Wheelchair-Accessible Travel in Minnesota is On a Roll
By Brian Fanelli
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From state parks to sports stadiums, museums to malls, here are six destinations in Minnesota that lay out the red carpet of accessibility for visitors in wheelchairs.
See a Show at the Guthrie Theatre
Located along the scenic Mississippi riverfront in downtown Minneapolis, the Guthrie Theater is internationally renowned for its award-winning productions. But plays and musicals aren’t the only award-winning aspects of the Guthrie. The theater’s accessibility manager, Hunter Gullickson, recently earned a Sally Award for Arts Access by prioritizing theatergoers with disabilities, ensuring that all patrons can enjoy its shows.
Learn Something New at the Science Museum of Minnesota
Like many of the Twin Cities’ signature arts and heritage museums, the Science Museum of Minnesota is located in beautiful downtown St. Paul. The museum’s vibrant, open space spans four floors of engaging exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to the human body, the Mississippi River, race, questionable medical devices and Legos. More of a moviegoer? Grab tickets to an educational film at the Science Museum’s 90-foot, giant dome screen Omnitheater.
Wheelchairs are available for loan at the box office, and the entire museum is wheelchair accessible. There is handicap parking on all floors of the museum’s parking ramp, but take note that only one side of the doors has a ramp with a door opener.
Catch a Game at Target Field
If sporting events are more up your alley, check out the Minnesota Twins’ North Loop home base, Target Field. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you may already be familiar with Target Field from Instagram—its central location and open rooftop combine to provide spectacular, perfectly framed views of downtown Minneapolis.
In addition to its Instagram-worthy backdrop, Target Field makes sure wheelchair users and other fans with disabilities have a picture-perfect visit by providing accessible parking, seating, listening devices, drop-off and pick-up areas, elevators, ramps, wheelchair services and storage.
Treat Yourself at Mall of America
Boasting four floors of wheelchair-accessible shopping, entertainment and dining options, Mall of America is a wheelchair user’s dream come true. Whether you’d like to explore the Sea Life aquarium, get lost in the mirror maze, watch a movie or shop ’til you drop, you can do it all from your wheelchair at Mall of America.
Getting to the mall is comfortable and easy thanks to the step-free Blue Line light rail, which runs directly from downtown Minneapolis to Mall of America’s lower-level transit center. For a truly seamless Minnesota vacation experience, board the light rail at the airport and go straight to one of the mall’s attached hotels, Radisson Blu and JW Marriott.
Don't Miss the Mississippi
In a region defined by water, the Mississippi River stands out among the pack of Twin Cities’ aquatic destinations. Weaving its way through both Minneapolis and St. Paul, America’s longest and most written-about river is a must-see during your visit. From the Big Rivers Trailhead in Mendota Heights, explore a scenic, 4.5-mile section of nearly flat paved trail that overlooks the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.
For a more urban view of the Mississippi, head to either downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul. You’ll find the best river views in downtown Minneapolis on the iconic, bike and pedestrian-only Stone Arch Bridge, and from the Sam Morgan Trail in downtown St. Paul, both of which are paved for easy wheeling
Take a State Park Tour
Many Minnesota State Parks provide accessible campsites, lodging and trails, three of which offer wheelchair-accessible tours to visitors: Hill Annex Mine, Blue Mounds and Mystery Cave. All three parks boast one-of-a-kind experiences that are well worth a trip outside the Twin Cities.
At Hill Annex Mine State Park in northeast Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, wheelchair-accessible mining tours bring you on a historic trip through time on a bus tour that traces the route miners took to reach their workplace in an open pit mine. The 90-minute tour runs on Fridays and Saturdays between Memorial and Labor Day weekends.
Looking for wildlife on your outdoor adventure? Get up close and personal with some of Minnesota’s only remaining native prairie and bison on a new tour at Blue Mounds State Park. Located near Luvurne in southwest Minnesota, the Prairie and Bison Tours last 90 minutes, with one wheelchair-accessible tour every Friday-Sunday between Memorial and Labor Day weekends.
Elsewhere in southern Minnesota, Mystery Cave State Park outside the charming town of Preston offers wheelchair-accessible tours of its scenic underground landscape. The tour takes place along a 3/4-mile paved corridor that showcases many dramatically lit cave formations and pristine, underground lakes. Daily tours are available between Memorial and Labor Day Weekends, plus additional weekend tours running through October.
Brian Fanelli is a writer and editor for Explore Minnesota. When he isn't writing about life in The North, you'll find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore, biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails or walking his Chihuahua around Minneapolis.
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