People with special accessibility needs have many options for travel and fun in Florida.
The Florida Disabled Outdoor Association and other groups connect people with handicapped- and wheelchair-accessible ways to enjoy the same vacation and travel experiences as people without accessibility challenges.
Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted in the early 1990s, museums, restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, state parks and beaches are more accessible than ever. The adventurous traveler can zipline, water ski, paddle, horseback ride, fish and engage in adaptive sports.
FDOA offers myriad resources about destinations friendly to those with special needs. It has online brochures and links to encourage recreation-inclusive programs.
The state’s office of tourism, Visit Florida is rich with information about special events and sources for renting everything from specially equipped vans to beach-accessible wheelchairs and bicycles.
A national website, www.scootaround.com, lists personal transportation options for 120 cities in Florida and an extensive frequently asked questions section about traveling with special needs.
Passport to Florida
Collect stamps in your own Florida State Parks Passport through a new state parks program.
The passport is a family-fun project that encourages Floridians to visit the natural treasures that range from bubbling springs to hiking trails in the more than 800,000 acres in 175 state parks.
The Special Edition Real Florida Passport is available for in-person purchase at nearly a dozen parks. You can buy it online for $17.99 at www.floridastateparks.org.
The 216-page spiral-bound full-color booklet includes a place to collect each park’s stamp, information about the parks, a fold-out map and space to take notes.
Stonehenge in Florida?
Ed Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle is a mystery worth visiting.
Legend has it Leedskalnin built it, in secret at night, over more than 25 years, bringing in more than 1,000 tons of coral from 1923 to 1951.
Supposedly, he was never seen building the castle, which includes a 9-foot stone gate that moves with the touch of a finger, and rocking chairs made of stone.
The castle was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, under its original name, Rock Gate Park. Musician Billy Idol shot a music video at the castle for his song, “Sweet Sixteen,” which he wrote as a tribute to Leedskalnin and the castle.
Coral Castle Museum is at 28655 South Dixie Highway in Miami. It is open seven days a week.
Florida native and travel enthusiast Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who specializes in travel, gardening, personality and feature writing. She is also a photographer and accomplished sailor. Her website is www.pamelakeene.com.