Accessible attractions you should visit this summer
20th April 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
With summer now just around the corner, it is a great time to start thinking about places the family can visit over the summer holidays.
When choosing somewhere to visit, the last thing anyone wants to feel is being unable to fully participate in the activities on offer.
Fortunately attractions are improving their accessibility so that people with mobility problems and who need stairlifts for the home or mobility scooters can enjoy these days out just as much as anyone else.
We have compiled our best accessible attractions that people should visit this summer.
Caernarfon Castle, Wales
This brute of a fortress is unashamedly muscle-bound and intimidating and by throwing his weight around in stone, King Edward I built what is one of the most impressive castles in Wales.
This world heritage site boasts rare polygonal towers, with the Eagle Tower being the most impressive example.
While some people may assume that visiting a castle that dates back to the 11th century would not be very accessible, Caernarfon Castle is one of the most accessible attractions in the UK.
The main entrance to the castle can be accessed by a pedestrian ramp which leads to the ticket office. There is level access into the castle's inner courtyard and level surfaces, ramps and a chairlift meaning those with mobility problems can access the castle grounds too.
Admission to Caernarfon Castle is also free for disabled visitors and one companion.
Life Science Centre, Newcastle
The Life Science Centre is an award-winning museum and its ever-changing exhibitions and programme of events throughout the year make it a great place to visit this summer.
Visitors can get lost in the stars of the planetarium, enjoy a motion ride and watch incredible live science shows that explore anything and everything from fire to space. The Brain Zone gives visitors the opportunity to explore different aspects of the brain and the Experiment Zone allows visitors to conduct their own investigations.
Life Science Centre is renowned for its first-class accessibility with wheelchair access throughout and all levels of the centre being reachable via lifts. The cafes, science theatre and planetarium are all designed for those with mobility issues and there is onsite parking for blue badge holders.
Life also has signs available in large print format for visitors who struggle with their eye sight and accessible toilets are available on all floors.
Please note – you must be at least 1.2 metres in height to use the Motion Ride. All visitors must be able to sit upright and step up into the seat (with or without assistance from a carer.)
The Coca-Cola London Eye is one of the top attractions in the capital as it boasts panoramic views over the city and a bird’s eye view of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the River Thames.
It has since won multiple national and international awards and has become the UK’s most popular paid for visitor attraction.
The 135m cantilevered observation wheel is very accessible and people with mobility issues or wheelchair users can thoroughly enjoy the Coca-Cola London Eye experience.
It is advised to book a Wheelchair Time slot or book in advance as this will save time on the day. A carer can get an extra free ticket as well.
The Coca-Cola London Eye also has wheelchairs available to hire, although a deposit of £350 will need to be paid. Mobility scooter users can even take them on the attraction too.
With more than 750 incredible species and cutting-edge exhibits, the London Zoo is a great day out in the capital for all ages.
It may be the world’s oldest zoo with many old buildings, 12 of which are listed, but it has considerable access for people who struggle to walk around. In terms of parking, there are six free disabled parking bays near the Zoo entrance and its exhibits are all easily accessible.
The recently launched flagship exhibit Land of the Lions has ramps and lift access to its upper walkway, Penguin Beach has ramps, the Tiger Territory is wheelchair friendly and a lift to the viewing platform while the aquarium also has disabled access.
People that are able to walk, but struggle to walk long distances, can hire a wheelchair from the zoo to get around too though there are many benches available for resting.
Riverside Museum, Glasgow
Located on the banks of the River Clyde, the Riverside Museum is Scotland’s museum of transport and travel and itself is a marvel of design and engineering.
Inside visitors will be struck by the stunning displays that are packed with fascinating exhibits, high-tech and hands-on interactive displays, and inspiring and moving stories. Outside is where the Tall Ship Glenlee is moored in front of the museum’s south façade.
Highlights for visitors include walking down a re-created 1900s street, the chance to drive a locomotive and an opportunity to experience tackling a tenement fire. With more than 3,000 objects on display, from skateboards to locomotives, paintings to prams, velocipedes to voiturettes, there is something for visitors of all ages.
Access for wheelchair-users and visitors with mobility problems has been improved dramatically with disabled parking bays, eight wheelchairs available to use free of charge, accessible toilets, lifts to all floors, non-slip floors and rails to help visitors whilst walking all being developed in recent years.
Roman Baths, Bath
This is not only a fantastic attraction where visitors can learn all about Roman engineering, it is really accessible.
The Roman Baths now have lifts available to visitors and 90 per cent of the site is accessible to wheelchair users.
The Roman Baths may be six metres below street level and though they have a number of steps throughout the site, two lifts have recently been installed and an effort to improve handrails now allows visitors to access virtually the whole attraction.
There is level access from the Abbey Church Yard entrance to virtually all the ground floor areas including the 18th century Pump Room, the Sun Lounge which overlooks the hot spring and the outside Terrace that overlooks the Great Bath. Visitors can also hire wheelchairs and a mobility scooter.
Tate Modern, London
The Tate Modern holds the national collection of British art from the 1500s to the present day as well as international modern and contemporary pieces of work.
In total there are over 70,000 artworks for visitors to see and these include paintings from world-renowned artists such as Claude Cahun, Juan Usle and Augustus John OM.
Entry into Tate Modern is free and the gallery is open from 10am-6pm from Sunday to Thursday and 10am-10pm on Friday and Saturday’s.
Art lovers who are worried about getting around, don’t need to worry as there are handrails alongside stairs and escalators and lifts to all levels of the Tate Modern. So visitors can enjoy the contemporary artwork without worrying about getting around!
Tower Bridge, London
The Tower Bridge is one of the most iconic images of London and its history dates back over 120 years.
It is one of the world’s most famous bridges and since 1982 the Tower Bridge exhibition has told the story of the bridge and why it was built.
On a great summer’s day visitors can see the spectacular panoramic views of the capital and can walk along the Tower Bridge glass floor, which is high above pedestrians and cars on the street. Visitors can also handle objects and smell materials used to build the bridge, watch descriptive films and get involved in interactive games.
The accessibility of the bridge is fantastic with five blue badge parking bays available at the nearby Minories car park and step-free access from Tower Hill station. There are wheelchairs available and lifts for visitors to use.
The Tower Bridge exhibition is also very accessible with members of staff and handrails available on the glass walkway to aid those with mobility problems
V & A Museum, London
The V & A Museum is the world’s leading museum of art and design and its extensive collection comes from all over the world.
Displays include textiles, fashion, Korea, art deco, photographs, theatre and performance, paintings, renaissance and South Asia to name a few.
From 22nd July 2017- 25th February 2018 there is a Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories exhibition. The display celebrates one of Britain’s best-loved storytellers and looks at Morpurgo’s life and writing process as well as the lives he has created for some of his remarkable characters.
The museum has undertaken a programme of works to allow wheelchair/step free access to all areas. The main visitor entrance includes two wheelchair accessible doors and there is a lifts service to all areas of the Museum.
In addition there is a ramp linking the main Central Hall to the (lower), Mezzanine galleries. There are wheelchair access toilets for visitors and wheelchairs may be booked in advance of a visit. The Museum is set within its own grounds, which are fully accessible, and a small café operates in the grounds during summer.
Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol
One of the most accessible historic ships in the world, visitors of all abilities can enjoy Brunel’s SS Great Britain.
The vessel has been restored and has received the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain award for ‘Best Heritage Venue.’ It has also been recognised by the Access Association for its commitment to giving the best experience possible to its visitors.
The Dry Dock, Dockyard Museum, Brunel Institute and ship are fully accessible for wheelchair users and the attraction offers free entry for an assistant or carer. The Visitor Centre team are also able to provide special wheelchairs free of charge for those who want to explore the narrow cabins.
On board Brunel’s iconic ship, the lift allows access to all deck levels and can accommodate one person in a wheelchair with one person standing.
Science Museum, London
The Science Museum is striving to be the best place in the world for people to enjoy science and it boasts a world-class collection.
The museum has displays dedication to a variety of sectors including telecommunications, radio communication, electronic components, mathematics, orthopaedics, medicine and computing to name a few.
The Science Museum has lifts to all floors and is fully wheelchair accessible with a number of adult wheelchairs available to borrow during a visit. There is disabled parking available outside the museum on Exhibition Road and visitors can also take advantage of audio descriptions and large print gallery books on arrival.
Image Credit: Life Science Centre, London Zoo, McAteer (Riverside Museum), Roman Baths, Tate Modern © Iwan Baan, Tower Bridge, V & A Museum, Hugh Llewelyn.