orlando’s Rider’s Guide. No rides can accommodate electric convenience vehicles, but you may transfer to a standard wheelchair for the ride.


Sea World- Orlando, Florida and Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Ride Accessibility Program: There are specific requirements for each ride but they are in place to allow anyone to ride the rides and enjoy the attractions so long as the meet the requirements. Therefore, most rides are accessible and safe.

Special Access: Many lines are not accessible for wheelchairs, therefore guests will be placed in a “virtual line” which equals the estimated wait time at the respective location. Guests have the ability to enjoy other attractions throughout the park during this time and then proceed to the specific attraction at the estimate time.


San Antonio River Walk- San Antonio, Texas

Paths:  The walk is equipped with ramps, paved paths and elevators. The paths are quite narrow, but accessible.  There is an accessible map which can be downloaded that shows the best paths and locations of elevators.

Restaurants: Accessible from path


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The museum is completely accessible to wheelchair users. Accessible entrances are located at Fifth Avenue and 81st Street and through the parking garage at Fifth Avenue and 80th Street.

Renting: Wheelchairs are available free of charge at the coat check areas, however it is first come first served and you may not reserve ahead of time.

Map: An access map can be provided to indicate the elevators and escalators located throughout the building. An escort can also be requested for a wheel chair user in the museum, but it must be requested two weeks in advance


Waikiki- Oahu, Hawaii

Resorts: Wheelchair accessible rooms upon request, elevators and escalators.

Pools: There are lifts in ALL the outdoor pools, which is required by law.

Tours:  Most of the tours are wheelchair accessible.

Beaches: All terrain wheelchairs are available at selected beaches on Oahu to travel on sand or through trails on the island.


Grand Canyon- Arizona

Park shuttle buses: Shuttle buses are equipped with ramps and space to carry passengers in wheelchairs but most motorized scooters will not fit on the buses. A scenic drive accessibility permit allows entry for visitors with mobility issues access to some areas closed to public traffic.

Accessibility Guide: The guide maps show ramps, trails and sections which are accessible.

Grand Canyon Village: Wheelchair accessible with the exceptions of Kolb Studio and Lookout Studio.

Campground: there are six accessible camp sites.


Cape Cod- Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Trails: Certain trails have been surfaced to accommodate wheelchairs with smooth pavement.

Visitors center: The Salt Pond Visitors center is accessible but the province lands visitors center is only accessible on a steep ramp way.

Overlooks: Various overlooks throughout the park are suited for wheelchair access.

Camping: Two state parks offer wheelchair accessible camping (with built in tents).

Beaches: Many beaches have beach wheelchairs for rent!


American Museum of Natural History- New York, New York

Entrances: There are 3 entrances that are accessible by wheelchair and there are passenger loading zones and curb ramps.

Exhibitions: All exhibitions are accessible by wheelchair and all public floors of the Museum can be reached by an elevator. All theatres include wheelchair locations and companion seating and all the food services areas are accessible by wheelchair with no steps.

Renting: Wheelchairs can be rented, first come first serve at the Will Call desk.


Atlantic City Board Walk- Atlantic City, New Jersey

Beaches: Handicapped accessible beaches.

Bathrooms: Handicapped bathrooms are available on the beach.

Access ramps: Along the entire boardwalk are handicap access ramps.

Surf chairs: Handicapped surf chairs are available free of charge on a first come first serve basis, which are beach wheelchairs. Your chair can be stored while you use the surf chair.


Happy Traveling!



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