Best Vacations for Seniors with Mobility Issues


When you start to have mobility issues, you might begin to think about the things you can no longer do. But what you still can do might surprise you. For seniors who use a walker, cane, or wheelchair, there are many places in the nation that try to make accommodations for mobility – and that includes some in-demand vacation spots.

Though the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability – and thus, requires public spaces to be accessible to all – anyone who has vacationed while dealing with mobility concerns knows that not all places provide equal opportunity. However, many vacation spots truly want to make their space as accessible as possible. Mobility issues are more common than you might think, with over 10% of individuals in the United States having some issue with getting around[1].

But it’s important to remember that some buildings and vacation areas simply can’t be made fully compliant with ADA rules. For instance, it might be impossible to build ramps down a very steep slope to a popular beach, or some historic buildings might not withstand the widening of doorways or installation of ramps; in some cases, this might even compromise the historical value[2]. Therefore, it pays to be prepared before visiting new places and consider how you might be able to enjoy yourself if some spaces are not ADA-compliant.

Two important things to remember before we dive into this list: first, when it comes to accessibility, look for places that are accessible to wheelchairs. Why? Any space that is accessible to wheelchairs will be even more accessible to those with walkers and canes. Use this “wheelchair rule” as your standard when figuring out where you can go to get around easily.

And second, no matter where in the nation you travel, consider taking a medical alert pendant with you. The devices offered by Alert1 work in all 50 states! With our on-the-go options, you are just as well protected in a national park as you are in the comfort of your own home, and it’s a very affordable and reliable solution that brings priceless peace of mind.

Now it’s time to explore some vacation options!

Best Amusements Parks to Visit

You might be thinking, wait… amusement parks? Aren’t amusement parks the home of younger people climbing into rollercoasters and plunging down slides? Well, yes… but there are plenty of accessible areas. More than a few amusement parks have made a point of making certain the fun is for everyone, not just those who can get around easily. Here are some of the best.

·         Disney Theme Parks. Accommodations for those with limited mobility abound at Disney World, Disneyland, and over Disney-themed parks and partners. The most popular, of course, are the big parks: Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California. Accessible parking is abundant at both parks with no change in the parking rate. But that’s just the start. At Disney World there are more than 40 accessible rides and attractions spread across the park. There are many other accommodations for those with limited mobility, including the opportunity to rent wheelchairs and electric conveyance vehicles (EVCs). Quiet break areas and accessible companion restrooms make it easy to stay comfortable.  You can even schedule your rides so you don’t have to wait in line.

·         Morgan’s Wonderland. It’s amazing what love can do. A man’s love for his daughter, who had serious physical and cognitive issues, resulted in his creation of a fully accessible theme park for those in wheelchairs. Located just outside of San Antonio, Texas, Morgan’s Wonderland is specifically designed for those who can’t get around very well, whether you’re in a wheelchair or need other mobility devices. Not only is this a sterling opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of rides and attractions without worrying, there is also a sister water park. Morgan’s Inspiration Island is fully accessible and even includes waterproof wheelchair rentals.

·         Sesame Place. If you’re looking to take a vacation with the grandkids, this lovely theme park just outside of Philadelphia is dedicated to everything Sesame Street. Sesame Street is known for being an advocate for inclusivity and they live up to that promise with one of the most accessible vacation spots for anyone, not just seniors. Though Sesame Place gets serious kudos for making the park a wonderful experience for those with autism, those with mobility issues will find the same delights. Options include wheelchair rentals, special parade seating for those with mobility limitations, and the Ride Accessibility Program. The RAP is a questionnaire that matches your physical abilities with particular rides, giving you a personalized list of what the park offers for you.

Great Cruises to Take

Cruises are a wonderful way to get out and see a bit more of the world, and relax while doing it. Some, however, are more user-friendly than others. The following cruises are among the most accessible in the floating fleets.

·         Disney Cruise Lines. Ah, Disney – they’re at it again with wonderful accessibility. This time it’s on the Fantasy Cruise Ship, which offers not only the standard accommodations such as wheelchair-friendly rooms, but also a private island. Castaway Cay is home to accessible trams for transportation, accessible cabanas for lounging by the pool, sand wheelchairs, and more. The ships also offer accessible tenders that ferry you from the ship to port. These tenders make it possible to visit all sorts of places on the Disney itinerary (but keep in mind that not all of those places might be fully accessible). Some accommodations, like the use of a specialized lift, might be required to schedule in advance.

·         Royal Caribbean. If you’re looking for a place where you can get around easily and truly relax, the Symphony of the Seas is a gorgeous ship with an enormous variety of options. Take your vacation on a ship with fully accessible cabins, including the little things that matter so much, like fold-down shower benches, lowered sinks, hand-held showerheads, grab bars, and doors with ample space for wheelchairs or walkers to get through. There are even lowered playing tables at the casino, wheelchair seating in the theaters, and lifts at the pools. Many parts of Royal Caribbean’s private island, CocoCay, are accessible as well.

Beaches to Soak Up the Sun

Warm, sunny beaches are considered a vacation staple, but once mobility issues begin, you might wonder if your days of playing in the sand are over. Fear not! There are numerous beaches throughout the nation that make a point of being as accessible as possible for everyone. Here are a few of them.

·         Imperial Beach. Located in San Diego, California, Imperial Beach is known for being accessible for all. Sand wheelchairs are available – the manual ones don’t require a reservation, but if you want an electric one, you’ll need to reserve it well in advance. The beach isn’t all that crowded so you have plenty of time to move at your own pace.

·         Florida Boating Excursions. Getting on the beach is a vacation in itself. But what if you want to do more? Active Disabled Americans is a non-profit organization dedicated to making sure those of all mobility levels are able to enjoy the healing power of water. Located in Florida, this organization provides wonderful vacation options, including accessible spaces at Key Largo Bay, Everglades National Park, Pennekamp State Park, and Blackwater Sound, among many others. Boat outings provide something for those of every mobility level, from simply enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat to snorkeling under the blue water.

·         Hanauma Bay State Park. If you want a dream vacation to Hawaii, you’re in luck. Hanauma Bay in Hawaii is a nature preserve with a beach created around the crater of a dormant volcano. You can enjoy beach wheelchair rentals free of charge after riding an accessible tram to the area you most want to visit. There are ramps everywhere, all facilities are designed with accessibility and mobility issues in mind, and even the city buses can accommodate those who need some extra help. Alert1 personal emergency alarms work in all 50 states—including Alaska and Hawaii, so wear your alert watch and enjoy the beautiful scenery!

National Parks to Enjoy

Sure, national parks are known for their wonderful outdoor areas, where you can enjoy hiking, biking, and even rock climbing, among so many other activities. But what about those who can’t get around well? There are national parks that cater to that.

And while you’re thinking about national parks, consider this: U.S. citizens who are permanently disabled can obtain a free lifetime access pass that gets you into all national parks across the nation.

·         Visit the Grand Canyon. There is no doubt the Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of our world. Fortunately, the Grand Canyon National Park has gone to great lengths to make this bucket list adventure accessible to everyone. Not only are numerous facilities accessible, including restrooms, gift shops, dining areas, and campgrounds, there are also shuttle buses that get you around with no problem. Wheelchair rentals are available for those who can’t stand or walk as far as necessary to enjoy the splendor. Scenic drive tours, as well as accessible trails and tours, can make exploring the area quite enjoyable.

·         Zion National Park. This pinnacle of nature in Utah is home to many accessible campsites, trails, and park attractions that give you a taste of the great outdoors, including the Canyon Visitor Center and Human History Museum. Transportation, lodging, and picnic areas are also widely accessible at Zion National Park.

·         The Everglades. Though some parts of Everglades National Park are tough to get to even for the most athletic person, other areas are fully accessible and allow you to relax while trying to spot the gators. Paved trails, accessible parking, and stores with ramps to entry allow for freedom of movement around the park. Shark Valley, in the center of the park, has accessible overlooks for breathtaking views.

General Travel Tips

When you’re traveling, make sure you take the time to plan out how to get to where you’re going. Check directly with your airline if you are flying to figure out what you need to do – for instance, if you need a wheelchair through the airport, you probably need to request it in advance.

Consider that some transportation might not be accessible, so you’ll need to have alternate options in mind. Travel insurance might be a good idea, but make sure that it covers pre-existing conditions. Pack extra medications, just in case.

And before you go, take the time to look up resources at your destination, such as local disability organizations. They can provide you with insider information to make your trip even more enjoyable[3].

Finally, consider a personal emergency response solution if you don’t already have one. Medical alert systems with fall detection are especially helpful. Get in touch with Alert1 before your trip to figure out what options are best for your needs – and get ready to enjoy a fabulous vacation!