Grand Rapids strives to accommodate visitors with special needs. We were ranked the #2 best city for people with disabilities in 2017 and we’re always working to make our systems and services even more accessible for all travelers.
I had a little more than one full day in Grand Rapids during my trip. In that short amount of time, I discovered that it may not be the biggest city in the state, but it is definitely one of the most interesting and one of America’s most underrated wheelchair friendly cities.
Visitors can choose from a wide variety of hotels catering to the travelers with special needs.
Visit our hotel page to search for lodging options using such criteria as ADA compliance, ADA doors, wheelchair accessibility, parking accessibility, lower counters and family restrooms.
Visit our restaurant page to search for dining options using such criteria as ADA compliance, ADA doors, wheelchair accessibility, parking accessibility, and family restrooms.
Many local attractions and events incorporate accessibility features to maximize everyone’s enjoyment. Here are just a few examples:
Sensory-friendly showtimes at Celebration! Cinema locations feature brighter lights, lower sound, limited previews and a group of people who understand sensory challenges.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is an ADA regulated and accessible facility. Both indoor and outdoor spaces are barrier-free with ramps and paved pathways to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers and allow easy maneuverability.
All areas of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum are ADA compliant and accessible to people in wheelchairs. A number of exhibits offers closed captioning, text panels and a T-coil assisted listening loop. Sign language interpreters and an interpretive guide for the visually impaired are available with a minimum of two weeks notice.
All public areas, entrances and restrooms in the Grand Rapids Art Museum are wheelchair accessible. Assisted hearing devices are available for lectures, presentations and films.
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum offers sensory tool kits with noise-reduction headphones, weighted vests and suspenders, tangle bracelets and a museum social story for anyone needing extra sensory support. All staff members have gone through an autism training program.
Grand Rapids Public Museum is accessible for all visitors and its “West Michigan Habitats” exhibit offers signage in Braille.
Accessibility features at John Ball Zoo include an ADA-approved pathway, motion-activated drinking fountains and an automatic water bottle filler.
Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruises can accommodate canes, walkers, crutches and non-motorized wheelchairs no wider than 27”.
DeVos Place Convention Center meets or exceeds all ADA and Michigan accessibility mandates, including accessible parking, automatic doors, TDD phone service and wheelchairs for use. Service animals are welcome in seating areas. Guests needing additional accommodations should contact the ADA Coordinator at 616.742.6500 at least two weeks prior to the date of the event.
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport makes travel easier with wheelchair assistance, TDD telephone devices, a T-coil loop paging system and handicap parking. Guide dogs and other assistance animals are welcome in all public areas of the passenger terminal building.
The airport seeks to ease travel stress and anxiety for all travelers through its Gentle Fur in Action (GFIA) program. GFIA places therapy dogs and their owner/trainer in areas throughout the airport, so passengers can interact with them.
All buses in our award-winning Rapid public transportation system – including the downtown-focused Silverline and DASH Shuttle – are accessible for mobility aids such as wheelchairs, electric scooters, walkers and crutches. Bus operators are trained to assist customers with disabilities boarding or exiting the vehicle. Service animals are welcome.
The Rapid also offers a door-to-door transportation service for seniors age 65+ and persons who cannot ride a fixed-route Go Bus . Reservations must be made in advance for this service. Several private providers offer a similar service.
National rental companies and local firms like Clock Mobility and The Creative Mobility Group offer a variety of adaptive driving devices and/or specially equipped vans for visitors who prefer to drive themselves.