Accessibility in St. Augustine
Planning a Florida vacation can be both a gift and a challenge, and even more so a challenge for people looking for handicap accessibility. Fortunately, wheelchair users can enjoy the sand, surf, and sun alongside their loved ones with our accessible resources available. St. Augustine is an older town and the well-traveled wheelchair user might be discouraged into thinking that "old town=lack of accessible locations." But that couldn't be further from the truth.
In the same way that other major cities around the world may be old but still offer plenty of handicap capable sights and places to stay, the same can be said for St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine may be an ancient city by American standards, but lucky for vacationers, the city is very handicap friendly. With wheelchair accessible hotel suites, attractions, restaurants, streets, and even beaches, there's plenty for families to enjoy. Check out these answers to some of your questions about getting to and around the city of St. Augustine utilizing wheelchair accessible services.
There are a few local cities by which visitors may travel to the Ancient City by plane: Jacksonville and Orlando are two of the closest. There is also Northeast Florida Regional Airport that flies locally and is only about 15 minutes from the city center. From each of these airports different options are available to transport wheelchair users and their loved ones to St. Augustine.
By train, visitors can come to St. Augustine from Palatka which has a wheelchair platform, a chair lift, and an accessible waiting room.
There is a wheelchair accessible taxi offered by Checker Cab Company by calling (904) 829-1111. If you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible ride from the airport in St. Augustine or Jacksonville, or the train station in Palatka, they are available to call 24 hours a day. Calling in advance helps shorten your wait time, and the rate is $2 a mile, making a ride from Palatka or Jacksonville to downtown St. Augustine about $60 and a little over $100 respectively.
If you’re staying further away from the downtown area or coming from Orlando, consider renting a wheelchair accessible van for your stay. There are a few companies in Florida available to provide this service: Mobility Works in Jacksonville, Mobility Freedom in Bunnell, and Wheelchair Vans of America are just a few.
Handicap Parking in St. Augustine
There are several lots that service the historic district of downtown St. Augustine, and many of them are handicap accessible. The St. John's County Pier has handicap parking spots and others are dotted on lots along A1A. There are also access points at St. Augustine Beach starting at A Street where vehicles can drive onto beach. This makes it much easier for wheelchair users and their families to enjoy the ocean without the hassle of getting down to the water through the dunes or wooden walkways.
Many local attractions are wheelchair accessible, including the Castillo, Ripley's, and the Lightner Museum.
Wheelchair-Friendly Places to Stay
Although some bed and breakfasts may not be wheelchair accessible due to their age, many surrounding hotels and vacation rentals are able to accommodate guests with reduced mobility. The specialists at Vacation Rental Pros and First Choice Florida Vacation Rentals can help guests find an accommodation to suit their needs. Additionally hotels near downtown St. Augustine including the Southern Oaks Inn have accessible rooms for visitors.
Now that you're here, strongly consider staying in the downtown area. It may be more expensive, but it will be well worth it to be close to the attractions. Many prominent sights to visit are located in the downtown area within walking distance of hotels. If you really want to see all the sights and attractions without the walk, Old Town Trolley has 2 wheelchair accessible trolleys. You can call 1-888-910-8687 to find out times for the wheelchair trolley in advance.
If you are visiting and need to rent a wheelchair, rentals are available from St. Augustine Bike Rentals on King Street. Call to ask about their rates. There are also beach-accessible wheelchairs available to rent for free on a first come first serve basis. Call Cathy Strickland at (904) 209-0341 to reserve one. They have bigger wheels that can roll through sand, and are able to sit in a few inches of water.
For public transportation during the day, The Sunshine Bus Company runs routes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with one-way fares at $1 for passengers and $.50 for handicap passengers. The Sunshine Bus makes stops at all the major areas of town including the Bridge of Lions, the Outlets, St. Augustine Beach, and much more.
Two wheelchair accessible ramps lead into Mojo Old City BBQ.
Many restaurants, such as Mojo Old City BBQ, Harry's Seafood, and A1A Aleworks, are equipped with accessible ramps and spacious interior and exterior. For those who want to enjoy the St. Augustine nightlife, locations like White Lion and Meehan's have low tables to enjoy drinks at when the bar is out of reach. Besides that, you will find that most of the restaurants in town are accessible by wheelchair.
St. Augustine is consistently improving its accessibility so that those with a disability can truly have fun in the nation's oldest city!
For a more in depth look at experiencing St. Augustine as a wheelchair user, check out this blog from Spin the Sunshine State. Sylvia at Spin the Sunshine State, and her travel agency Spin the Globe, has a progressive form of MS and spends her time traveling the world and empowering other disabled travelers to do the same. Her guides help to show wheelchair users that destinations are open to them. The video below includes helpful information for navigating the city of St. Augustine from wheelchair.
Check out these wheelchair accessible attractions...
- Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum: Elevators can take guests to various floors of this outrageous odditorium!
- Lightner Museum: Experience the gilded age with 3 levels of antique artifacts.
- Pirate & Treasure Museum: This immersive museum entertains and educates visitors regarding the history of pirates.