San Diego’s sand, sun, and surf have made it one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Our city has enough attractions and activities to suit everyone’s definition of fun, even those with mobility restrictions. If you’re planning to visit San Diego soon—or if you’re a local who wants to take full advantage of all the city has to offer—here’s an accessibility guide to the most popular spots, so all you have to worry about is what to do first.
The abundance of beaches is arguably San Diego’s best quality, but what many visitors don’t know is that each beach has its own personality. And thanks to the efforts of the city of San Diego, local residents, and council members, there are now a variety of manual and powered beach chairs available at many locations. You can think of a power beach chair as a common power wheelchair with dune buggy wheels. These wheels allow the chair to glide through the sand with ease. They’re available at Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Coronado Beach, Silver Strand State Beach, Imperial Beach, La Jolla Shores, and Oceanside Harbor Beach, and best of all, they’re free to rent!
If you can’t decide where to begin your trip, a sightseeing tour can give you a taste of the San Diego experience. On land, there’s the Old Town Trolley Tour, which offers an entertaining lesson in San Diego history. On the water, you can’t go wrong with the sweeping city views available on a Hornblower Cruise. And if you want a little bit of both, try the Seal Tours aboard an amphibious vehicle that starts in downtown before splashing into Mission Bay for more incredible views of the skyline. All three tours offer accessibility ramps and lifts.
Races at the Del Mar Racetrack are one of San Diego’s oldest traditions, so if you’re in town from mid-July to early September, come place your bets like locals have since the 1930s. Accessible parking, transportation, and seating are available, and the racetrack also offers a limited number of free loaner wheelchairs.
Beyond Broadway smashes and outstanding indie productions, the San Diego theatre scene features opera, ballet, and a wide variety of music concerts. All theatres are disability accessible with wheelchair seating, including the Balboa Theatre, Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay, the La Jolla Playhouse, and the San Diego Civic Theatre.
Take a glimpse back into San Diego’s history in the Gaslamp Quarter. The unique shops and globe-spanning restaurants might be contemporary, but the antique-looking streetlights and lively neighborhood atmosphere are reminiscent of the city’s Victorian heyday. And in addition to conscientious businesses and accessibility-friendly infrastructure, the area’s generally flat terrain is a bonus for wheelchair users.
The largest urban cultural park in the US truly lives up to its name, with 15 museums, an IMAX theatre, eight distinct gardens, and indoor and outdoor performing arts venues. Flat, smooth walkways and plentiful ramp access mean exploring without concerns for accessibility. But parking fills up fast—even the handicapped spots—so be sure to arrive early for a full day of art, culture, and fun.
Spanish Village Art Center
Technically part of Balboa Park, the Spanish Village Art Center is an attraction all its own. Nearly 40 studios and galleries host over 250 local painters, sculptors, metalsmiths, jewelry designers, clay artists, gourd artists, photographers, printmakers, fiber artists, basket weavers, mixed-media artists, glass artists, and more. Should you choose to purchase a one-of-a-kind piece from this thriving artist community, you can feel good about helping to keep the creativity flowing.
San Diego Zoo
Of course we wouldn’t forget what is arguably San Diego’s most well known attraction, the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Also part of Balboa Park, the zoo features nine main animal zones (with more under construction) connected by mostly accessible pathways (trails marked in blue on the zoo map are best for wheelchairs). There are also bus tours for an intimate view of the habitats, along with a variety of VIP experiences that will bring you closer to the “wild” than you thought possible!
Looking to make the most of your San Diego trip?
At PA Healthcare in San Diego, we have standard wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs, and walkers available for short and long term rentals. We also offer delivery to anywhere in San Diego and Imperial Counties—including your hotel! For more information, give us a call at 619-568-2360.