Travelling to New York with a disability
Are you travelling to New York with a disability? New York is actually one of the most accessible cities in the world and it has made a big effort in the past few years to become accessible. New Yorkers are very attentive to people with disabilities and they’ll often offer to help you wherever they can. I often get questions about how accessible New York is and I can proudly say: quite! I decided to gather all the info I have to make your trip to New York easier. Most public buildings, hotels, stores and many restaurants are accessible, which makes this city a perfect place to spend your holidays.
Accessible Attractions in New York
Below you’ll find a list of different attractions and tips on how to best plan your trip to New York.
Observation Decks in New York
Many of the top attractions in New York are accessible. You’ll be able to enjoy the views from the Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, One World Observatory and Edge Observation Deck without a problem. They are all equipped with lifts, ramps and accessible toilets.
Most New York attractions are accessible. For example, you can visit the Statue of Liberty; both the ferry and the grounds at Liberty Island are suitable for wheelchair users. With pedestal tickets, you can visit inside the statue and reach the inner pedestal with a lift, but the outdoor observation deck includes a short flight of stairs. Central Park is, for the most part, accessible and so is Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan and Brooklyn sides. The only non-accessible part is the staircase that leads you to DUMBO.
You can visit some of the best museums in New York including the 9/11 Museum, MoMA and the Met to name a few. Most museums in New York are wheelchair accessible. However, there are unfortunately some areas at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum that are not accessible. Some museums even offer the use of a wheelchair, for free, for the duration of your visit.
Taking a boat tour is a great way to see Manhattan’s skyline. At the time of the booking, please check if the boat tour you are interested in says “accessible”. When filling in your details, leave a note in the box “special requirements” noting that you’re a wheelchair user or that you have a severe mobility problem. The staff will make the necessary arrangements during the tour.
A helicopter flight is a great way to see New York from a different perspective. The friendly staff will help you to get out of your wheelchair (if you are in one) and getting you into the helicopter. You will be seated in the front and will enjoy some amazing views of the city.
Going to a sports event is a great idea during your stay in New York. All stadiums are wheelchair accessible, so get ready to cheer your favourite team!
If you are interested in riding a bike while in New York, the electric bike tour might be a nice option for you. You tour the city on a pedal-assist electric bike, making conquering the hills of Central Park and the streets of Manhattan way easier.
Broadway theatres in New York have been made more accessible in recent years, with an increasing number of services targeted to attendees with some kind of disability. To help you find which musical is accessible for you, I added icons to the musicals. This way you can easily see which musicals you can go to.
- Wheelchair accessible
This icon means this Broadway musical is wheelchair accessible. Always contact me at email@example.com before you book your tickets. In this way, I can ensure your seat is accessible with a wheelchair.
- Assistive listening
This icon means assistive listening devices are available. These will help to amplify the sounds on stage.
- T Assistive listening Loop (T)
This icon means that the theatre has a hearing loop system.
- Closed captioning (CC)
This icon means the theatre provides a way to follow what is being said or sung on stage. It also displays the sounds from the performance.
- Audio description (AD)
This icon means that for people who are blind or have vision loss, a live or prerecorded narration via headphones is available.
You can book the tickets for the Broadway show of your preference, and ask for the service at the location.
You can rent a private car to transfer from the airport to the city. CarmelLimo provides adapted cars to make your transfer to New York as easy as possible. When booking, tick the option “I will need a wheelchair accessible vehicle”. Always book the transfer in advance.
Getting around in New York
Buses are especially wheelchair-friendly and most subway stations are equipped with lifts, but sometimes lifts might be out of order, so the bus is a safer way to travel.
There are more than a hundred accessible subway stations in New York. This means that they are equipped with a lift and that MetroCard vending machines and entry gates are accessible. Keep in mind that smaller stations might not be adapted and that even in an “accessible station”, lifts can break. For the blind, there are Braille and tactile maps available. To have a hassle-free holiday, I would recommend choosing the bus over the metro whenever possible.
Buses in New York are fully accessible, and a good way to get around in the city. All buses have ramps, so anyone with reduced mobility will be able to get in without a problem. Traffic can be quite dense in New York, so buses are rather slow compared to the subway. If you are in a hurry, hail a taxi instead.
Hop on Hop off buses
Hop on hop off buses are one of the best ways to explore the city. The Hop on Hop off buses are fully accessible and all types of mobility scooters can fit on the bus. To get on or off, ask the driver or an employee for assistance. You can hop on and hop off any bus, making good value for money as you can also do a lot of sightseeing. Even though you won’t be able to get to the top deck, the bottom deck also allows you to see the city.
New York Taxis
Are taxis in New York adapted? Generally speaking, no, but don’t be discouraged! Many taxi drivers will be happy to assist you and help you get in the vehicle. If you are in a wheelchair, your driver will make sure that it is properly stored in the trunk.
Carmel is a reliable transportation service in the city. When making a reservation with them, you can request a wheelchair accessible vehicle. They provide airport transfers, in addition to rides within Manhattan or to and from other boroughs.
If you need to travel to and from New Jersey, you can make use of the PATH-trains. The major stations are accessible including 33rd Street, World Trade Center, Hoboken and Newark.
If you want to travel to upstate New York from Manhattan, you can use Metro-North Railroad trains. Some of the stations are wheelchair accessible, such as Grand Central, Yankees and New Haven. To check which stations are wheelchair accessible, you can view the Metro-North Railroad Map.
Long Island Rail Road connects Manhattan with Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Most of the stations are wheelchair accessible, among Penn Station, Jamaica and East Hampton. View the map to see which other stations are wheelchair accessible.
New Jersey Transit is the public transportation network of the state of New Jersey. All buses are wheelchair accessible, together with a big part of the stations. This includes Penn Station, Newark International Airport and Hoboken.
Wheelchair rental in New York
There are several places in New York where you can rent a wheelchair. You can rent manual and electric wheelchairs and walking aids at Big Apple Mobility. NYC Mobility Rentals is also a good option for renting a wheelchair. They do short-term rental with delivery and pickup service.
If you need a mobility scooter in New York, I recommend making a reservation online ahead of time. The scooter is delivered to your hotel, fully charged and with a battery charger. You can rent the scooter for a minimum of one day and for up to two weeks.
If you are looking for an accessible room, Hotel Beacon is a good option. This hotel, located in the Upper West Side, has a good number of rooms that are adapted for people with limited mobility. There are also a number of subway stations in the neighbourhood: the close-by 72nd Street Station has a lift to reach the platforms. Hilton Midtown is another hotel with a lot of adjustments, like wheelchair-accessible rooms and the availability of assistive listening devices.
Is New York wheelchair friendly?
Are NYC subway stations disability accessible?
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