Hello, good day, and welcome back to Disabled Travelers! For a little break from traveling far and wide, we provide a quick access guide to one of the most iconic destinations in the United States: Washington D.C., home to the White House, the Capitol, and way too many monuments to count. Rain or shine, the capital is visited by millions of tourists from around the world every year, all year around. And as you’d imagine from the land of the free and the home of the Americans With Disabilities Act, many of the nation’s most precious landmarks offer mobility impaired access and other assistance for handicapped travelers.
Now, probably the most troublesome part of any D.C. trip is mass transit. Even in the lower traffic seasons, the ridership of D.C.’s Metrorail system has increased dramatically in the last few years. That’s why our first link, from AbilityTrip, focuses so much on the local transportation scene. You’ll find information on accessible train, bus, and air transportation here, as well a few sources on equipment rental and emergency response. For wheelchair travel info on Metrorail itself, see the accessibility page for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Also be aware of special paratransit services and other alternatives in case Metrorail isn’t suitable.
DisabilityGuide has a good general listing of accessible hotels in the D.C. area, which includes options in Maryland and Virginia. For real reviews by wheelchair users covering hotels, restaurants, and attractions, try The Traveling Wheelchair’s Washington D.C. page. You can also find out lots more about good dining options from that gourmet paradise, ActiveDiners, which never fails to come through with just what we need: listings and reviews for all kinds of accessible restaurants in D.C. For real info on accessible service with the flair of a print restaurant review, check them out.
Of course, you don’t go to Washington to eat: you go to see the amazing monuments, memorials, and architecture. Luckily, many of the most famous attractions offer plenty of up-front information about getting there and getting around. From the National Mall, you can get to a huge number of attractions … so huge, I’m actually going to make a list! (There’s a first time for everything!) These links go to accessibility pages where available.
Monuments and Memorials
Lincoln Memorial (Note, interior is accessible via an elevator)
National World War II Memorial (Surrounding area is accessible, if a tiny bit narrow)
Landmarks and Museums
The Smithsonian (disability info available through site’s search function)
On a lighter note, one of my personal favorite attractions is Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which you’ll be glad to know is fully accessible and offers wheelchairs on a “first come, first served” basis. I saw the one in London, but I’m sure the one in D.C. is just as amazing.
Since it’s April, I thought I should also mention the annual Cherry Blossom festival. Dating back almost 100 years to when the mayor of Tokyo provided beautiful Japanese cherry blossoms to the U.S. as a sign of friendship, the festival happens each year during the blooming season in March and April. It’s a spectacular sight, and one of the best reasons to choose spring for your visit to Washington D.C. For more, browse the official website of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Most trips to Washington also include surrounding destinations, so we’ll be looking at Baltimore and a few other sites in the D.C. metro area real soon. Until then, adventure on … and enjoy spring!