5 Accessible U.S. Destinations to Visit This Summer

As the world begins the re-open and we all embrace the "new normal," many people are finally thinking about travel again. Due to the pandemic, a lot of travel possibilities have been off-limits for the past year. But with more and more people getting vaccinated, some destinations are now welcoming travelers with open (and still socially distanced) arms. If you are dreaming of places to travel to this summer, the five destinations featured in this blog could be nice options. Whether you want to visit a lesser-known beach destination, a city you've never previously explored, or a national park, there is truly something for everyone in these wheelchair-friendly destinations.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park

With huge outdoor spaces, national parks have certainly gained popularity during the pandemic. If you want to visit the northeastern United States, why not visit New England's only national park?! Acadia National Park is located in Maine and has accessible beaches (Echo Lake is the most accessible beach option), trails, and more, making it the perfect getaway this summer.

One of the most accessible trails in Acadia National Park is Jesup Path. It has a boardwalk path and is easy to traverse with a wheelchair. Additionally, there is also a 45-mile carriage road system that's smooth and makes rolling through the national park a fun and unique experience. Wildwood Stables has two wheelchair-accessible carriages available if you'd rather ride instead of roll.

Once you've explored as much of the national park as you can, head over to the nearby town of Bar Harbor. There you can enjoy enjoy fresh lobster, roll around the downtown area, and then enjoy even more fresh lobster. There are plenty of great restaurants in Bar Harbor to get your lobster fix, but C-Ray Lobster is particularly noteworthy.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Lighthouse on Tybee Island

"Historic Tybee Island (GA) Light Station July 2011" by Ron Cogswell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Beaches are great summer destinations, and like national parks, beaches have plenty of outdoor space to enjoy. One of the southeast's lesser-known beach destinations is Tybee Island. It's just a short drive away from Savannah, Georgia, and has some accessibility features that rival the greatest beaches in Florida.

Tybee Island's North Beach, Second Avenue Cross Over (East Gate), and the 16th Street (Tybrisa) Cross Over beach access points have Mobi-mats. You can enjoy all three beach access points from the comfort of your own wheelchair, but if you would like to get closer to the water, a beach wheelchair is available. Amphibious beach wheelchairs are free to use and available on a first-come, first-served basis from the Ocean Rescue lifeguard station.

Other attractions worth visiting on Tybee Island include the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and Tybee Pier. Delicious food is also available; one of the most popular restaurants is The Crab Shack. If you're a seafood fan, I'd highly recommend checking it out!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI

This summer, I'm aiming to stay away from larger cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. Instead, I want to visit B-side cities that often don't get as much love, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee probably isn't at the top of your travel bucket list, but it totally should be!

Milwaukee is known as "Brew City," and let's face it: we could all use a drunk or five after the past year, right?! There are some spectacular breweries to visit, including Miller Brewing Company, which is probably the most popular Milwaukee beer. Other notable attractions include the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Public Market, and you can even go on an accessible boat tour on Lake Michigan with Milwaukee Boat Line. Whether you're in Milwaukee for a weekend or a full week, you're sure to stay busy.

Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona

When thinking of Arizona, you probably think of either the Grand Canyon or the city of Phoenix. Tempe may not be as popular as other well-known destinations in Arizona, but if you give Tempe a chance, you'll discover just how amazing it is.

Tempe's downtown area along Mill Avenue has dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars. It's a fun, must-visit area near the Arizona State University campus. Sparky's Old Town Creamery is located on Mill Avenue and has every ice cream flavor imaginable, including some interesting ones like dark chocolate raspberry habanero ice cream. Other fun, wheelchair-accessible sites in Tempe include Papago Park (lots of cacti here!) and Tempe Marketplace (an outdoor shopping and entertainment complex).

Tempe in itself is worth visiting, but if you absolutely must visit the Grand Canyon during your trip to Arizona, it's only about a four-hour drive away. Tempe is the perfect place to stay for a few days either before or after visiting the Grand Canyon. A1 Van Rental has wheelchair-accessible rental vans available to make getting there as easy as possible.

Stevenson, Washington

Stevenson, Washington

I know, I know... you're thinking, "Stevenson, Washington? Why would I go there?" Well, let me tell you! Stevenson is home to the absolutely beautiful Skamania Lodge, a 175-acre resort near the Columbia River Gorge. And the best part? It has an accessible treehouse you can stay in!

For a unique adventure, you can stay in Skamania Lodge's wheelchair-accessible treehouse. The treehouse is luxurious and has one king bed, a roll-in shower, grab bars, and stunning views. It's the type of accommodation that childhood dreams are made of!

Skamania Lodge is less than an hour from Portland, Oregon and about three hours from Seattle, Washington, so it's fairly easy to get to. You could even add on a few days in Portland or Seattle before or after your trip for some extra fun.

These five destinations are magnificent places to consider visiting this summer. Each one offers uniquely accessible adventures to enjoy, no matter that your abilities are. Start planning your own summer adventure now and be sure to let us know where you end up traveling!

About the Author

Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

Cory Lee's ride is a Quickie Q700 M.

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Date: 4/27/2021 12:00:00 AM

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