There are a seemingly endless number of activities to explore, in Santa Monica — even better, it’s an extremely wheelchair accessible city. Most of the popular visitor attractions are wheelchair-friendly, and there are a plethora of public parks, attractions, restaurants, and overnight accommodations around town for locals and visitors alike to enjoy an accessible trip to the sea. Read more about how to best enjoy the city of Santa Monica on wheels, below.
Overnight Accommodations in Wheelchair Accessible Santa Monica
There are numerous Santa Monica hotels at every price point that are designed to go above and beyond standard ADA requirements to accommodate the needs of all types of travelers. These two hotels offer features that are geared toward those on wheels, to ensure they experience the best possible stay while visiting Santa Monica.
Viceroy Santa Monica
Viceroy Santa Monica hosts a number of accessible rooms, some which feature fabulous ocean views and amenities that are specific to wheelchair users. The rooms each offer roll-in showers and additional amenities such as 32” doorways with lever hardware, thermostat and light controls that sit at 48″ (or below), and an ensured 36″ of space to create a path on both sides of bed. Read more details on the hotel’s wheelchair friendly offerings, here.
Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts
Oceana Santa Monica offers not only fabulous views, but great wheelchair accessibility services. Each hotel corridor is a minimum of 36” wide, and the entryways in the common areas of the resort are equipped with self-operating lifts or sloped paths, in addition to also ensuring each door opening is at least 32-inches wide. The pool has a lift available upon request — and there is either a ramp, elevator or lift access to all guest rooms (floors 1-3).
The hotel also features a specifically spacious accessible suite, called the “Oceana Lanai Suite,” which sits on the first floor of the property and is equipped with a combination shower and tub (including handlebars and a lowered single vanity sink). For details on the room’s features and information on the dedicated ADA mobility accessible rooms, visit the website, here.
Wheelchair Accessible Activities
Now that you know about a couple fantastic places to plan to spend a night, it’s time to plan out a fantastic itinerary for your stay. From small businesses to large and internationally acclaimed public attractions, there are all sorts of destinations in wheelchair accessible Santa Monica that offer accommodating services for wheelchair users.
Santa Monica State Beach
Many of the famous attractions at Santa Monica State Beach are accessible to visitors on wheels, by offering ramps and pathways on the sand for increased navigability. Beach/all-terrain wheelchairs are also available to rent free of charge from all three of the Perry’s Cafe locations on Ocean Front Walk.
There’s one location north of the pier near Arizona Avenue, and two more that are located south of the pier near Ocean Park Boulevard. Travelers can visit the Accessible Santa Monica Beach map to view a list of the accessible pathways to the water.
Heal the Bay Aquarium
Heal the Bay Aquarium offers complimentary manual beach wheelchairs for rent for two hours, beneath the Santa Monica pier. They’re available on a first-come, first-served basis during operating hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Annenberg Community Beach House
Located right on Santa Monica State Beach, this historic attraction hosts a splash pad, a café, and a pool. Annenberg Community Beach House also has complimentary beach wheelchairs available from guest services.
Playgrounds at Santa Monica Beach
Along the three-mile stretch of Santa Monica Beach, there are two universally accessible playgrounds. South Beach Park Playground was the first to open and has equipment and areas that can be used by children of all levels of abilities, including swings and play structures. There is also increased maneuvering space, and ramps for the playground components.
Located towards the other end of the beach, past the famed Santa Monica Pier, is the North Beach Playground. This structure features a design inspired by the sea and a “sensory garden” where visitors can learn through touch, and use their imaginations to play.
Pacific Park is the west coast’s only amusement park located on a pier — and it’s a fantastic destination to enjoy a day filled with fun rides, shopping and carnival-style treats. The attraction is wheelchair accessible, with a convenient auxiliary entrance. And a visit to the pier is not complete without a ride on the Santa Monica Pier Carousel. For wheelchair users, the carousel has an ADA accessible chariot served by a portable ADA ramp for ease of use in both boarding and riding.
More Wheel-Friendly Outdoor Spaces
Palisades Park is set along Ocean Avenue. This public greenspace includes several visitor stops, such as the Camera Obscura Art Lab and the historic sculptures. This path’s surface is mostly flat, and ADA accessible. Along this path there is also accessible parking, restrooms, and picnic areas.
Third Street Promenade
The Third Street Promenade offers seemingly endless opportunities for shopping, dining, and entertainment. This area is easy to navigate on wheels, with low curbs and reachable crosswalk controls, offering numerous ramps and access ways for easy exploration.
Santa Monica Place
This luxurious open-air mall has attracted both locals and visitors alike since it first opened back in 1980. It hosts a movie theater and numerous shopping and dining venues. Santa Monica Place offers wheelchairs for loan from the concierge, and the mall is ADA accessible on all floors, including the parking garage.
Known for its abundance of fabulous shopping and dining, Main Street is easily accessible, and hosts most of the shopping and dining outside of the Third Street Promenade. This is also where you can make a visit to the Farmers Market and wheel around all of the famous street murals.
The Getty Villa is just north of Santa Monica proper, and is a favorite for its beautiful gardens and ancient Roman architecture. The venue is ADA accessible and hosts amazing opportunities for learning about history and culture.
Accessible Public Transportation
One of the best things about Santa Monica is that you don’t need a car to explore the main attractions of the city. There are several fully accessible public transportation options around town that allow for uncomplicated wheelchair travel.
Metro Expo Line
The Metro travels to popular visitor sites outside Santa Monica like downtown LA, Culver City, and beyond. The Metro Expo Line can get you around most popular spots in the city, and the stations are accessible to wheelchairs with either a walkway, ramp or elevator from the street to the platform. Visit the Metro’s Accessibility page for more information.
Big Blue Bus
Big Blue Bus has a fleet of roughly 200 clean air vehicles available that offer transportation across a 58-square-mile area, so you can reach where you need to go without hassle. Visitors can also opt in for the Mobility On Demand Every Day (MODE) Program to reserve rides in lift-equipped wheelchair vans, driven by specially trained and licensed drivers. Visit the Big Blue Bus website for more information.
For more information on how to explore Santa Monica on wheels, click here to download the Santa Monica Disabilities Commission brochure. This resource offers insight of all available accessibility services for people with disabilities in Santa Monica. The City of Santa Monica also has a website dedicated to accessibility information, which can be read here.
Find and book accessible things to do and places to stay that match your accessibility needs here with Wheel the World.
Written by Molly O’Brien
Molly O’Brien is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer currently residing in Los Angeles, California. She has written for a variety of outlets including Travel + Leisure, Business Insider, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Lonely Planet among many others. Molly comes from a professional background working in travel, hospitality, and tourism public relations and content creation. She has been working as a professional travel writer for two years, in addition to writing for own website www.metropolitanmolly.com, for six years. Molly hopes to continue learning about the world in the most immersive way possible — by traveling and experiencing the colorful cultures across the globe.