Ottawa, Ontario

Canadian Museum of Nature History

Click here for museum info

Plenty of accessible parking and the museum itself is very accessible.  Large elevators and companion bathrooms.

 

Holiday Inn & Suites Ottawa Kanata

Click here for hotel info

Fantastic option if you do not want to stay in the city centre.  The staff were exceptional and our accessible room was very spacious.

Able Sail Kingston (Kingston Yacht Club)

Able Sail Kingston does a fantastic job making sailing accessible for those with disabilities.  Recently we were fortunate to take one of the larger boats and join Shawn on a sailing trip around the lake and Garden Island.    The boat allows for a couple extra passengers so family members can sail along.   Able Sail is located at the Kingston Yacht Club which has accessible washroom facilities and ramps throughout.  In order to get into the sailboat there is a Hoyer lift and you can either bring your own sling or they have one available.   Video of the actual sailing can be found on the Accessible Kingston Ontario Facebook Page 🙂

Please check out the Able Sail Kingston website for more information.

Able Sail Kingston

 

Fun Haven (Ottawa)

Recently a trip to Ottawa took us to Fun Haven Indoor Amusement Park. It was our son’s birthday and he wanted to do something fun with BOTH his parents.

Fun Haven is a perfect place for all ages and we found it very accessible. It was spacious and the only area Shawn was unable to access was the Escape Room upstairs. They also have party rooms and even though they are mostly upstairs they have one on the ground floor. There is several accessible washrooms and even a companion washroom.

Fun Haven has an arcade, indoor roller coaster, mini bowling, laser tag, bumper cars and escape rooms. Shawn was able to participate in laser tag and had a great time. There is a second floor with steep ramps in the laser tag area. It would be fine for a power chair but a bit difficult for a manual chair.

Fun Haven does offer discount rates for attendants but you would need to call ahead to confirm.

Great place for the whole family.

Kingston, ON – Kingston Penitentiary

No visit to Kingston is complete without a visit to the historical Kingston Penitentiary.  It is the oldest and largest prison in Kingston and housed the most notorious and dangerous criminals in Canadian history.  Due to extensive repairs required to maintain the prison, Corrections Canada decided to close the doors and move the prisoners elsewhere.  KP, as known to the staff and locals, is a formidable presence along Lake Ontario.  The prison was closed in 2013, and since that time has become a very popular tourist attraction for the area.  Tours run seasonally (Spring to Fall) and we were fortunate enough to take a tour, which is fully accessible.

Upon entering the giant metal prison front doors, you are assigned a group based on your ticket time slot.  The tour begins in the visitation area, complete with glass separating the prisoner from the visitor.  This was the only place were we had to temporary separate from the group.  They left out a door with stairs so we were escorted by a guide down a ramp and met back up with the group.  The guide does wait so you don’t miss any information. Each stop on the tour was a former corrections officer that would provide a bit of history about the prison and answer any questions.  They tell you that out of respect for the victims, they will not talk about or answer any questions about the infamous residents of the prison .   Accessible companion bathrooms were found at the beginning of the tour and about halfway through the tour.

The tour takes you through the grounds, past the common houses for family visits, to the cells, solitary, outdoor playground, gym, work shop etc.  It was incredibly fascinating and if you ever get a chance to watch a documentary before your tour, I highly recommend it.  The tour takes about 90 minutes and if you are interested in learning more you can walk across the street to the Penitentiary Museum (former home of a past warden).  **Please see my previous blog about the accessibility of the museum**

 

 

Niagara Falls, ON

Niagara Falls has so much to offer for those needing accessibility, so we decided to plan a weekend away.  Typically our interests revolve around eating, drinking and just having a fun relaxed time–so that is what we did.

We decided to stay at the Four Points Sheraton Fallsview and I can’t say enough good things about this hotel.  The hotel offers either valet parking or off property parking but since we had a disabled permit we were offered valet at a discounted rate (about 50% off).  Our accessible room had 2 queen beds and a roll-in shower and the room was incredibly spacious.  The view was not a Fallsview but it was a city view that was decent enough.  The hotel had an indoor tunnel over to the Fallsview Casino however for wheelchair users you have to detour a bit through the parking garage.  The weather was warm but in the winter it would be chilly.  In addition there was no pedestrian walkway so you have to be mindful of the cars driving around.

It was our first time at Fallsview Casino and I found it disappointing for a wheelchair user.  It was very busy because it was Friday night so it was very difficult to navigate through all the people.  The slot machines all have stationary stools screwed in to the floor so there was no chance for Shawn to sit and play.  I could not find anything online regarding whether they had wheelchair accessible slot machines or not.  I tried to find an employee, to ask, but I couldn’t find one that was not working a table.  It was difficult to drive around–and very difficult to find an employee.  Next issue was the bathroom situation.  I tried to find a companion bathroom but after trying three of the bathroom areas I was about to give up and just go back to the hotel.  I was then told by a tables dealer that they had them in the mall area out front.  Shawn does not like to be brought in the women’s bathroom and I certainly do not want to go in the men’s so companion/family bathrooms are essential.  Once we were out of the casino we just decided to leave since there was no point in staying, so that was disappointing.

The next day we headed out to Niagara-on-the-lake and visited several wineries and a brewery downtown.  The brewery, The Exchange, did have a small step to get inside.  Luckily we always have a portable ramp in the van.  It was quite busy, being a Saturday, but we did find a small bar height table to sample a flight of beer.  Parking is very busy downtown so parking can be a challenge.  Fortunately we found a spot not far from the brewery.  Next stop were the wineries and we decided to stop at Peller Estates, Jackson Triggs and Wayne Gretzky’s.

Peller Estates is a beautiful winery and we really enjoyed their outdoor patio.  There was accessible parking and the majority of the grounds were accessible.   The tasting counters are all high tops and no lowered counters for wheelchair users that I could see. The patio is very nice but very busy so I would recommend reservations.

Jackson Triggs was a bit of a disappointed for wheelchair users.  There was accessible parking but not much else inside.  There was no indoor tasting area available, just an outside area.  The outside tasting area was all high tops so we went to sit on the patio that had standard height tables.  Seating was limited and we could not see their wall mounted menu from our table. Their ‘Samples List’ was also wall mounted and far from where we were sitting–and it was so busy there was not much chance of us getting close to read it.  I tried talking a picture on my cell phone and showing Shawn the options but it was just too sunny out.  The hot sun and lack of shade and overall inconvenience of the set-up was just too much so we decided to leave and try another winery.

Wayne Gretzky’s was our favourite winery.  It was very spacious and modern and easy to get around.  There was lots of accessible parking and they had automatic door openers, which the other 2 wineries did not.  The tasting area was inside and very roomy.  We were able to sit in an area with couches and a beautiful view–and have a server bring the samples to us!  We spent most of the time at this winery and really were impressed with the layout and accessibility.

Our day ended with an evening boat cruise on The Hornblower.  The boat is accessible to the main deck only.  There is an upper level but no access for wheelchair users.  The evening cruise around the falls lit up at night was a first for both of us.  It was about 40 minutes and you do get wet so make sure to get a few extra rain ponchos to cover up the wheelchair.

Overall we had a great visit to Niagara Falls and would love to go back again sometime soon!

 

Skywood Eco Adventure (Brockville, ON)

Recently we heard about a zipline park that had an accessible zipline for those with mobility impairments.   St Lawrence Parks Commission opened Skywood Eco Adventure in the summer of 2016.   It consists of multiple self-led courses ranging from beginner to advanced as well as discovery courses geared towards those with physical and mental impairments.    The discovery zipline is the accessible zipline and it sits about 10 feet off the ground.

Upon arriving at Skywood we were met by the instructors and led to the area of the zipline.  Once you check-in you won’t have to park in the standard lot but are led down a gravel road to the accessible parking, which is closer to the courses.  The accessible parking is also right where the large accessible bathroom is located.   Once we parked, we were led down a gravel path.  I imagine if it had been raining a lot that path would get a bit muddy but for us it was fine and we had no issues.  Once we reached the course, Shawn was harnessed up and away he went.  You do have to be able to transfer from your wheelchair to a stationary chair for them to harness you up.  They may be able to harness up from the wheelchair.  Usually he is quite anxious doing something like this but he loved it and was allowed to zipline as many times as he wanted.  It was a lot of fun and would definitely recommend!

**for video of footage of Shawn on the zipline or any other of our accessible adventures please follow us on Facebook at Accessible Getaways or Accessible Kingston (for local Ontario information)