For most people with 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 traversing the water’s edge is usually not a part of the vacation plan.
Yet, Galveston Island has gone to great lengths to make the beaches mobility friendly. Throughout the island, there are five beaches (sometimes called “parks”) that have manual beach wheelchairs available for free or rental.
The beaches that have wheelchairs are:
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.)
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 on Galveston Island exist in the form of hotels, resorts, condo rentals and houses (most are built up so look for an elevator). You can source places to stay online by perusing a range of online hotel and vacation rental websites. Be sure to contact the property where you plan to stay to ensure the accommodations meet your mobility needs. Also read reviews for additional insights.
For more information, contact the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This article was written by by Kelley Van Auken
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