Ready to hit the open road but not sure where to start? The Seniorly team is sharing a roundup of our top 9 U.S. travel destinations for senior citizens with limited mobility.
You’ve worked long and hard for many years. Now that you’re retired, it’s time to plan your next adventure. Whether you’re single or married, have a traveling companion or are going solo, there are some great destinations and accessible tours designed especially for you — even for seniors with limited mobility issues.
So where do you go and how do you start? We've rounded up a few of our favorite U.S. vacations for senior citizens with limited mobility.
The magnificence of Niagara Falls cannot be overstated. This crown jewel of the national parks service is located on the border of Canada and the United States. If you’re not going by car, the best way to get there is to fly into the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. There is also Amtrak service to the falls.
For the best views and experience, take the famous river cruise line called The Maid of The Mist Boat Tour from the New York side of the falls, which is wheelchair accessible. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to check out the Cave of The Winds Tour (with an elevator ride that goes 175 feet down into the Niagara Gorge). There is also a trolley and bus tour.
Niagara Falls State Park recently renovated extensively in order to increase accessibility throughout the park, making it an ideal spot for senior citizens. You can find ADA-compliant routes and paths as well as accessible overlooks and picnic tables. In addition, you can rent wheelchairs for a small fee that can be taken anywhere pedestrians can go, including on the trolley. Even better, the wheelchairs can take the environment which means you don’t have to worry when it gets wet from the mist.
Branson has become one of the most popular vacation destinations for senior citizens and a favored location among travel groups for single seniors, especially if you’re active and enjoy outdoor activities. Golf, museums, shopping, live shows and music are just some of the many activities you’ll enjoy. Recently given the title “Live Music Show Capital of the World”, Branson is the best Las Vegas alternative for those with limited mobility. It is also much quieter and more affordable, and easier to get around.
You can find accessible attractions throughout Branson, including the Titanic Museum, the entertainment shows, and even the Top of the Rock trail. For the trail, you’ll just need to be able to transfer to a golf cart. The trail winds through pretty scenery before giving a majestic view of Table Rock Lake.
If you plan to camp while in Branson, you’ll find plenty of accessible campgrounds that are close to all of the action. Ensure you request an accessible site when booking so that you can safely move about the site in your wheelchair or with your mobility device.
Alaska’s breathtaking scenery with over 20,000 glaciers, wildlife, and 17 of America’s 20 highest mountain peaks, make it one of the most popular travel destinations for senior citizens.
One of the best ways to see this majestic state is hopping on one of the cruise lines from Seattle or nearby Vancouver. For seniors with limited mobility, there are endless websites and deals to be found for a hassle-free vacation. To find exactly what you’re looking for in a cruise at a great price, check out this article on Cruise Critic for cruise vacation ideas. And if cruising's not your thing, we've got some great alternatives for exploring Alaska.
Alaska Marine Highway System. If you’re adventurous and want to bring your own car, you can drive to Bellingham, Washington and board a ferry for various destinations in Alaska. The Alaska Ferry System is an affordable alternative to a cruise. Discounts are available for seniors and side trips in many port cities are available as well.
Alaska Railroad Corporation. Seeing Alaska by rail is a real treat for seniors with mobility issues or not. And if you’re 65 or older you can travel at half fares during off-season months. Watch the scenery from a train picture window while in the comfort of your forward-facing reclining seat.
Skagway White Pass Railroad. A popular cruise excursion in the port city of Skagway, the White Pass Railroad is a can’t-miss for anyone in the area. Train cars are accessible, though if you require a lift, you will want to be sure to indicate this during reservation as those cars can fill up quickly.
For consistently warm weather you just can’t beat the state of Florida. And while just soaking up the sun is always an option, Florida isn’t just for shuffleboard anymore. More and more companies and resorts are catering to active retirees and senior citizens with mobility issues.
Whether you're going with grandkids or just young at heart, consider DisneyWorld or Universal Studios. Both have extensive accessibility programs including the option to rent wheelchairs or motorized scooters. DisneyWorld also offers wheelchair accessible buses to transfer from hotels to the park.
More of a beach lover? Florida features wheelchair accessible beaches throughout the state including Pensacola Beach, Hollywood Beach and Miami Beach. Prefer to learn about local history during a tour? Look for guided trolley or bus tours that are accessible, such as the hop-on-hop-off trolly tour in St. Augustine.
Once the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, Colonial Williamsburg is now one of the best destinations for senior citizens on a budget and for seniors traveling alone to visit in the United States. Today you can visit the museums, homes, shops and churches that George Washington, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson once wandered into. You can even watch craftsmen weave cloth, make wheels and shape silver into jewelry and utensils - all run by the national parks service.
While you might think you're visiting historic 18th century Virginia, rest assured that you'll find wheelchair accessible paths, trails, and sidewalks throughout Colonial Williamsburg. Folding wheelchairs are available at the Visitor’s Center on a first first come, first served basis. The gardens and buildings are largely accessible, though you might have to navigate a few steps to get into the building before navigating through it with your wheelchair or walker.
It’s hard for anyone to resist the beauty of Hawaii. These days, more senior citizens than ever are heading to the islands for a well- deserved vacation. Plus, it's an ideal spot for a larger family vacations.
The good news is there are travel discounts and special packages designed specifically for you, like senior tours at a gentle pace allowing you to see the best of this tropical paradise. Enjoy learning about volcanoes and natural wonders as well as touring Pearl Harbor with a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial for some important U.S. history.
Many beaches throughout the Hawaiian islands are accessible. Waikiki Beach is considered one of the most accessible, but you will find options throughout the islands. Attractions like the Pearl Harbor museum and park are also accessible for guests who use wheelchairs, walkers, or have other mobility challenges.
Visiting the nation’s capital is sure to be an educational and enlightening trip. Don’t worry about your mobility needs either, the city and its attractions are quite easily accessible so that you can explore almost anywhere. Plus, it's been rated as one of the most accessible cities in the U.S. by Wheelchair Travel.
Skip driving and fighting for traffic spots and instead take the MetroRail, the city’s public transportation system that can get you anywhere you want to go. Stations and trains are accessible for wheelchairs, walkers, and other devices. If you do decide to drive, Washington, D.C. recognizes disability car tags from all states and anyone with a tag can park in designated spaces or in any space for double the amount of time.
You can also find companies that will rent motorized scooters throughout the city, delivering to your location and allowing you to keep them for days at a time. If you find that walking through the museums and grounds is simply too much, consider renting a motorized scooter so that you can see it all without exhausting yourself.Traveling with disabilities
Speaking of historic cities, Boston is packed with fun things to do and plenty of historic spots to explore for senior citizens and their family members. The city is considered very accessible, including its public transportation bus system and the “T”, which is the rail system. In addition, museums and other historic buildings include ramps and accessible entrances.
Spend time following the marked Freedom Trail as it takes you to places where our nation began. Not ready to walk the whole way? Use ride share, a taxi, or a tour to still see the spots but without all the walking.
Don’t forget to enjoy a pint of beer, meal, or delicious dessert anytime you need to take a break from your exploring. There are many wheelchair accessible restaurants and bakeries throughout the city, most of which are completely accessible.
Taking in a game? You’ll find accessible seating and entrances at all the venues, including historic Fenway Park.
Charleston is our "it" city of the year. Whether you love shopping, dining, gazing up at the cypress trees, or watching a beach sunset, you can find it all in Charleston, South Carolina. The city might be old, but it’s quite accessible which means you can get around easily no matter your mobility needs.
Folly Beach, just outside of Charleston, is considered one of the area’s most wheelchair accessible beaches. You’ll find accessible bathrooms and changing rooms, as well as an accessible beach path that can take you safely near the water. There are plenty of restaurants and quirky shops in this funky surf town, so plan to enjoy the day here.
In Charleston proper, book a tour with a guide to learn more about the city. You can find ghost tours, harbor tours, dining tours, and church tours. Double check with the tour company to ensure it is accessible for your needs or challenges.
If limited mobility makes traveling an issue for you or a loved one, there are tours for seniors designed just for you. There are travel sites such as Wheelchair Travel Worldwide Resources that can help you research traveling in different parts of the world with a wheelchair. Even if you don’t use a wheelchair, these resources will make it clear what sites have more accommodations for people with disabilities. Also, if there are popular destinations near your assisted living community, your community staff may be able to arrange transportation and provide aid.
You’ll find yourself able to relax and enjoy your trip more if you have planned ahead to ensure accessibility for your specific needs. Try any of these tips:
Most importantly, enjoy your travels! It might require a bit more planning or preparation, but you’re still on vacation and you deserve to enjoy every bit of it.
Haley Burress writes for Seniorly on the topic of senior living and the aging experience. With a long history of roles in Life Enrichment and Dementia care management for top senior living providers like Sunrise Senior living, Haley now also serves the non-profit senior living sector in a volunteer capacity. Ms. Burress holds a Bachelor's degree in Healthcare Administration from Northern Illinois University and a Master's degree in Therapeutic Recreation Administration from Aurora University.
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