An ongoing adventure of travel and living while using a wheelchair. Tim has been disabled from birth. Darryl is his father and caregiver who travels with him.
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NOTE: Kelley Van Auken passed away Sunday, March 23, 2014. In tribute, we are re-running this story she did for us three years ago... Today, we have a guest post by Kelley Van Auken about Galveston Island, located about 50 miles southeast of Houston...
For most people in 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 taking a roll along the water’s edge is usually not a part of the vacation plan. Galveston Island, however, has gone to great lengths to try to make their beaches an exception.
Throughout the island there are five beaches (sometimes called “parks”) that have manual beach wheelchairs available for free. It does cost $8/car to enter the beach, but for an enjoyable day on the beach it is well worth it. The beaches that currently have wheelchairs are: Stewart Beach, East Beach/Apffel Park, Dellanera Park, Pocket Park #2, and Pocket Park #3. 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.
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. Their theatres 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, rather than driving your car on, park in the parking 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 Postoffice Arts District have the same problems as other downtowns with some places not being wheelchair accessible, it’s my opinion that 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!
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