Stuart Westmorland/Getty Images

City ofInclusion

Seattle is a city committed to celebrating and accommodating visitors of all abilities, from exploring the outdoors to diving into local arts and culture.

By Emily Boynton

5th Avenue Theatre Amelia Vaughn

See the Sights

The 360-degree view of the city from the observation deck makes the Space Needle (*400 Broad St) a can’t-miss for any visitor. Recent renovations include a state-of-the-art platform lift built right into the stairs, an increased number of balanced exterior doors, and floor-to-ceiling observation-level windows that offer an epic vantage point to all. For sweeping views of Elliott Bay, head to the Seattle Great Wheel (*1301 Alaskan Way) on the nearby waterfront, which at 175 feet tall is the largest observation wheel on the West Coast. This steady ride has a lift and ramp that allows both powered and manual wheelchairs to roll directly onto the gondolas (doors are 30 inches wide). Just a few blocks away is historic Pike Place Market (*First Ave and Pike St)—wander through craft stalls and shops, watch wader-clad fishmongers throwing salmon, and be sure to try the free produce samples offered along the way. The multi-level market is ADA-accessible, with elevators located at the Pike Place Market parking garages, on Western Ave and the waterfront, and on Alaskan Way by the Pike Market Hillclimb.

Pro Tip: Get to the Market early to avoid crowds. (On weekdays that means before noon, and on weekends, when the Market opens at 9am.)

Culture Trip

Looking to dive into Seattle’s dynamic arts, culture, and science scene? In the heart of downtown, Seattle Art Museum (*1300 First Ave) features works from around the globe and collections spanning ancient sculptures to contemporary paintings. Experience the art through assistive listening devices, magnifiers, or an ASL public tour. Just a few block away, catch 5th Avenue Theatre’s (*1308 Fifth Ave) latest performance from the orchestra-level accessible seating. The theater also offers assistive listening devices, braille, and large-print programs, plus audio-described performances.

Exploring the intersections of pop culture, MoPOP (*325 Fifth Ave N) thrills visitors with its sound lab and interactive exhibits ranging Marvel to Jimi Hendrix, with an assisted listening system and sub-woofers to allow visitors to feel the music through the floor. If science is more your speed, put a trip to the Pacific Science Center (*200 Second Ave N) on the itinerary—don’t miss the tropical butterfly house! On the third Saturday of the month is Exploration for All, where families and individuals desiring sensory-friendly experiences can come for a special free visit. General lighting, noise levels, and visual stimulation is decreased wherever possible, along with reduced crowds.

UW Arboretum Stuart Westmorland/Getty Images

Explore the Outdoors

In Seattle, you don’t need to leave city limits for a nature escape. Take in stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound at wheelchair-friendly Olympic Sculpture Park (*2901 Western Ave), or head to the PACCAR Pavilion at the park’s main entrance for the Jack Straw Cultural Center’s descriptive tour, which includes performances and audio descriptions of the art for blind and visually impaired audiences.

Little ones will love Seattle Children’s PlayGarden (1745 24th Ave S), an acre of flower and vegetable gardens (plus features like a tree fort and musical structure) designed with children with down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and other special needs in mind. And the paved, three-mile circuit around North Seattle’s Green Lake Park (7201 E Green Lake Dr N) is a great spot for traveling on two (or four) wheels, as is Azalea Way, the main path through Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Drive E).

Woodland Park Zoo (*5500 Phinney Ave N) is another visitor favorite, with “Zoo for All” features including a map identifying quieter areas and a sensory garden with an accessible pathway and raised beds for close-ups of the flowers and plants. And Seattle Aquarium (*1483 Alaskan Way) shows off local marine life from salmon to seals, offering wheelchairs for checkout and disability discounts on admission prices (service animals are also welcome).

Getting Around

Sound Transit’s Link light rail features level boarding onto the platform without using a ramp, while King County Metro buses and street cars provide ramps and lifts for wheelchair and scooter users. Buses, streetcars, and the Link light rail are all equipped with audio and visual stop announcements stating when the vehicle has reached a stop. Buses also have external audio announcements announcing the bus route and destination. Passengers with disabilities receive priority seating and fare discounts across all forms of transportation, and service animals are welcome. Washington State Ferries are also wheelchair accessible for traveling between the Seattle waterfront and Bainbridge Island.

Courtesy Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

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