California, Here We Come--In Our Handicap Van
Visit California for spectacular views of the coastline or enjoy the abundance of activities in the cities. The Golden State has a little something for everyone, including many wheelchair accessible destinations to explore!
Disney California Adventure Park, Anaheim
No visit to Southern California would be complete without making your dreams come true at Disneyland. You are sure to enjoy each part of the park: Buena Vista Street brings vintage Los Angeles alive again, just as Walt Disney experienced it in 1923. Explore the Condor Flats where the staff designs, tests and flies modern aircraft--to infinity and beyond! Tour California from above on the Soarin' Over California ride, and book a tour on Minnie's Fly Girls Charter Airline. Don't miss Hollywood Land, where the Golden Age of Hollywood is relived. You'll find many attractions you don't want to miss, like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Monsters, Inc. with "Mike & Sulley to the Rescue", and Disney's Aladdin music spectacular.
Other memorable parts of Disney to explore are Grizzly Peak, "A Bug's Land", Pacific Wharf, Paradise Pier, and Cars Land. Both children and adults have a terrific time at Disneyland!
The park is wheelchair accessible. However, there are some attractions that require guests to transfer from their wheelchair to ride by themselves or be assisted by members of their party. There are a few rides that are not wheelchair accessible, but the majority of rides are. And wait until you see the parking lot--there's more than enough room to park thousands of wheelchair vans!
San Diego Zoo, San Diego
It's all happening at the San Diego Zoo! The zoo allows you to interact with animals up close and see what goes on behind the scenes that make the animal interactions so magical. You can even spend the night at the zoo and experience the animals after the crowds have gone home.
To avoid missing anything the zoo has to offer, take the 35-minute bus tour on a double-decker bus which takes you through about 70% of the zoo! Or catch the express bus that lets you to get on and off at five different stops throughout the zoo. You can even take the airborne shortcut, Skyfari, which takes you over the treetops to the other end of the zoo, all while enjoying beautiful views. Make sure to check out the insect house, where the motto is "The littlest things have the biggest impact". Stop by the petting zoo and pet the sheep or comb a pygmy goat's hair!
There are other attractions in the zoo that are not included in the admission price, but are not too expensive, such as the Ice Age 4D experience, Balboa Park Miniature Train, Giraffe Feeding, Light Side Comedy Tour, and you can even book a specialized tour! The Zoo is handicap accessible, but be aware there is a small fee to rent a wheelchair. It is recommended before boarding the tour bus that you notify the bus attendant to reserve seats in the wheelchair area for the other members of your party. If you are in a folding wheelchair, the Skyfari attraction will have the wheelchair transported ahead to be available for your arrival on the opposite end. If you are in an electric or non-folding wheelchair, you must do the Skyfari as a round trip. The two amphitheaters are also wheelchair accessible.
The Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
This park is one of the world's largest national parks. It follows the coastline of the San Francisco bay area for nearly 60 miles. There's plenty of things to do, not to mention simply soaking in the stunning beauty of the California shore line.
Visit the De Young Museum, where you can view art from around the world. Pick up a glass of tea and relax at the Japanese Tea Garden. Explore mysteries of land, space, and water at the California Academy of Sciences. Be awed by the Conservatory of Flowers with the most exotic-looking blossoms! The conservatory is located in one of the park's oldest buildings, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy a nice meal at the beach and park chalet, gaze upon magnificent flora from across the globe at the Strybing Arboretum, watch a herd of bison at the Buffalo Paddock, and last but not least, visit the Park Windmills located towards the western side of the park.
Most of the park is accessible. The Japanese Tea Garden is not fully accessible, but there are parts of it that are. There is no entrance fee for wheelchair users because of this. If you are traveling with a companion who can assist you, more of the garden can be seen.
Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach
The aquarium is home to more than 11,000 ocean animals and has nearly 500 different species. The exhibits cover species from the Pacific, such as waters of Southern California and Baja, the Northern Pacific, and the Tropical Pacific. You can also visit the exhibits located outdoors, such as the Shark Lagoon, the Lorikeet Forest aviary, and "Watersheds: Pathway to the Pacific".
Become more educated about veterinary care at the Molina Animal Care Center. And don't miss out on meeting the Magellanic Penguins in the June Keyes Penguin Habitat. Also, visit the Ocean Science Center, featuring NOAA's Science on a Sphere. The aquarium features over 19 major habitats and 32 focus exhibits--you're sure to stay busy throughout your visit to the aquarium!
The Aquarium of the Pacific is wheelchair accessible, and there are wheelchairs available free of charge.
Universal Studios, Los Angeles
If you''re searching for a true adventure, check out Universal Studios in Hollywood! The park is full of action-packed activities--from exhilarating rides and interactive shows, to a real movie studio! You can also find some great shops, restaurants, and cinemas located at the CityWalk within the park.
Take a studio tour and discover how Hollywood movies are made! Better yet, experience your favorite movies brought to life on one of the awe-inspiring rides, which literally put you inside some of the world's most famous movies.
Check out the Transformers: The Ride-3D, where you will engage in a great battle, brave the indoor roller coaster "Revenge of the Mummy", take on the animated world of "The Simpsons" on the virtual roller coaster, and experience Shrek 4-D!
Most of the rides, shows, attractions, escalators, and parking structures are specifically designed for guest who use wheelchairs. Find a list of all attractions and their specific requirements on the web site's Rider's Guide for Rider's Safety and Guests with Disabilities.
LEGOLAND, San Diego
LEGOLAND can be enjoyed by children of all ages. Upon entering the park, meet Bronte, the 34-foot tall dinosaur made completely from LEGO blocks! There are 60 rides, shows and attractions!
Visit Dino Island to explore life-sized dinosaur footprints and the Coastersaurus, which curves around life-size LEGO brick dinosaurs. Take the little ones to a town that is proportionate to their size in Fun Town, which is full of many attractions, such as the Sky Cruiser, which takes you above the park, where you can see some of the adventures the park has to offer. Experience Pirates Shores, where you can fight off pirates on the Splash Battle attraction. Ride in the ship-themed vehicles behind your very own cannon, where you can aim and fire at spectators and other riders.
Other sections of the park include Castle Hill, featuring themes of the romantic times with kings, queens, and dragons galore. The Land of Adventure takes you into the 1920s Egyptian times with many rides, such as the Lost Kingdom Adventure, when you try to recover stolen treasures by shooting targets with lasers guns! The Imagination Zone is created to get your imagination and creativity flowing, with inventive rides and attractions! Don't miss Miniland, which covers seven areas of the United States by illustrations made completely out of LEGOS! It took more than 20 million LEGO blocks to develop Miniland!
Other attractions include LEGOLAND Water Park, SEA LIFE Aquarium, and the LEGOLAND Hotel.
Most of the rides are wheelchair accessible except for some water rides. Wheelchairs are available upon request for a small fee--first come, first served. You will need someone with you to help transfer you from your wheelchair to ride some of the rides.
Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park
Knott's Berry Farm has a variety of things to do, with roller coasters, thrill rides, family rides, children's rides, water rides, live entertainment, the California Market Place, and multiple restaurants throughout. You're sure to have a blast!
Choose from nine different roller coasters! For example; the Jaguar takes you through the park and around and over other attractions of the park. Courageous visitors ride the GhostRider roller coaster, which is the largest attraction in the park's history and happens to be the largest and longest wooden roller coaster in the world. Take on one of the thrill rides like the Supreme Scream, which takes you up 254 feet and then drops you down to the ground.
As for live entertainment, watch Native American dancing and storytelling at the Indian Trails Stage, visit Ghost Town--the cowboy's hangout, or be amazed during the western stunt show--Fool's Gold.
The California Market Place lies right outside the park's entrance. Here you will find Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, which is where it all started in 1934. You can also visit Knott's California MarketPlace shopping, Independence Hall, Knott's California MarketPlace dining, T.G.I. Friday's, Pink's the Original Hot Dog for the Stars, Cinnabon, Dreyer's Ice Cream, Chicken-To-Go, Knott's Berry Farm Bakery, the Berry Market, Knott's California Shop, and much more! The market does not require admission to the park and is open to the public.
Many rides are accessible, but there are some that are not. All full-service restaurants are accessible, and there are accessible restrooms in each section of the park. Check out the Rider Safety Guide for more information. Manual and battery-powered wheelchairs are available for rent.
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
For nearly a century Fisherman's Wharf has been the home of San Francisco's fishing fleets. The wharf has been run by many generations, and many future generations will continue the tradition. This is a marine-oriented locale close to the fishermen's hearts and enjoyed by endless visitors.
Fisherman's Wharf is known for the variety of seafood available. Some of its fame comes from the annual harvest of Dungeness crab, which begins every November. Since the wharf started operating, fishermen would set up cauldrons of boiling water and cook the freshly caught crabs. Afterwards they would put the crab in paper cups and enjoy a crab cocktail. The tradition is still going strong, and visitors can enjoy their own crab cocktail, which is prepared the same way.
When touring the wharf, visitors can read signs that have been placed along the water's edge. They provide history, insight on today's fishing community, and explain how important it is to protect the bay. You'll enjoy street performers such as magicians, mimes, musicians, jugglers, clowns, and fire-eaters who enthusiastically welcome you to the wharf.
Other attractions include Alcatraz Prison, also known as The Rock. Alcatraz was a Civil War fortress, an infamous federal prison, bird sanctuary, home to the first lighthouse, and the starting point of the Native American Red Power movement. Visitors can ride on refurbished cable cars and tour Hyde Street Pier, which houses the world's largest collection of ships by tonnage. One of the more popular attractions is the sea lions. Year-round there are hundreds of sea lions gathered near the docks at Pier 39.
The Wharf has accessible parking, curb-cuts, and level access throughout the wharf. If you visit Alcatraz, just be aware there are some uneven patches of concrete and some tight spots because the building is so old. Otherwise, Fisherman's Wharf is wheelchair accessible.
Muir Woods, Mill Valley
William and Elizabeth Kent named the redwood forest in honor of John Muir. He says, "This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world."
The woods mainly consist of redwoods on about 2 million acres. Most coastal redwoods grow on protected soil managed by timber plantations, where they are safe from harm. Redwoods are the tallest livings things; the tallest redwood in Muir Woods is more than 258 feet tall. These trees can grow taller than the Statue of Liberty, some of them can grow to 379 feet. Redwoods have lived up to 2200 years. However, the ages in Muir Woods range from 600 to 800 years old.
Redwoods are not the only living things you'll find in the forest--there are many other kinds of flora and fauna. Forests such as this have an abundance of herbaceous, understory, and canopy plants. There's a multitude of Steller jays that like to hang out around the woods, along with an assortment of insects.
Muir Woods is wheelchair accessible, with 1.5 miles of paved or boarded trail, which is almost completely flat. Loops from half a mile to two miles can be traveled on this trail. The café, parking, gift shop and restrooms are also handicap accessible.
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
This observatory is a famous landmark in California. It's known for its architecture and setting. This building was the dream of Griffith Jenkins Griffith, and he dedicated it to a hard-working team of scientists and others who helped his dream of a public observatory and planetarium come true. Not only is the building full of space and science-related displays, but also has great views of California and the sky.
You shouldn't miss the Samuel Oschin Planetarium when you plan a visit to the observatory. The planetarium has a Zeiss star projector, laser digital projection system, and a magnificent aluminum dome. The Samuel Oschin Planetarium has been described as the finest planetarium in the world, so be sure to see an extraordinary live presentation in the planetarium.
The "Centered in the Universe" show takes guests on a journey through a cosmic adventure. The "Water is Life" presentation takes viewers on a search for water and life beyond earth. The Light of the Valkyrie shows visitors to be exposed to the mysteries of the northern lights. Last but not least is the "Time's Up" presentation. This show takes you through a prism of false claims such as the end of the world in 2012. There are eight shows each day of the week and 10 shows every weekend day.
The 2,700 square-foot Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon is used for educational activities, live transmissions of space events, and training for teachers. However, the theater is also used for a variety of other activities such as the film "The Once and Future Griffith Observatory", which is narrated by Leonard Nimoy and explores the history of the observatory.
All parts of the Griffith observatory are wheelchair accessible, including the theaters.
With the abundance of wheelchair-accessible attractions in California, you're guaranteed to have a blast!