If you’re planning a trip for the winter months and the thought of shivering in Chicago, Boston, or even Washington, DC, has you thinking about staying home instead, turn your thoughts to Las Vegas, another great example of wheelchair-friendly cities in the US!
Although Sin City is famous as a gambling destination, it has many more exciting features than just casinos. And with a business model that relies on tourism, city planners have put a lot of thought into making this city a friendly destination for all travelers. In fact, Las Vegas has more guest rooms available to people with disabilities than any other U.S. city!
Summertime brings the best deals on hotels, but at that time of year the daytime heat can be tough. But the old adage “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” holds true, and the city’s dry climate (and magnificently cool evenings) take the edge off the scorching temperatures. And remember, there’s air conditioning everywhere in Vegas, so you can easily duck inside for some relief from the heat.
If you like to gamble, you’ll have no trouble finding things to do in Las Vegas: nearly all of its major hotels and casinos are wheelchair accessible. (If you have your heart set on visiting a particular venue, though, it’s still a good idea to call ahead and make sure it can accommodate you.) And if you’re looking for non-gambling fun, you’ll still find plenty to do. Here are a few of Las Vegas’s wheelchair-friendly options:
- Every 15 or 30 minutes (depending on the time of day), the famous fountains in front of the Bellagio put on a choreographed show accompanied by lights and music. The show is free, and you get a great view from the wheelchair-friendly sidewalk right in front of the hotel. (You can also watch the show from inside the restaurant Jasmine, during the Fountains Brunch on Sundays.)
- Take a walk off the beaten path and visit some of Las Vegas’s many ADA-compliant museums, such as the Neon Museum (home of retired iconic Las Vegas signs) and the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History.
- If you like aquariums, check out the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. At this fully ADA-compliant facility, you can learn about many aquatic animals in various exhibits and presentations. You can also arrange behind-the-scenes tours to feed stingrays, sea turtles, and sharks!
Unless you drive yourself to Las Vegas, you’ll probably arrive by plane and will need to get from the airport to the heart of the city (and back again). One of your best bets here is the Airport Shuttle, which does have wheelchair-accessible vehicles. You’ll need to arrange for one ahead of time, though.
Once you’re in the middle of Las Vegas, you have a few options:
- Because the terrain is fairly flat, rolling by wheelchair doesn’t present any special difficulties. There are plenty of wide sidewalks in all of the popular areas.
- The Las Vegas Monorail is a fabulous way to explore the city—and it’s fully ADA compliant!
- All city buses are wheelchair accessible, and the ones on the Strip run 24 hours a day. Call Citizen Area Transit (702-228-7433) for more information.
- Each Las Vegas taxi company has at least one taxi van that can accommodate a wheelchair. Don’t count on flagging one of those down right when you need it, though—they can be difficult to find at a moment’s notice. You’re much better off making reservations ahead of time.
And that concludes this series on wheelchair-friendly travel destinations in the U.S.! As I do more research for my family, I’m sure I’ll come across more helpful information and learn about more cities to visit, so watch for future posts on this topic. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for accessible cities that should go on this list, please share them in the comments here!