New York State Offers a Freewheeling Handicap Vacation
Let's just say that, while visiting New York, you may "never sleep." The state has such a variety of things to do--from the city life to the suburban areas--you're sure to have a fantastic time! Check out these top wheelchair accessible attractions in the Empire State!
Times Square, Manhattan
You can explore Times Square for hours, with so much to see. The Square is full of neon lights, huge billboards, Broadway theaters, and televisions studios. If you're ready to shop, this is the place to go for an assortment of internationally known storefronts, boutiques, and markets. For those with a sweet tooth, check out M&M's World, where you can find a two-story wall covered with a variety of colorful M&M's, or create your own customized M&M's with the store's personalized printer. And M&M's World is just one of the many yummy candy shops that can be found at Times Square.
Check out a "Good Morning America" or Music Television Network (MTV) broadcast, where you can be part of a live audience! Be sure to see a fantastic Broadway or Off Broadway show at one of the many theaters. When all the activity makes you hungry, don't fret, Times Square has countless amazing restaurants to choose from. Visit Restaurant Row, located between Broadway and 9th Avenue. If you're in the mood for Italian, dine at the historic Barbetta, which is nearly as old as Times Square itself. The restaurant celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006, and is still owned by the original family who opened it.
All in all, there are too many shops, theaters, restaurants, and attractions located within Times Square to list. That said, you're guaranteed to have a great time without a dull moment. Most of the attractions in Time Square are wheelchair accessible. Just keep in mind the streets are extremely crowded, so you might find it helpful to have someone with you just in case you find yourself in need of assistance. Remember--parking is scarce, so it's best to plan for parking before you go, with a wheelchair van.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
The Metropolitan is one of the largest art museums in the world. It consists of more than two million pieces of art, which cover a 5,000-year time span. There's sure to be something for everyone to enjoy, like the brilliant galleries of ancient Egyptian artworks, the American Wing, Musical Instruments, Modern and Contemporary Art, Photographs, Medieval Art, The Robert Lehman Collection, Greek and Roman Art, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, European Art, Drawings and Prints, The Costume Institute, The Cloisters, Asian Art, Arms and Armor, Ancient Near Eastern, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
Bring home some souvenirs from the museum's store! Every purchase made helps support the museum's programs. There are nine different places within the museum to dine, so take your pick. Make sure to check out the museum's map to locate the eateries you'd like to try.
The museum is wheelchair accessible. The entrances that are accessible are located at Fifth Avenue and 81st Street, and through the parking garage at Fifth Avenue and 80th Street. There are wheelchairs available free of charge at the coat-check areas. Elevators and escalators can be accessed throughout the museum.
Chinatown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York. Chinese immigrants established the district in the 1800s. Visit this area to experience the distinctive Chinese culture, including its exotic architecture, authentic cuisine, shopping, and people. The vicinity has grown to include other Asian populations such as Vietnamese and Malaysians.
When you aren't shopping or eating, explore the Asian American Arts Centre, where you can see American and Asian art forms utilized in performance, exhibition, and public education. Stop by the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, which is dedicated to preserving the history, heritage, culture, and diverse experiences of the Chinese in the United States. The museum brings 160 years of Chinese American history to life with exhibitions, along with educational and cultural programs.
The majority of Chinatown is wheelchair accessible, but be aware there are some spots where you might need assistance getting around.
Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown
Baseball fans can explore the Baseball Hall of Fame, where you'll be treated to lots of exhibits and artifacts. The museum is a collection of artifacts from baseball's beginnings to now. There are more than 38,000 baseball artifacts in the museum--all visitors are bound to find something that influences their love for the game! The museum has three floors, and the staff recommends guests start on the second floor.
The exhibits include a Cooperstown Room, The Baseball Experience, Taking the Field: The 19th Century, 20th Century Baseball Time Line, Babe Ruth Room, Diamond Dreams: Women in Baseball, Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience, Viva Baseball, Today's Game, FENtennial: Fenway Park's First 100 Years, Sacred Ground, Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, One for the Books, Autumn Glory: Postseason Celebration, Baseball Cards, Pastime Portraits: The Photographs of Forrest S. Yantis, Learning Center, Art of Baseball, Inductee Row, Hall of Fame Gallery, Baseball at the Movies, Scribes and Mikemen, Bullpen Theater, and Sandlot Kid's Clubhouse.
The museum is wheelchair accessible, and there are elevators available.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, New York City Harbor
Take the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island! Liberty Island is home to the Statue of Liberty, the national monument of freedom and democracy gifted to the US from France.
When visiting the Statue of Liberty, check out the exhibit located on the second floor of the statue to discover the history and symbolism of the 305-ft. monument. This exhibit features the famous sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. The sonnet is engraved on a bronze plaque on the statue's pedestal. The Torch exhibit includes the original torch from 1886, as well as the history of the torch, including diagrams, photographs, drawings, and cartoons. Make sure you hit the observation deck to see magnificent views of New York City and the Harbor!
The Statue of Liberty is now fully wheelchair accessible. Thanks to renovations in 2011 and a new elevator design, wheelchair users can now reach the observation deck.
Not far from the Statue of Liberty is the Ellis Island Immigration Museum--the nation's premier federal immigration station. More than 12 million immigrants passed through the station until 1954. The station reopened after its transformation into a museum on September 10, 1990.
The Ellis Island Museum covers more than 100,000 sq. ft. and features artifacts, photographs, prints, videos, interactive displays, oral history, and personal stories of immigrants seeking new opportunities in a foreign land. Experience the 45-minute audio tour, which takes visitors through the life of the immigrant and allows them to feel as if they were the "new arrival." There are additional tours available, which go into more detail with in-depth interviews with historians, architects and archaeologists.
Ferries for Ellis Island and Liberty Island are wheelchair accessible. There are a limited amount of wheelchairs available for rent on both islands. The museum is wheelchair accessible; however, the observation pedestal is not. Guest are required to climb 24 stairs to reach the pedestal, but there are elevators available for the Ft. Wood Promenade area.
Central Park, New York City
These 843 acres of landscape are packed full of interesting things to do and see, or to simply relax within, soaking up the beauty the park has to offer. As you explore this world-famous park, you'll find numerous statues of iconic figures such as Balto, Alice and Wonderland, William Shakespeare, and many more. Enjoy the fountains, meadows, beautiful bridges, and visit the performance centers, educational facilities, and gardens.
Within the park is the Central Park Zoo and Wildlife Center and the Tisch Children's Zoo. The zoo only takes up .77% of the park, but houses more than 1,400 animals and 130 species from tropic, garden and polar temperature zones. Depending on the season of the year, you can enjoy outdoor concerts and plays being performed within the park. The highly anticipated Central Park Film Festival attracts thousands of visitors annually.
Note that only half of the restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Some visitors find navigating the park easier with a map you can pick up at the Central Park store.
Bronx Zoo, Bronx
Speaking of zoos, the Bronx Zoo is the largest wildlife preserve in the US, and covers 265 acres, with more than 5,000 animals and over 600 species!
There are five main exhibits. In the Himalayan Highlands, you'll navigate the mountaintops of Nepal and visit the snow leopards, red pandas, and white-naped cranes. Jungle World takes you inside the Asian jungle. You'll love seeing otters, gibbons, and even a tapir. There are more than 800 creatures residing in the jungle. The Madagascar exhibit is home to enchanting plant life, as well as lemurs, hissing cockroaches, and crocodiles! Tiger Mountain is the Siberian tigers' bungalow, where guests learn how the cats stay fit through the zoo's animal enrichment program. In the World of Reptiles, you'll find frogs that look like moss, giant pythons, Cuban crocs, green tree monitors, poison dart frogs, and so much more! Don't miss these incredible reptiles!
All buildings at the zoo are wheelchair accessible. You'll find some rough terrain and a few steep hills throughout the zoo. Some visitors find it helpful to have someone with them in case they're in need of assistance. Visit Accessible Bronx Zoo to view the accessibility map.
Museum Mile, New York City
Located on famous Fifth avenue, from East 82nd to East 105th, is Museum Mile (which stretches just a bit over a mile.) You'll find lots of fascinating museums to probe. The "mile" includes The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Galerie, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Academy Museum & School, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, The Jewish Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and El Museo Del Barrio.
A short distance away from Museum Mile is the Whitney Museum of American Art, which features 20th-century American and contemporary masters. The enormous American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space have science exhibits that are larger than life. Also nearby is the New York Historical Society and the DiMenna Children's History Museum. The Museum of Modern Art is home to many significant contemporary art pieces.
Most museums are wheelchair accessible and have wheelchair rentals available upon request.
Coney Island, Brooklyn
Food, fun, and a fantastic Ferris wheel! Meander along the 3-mile wooden boardwalk, chow down on those delicious hot dogs from Nathan's Famous, take delight in the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean, check out Luna amusement park and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. (During the month of June, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park offers free firework shows and karaoke on the Boardwalk.) Learn all about Coney Island's history at the Coney Island Museum! The New York Aquarium is also nearby.
The boardwalk is brimming with great places to eat, hang out, and shop! There are always fun events and shows happening at Coney Island, so keep an eye out for one you might find interesting during your stay in New York.
Keep in mind that not all amusement park rides are wheelchair accessible. For questions regarding accessibility, contact the guest services office.
9/11 Memorial, New York City
The memorial to the tragic events of 9/11 was dedicated to the families of the victims on Sept 11, 2011--the 10th anniversary of that catastrophic day. The Museum opened the following day.
Admission to the September 11 Memorial is free, but you do have to make a reservation. You can make reservations at 911memorial.org. The memorial spans eight acres and honors the victims who lost their lives with their names on bronze parapets that surround large reflecting pools built into the towers' footprints. The plaza has more than 400 trees and provides a peaceful spot for visitors to reflect on loved ones and the events that took place. Located nearby is the Tribute WTC Visitor Center, which features photos, walking tours and a collection of objects all in remembrance of 9/11.
The 9/11 Memorial has a limited amount of wheelchairs available free of charge and is wheelchair accessible.
Novelist Alec Waugh said, "You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person." That explains all the "I heart NY" t-shirts you see everywhere you go in the good ol' USA!