If you’re a wheelchair user, travelling to Vancouver, Canada should definitely be on your bucket list. It is not only a beautiful metropolis with stunning coastal mountains, but it is also incredibly accessible overall. From transportation to restaurants, hiking trails and attractions, you certainly won’t find a shortage of things you can do as a wheelchair user in this bustling city.
Next time you’re in town, make the most of your stay and check out these 5 accessible attractions!
Photo Credit: On the Mark Drone Services
First and foremost, no trip to Vancouver would be complete without a trip to Stanley Park — one of North America’s largest urban green spaces. This stunning oasis spans over 1,000 acres of land and is famous for its dramatic forest-and-mountain oceanfront views. Stanley Park is home to half a million trees, the Vancouver Aquarium, an outdoor music venue, carved totem poles, monuments, restaurants, beaches, a lighthouse, and plenty of trails to take in the fresh air.
You could easily spend hours roaming through the park and becoming familiar with its sites, but if you’re looking for an express method of exploring the park, the horse-drawn tours are wheelchair accessible and depart every 20-30 minutes. There is also a miniature train that goes on a scenic 15 minute, 2 kilometre ride, which includes a tunnel and trestle over water. One of the carriages on the train can accommodate two people in wheelchairs and their companions.
Seeing the sights of Vancouver is spectacular, but what if you could experience the rest of the country while you’re here? This Ultimate Flying Ride will allow you to see numerous cities and vistas across the country utilizing state-of-the-art technology. You will hang suspended in a chairlift-style seat in front of a 20-metre spherical screen, while a film whisks you away on an exhilarating 8-minute journey across Canada. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create a unique and memorable experience.
There is wheelchair access to all areas, including the ride, shop, and cafe. If you are unable to transfer out of your wheelchair and onto the ride, you can also watch the show from your wheelchair (which will remain stationary on the flight deck). This experience is very visually stimulating, however, so it is not recommended for those with photosensitive epilepsy or conditions aggravated by visual stimuli such as flashing lights.
Science World is full of entertaining and scientific displays and activities, which are perfect for all ages! Immerse yourself in interactive science exhibits, view artwork, seek out the kids’ area, and watch larger-than-life films in the OMNIMAX® Theatre. You can expect to learn about various topics from physics to the environment and the human body.
On top of being very wheelchair accessible, Science World notes that they have self-paced exhibits, options for managing levels of exposure to stimuli, and a variety of areas where visitors can take a break from activity and have a calmer sensory experience. On occasion, they also host “Sensory Friendly Mornings”, which allows individuals and families with accessibility needs to enjoy the Science World exhibits in a comfortable, welcoming, and less-crowded environment.
Photo Credit: A Walk and A Lark
Kitsilano Beach is now Vancouver’s most popular beach. With access to the Seawall, concession stands, volleyball nets, tennis and basketball courts, and a playground, there is more than enough here to keep you occupied for the day! Not only that, but there is also a heated salt water pool right at the oceanside, which is perfect if swimming in the ocean isn’t your cup of tea.
This beach has lots of accessible features, making it very inclusive and accessible for people of all abilities to enjoy. For example, there is an accessible ramp on the southern part of the beach, which allows wheelchair users to fully enjoy the beach without being stuck in the sand. Other areas of the beach are also equipped with Mobi-Mats, and beach / water wheelchairs are available free of charge daily from noon to 8pm between the Victoria Day and Labour Day long weekends. Additionally, if you’re visiting with kiddos, the playground is wheelchair-friendly with accessible play structures and rubber flooring.
Photo Credit: Stan Shebs/Wikipedia Commons/ CC 3.0
This botanical garden is perfect for ecology enthusiasts. Schedule in a few hours to visit the garden as you will be able to spot and photograph local wildlife, find your way through an Elizabethan hedge maze, unwind in a serene setting of vibrant plant life, browse the garden-themed gift shop, and even experience a breathtaking dining experience on the patio of Shaughnessy Restaurant.
The Visitor Centre, as well as the Shaughnessy Restaurant and Bloedel Conservatory, are fully accessible to wheelchair users. The pathways inside the garden consist of a mix of paved pathways (concrete, brick and wood), although there are also uneven pathways in some areas (gravel, wood chips, and small ramps). If you make a stop at the visitors centre upon arrival, you can pick up a map which marks the most accessible routes with a blue dotted line. Additionally, for guests who are not in a wheelchair or scooter but have limited walking ability, the Garden offers guided cart tours from April through October at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. daily.
About the Author
Tori Hunter is a writer and travel enthusiast, passionate about redefining the way we view accessibility and the disabled experience. She has worked alongside numerous organizations to help dismantle access barriers, and in her free time, she likes to share her adventures as a wheelchair user on her Instagram @torihunter.blog
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