Traveling is one of the greatest adventures of life and it’s time for you to take a trip! There are many destinations and adventures available for seniors with limited mobility and it’s all about finding the right fit for your needs and interests. A vacation can refresh your perspective, relieve stress, and inspire new hobbies. Vacations are also a great way to spend quality time with friends and family. Ensuring your needs are met during your travels is an important requirement that cannot be overlooked, and it is the key to maximizing your vacation experience. It can sound like a big undertaking to leave the comfort of your home, but once you learn about all the options for folks in their golden years, you’ll see how many seniors are living their best lives and taking frequent vacations. Just because your mobility is limited, doesn’t mean your options are. Here is a list of hotspot destinations for seniors with limited mobility that will entice interests of all varieties.
Arizona offers many suitable and exciting options for seniors and boasts 300 days of sunshine. See two amazing destinations, Phoenix and Scottsdale, with minimal travel time.
Phoenix is known for breathtaking desert scenery and a wide variety of cultural activities. See a live performance at one of its many theatres or concert halls and check out the walkable arts district, Roosevelt Row. Another popular attraction of Phoenix is the Japanese Friendship Garden. With wheelchair and scooter accessible grounds, this is sure to be a peaceful and relaxing visit. Wheelchairs are available but they advise guests to call ahead for availability. Head east 13 miles to Scottsdale, AZ. There you’ll find the nation's largest butterfly conservatory, Butterfly Wonderland. They have responsible pandemic guidelines and are entirely wheelchair friendly. While in Scottsdale, enjoy acclaimed dining, shopping, and spas to fully enter relaxation mode.
Holland America’s award-winning cruise ship, Koningsdag, offers several different tours of Alaska. The only matter you should be concerned with is which one to take! Between their fully accessible rooms and bathrooms, braille menus and guided tour upon boarding, there won’t be anything holding you back from enjoying the sights. Have a service dog? No problem, they’ll allow you to bring your furry companion along for the ride. The seven-day excursion will take you to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. You’ll live lavishly while experiencing live music nightly and dining at any of their three restaurants. There are many other cruise lines with similar offerings and a variety of destinations. A cruise is a wonderful option to cross off multiple destinations while enjoying modern conveniences and comforts.
National Parks are a wonderful way to experience nature, see the outdoors and learn about specific regions of the U.S. If the thought of camping sounds daunting, consider planning a multi-day visit and booking a nearby hotel. You might also consider renting a camper or RV but will likely need a travel companion to assist with set up. There is no shortage of sights to see and explore in at national parks and ending the day in a comfortable and accessible space is important. Below are a few recommendations for parks with senior friendly hiking, exhibits, and lodging.
Badlands National Park in South Dakota is sure to impress with its dramatic landscapes and wildlife. Access the scenic overlooks with ease and examine fossils discovered in the park at the Fossil Exhibit located inside the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. The Cedar Pass Campground offers two campsites that are fully accessible by wheelchair and one site in the group loop. They are available on a first come first served basis so be sure to call ahead if you plan on camping. Gentle grades are present on most overlooks and trails but are wheelchair accessible. Take away the stress of the unknown by taking the virtual tour prior to your visit.
Everglades National Park in Florida offers multiple accessible trails that are either paved or a boardwalk. They are less than 3/4 of a mile in distance and wheelchairs are available upon request. The Anhinga Trail, Gumbo Limbo Trail, Pineland Trail and West Lake Trail are just a few of the mobility inclusive experiences. Experience the true magic of the Everglades by taking one of their accessible boat or tram tours! Take advantage of accessible front country campgrounds at Long Pine Key or Flamingo or book a nearby hotel.
Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California is best known for its giant sequoia trees, rock formations, and gorgeous waterfalls. With almost four million visitors a year, they have developed an entire guide for those with accessibility concerns that is sure to answer every question you may have about your visit. Free shuttle buses operate across the park with wheelchair lifts and assistance from staff. Yosemite features more than 12 miles of paved trails and serval accessible lodging options.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
In need of a tropical getaway? Consider the coastal resort town of Playa del Carmen. White sand, fruity drinks and blue water can be found at one of their stunning all-inclusive resorts. The beach can sometimes prove challenging for seniors with limited mobility due to the sandy terrain but staying at an all-inclusive or similar beachfront property means you can enjoy the beach carefree, no long walks required. Playacar Palace, Iberostar Paraiso Maya, and Iberostar Paraiso Beach are among the top-rated resorts for those requiring mobility accommodations. Zero entry pools mean no pesky stairs and ramped beach access with wooden walkways ensure you can navigate confidently to the beach. These are just a few of the benefits of looking into all-inclusive resorts and hotels. The accessible rooms at these resorts boast roll-under sinks, no raised toilet, shower grab bars and beds that are 24 inches high. Your mind can rest easy knowing your safety and needs are top of mind. Get some sand between your toes and enjoy ultimate relaxation. On top of feeling comfortable in your space, you’ll experience the beauty and rich culture of Mexico.
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Whether you’re a history buff or not, Colonial Williamsburg is fun and informative for folks of all ages. The living-history museum is in the historic district of Williamsburg featuring several hundred restored or re-created buildings from the 18th century. The site also includes a Level 2 Certified Arboretum with more than 30 historic gardens. Guests with limited mobility can easily navigate the gardens, streets and many outdoor activities, however most of the buildings in the historic area have steps. If you’re unsure of a location's accessibility, onsite interpreters will happily provide directions to accessible areas. Be sure to visit the art museum, featuring Navajo weavings, folk art, and serval other historically relevant exhibits. Stay overnight at the five-star Williamsburg Inn or Williamsburg Lodge. AARP members receive nightly discounts, and the hotel features a full-service spa, golf courses, and on-site restaurants. The hotels also feature live entertainment and a packed events calendar.
Palm Springs, California
With quintessential California views, hot springs, golf resorts and spas, Palm Springs is a must see for seniors. The high volume of senior visitors to the area means there are hundreds of accessible lodging accommodations and resorts. Top attractions include the Moorten Botanical Gardens, Palm Springs Air Museum, and Aerial Tramway. A visit to Palm Springs is sure to leave you suntanned, rejuvenated and relaxed.
The Moorten Botanical Gardens offers an immersive experience into the native desert plants of the region. Identify 3,000 types of cacti other plants grouped by geographic region. The garden is a 30 minute to 1 hour walk with shaded resting areas along the way.
Palm Springs Air Museum features 65,000 square-feet of vintage World War II and Vietnam War aircrafts. The climate-controlled hangars are pet friendly and are a wonderful midday break from the California sun.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world's largest rotating tram car, taking passengers over two miles along the Chino Canyon to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. This ten-minute ride is a low impact but highly exhilarating experiences. Once you reach the Mountain Station, travelers may visit restaurants, observation decks and museums, making it a fun filled afternoon for anyone visiting Palm Springs.
Washington, D.C. boasts being among the most accessible cities in the world. With no shortage of sights to see, it is a great option for your next vacation. Experience the nation’s capital with ease by utilizing the accessibility friendly Metro. Make your way to several different attractions with accessibility features including the Hillwood Museum and Gardens, International Spy Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution. Free manual wheelchairs are available on loan at every museum in Washington, D.C.
The Hillwood Museum and Gardens was the residence of Marjorie Merriweather Post. It is known for an extensive decorative arts collection highlighting Faberge egg, tapestries, and countless works of art. While you’re there, you can’t miss the 25 acres of elaborate gardens.
The International Spy Museum holds the largest collection of international espionage artifacts. Interactive displays, videos, and film educate and excite visitors as they peak behind the curtain of espionage. Browse multiple galleries such as “Stealing Secrets” and “Spying that Shaped History.” The museum is entirely accessible in wheelchair and provides auditory, visual, and tactile aids throughout the museum.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest research and education center. Often referred to as “the nation’s attic,” there is more to see than a single visit can accommodate. With 154 million items, be sure to allow yourself ample time to browse the institution’s 19 museums. It’s impossible to leave without a head full of history and culture. They offer a pre-visit video for people who may need to plan ahead.
This list of destinations offers great suggestions for travel, but the reality is that there is a never-ending world of travel options for seniors with limited mobility. While vacations for people with limited mobility require a bit more planning, it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t still travel, enjoy life and seek out new adventures.
Thomas AndersonGeriatric Care Manager
Thomas Anderson has over 15 years of experience providing care and support to elderly individuals. He specializes in helping seniors manage their medical needs and navigate the healthcare system. Thomas keenly understands how to help aging adults stay as independent as possible while ensuring they have access to the best available resources.