Southern California is one of America’s best destinations. It’s a world-renowned haven for celebrities and there is certainly no shortage of things to do for tourists. Los Angeles welcomes anyone in need of a nice sunny getaway, including wheelchair-users. Whether you are looking to relax or want to delve into the celebrity lifestyle, you’ll fall in love with this city as soon as your plane lands at LAX.
This Ultimate Accessible Guide to Los Angeles aims to answer any questions you have about traveling to SoCal as a wheelchair user. I’ll highlight some of my favorite spots and discuss the accessibility features of some of the major attractions. I’ll break down Los Angeles’ public transportation and how it works in a wheelchair, and also provide some useful resources for anyone with accessibility requirements who is thinking about heading to the land of dreams.
What To Do in Los Angeles
From many rides, attractions, to even dining and on-site hotels, Universal Studios’ accessibility for wheelchair users is optimal. If your wheelchair gets broken or due to any reason isn’t available, you can rent wheelchairs for $15 (refundable fee of $25 required) and ECVs (Electric Convenience Vehicle) for $50. Universal issues specific passes for disabled people, called Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP), and allows those with disabilities to wait in alternate queues if they are unable to wait in the regular queue. There are elevators to move between floors and you can also wait for trams.
Disneyland Los Angeles, built by the iconic Walt Disney, opened to the public in 1955. Many of its attractions are accessible and Disneyland also issues cards such as DAS, Fast-Pass and Fast-Pass+ to access alternate queues for people with disabilities. You can rent wheelchairs or ECVs for the entire visit.
To move about faster, you can use the bus transportation system which also accommodates wheelchair users. Special accessible parking spots have also been built. See here for a complete list of attractions to visit as a wheelchair user.
Looking for more info on the magic of Disneyland? See our Most Magical Guide To Anaheim for more on visiting with Mickey and Minnie.
Hollywood is an entertainment district in downtown LA. Visit the star of your favorite celebrity at the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame which has more than 2,500 stars emblazoned in the sidewalk. You can also visit the Hollywood Bowl which is ADA compliant and has accessible seating arrangements. Sticking around this district will keep you busy all day with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Warner Bros. Studios give behind-the-scenes tours of their movies and TV productions where you can visit the sets of shows like Pretty Little Liars, Batman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and more. Besides this, you can also visit their museum and gift shop. As a wheelchair user you don’t have to worry as the tour carts are specifically designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Service dogs are also allowed but please contact their guest services team ahead of time if you plan on visiting with yours.
Santa Monica Beach
Located West of downtown Los Angeles, the Santa Monica beach is one of the best Southern California beaches. This unique beach brings in tourists and visitors from around the world,with its 3.5 miles of soft sand and it provides many activities and attractions on its pier. It also facilitates wheelchair users with a paved path that runs along the sand and there are wheelchairs which can easily roll through the sand available.
trivago HOTEL PICK | The Georgian Santa Monica
With a location just a mere block from the fabulous Santa Monica Pier and a central location around level streets that is perfect for wheelchair users, The Georgian Hotel brings history and class to your Los Angeles stay. Richly colored walls and period furnishings are housed inside its Art Deco exterior, giving off an air of refined and glamorous Hollywood living. There is free WiFi in all rooms, goose-down bedding (or alternatives) and roll in showers, hand rails, accessible sinks and bed access in their ADA compliant rooms. Better yet, many of the rooms have ocean views so that you can enjoy that California coastline for as much of your trip as possible.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Photos by kirsten and Ray Bouknight CC BY
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is one of the most historical museums in the world with 35 million specimens and covering a history of 4.5 billion years. You will have many new experiences in the museum like exploring dinosaurs, experiencing nature and there are a plethora of special activities. If you are a wheelchair user, the museum can easily accommodate your chair or you can hire special wheelchairs here. Multiple lifts and elevators are also present in the museum.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is located on Wilshire Boulevard on Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. It’s considered as the largest museum in the Western United States as it attracts over one million visitors annually. It is a great place to visit for wheelchair users as all the rooms are accessible for wheelchairs and elevators are available for getting up and down floors. Their collection spans everything from Picasso to modern photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe.
California Science Center
The California Science Center is a state agency and museum located in Exposition Park, next to the University of Southern California and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The museum welcomes all its guests in the highest individual sense and integrity and particularly special importance is also given to people with mobility impairments looking to enjoy the exhibits. Standard wheelchairs are available at the museum at an affordable rent fee and wheelchair users can access all the restrooms.
With its curving walls and isolated hilltop perch, the Getty Center of Los Angeles resembles a city of its own. The Vistas, green lawns and architecture at Getty Center never cease to amaze. The museum is very wheelchair friendly with a tram available for wheelchair users to take you from the parking area to the top of the hill. Standard wheelchairs are also present at the Museum Entrance Hall. There are also special seats reserved for wheelchair users in events.
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is one of those few museums where you create your own experience. There is a special tour where you get the inside story of Observation Pit, Project 23, Fossil Pit and Lake Pit and learn about how the fossils of hundreds of ice age animals ended up in Los Angeles. Just like other museums in this list, wheelchairs are available on a first come-first serve basis on affordable rent fees. All the museum areas are accessible for wheelchair users.
Where to Eat in Los Angeles
The Original Pantry Café | 877 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles
Established in 1924, The Original Pantry Café provides traditional American cuisine staples like pancakes, French toast, burgers, meat, gravy, etc. The dining room is more than just reminiscent of an old diner with photos highlighting their history and experience. Expect to pay $15-$20 per person on average, which is a good deal for L.A.
Hangari Bajirak | 3470 W 6th St, Los Angeles
Hangari Bajirak, as the name suggests, is a Korean restaurant. It is located in Koreatown, near the Wilshire Center. They serve noodles, rice, soups, seafood and much more. The dining place is quite comfortable with a great environment and comes highly recommended.
Does Koreantown tickle your fancy? See our neighborhood guide to Koreatown here!
The Griddle Café | 7916 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
The Griddle Café serves up a delectable breakfast and lunch. Their specialty is their red velvet pancakes and they definitely live up to the hype. It is quite affordable and wheelchair friendly. The food is so good that you may even decide to visit this legendary spot a couple times during your visit to Southern California.
In the need of more Los Angeles brunch options? Check out our Eggs and Benny Guide To Los Angeles’ best hotel brunches.
The Rose | 220 Rose Ave and Main St. Venice
The Rose was established in 1979 by Chef Jason Neroni. It’s a café and restaurant serving locally sourced, fresh and healthy South Californian cuisine. Its brunch food is quite popular, especially on Sundays. The place is quite spacious and neatly decorated. From $11 to $30 spent on average per person, this place is moderately priced.
Otium | 222 S Hope St, Los Angeles
Otium is a newly established restaurant, serving locally-sourced American cuisine by Chef Timothy Hollingsworth. It has an open kitchen where the indoors and outdoors merge for a delightful al fresco style dining area. It is as unconventional as a restaurant can get. It is expensive but you can expect the quality of food and services to be top-notch.
For more places to escape cooking for yourself in Los Angeles, see here!
Shopping in Los Angeles
Located in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive is a city street spanning three blocks with over 45 shops. For those wondering about accessibility, the sidewalks here are wide enough to easily accommodate a wheelchair user and most shops tend to be wheelchair friendly. You can access this area from the nearby bus stop as well as Metro Rail. Being a high-end shopping district, it is quite expensive but its a great place to spot a celebrity or two or just indulge in some window shopping.
The Beverly Center is an eight-story shopping center with over 160 stores including everything from Bloomingdale’s to Uniqlo. All your shopping needs will certainly be met here. It is completely ADA compliant with plenty of ramps and elevators.
Hollywood and Highland Center
Hollywood and Highland Center is a popular shopping mall having retail stores, which also includes some high-end designer stores. You can access the center through shuttles that operate in the area and which are wheelchair accessible. The center itself is accessible through elevators and ramps. The parking lot has a separate handicap section for wheelchair users, costing about $2 for 2 hours.
The Grove opened up in 2002 and is located at the Farmer’s Market. It’s a unique outdoor shopping center where you can both enjoy the California sunshine and shop and currently holds the title of go-to mall for celebrities. It’s also one of the most accessible malls boasting flat surfaces and ramps all over. For parking, there are many handicap spots where you can self-park or alternatively you can ask for a valet.
trivago HOTEL PICK | Chamberlain West Hollywood Hotel
Swing back to the decadent age of 1960’s Hollywood with a stay at the Chamberlain West Hollywood Hotel. Located on a quiet residential street, you still get to enjoy the action of LA with the busy Sunset Strip located less than two blocks away. Marble bathrooms welcome wheelchair users with roll-in showers and your stay is complete with wide doors and hallways, plus easy access to the hotel via designated accessible parking areas and ramps throughout the commons areas of the hotel.
Parks of Los Angeles and the Outdoors
Griffith Park and Observatory
The Griffith Park and Observatory is one of the greatest attractions for both people living in the Los Angeles area and tourists alike. It offers a beautiful view from the Pacific Ocean to Downtown L.A., and you can also see the famous “Hollywood” sign from here. The area and the observatory is fully wheelchair accessible.
Grand Park is a 12 acre park right in the center of Los Angeles stretching between the Los Angeles Music Center and Los Angeles City Hall on Grand Avenue. There are large picnics and gatherings at the park frequently, and visual projects on nearby walls. Wheelchair users should visit the park with no fear; while there are some stairs present but they also have ramps to make them accessible for wheelchair users.
Located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood is the 184 acre Garfield Park, one of the three great Original West Side parks. There is always something exciting happening here throughout the year, including the Parks Build Community Contest, the Annual Spring Flower Show, Beer Under Glass and many others. The park is fully wheelchair accessible, except for the fern room in the conservatory and there are a limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
trivago HOTEL PICK | Kimpton Palomar Hotel Beverly Hills
Perched in a fantastic location on the bustling Whilshire Boulevard and all its eateries, shopping and museums, a stay at the Kimpton Palomar should be in the cards for your Los Angeles visit — that is, if you relish the idea of staying in a swanky boutique hotel with fantastic accessible amenities to match all its chic glory. Sleek and practical, accessible rooms include tubs with grab bars, roll in showers and in-room communication features. Roll in and out of the hotel with ease with valet parking and an accessible entrance. Cool down in the accessible outdoor swimming pool and eat lunch al fresco on the deck. Traveling with your pet? The Kimpton has a fantastic no-fee pet policy so family members or assistance dogs are both welcome with open arms.
How To Get Around Los Angeles in a Wheelchair
The Los Angeles Metro includes bus services such as Metro Rapid and Metro Local as well as the train services operated both above ground and underground. It is run by the Los Angeles Transport Authority. The buses are accessible and equipped with ramps for wheelchair users. The rails are equipped with lifts for boarding platforms. The authority issues special (TAP) cards for handicapped people which provides a concession. For more information and to plan your trip, see here.
Dash and Commuter Express
Dash and Commuter Express services are operated by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Both of them provide short distance commutes in the intercity area and are wheelchair accessible. You can bring your assistance dog, as well as other accessories that help you. They charge half the rates for wheelchair users and it is free of charge if you are a cardholder.
If you’re looking for the best option for getting to and from the airport, Super Shuttles is your best wheelchair-friendly option. They are easily accessible and cheaper than a taxi or a limo. You can book different shuttles online like Private Sedan, Business, Private SUV and Shared-Ride Van. Some Super Shuttles are designed specifically to accommodate wheelchair users.
This is a special assistance program for people over the age of 65 and for those with disabilities. It currently operates in the city of Los Angeles and selected areas of Los Angeles County. There are reduced costs for program participants. To be eligible for the City Ride Program, you need to fill out an application. Once it is approved, you will have access to different city ride programs like taxi service and dial-a-ride. It’s worthwhile to look into applying for this option prior to your visit.
LA City Cab
LA City Cab is a popular taxi company in the Los Angeles area, which has been serving people since 2001. LA City Cab boasts a fleet of 170 hybrid vehicles, sedans and wheelchair accessible vans. The taxis are especially equipped to transport wheelchair users. Just give them a ring if you’re in need of a ride.
The Checker Cab taxi service has been in business since 1984. The company boasts capable individuals who are available 24/7 to provide taxi services to people who need it. If you have special needs, the company will provide wheelchair accessible vans to accommodate you.
United Independent Taxi
United Independent Taxi is another helpful taxi service in the Los Angeles area. The company claims to have affordable rates, fast booking and wheelchair accessible cabs. The percentage of wheelchair accessibility of United Independent Taxi is well over 2% of the set limit. The company provides a large number of vehicles for physically challenged people, from sedans to minivans.
Useful Resources for Wheelchair Users
Wheelchair Repair Shops
Well, if you run into any trouble with your chair in the Los Angeles area, getting it repaired won’t be a huge problem. Some of the best wheelchair repair shops include Happy-time Wheelchair Repair, The Jazzy Store, Craft Wheelchair Repair, Victory Wheelchair, Scooter Repair and many others. Whether the arms of your wheelchair have broken or your wheel locks are creating problems, you can get your wheelchair repaired from these places.
MobilityWorks in Los Angeles serves the entire San Fernando Valley. They have the newest up-to-date vehicles for wheelchair users to buy or rent. If you’re looking to rent, they can even deliver a van directly to the airport upon your arrival and their rates are very reasonable.
The Los Angeles area has tons of hospitals with wide range of facilities, so if you get sick during your trip to California you’re covered. All of these hospitals have an emergency department, trauma center, mental health centers, dental centers and orthopedic centers. For more information, see here.
These are some tips and tricks for wheelchair users. These tips coupled with a city like Los Angeles is a dream come true for a wheelchair user. Los Angeles has special facilities for any abilities and the city proves that being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that you can’t travel. So start planning your next trip to sunny Los Angeles!
Looking to see more of the States with your wheelchair? trivago magazine has you covered with our Ultimate Accessibility Guides to Washington, DC, Orlando and The 10 Most Wheelchair Accessible Cities In America.
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