Virginia Is for Lovers—and Wheelchair Accessible Vacations
Named in honor of England's 'Virgin Queen' Elizabeth I, Jamestown colony in Virginia was the first English settlement in what would become the United States of America. We can thank Virginia for America's first peanut and the first Thanksgiving! We can also thank The Old Dominion State for a vacation full of wheelchair accessible attractions that you'll love!
Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Norfolk
The vibrant color palette of nature is the first thing you'll notice as you enter the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, with its thousands of flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees. Flower-lined waterways, quaint bridges and streams, stunning sculpture, and unique pathways highlight this gorgeous garden. If you get hungry, there's a garden cafe and a lovely picnic area so you can dine in spectacular surroundings. Wheelchair accessible trams are available to transport guests throughout, making a day at this garden a beautiful breeze!
The Battleship USS Wisconsin at Nauticus, Norfolk
Explore one of America's largest battleships when you visit Nauticus, a thrilling, interactive science and technology museum located along Norfolk's downtown waterfront. The magnificent USS Wisconsin, one of the last battleships built by the U.S. Navy, served admirably in World War Two. You can take a descriptive audio tour of the ship, opt for a guided tour, or check out the deck on your own. There are sixteen-inch guns on the main deck of the 887-foot ship, and plenty of exhibits that describe the ship's action during the war. The USS Wisconsin is wheelchair accessible, and the Nauticus has a café on the premises! Have a bite and board the battleship!
Shenandoah National Park, Luray
You might want to have a minivan equipped for wheelchair accessibility on this amazing drive that takes you through Virginia's breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains—be prepared for jaw-dropping scenery and wildlife, like white-tailed deer, woodchuck, red and gray fox, and a bear or two. Inside the park, you'll find the Birds of Prey program, where you can learn about raptors and watch them perform acrobatics! Picnic grounds, campgrounds, and some hiking trails are wheelchair accessible, so check out the web site for more information. Start out in the morning and stick around for an awesome sunset!
Virginia Living Museum, Newport News
It's alive! Get up-close and personal with Virginia’s amphibians, mammals, birds, reptiles, and aquatic life. In the peaceful butterfly garden, you'll be surrounded hummingbirds, butterflies, and other fascinating creatures. This terrific museum combines the elements of a native wildlife park, an aquarium, a science museum, a planetarium, and a botanical preserve. You could be here for hours exploring the wonders of the galaxy in the Abbitt Planetarium! In the Discovery Center, you can touch and interact with different specimens, and then see what's growing in an earth-friendly greenhouse. On your way out take a walk through the greenhouse, the home that’s completely earth-friendly! All this—and wheelchair access, too!
Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond
It's history we hope won't repeat itself, so you might want to take the time to remember the Civil War and why it happened. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, VA, which made Richmond the logical place to place this wheelchair accessible museum filled with exhibits and artifacts presented in ways that are interesting and informative. Follow the timeline of events, and check out all kinds of historical goodies, including uniforms and accessories,Confederate flags, swords, weaponry, documents and letters, and photographs by famed photographer Matthew Brady. Learn how families in the South fared during the war and the terms of surrender. Surrender yourself to this historical accounting of the War Between the States!
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
No need to worry about money for this attraction! The wonderfully accessible Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has free general admission to all permanent collection galleries. These permanent galleries feature exhibits that include Race, Place, and Identity, Early 20th Century European Art, Native American Art: The Robert and Nancy Nooter Collection, Visions from the Congo : Ancestral Contact, Studio School Exhibitions, Art Education Center Exhibitions, and Fellowship Exhibitions. In the evenings, you can catch performances in music, dance, films, and poetry readings, so it's helpful to check out their Web site for a schedule of events as you plan your vacation. Open 365 days a year, the museum offers special holiday meals at the Amuse Restaurant on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, and they have wine tastings the second Friday of every month from 6-8PM. Cheers!
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington
Our nation's most hallowed ground lies in Arlington National Cemetery. Directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, the cemetery is open 365 days a year for people to pay their respects to those who served our country, with at least twenty-seven funerals each work day. The Welcome Center introduces visitors to the cemetery and explains its worth to the nation. If you travel by vehicle, bring your handicapped parking placard to the information booth fort a special vehicle pass. Most people want to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard. They don't provide wheelchairs for guests, and they do have visitor's rules. A visit to Arlington National Cemetery may be the most moving experience of your life.
Synetic Theater, Arlington
The name Synetic derives from synthesis, which is the coming together of distinct elements to form a whole, and kinetic, which pertains to motion, activity, and dynamism. Expect "a dynamic synthesis of the arts." Entertaining audiences since 2001, this world-class theater has received 24 prestigious Helen Hayes awards from 92 nominations! Performances fuse a variety of artistic forms like text, movement, dance, drama, music, acrobatics, and art, with new shows on tap each month. Everything from Shakespeare to children's theater is performed here. The company describes itself as "dazzling and innovative physical theater." Free parking and wheelchair accessible seating are only two amenities you'll encounter your evening at this theater, and remember to call ahead to purchase tickets for wheelchair accessible seating.
The Birchmere, Alexandria
Acknowledged as 'America’s Legendary Music Hall,' The Birchmere features artists who are just launching their careers. Some of the talented performers seen by audiences here before they became mega-famous include Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, Linda Ronstadt, Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, k.d. Lang, and Jerry Jeff Walker. The Birchmere promises "the highest quality music in a confortable and intimate atmosphere." That said, be sure to get there early because all seating is done on a first-come, first-served basis. A memorable evening for all ages, this music hall has a full-service kitchen, full drink service, and is completely handicap accessible. On any given evening, you just might see the next Taylor Swift or Johnny Cash!
The Eastern Shore, Onancock
Here's another attraction that might be best enjoyed with a vehicle adapted for handicap access. Travel 70 miles along part of the Delmarva Peninsula that's separated from Virginia by the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. The area includes barrier islands and the beach community of Chincoteague, where they hold the famous, annual wild pony round-up, when "Saltwater Cowboys" on horseback round up about 150 wild ponies that live on nearby Assateague Island. Have some fun at Kiptopeke State Park, where you can traverse a path of bluffs and sand dunes, fish on the 1000-foot wheelchair accessible fishing pier, or stay overnight at the accessible campsite. Take a dip in the ocean along the Assateague Island National Seashore, where you can rent wheelchairs that have balloon tires for smooth sand access and rinse off in the accessible bathhouse. Come for the day—stay for the sunset!
Doubly rich in history and chock-full of wheelchair accessible fun, Virginia promises a unique, though-provoking, memorable vacation—and it delivers!