Washington, DC is the Nation's Capital, and it's filled with amazing museums, historical monuments, gorgeous architecture and some of the most beautiful cherry blossoms in the world. It's no wonder that more than 20 million visitors flock to this great city every year. And if you have limited mobility, relax, because Washington, DC is one of the top 5 most wheelchair accessible cities in the United States.
What most people don’t realize is that because it’s our nation’s capital, you can visit any national museum free of charge. That also includes popular tourist attractions, like the White House, Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial and many others. Best of all – they're all wheelchair accessible!
Getting Around DC
While the monuments and museums are accessible, getting to them is quite easy – thanks to many wheelchair accessible taxis operating on the streets of DC. You can order an accessible taxi on demand anywhere in the city or at one of the city’s three major airports – taxis with a rear entry wheelchair ramp, but you may experience wait times up to 45-minutes.
Wheelchair vans are available for hire from many different private companies too. So, there are many options available. Also, you can hire a wheelchair van or wheelchair accessible taxi in Arlington, VA and at BWI Airport (Baltimore) as well.
Metro Rail is a fully wheelchair accessible subway system that features trains that are easily accessible at all stations. The only problem is some of the elevators are hard to find, and some of the doors are not as wide as they could be. Also, city buses kneel or lower and offer numerous accessibility features.
The White House is wheelchair accessible, but be aware that you'll need to schedule a White House tour many months in advance. If you want to see your elected officials working hard, the Capitol is wheelchair accessible, and the Office of Visitor Services even operates a shuttle service for those with special mobility needs. Just be sure to contact them in advance at 202-224-4048.
For monuments like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, be sure to use their elevators for access. All of the Smithsonian Museums are wheelchair accessible, with each museum having a wheelchair accessible entrance.
To see a museum that you’ll always remember, be sure to visit the National Air and Space Museum. Every part of the museum is wheelchair accessible, including the Imax Theater and the restrooms. The National Gallery of Art features every artist from Rembrandt to van Gogh to Whistler. They also offer wheelchairs available for rent, and you can reach just about every exhibit by elevator.
Other museums include The Museum of the American Indian, a real gem that features many interactive exhibits that are all wheelchair accessible. Another unique museum to visit is the Spy Museum, the only one of its kind in the US. It even has a copy of the James Bond Aston Martin from the Goldfinger movie.
The National Zoo offers a fantastic array of animals, and like other DC attractions, it's free! They offer free rental of non-motorized wheelchairs, but motorized ones cost $30. There is also plenty of parking for wheelchair users who arrive in their mobility van.
Another popular attraction is Arlington National Cemetery, and you can view many landmarks within the cemetery using their wheelchair accessible tour. Rock Creek Park is one of DC’s top attractions, featuring a Nature Center and a Planetarium that are both wheelchair accessible.
If you’re into sports, visit the Washington Nationals, Washington Redskins or the Washington Wizards, depending on the time of year you visit. All DC stadiums are wheelchair accessible, and some venues even offer special seating for disabled fans and anyone accompanying them.
Accommodations and More
Many hotels are wheelchair accessible, so finding a wheelchair accessible hotel is comfortable. There are also many ADA compliant hotel rooms available, so be sure to look online when booking rooms to see if the hotel you’re planning to stay at has the rooms you need.
In addition to hotels, many restaurants and tourist attractions are also wheelchair accessible. You have to remember this is the nation's capital, so if any city in the country were wheelchair accessible, it would be Washington, DC. All ADA laws are strongly enforced, which makes getting around the city a real pleasure.