Galveston Island:
A great place for wheelchair travelers

by Kelley Van Auken

Great accessible beaches

Great accessible beaches

For most people in a wheelchair who travel to a beach, the sand is something to be admired from a balcony or a boardwalk. The idea of easily being on the beach or taking a roll along the water’s edge is usually not a part of the vacation plan.

Accessible Beaches

Galveston Island, however, has gone to great lengths to try to make the beaches an exception. Throughout the island, there are five beaches (sometimes called “parks”) that have manual beach wheelchairs available for free.

It does cost $8 per car to enter the beach, but for an enjoyable day on the beach it is well worth it. The beaches that currently have wheelchairs are:

  • Stewart Beach
  • East Beach/Apffel Park
  • Dellanera Park
  • Pocket Park #2
  • Pocket Park #3
In addition to these beaches, along the Seawall there are places that have ramps down to the sand at no cost. There is parallel parking along the street on the beach side (easy for a van with a ramp), with disabled parking spaces here and there.

The island even has beaches where you can drive your car onto the sand. And, if you are more interested in the ocean, the 61st Street fishing pier is one of many that are accessible and it also has wheelchair accessible bathrooms.

Lots of Attractions

If you can drag yourself away from the relaxing beach, Galveston also offers some great tourist attractions for persons in wheelchairs.

One of the most popular tourist attractions, Moody Gardens, is a 242 acre facility that has vans with ramps to transport disabled travelers throughout the complex. All of the buildings have ramps leading to the entrances and wheelchair accessible bathrooms.

The theaters have accessible seats with removable arms, the man-made lagoons have ramps to get into the water, and the paddlewheel boat is accessible.

In addition to Moody Gardens, there is a free ferry to Bolivar Island that offers great opportunities to watch dolphins in the wild. Unless you want to drive around Bolivar or onto the ferry, park in the lot and walk/roll onto the ferry. (If you drive on it might be impossible to let a ramp out of a vehicle.)

Appealing Downtown

While The Strand and Post Office Arts District have the same problems as other downtowns with some places not being wheelchair accessible, there are enough accessible quaint shops, galleries, and restaurants to make it a great area to visit.

If a place looks inaccessible be sure to ask because some of the not-to-be-missed places are accessible through a side door. Fortunately there are good ramps at each corner and plenty of parking lots with disabled parking spaces.

These are the main attractions I have enjoyed on Galveston Island. I am sure there are many more that are great for wheelchair users, but it is hard for me to give a firsthand account of them. I am addicted to the sand and the surf, and it is hard to pry me away from the beach!

Where to Stay

Accessible accommodations exist in the form of hotels, resorts and houses (most are built up so look for an elevator). Or you may prefer the comfort of a wheelchair/mobility-limited friendly condo, such as the two-bedroom, two-bath condo at that overlooks the beach.

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