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Illinois Wheelchair Travel
The "Corn State" (also known as "the Land of Lincoln") is home to the world's first skyscraper and the first McDonald's burger restaurant! Illinois has a cornucopia of wheelchair accessible attractions to explore--so let's take a look!
Sky Deck, Chicago
The Sky Deck is on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at a whopping 1,450 feet or 110 stories tall. The Sky Deck offers breathtaking views that allow visitors to see more than 50 miles and four states.
For a heart-throbbing view, visit the deck's glass ledges. The ledges extend out 4.3 feet from the Sky Deck's 103rd floor and provide astonishing perspectives of Chicago. The frequent forehead marks left behind on the Sky Deck's original windows influenced the development of the ledges. Visitors wanted to look down and all around which was prevented by "regular" windows. Thus, the Ledges were produced to allow a never-before-seen perspective of Chicago.
Too scared to take on the Ledge? Don't worry. There are video screens that allow you to see the views the Ledge has to offer. You can also find exhibits that elaborate on the tower's history and culture of Chicago. Reaching for the Sky is a film presented in the Sky Deck's theater, and it describes how the tower came to be. Even the ride up to the observation deck is an educational event--the elevator provides reference points of the ascending height.
The Skydeck is completely wheelchair accessible. There are ramps that make wheelchair access easy, and the elevator can accommodate a wheelchair or scooter with no problem.
Navy Pier, Chicago
The Navy Pier, located along Lake Michigan, is packed with more than 50 miles of things to do--from parks, promenades, and gardens, to shops, restaurants, and a few surprises!
Prepare to be a bit dizzy if you dare to partake in the Funhouse Maze and Time Freak attractions! The Funhouse Maze takes you through 4,000 square feet of sensory bliss--can you find your way out? Time Freak is a challenge against the clock and competitors. Who can hit the most buttons as they light up? Both attractions are wheelchair accessible.
You can also find the Chicago Children's Museum at the pier. This is a place built for children 10 and under, and, of course, their families. Kids can climb on a ship, play in a tree house, assemble a building, piece together a flying machine, make a dam for a river, drive a fire truck, and make a piece of art to take home! Little ones leave the museum with their creative wheels spinning!
The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is a "must see" within the pier. This is the only museum in the US that is solely dedicated to glass windows. Take in the beauty of the magnificent 150 windows on display. The windows are divided by four different artistic themes: Victorian, Prairie, Modern, and Contemporary.
These are just a few of the attractions found at Navy Pier. Visit navypier.com for a larger list.
Wheelchairs are available at the Family Pavilion near the West entrance, and at the East End Security Post as well. All levels of the pier are accessible by elevators. The East and West garages have accessible parking, including wheelchair van parking. The Pier is just one of many locations in Illinois that makes the state a hot spot for wheelchair travel!
Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield
There are grrrrreat things to do and see at the Chicago Zoological Society! For an extra fee, see their Dolphin Presentations and be blown away by what these animals can do! Ever wanted to see what the life of a zookeeper is like? Wild Encounters allows visitors to go behind the scenes of exhibits and help the keepers feed and take care of the animals! Motor Safari takes you around the zoo and has four different spots where you can get on and off. The Hamill Family Play Zoo allows children and their families to touch animals, build habitats, paint murals, examine animal X-rays, plant gardens, dress up as a bird, discover insects, and so much more! If you'd like to sit down and relax while eating a delicious meal or just pick up a snack, there are plenty of dining options located within the zoo. Take home a souvenir from one of the zoo's stores!
Wheelchairs are available for rent. However, quantities are limited and it's suggested to call in advance to reserve your equipment. To avoid any interruptions to your visit, ask a staff member for an "Access" sticker, which alerts the staff your mobility device is being used as an ADA personal mobility device.
Paramount Theatre, Aurora
The architecture alone is a reason to visit Paramount Theatre. The theatre opened in 1915 and was developed by the Aurora Theatre Company. The theme of the theatre was influenced by "Venice" and Art Deco designs of the1920s and early 1930s. Rapp & Rapp designed the theatre, which was described by David Naylor in American Picture Palaces--The Architecture of Fantasy as "their best Art Deco theatre."
Over years of use, the Paramount began to show wear-and-tear. Around the 1970s the theatre began the process of restoration to obtain its former appearance. Fortunately, the reconstruction of the interior only needed touching up, and the original look of the theatre is still intact.
Not only is the interior astounding, but the performances are remarkable! Make a night of it, drive your wheelchair van and dine at one of the restaurants located in downtown Aurora beforehand or grab dessert at the Paramount Theatre Cafe, which is open one hour prior to show times. Adult beverages are available in the lobby before the performances and during intermissions. Drinks are allowed in the theatre, but food is prohibited.
The Paramount Theatre is wheelchair accessible on the orchestra level. Each accessible seat is slightly elevated and can be easily removed. If you require the space for a wheelchair, an usher will remove the chair when you arrive. Restrooms are accessible on ground level or can be accessed by ramps.
Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago
You'll completely forget that the Lincoln Park Zoo is surrounded by buildings when you are immersed into its world of wildlife! This is the place to be if you're an animal lover. What makes this zoo even more attractive? Admission is FREE!
Pet a snake or a blue-tongued skink at the Meet an Animal session at Regenstein Small-Mammal Reptile House, grab a bite to eat at the Park Place Cafe or Cafe Brauer, check out 15 exhibits and animal houses, and if you just can't get enough of the zoo, grab your pajamas and Sleep Under the Skyscrapers with the animals!
Wheelchairs are available for rental. The Lincoln Park Zoo is completely wheelchair accessible!
Super Museum, Metropolis
Metropolis is home to Superman and the Super Museum! For comic-book fanatics, or simply superman fans, the Super Museum is the place to be! You'll see more than 20,000 items from the past 70 years--dating back to the first debut of the Man of Steel in 1938. Items include nearly every Superman toy ever manufactured, props from the Christopher Reeve movies like the "flying pan" (the special effects device that allowed Superman to "fly"), and the only George Reeves costume that still exists!
The Super Museum was awarded the "#1 Small Town Attraction in America," and has also been featured on The Daily Show, Entertainment Tonight, EXTRA, Treasures in your Home, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, "Kovel's on Collecting", TNN, "E!" Entertainment Television, Unsolved Mysteries and other media! Experience for yourself why the Super Museum has been featured on so many different shows!
Both the museum and the gift shop are wheelchair accessible.
The Morton Arboretum, Chicago
Prepare to be blown away by the Morton Arboretum's stunning plant life! Explore 1,700 acres of magnificent scenic views, plant collections, and carefully planned landscapes. There are 16 miles of trails, nine of which are paved roads and wood-chipped trails. View 41,000 labelled specimens of plants throughout the Arboretum! If all the exploring works up an appetite, visit the Ginkgo Restaurant, which overlooks the gorgeous Meadow Lake.
All buildings, paved garden paths, and trails are accessible. The paved paths can be found in the Ground Cover Garden, Fragrance Garden, Herb Garden, Four Seasons Garden, and Children's Garden. Paved trails include Meadow Lake Trail, Conifer Walk, Joy Path, Big Rock Visitor Station, and the Prairie Visitor Station. There are also wheelchairs available for rental--supplies are limited.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Permanent collections and traveling exhibits are here to explore, offering a large diversity of cultures and artworks. Check out the current and upcoming traveling exhibits on the Art Institute of Chicago's website.
The Art Institute of Chicago features various gallery talks, performances, lectures, and social events. Click on the institute's calendar to see what's going on during your visit. If you get hungry, there are plenty of dining options available within the museum, such as Terzo Piano, Museum Cafe, Caffe Moderno, and the McKinlock Court Restaurant.
The entire museum is wheelchair accessible. Keep in mind that the Michigan Avenue Entrance is wheelchair accessible, but no drop-offs are permitted. If you need/or would like to be dropped off, you must do so at the Modern Wing Entrance on Monroe Street.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield
Visit the world-class library and museum completely dedicated to American presidents--specifically Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is located in two separate buildings--the Museum and the Library across the street.
Highlights of the museum include plenty of educational and inspiring exhibits on Lincoln's life, along with a rotating exhibit that features precious artifacts related to Lincoln. Enjoy performances such as plays and musicals that recall the time of Lincoln and his legacy. Entertaining plays can be seen in the Museum Plaza, Union Theatre, and occasionally in exhibit areas and outside in Union Square Park.
The Library is full of materials, including an original copy of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln family letters, and Barry and Louise Taper's collection of Lincolniana and assassination materials. It is also home to more than eight miles of preserved books, original maps, and personal papers and records of Illinois' political, business, and cultural leaders.
One thing is for sure--you won't leave the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum without learning a thing or two!
The museum is wheelchair accessible. Guest in wheelchairs can be dropped off at the Museum's main entrance at Sixth and Jefferson. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
First Lady Architectural Cruise, Chicago
Come aboard a spectacular 90-minute river tour, where the amazing architecture of Chicago can be appreciated from a unique perspective! What was once nothing more than a swamp is now home to stunning, world-famous buildings.
The cruise is narrated by Chicago Architecture Foundation-certified experts who describe the architectural designs of more than 50 buildings and enlighten you about the beginnings of the city of Chicago and its magnificent architecture. Chicago is home to more moveable bridges than any other city in the world--it has more than four dozen! The tour features 13 of these bridges, and, of course, spectacular views of landmarks, and points of interest in downtown Chicago.
The cruise is wheelchair accessible with ramps and wheelchair seating on board.
It may be "The Corn State", but there's nothing corny about a wheelchair vacation to Illinois, "The Land of Lincoln." Just don't wait "four score and seven years" to make the trip!
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