Whether one uses a wheelchair full-time or just when outside the house, San Antonio and surrounding areas have plenty of locations that are wheelchair-friendly.  I give you, below, some suggestions as to where you might want to go forth and explore.  Grease the axels, pump up the tires, charge the battery, grab a water bottle and your wheelin’ gloves and go out and play!

The Alamo

The AlamoProbably the most famous site in all of Texas, and certainly in San Antonio, The Alamo is always a memorable place to visit.  The Alamo is the location of the infamous Battle of the Alamo in 1836, when Colonel Travis was ordered, by General Sam Houston, to hold the fortress against the Mexican army.  Visit the place where Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie did their best, outnumbered by 15:1, and gave their all for what was then the Republic of Texas.

The fortress is now a museum as well as a World Heritage site.  Wheelchair accessibility is found in all the public areas.  Some of the monuments, however, are a bit of a challenge to reach.  Bathrooms and water fountains are almost all ADA-compliant and easily accessed.  Use the front door for wheelchair access.  And always….remember the Alamo!

San Antonio Museum of Art

Take a trip around the world without leaving either your chair or San Antonio.  The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) has a solid collection of Egyptian, Roman and Greek art.  Nothing in the southern part of our great nation can compare to it!  Well-known artists from Texas and around the surrounding region are featured at SAMA.  The Nelson Rockefeller Latin American art wing has a fabulous collection of folk art, as well as works dating back hundreds of years.  The Asian art wing has a noteworthy collection from Japan, India and Korea.  The museum is found on the northern part of the River Walk.  Running through September 6, 2020, there is an exhibit of “Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art” which is sure to please the eye.  Ramps, elevators and restroom are all easily wheelchair accessible.

SeaWorld, San Antonio

The only places at this SeaWorld in which a person using a wheelchair must be transferred from their chair is on the five rides.  Other than that, the park is pretty much fully wheelchair accessible.  There are more than 20 shows, starring dolphins, killer whales and beluga whales.  Other sea animals can be viewed up close and personal while they frolic in their own wet environment.  Leo the Sea Lion (as some folks are known to refer to him) is a particularly cute and playful little fellow.  Encapsulating 250 acres, a visitor can feed the seals and sea lions, including Leo, whichever one he is.  There are about 100 penguins, lots of sharks and even an Alligator Alley.  Someone else is rumored to have named one of them Alex the Alligator, but it is really hard for anyone other than an alligator’s mother to tell one from another.  And so as not to exclude our feathered friends, check out the Flamingo Cove.

There are tours available which allow visitors to go behind the scenes at SeaWorld.  A Ride Accessibility Program is at the park.  Arrange to meet with a Guest Services member, and they will help you to arrange a day that will fulfill your desires and your needs.  If you do not use your own wheelchair full-time, manual or electric wheelchairs are available for rental.

Barshop JCC of San Antonio

A wonderful sports and fitness facility in San Antonio, the Barshop JCC (Jewish Community Center) provides members, and guests, the opportunity to engage in exercise and general social activities.  NOTE: You do not have to be Jewish to make use of the JCC.  The JCC is wheelchair accessible, including locker rooms, a beach front entry swimming pool, tennis courts, restrooms and workout areas.  The 25-meter lap swimming pool is connected to the Barshop Family Recreational Pool with a beach front entry.  Getting out of a chair and using a swim pool, if feasible, is an outstanding way to get the body moving.  Styrofoam flotation devices, such as dumbbells, allow for movement in the water if the legs are not working, or not working well.  The JCC provides programming for all ages and physical abilities.  Personal trainers are available for anyone interested in investing in their own health and well-being.  All areas can be accessed via elevators, as needed.

Morgan’s Wonderland

Morgan's WonderlandEnjoy a day at a fully wheelchair accessible theme park, which was built with accessibility in mind.  There is no charge for any visitor with special needs.  The water rides and water areas are all a great way to refresh oneself on a hot summer day.  The Wonderland Express Train, Whirling Wonder Ferris Wheel and Off-road Adventure are a must-experience.  Gardens, outdoor areas for play and relaxation, and picnic areas are all easily accessible.  The park has some waterproof wheelchairs for use, and they are recommended if you are going to use the water wave, Calypso cove and Hang Ten Harbor.  All the bathrooms are spacious and built to be used by adults and children alike.

The River Walk

The RiverwalkMany miles of walkways along the San Antonio River, about 75% of which is fully accessible for anyone in using a wheelchair.  Bars, art galleries, stores and restaurants and open spaces are all available along the River Walk.  Be aware that there are no safety railings along a lot of the paths next to the river, so exercise caution.  The Mission Reach section of the Riverwalk has 8 miles of walkways which have been gussied up and made available for people to stroll through and enjoy beautiful woods and natural settings.  Hiking and biking (wheelchairing) trails and fishing are to be found along this section.  Get out and enjoy a full day in the fresh air.

Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve

Located along the Rancho San Antonio County Park, this open space preserve has pretty good access for use by anyone in a wheelchair.  The dirt path from the parking area leads into the preserve and Deer Hollow Farm.  Deer Hollow has all the animals one expects to find on a working farm.  Grant Cabin, on the farm, is a restored building which represents how living felt like in the late 1800s.  There are 24 miles of trails, open for hiking/wheeling.  The Chamise Trail, a bit over 2 miles long, has a gentle incline leading to the Duveneck Windmill Pasture Area.  Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grass, with a wonderful view of Monte Bello Ridge and Black Mountain.  If you are hearty and in good physical shape, this outing can be done alone or with the company and occasional assistance of friends.

Government Canyon State Natural Area

40 miles of trails await you at this state park on the north side of San Antonio, along with 12,000 acres of wilderness.  If you have children with you, they will enjoy the outdoor experience of Discovery Trail, which is wheelchair accessible.  The trail is about a mile and a quarter of packed granite surface, level and with boardwalks over lower areas.  Watch for birds, locate the marked plants along the trail, and generally just enjoy viewing nature at its best.

If you enjoy camping, the campsites have hard surfaces, but it is a trek of up to 60 yards to arrive at them.  There are four campsites accessible by hard-packed gravel trails, and they have wheelchair accessible picnic tables.  Water is close at hand, but not at every site. Some planning will, of course, be needed if one is going to camp overnight.

The Gallery is a large indoor screened meeting area.   Nature is all around you, and bugs are kept out by the screens.  There is water available in the Gallery, as well as chairs, fans, tables and lighting.  Park in the Visitors Center parking lot and follow the signs.  Restrooms which accommodate wheelchairs are close at hand.

Lego Land Discovery Center

NOTE: Adults must have a child with them in order to be admitted to the center.  If you are a senior who uses a wheelchair when out and about, and if you have young grandchildren, this would be a place to strongly consider visiting.  Heck, maybe as an adult you just would enjoy stepping back into yesteryear with a grandchild, when playing with Legos was what we did as a kid.  Lego Land has a movie theater, four-dimensional, with snow, rain and wind effects.  That puts the visitor right into the action on the viewing device.  MINILAND is an interactive model of San Antonio landmarks, built with more than 1.5 million Legos.  Lots of room in this place for imaginative play, wherever we may find ourselves on life’s timeline.  Wheel out and try something new.

These days, people are generally pretty accommodating for those of us who either use a chair ourselves or who meander about, assisting or just accompanying someone who makes use of one.  If anyone is other than pleasant and accommodating to you and your chair, just paste a Texas-sized smile on your face and run over their toes.  But in a friendly manner.  Well….maybe just think about doing that, but don’t do it.  Even in wheelchairs, we can take the high road.

If you are looking for senior care and services in San Antonio then please call our free Care Advisor hotline at 1-800-955-8510.

Aaron Ainbinder is the author of “Just Before the Stroke of Seven”.