Quality time with the family isn’t easy to come by and when we can plan a fun day out with our loved ones, the last thing we want is to feel unable to fully participate in all the activities on offer. Fortunately improving attractions by making them easier to visit and enjoy on mobility scooters is a priority for many of the UK’s best days out.
In our guide, you’ll discover advice for making the most of your trip out, as well as our list of top accessible attractions you can visit with the family.
Get out and about this summer
The great British summer is a short-lived thing and to really make the most of it, you need to be out and about in the sunshine enjoying the fresh air and a brief glimpse of sunshine.
Accessible attractions for the family
Gardens and grounds
Fortunately, the UK is home to some of the prettiest gardens around the world and you don’t have to travel far to see an array of flora and fauna inaccessible surroundings. Mark Lane is the editor of accessible gardens, which lets visitors review the gardens they’ve visited. His advice to others is:
“Access needs and requirements are always a worry, but it is so important to enjoy time with friends and family. There are several sources on the Internet, such as accessible gardens, and a little time researching places to go can take away some of the concerns. Access requirements will never be fully fulfilled, but sometimes it means looking at something or thinking out of the box – I always believe there is a solution to everything.”
Mark himself is recognised as the first garden designer in a wheelchair and his writing is often published in the likes of The Guardian, BBC Gardeners’ World magazine and The Garden.
accessiblegardens has grown from an interest in promoting accessible attractions of the ‘garden-variety’ kind. On the website you’ll find a useful directory of open gardens throughout England and Wales. Sezincote House and Garden in Gloucestershire, for example, is a beautiful Indian-inspired agricultural estate surrounded by neatly landscaped gardens. The house and gardens offer space and pathways for those on wheels, and you can contact the attraction directly for more information about accessibility.
Mark shares the following tips if you’re feeling inspired by nature and keen to visit a few gardens this summer:
“No matter a person’s mobility requirements, whether they are a scooter user or in a wheelchair, take your time. Don’t rush into kerbs, thick gravel, or rush round corners that you cannot see around. Being outside, whether it be public gardens, historic sites, amusement parks etc., lifts your mood and well-being. Just because we have a disability doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy ourselves like more able-bodied people. And do not be afraid to ask for assistance – more often than not there is a friendly and helpful member of staff.
“If someone with a disability goes out, plan ahead, make sure you have plenty of drinking water, a hat (if it is hot and sunny), or a weatherproof poncho for our very frequent downpours – people forget that when seated the legs get incredibly wet. Charge your batteries – both physically and the battery on your wheelchair or scooter. Failing that, it helps to go with a friend or family member so that they can push when required. But most of all, have fun and get out there!”
One Big Day
If you’re looking for a day out with the family and want to learn more about all the latest in mobility equipment, you can enjoy the activities and find out how the Motability Scheme can help you at One Big Day.
Held at different locations throughout the UK, the two One Big Day events in August and September are an opportunity to try out an impressive range of mobility scooters, adaptations and wheelchair accessible vehicles, as well gain key advice from the Motability advisors at the exhibitions in Harrogate and Peterborough. A children’s play area and free teas and coffees will keep the others amused while you take a look around.
If this is too far to travel, however, remember that Monarch Mobility offers a full complimentary home demonstration service so you can try out several Motability scooters from the comfort of your home.
Learn something new
School holidays mean even more time with your youngsters, but this in itself poses the challenge of keeping them occupied until the start of the new school year! If you want to promote learning experiences on a fun day out, take a look at these educational attractions that are fully accessible for everyone.
At the Museum of London, you’ll learn about the historical events that have helped to shape our capital city. From early Roman Londinium to the Great Fire of 1666 and London in the present day, you can get up close and personal with permanent galleries and collections featuring costumes, old shop fronts and even the gilded Lord Mayor’s Coach.
There’s also the Museum of London Docklands, a separate site on the Isle of Dogs east of the city, dedicated to sharing the story of the River Thames and the growth of London’s Docklands. Find out more about the sailors, traders and later navies that frequented the city’s docks, and even little ones will learn something new with the interactive Mudlarks children’s gallery.
Katie Balcombe, Communications Officer for both attractions, tells us more about these museums that are free to visit for anyone:
“Both museums have lifts throughout and there is plenty of space for mobility scooters and wheelchairs in the museum. We also have special BSL, subtitled and Audio Described Tours of various galleries across both sites. It is incredibly important to us that everyone can enjoy our museums equally.
“In addition to this, the Museum of London Docklands is served by Canary Wharf station and West India Quay station, both of which have lifts.”
Find out more about planning your trip to the attraction in the museum accessibility guide.
A day trip with loved ones should be all about having fun in new surroundings and to really make the most of your adventure, accessible attractions that offer a source of entertainment that everyone will enjoy are greatly sought after.
With 20,000 animals and 500 species to discover, Chester Zoo is a must for anyone who is fond of wildlife. There are plenty of critters to learn about whether you’re bringing your little monkeys to meet those at Chester, or want to take a journey through the zoo’s six incredible environment areas based on South East Asian Islands. You’ll also find 125 acres of gardens that are wheelchair and mobility scooter friendly to explore.
Sue Foster from Chester Zoo offers the following advice for visitors: “We’re a fully accessible visitor attraction so visitors with wheelchairs and limited mobility can relax and enjoy their day.
“All our staff are clearly identifiable – with uniform and name badges and they are here to help with anything on the day, so the tip is just ask if you have a query. The zoo is fully accessible and all our enclosures have been designed to have a variety of viewing points in order that anyone in a wheelchair/pram can enjoy the experience. Free visitor maps are available on arrival – they are zoned showing what animals can be found in a particular area so you can plan easily if you’ve never been before.
“Another tip – we open at 10am daily but from 9.30am our Diamond Jubilee Quarter at the entrance is open. This has toilets (including accessible ones), Bembe Coffee Shop, and our main Retail store. So families might like to arrive and park up earlier – but know they can sit and grab a coffee or use the facilities before the ticket entrance gates open.”
You can learn more about getting around at Chester Zoo in their section about accessibility for disabled visitors.
Take in a show at the south coast’s premier multi-arts venue – Brighton Dome.
With music, theatre, dance, comedy and film in the programme, “Brighton Dome is committed to bringing all sorts of art to all sorts of people,” says Head of Press & PR Emma Robertson.
“Our staff are trained in accessibility and the remarkable stability of our large Front of House team means that experience learned over years of welcoming customers with access requirements is retained and shared with new team members.”
You’ll find a full access statement online, covering everything you might want to know before you arrive at one of the locations making up Brighton Dome, but key accessibility features include:
- Wheelchair-accessible foyers, ticket offices, bars and auditoria
- Discounts and complimentary access assistant tickets (subject to availability)
- Wheelchair viewing platforms at standing concerts (at the Concert Hall site)
- On-street disabled parking spaces nearby
If you’d like to attend an event, performance or workshop at Brighton Dome, you can find a Google virtual tour and maps on the venue’s website to help you familiarise yourself with the buildings and plan ahead of your trip.
More inspiration for great days out
No doubt you’re eager to get out on the open road, setting off on your family adventure for the day. You’ve likely thought through what you need to prepare ahead of time, whether it’s remembering sun cream, a picnic or storing your convenient folding mobility scooter in the back of the car. Before you set off, however, it can help to know what’s available accessibility-wise when you arrive at your chosen attraction.
The charity Tourism for All helps those with limited mobility and accessibility issues to find leisure and tourism opportunities that cater to their needs, making days out enjoyable and open to everyone. Its campaign to make Tourism for Everyone, encourages business and policy makers to work together to provide key information about accessible attractions. Carrie-Ann Lightly from the charity explains:
“It is the right of disabled people to participate in all areas of community life. Few areas are more important, or valued, than travel and tourism: – which restore our energies, broaden our minds and serve our deepest human instincts to explore new places and to enjoy and share new experiences.
“Joining a specialist organisation like Tourism for All can take the hassle out of planning your travel experience. In return for a modest annual membership fee, Tourism for All will give you a personalised information service which will find you things to do and places to stay which will meet your personal requirements – they can even arrange the hire and delivery of mobility equipment if required. What’s more, there is a range of members’ discounts available which could more than pay for membership.”
Carrie-Ann recommends looking on the internet and through brochures of places you’d like to visit to see how suitable it will be for your needs and if there are any barriers that could be an issue. You could make a list of requirements and contact attractions to see if they can cater to these. Don’t be afraid to ask as many venues will be geared up and only too happy to offer advice about accessibility when you visit.
There are some fantastic resources online, where you can find key details about popular attractions and read reviews from others who’ve visited. Here are just a few to check out when planning your day out:
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