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7 Top Tips for Wheelchair Users Visiting New York City

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps, with crowded streets just like in the movies. This may have you wondering how wheelchair accessible the city really is. Thankfully, it is very good. Here are 7 top tips for wheelchair users visiting New York City that will make your trip easier:

1. Finding an accessible hotel

New York hotel rooms are known for being quite small, but don’t let that put you off booking a trip to this amazing city. They are not all like this, and you’ll definitely find one that is suitable.

Our accessible room at The New Yorker (A Wyndham Hotel) was large with a decent-sized bathroom, and there was plenty of space for turning my wheelchair. We also stayed at The Ameritania at Times Square, which also had a spacious bathroom. It’s important to speak to the hotel before booking to confirm accessibility and ask questions.

Follow these tips for booking the best wheelchair accessible hotels.

2. Plan your journeys

You’ll want to plan your journey in advance to and from the airport. This will ensure things go a lot smoother, quicker and hassle-free.

For our first trip to New York, we arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey where we got the AirTrain. The AirTrain is wheelchair accessible and took us to the NJ Transit/Amtrak station where we bought tickets for NYC Penn Station.

The conductor was so helpful giving us directions and remembering to come back to assist us off the train by stopping the crowds and putting a ramp down for my wheelchair.

For our second and third trips to NYC, we pre-booked transfers with Super Shuttle, which was also wheelchair accessible.

3. Public transportation

7-Top-Tips-for-Wheelchair-Users-Visiting-New-York-City

Subway

New York City is a big place and depending on the circumstances and your mobility, public transportation is an important factor to consider. Not all subway stations are accessible, so it’s important to plan your journey by ensuring each station from the start to the end destination is accessible and has working lifts on the day you are planning on using the subway.

Bus

If the subway doesn’t work out for you, don’t worry because all New York City buses are wheelchair accessible. They are fitted with ramps/lifts that the driver will deploy for you. You must make sure you are positioned so the bus driver can see you.

Once on the bus, the driver will secure your wheelchair for safety and ask at what stop you want to get off. I found the buses a great way to get around the city if we were going from Midtown to Downtown or vice versa. It saves wheelchair battery power and gets you out of the cold for a little while, too, if you go in the colder months.

For more info on subways and buses click here.

Taxi

New York City is known for its famous yellow cabs, but unfortunately, they’re not all wheelchair accessible. If you have a manual wheelchair and are able to come out of it, you’ll manage to ride the regular yellow cabs as the drivers are not allowed to refuse wheelchair users.

However, there are currently 233 wheelchair accessible taxicabs throughout the city, and they can be requested from Accessible Dispatch by either calling, texting, booking online, or using the mobile app.

We asked our hotel to book an accessible taxicab to take us to Brooklyn so we could explore the area and walk back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge.

4. Accessible toilets

One problem we kept coming across in New York was the lack of good accessible toilets. If your travel companion is of the opposite sex and helps you to the toilet you may find yourselves both having to go into either the male or female toilets.

Many times my boyfriend had to help me in the female toilets, which attracted quite a few confused and uncomfortable looks from the other women.

There are family/companion care restrooms that are a good size and completely separate from male and female toilets. They are not always an option though and you may have to hunt one down.

Try newer buildings like the well-known franchise coffee shops etc if you are struggling to find an accessible toilet.

5. Broadway

7 Top Tips for Wheelchair Users Visiting New York City
Outside The Minskoff Theatre before seeing The Lion King

Catching a Broadway show is one of the top things to do in New York City. Unfortunately, not all theatres are wheelchair accessible, so it’s important to check their website and speak to the theatre directly.

Most Broadway shows offer discounted tickets to wheelchair users and their companions, which can work out to be a great saving. Always ask! We enjoyed The Lion King and Wicked.

6. Attractions

You won’t be stuck for things to do in New York City. In fact, you’ll be wishing you had more time to explore what this amazing city has to offer.

Luckily wheelchair access isn’t a problem at any of the main attractions and you may find you are fast-tracked through taking away the need to queue.

The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, 9/11 Memorial & Museum and American Museum of Natural History are some of the best wheelchair accessible attractions in New York City.

7. Getting around

7 Top Tips for Wheelchair Users Visiting New York City

New York City is known for its bustling streets and typically rude New Yorkers, but in reality, this is completely untrue. Every time we’ve visited New York, we have been overwhelmed by the kindness of New Yorkers.

We have been approached many times by people offering to help us across the street or up a curb. Everyone was so friendly and always happy to help.

Don’t be put off visiting New York City as a result of how it’s portrayed in movies and TV shows. It’s a wonderful city with so much to do and is accessible for wheelchair users.

Have you been to NYC? What are your top tips for visiting New York City?

More on this topic…

Tips for Travelling To New York City At Christmas In A Wheelchair
Tips For Disabled And Wheelchair Accessible Travel
How to Survive a Long Haul Flight as a Wheelchair User

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Meet Emma

Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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13 Responses

  1. Hi Emma, I want to say thanks for this blog. My son uses a wheelchair and for the last few years been asking to visit New York. This did not appeal to either my husband or myself as we dont particularly like cities never mind one as huge as New York is. However we were told to check out your page which is very inspiring and made the idea much less daunting.As a result we are now booked in for a vist in June for four days sightseeing and my son is delighted and we are less intimidated now. I visit your page from time to time just for some reassurance Lol.Will let you know how it turns out x

    1. Hi Karen!

      I’m not sure if you received my reply to your comment (it is shown below, but it didn’t post as a reply to your comment at the time for some odd reason – apologies). I just wanted to check in with you and to ask how your trip to New York went with your son? Did you all have a great time? Look forward to hearing about it x

  2. Hi Karen. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m thrilled you have found my blog helpful and visit from time to time. I really appreciate it 🙂 It’s fantastic you are heading off to New York in June. It’s one of my favourite cities, so I hope you all have a brilliant time. What sort of things do you have planned? Where are you staying? Please let me know how you get on as I’d love to hear all about it! Thanks again 😀

  3. Hi
    What a great thing to do…very helpful.
    We are visiting new York very soon…would you recommend a manual or electric chair for getting around?
    We are taking hubbys manual but realise we can book an electric if needed x

    1. Hi Lauren

      Thanks for your comment! When are you going to New York? I hope you have a great time!
      I think it really depends on your husband’s preference and ability. There is a lot of walking around so it could get tiring for your husband to push himself or yourself if you are pushing him. It’s good you are taking his manual and have the option to hire an electric if needed. Please let me know how you get on? New York is one of my favourites.

  4. We are just back from an 8 day break to New York, the wonderful city that our English daughter is proud to call “home”.

    My wife uses a wheelchair and getting round was easy and the care and service received was generally superb.

    The one notable exception to this was Best Western Long Island City. We arrived after an 8 hour flight believing we had booked a mobility accessible room. What followed was a nightmare I would not want anyone else to endure, so I am contacting as many influencers as I can. There is a link to our Tripadvisor review in the website box below

    1. Hi John

      Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience of New York. It’s one of my favourite cities, so it’s great to know you also loved it! I’m sorry you had such a terrible time at the hotel though. That must have been incredibly stressful and frustrating. I hope it didn’t put too much of a dampener on the trip 🙂

  5. Hi Emma,

    I am hoping my situation improves, but if not I have a few questions.

    I stay in Elizabeth, take the shuttle to Newark, airtrain to njt, depart at Newark Penn, and grab PATH to WTC. Is this possible with an ecv or would I have to rent a wheelchair?

    I assume most places are accessible to an EVC. Your advice greatly appreciated

    1. Hi Brian

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, as I am not from New York or live there, I’m unable to answer your question. I’m so sorry, but I hope you find the answer and it works out for you. Thanks again and best wishes.

  6. Hi,
    I think that I have decided where to take my parents this year. My sons have been wanting to visit NY and this would be their 1st time flying anywhere. It’s great to know that it’s wheelchair accessible for both my mid 80s parents. We want to see landmarks and enjoy this family trip.

    1. Hi Rosa. Thank you so much for your comment. I’m delighted you are thinking of taking your family to NY. It’s a fantastic city. One of our favourite places we’ve ever visited. We have been 3 times and loved it more each time. Please let me know how you get on or if you have any questions. I’d be happy to help if I can. Take care and all the best.

  7. Hi Emma,

    Firstly great Blog, really helpful, just wondering if you noticed any issues for a solo traveller who uses a wheelchair? I’m fortunate that i do have partial use of my legs but only with crutches that i wasn’t planning on taking with me. any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. Hi Alun. Thank you for your comment and kind words regarding my blog – I really appreciate it. That’s great you are considering a trip to New York. It’s a great city and one of my favourite places to visit. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything springing to mind that could pose an issue for solo wheelchair users like yourself. Did you have particular concerns?

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