We keep our eyes out for trolley tours of all kinds.
I’m not sure when it first happened…I think it may have been a quick jaunt from a resort to the shopping area at a beach. It soon became clear that we liked trolley tours, especially our daughters. What’s not to like? Trolley tours are like a tame amusement park ride, an education and some entertainment all wrapped up in one. And if you’re really lucky, your driver is also part stand-up comedian. (Face it, after travelling with your family for more than a day you are all ready for some comedic relief!) And while many are hop-on hop-off, we tend to just stay on, hear all the history and anecdotes, and THEN choose what sites to return to. This way we still avoid any extra loading and unloading of wheelchairs to hit all the main tourist spots. Trolley tours can make things easier, even in large cities. Especially in cities.
Trolley tours can save us some of the stress of city travel with a wheelchair.
Some of the tours will come directly to a hotel for pick up! That has happened to us in New Orleans and Boston. It feels like such luxury to just step outside and load up without having to move our accessible vehicle from the parking garage. It saves us lots of hassle when it comes to locating more parking in a spot that allows room for the unloading of chairs along busy streets. Then, when we do choose to unload at a stop on the tour, the driver has a safe place reserved for unloading. Sometimes we choose to walk to a different stop for pick-up, taking in tourist sites as we go. We just give the driver a heads up of our plans and ask for any recommendations. With this plan we have enjoyed many fun trolley tours including Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, San Diego and San Francisco. But don’t overlook the small city or town tours.
Small town trolley tours helped us gain access to places we probably would have bi-passed otherwise.
We have learned and laughed through Charleston, Asheville, Bethany Beach, Knoxville, Acadia National Park, Nashville, and Hershey! Many of these are old towns with weathered sidewalks, cobblestones and difficult terrain. They were also opportunities for some of our group to take in a hike or other activity while those of us who weren’t able to join were still happily entertained.
You will need to check the websites for accessibility ahead of time.
One of the most popular big city trolley tours are the Old town trolleys. They are currently in seven U.S. cities. However, they clearly state that not all of their fleet are accessible and they need advance notice. Old town trolley of Washington D.C., for example, requires making accessibility requests in advance. They explain it like this:
The most important of these requests we make of you is that you provide us with adequate notice of your arrival and the time and date you’d like to take the tour or visit our attraction. A minimum of twenty-four (24) hours is preferred. This will allow us time to ensure that a properly equipped vehicle will be made available for your use, minimize your wait time and maximize your time spent seeing the best of the city you are visiting. Because we make adjustments to our schedule and vehicle assignments to assure the right vehicle is ready for you, we request that you arrive at our boarding location no less than fifteen (15) minutes prior to your preferred departure time which allows us adequate opportunity to expeditiously and safely execute the loading proces
Because many of our stops are on busy thoroughfares and shared with other tour operators, we must limit the opportunities for loading and unloading to those that will assure when you load or unload, the exercise will be done safely and efficiently. Currently in Washington DC, the stops are all accessible.
The company provides information like this for each large city, stating the stops and hotels that are accessible for pick up. Other large companies offer similar advice. However, I have found that many of the smaller city trolleys may have less number of vehicles but often all are accessible. For instance, Trolley Tours at Valley state that all their trolleys are ADA accessible clearly on their website. And when I came across the information from Cape May N.J. trolley tours I hit the motherload of details! WOW! I think I know where we will take a trolley tour next! Not only do they tell us how to access a wheelchair friendly trolley but they help with information about accessibility all over town! It pays to check the site’s information on accessibility ahead of time!
I am often surprised to find towns I didn’t expect to have tours by heading to the coupon sites and checking the THINGS TO DO listings for the area or states we are travelling to. I usually search Groupon, Living Social, and Local Flavor. I also check if they are offering a coupon code through the discount site to further increase our savings.
I would love to hear of any tours you have taken in cities or destinations that were accessible! Let us hear about your wheel life adventure!