Wheelchair Travel: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Las Vegas Strip at night.

Las Vegas Strip at night.

I am going to preface this report with the statement that I don’t particularly care for Las Vegas as a travel destination. Even without gambling I found it to be discouragingly expensive, I thought that the service in every restaurant where we ate ( except one, a lunch on the balcony of “Morel’s”) was intrusively “attentive”, the town felt dirty and cheap, and there was piped music ( Classic Rock and cheesy Pop) everywhere. You can’t get away from it, they even have speakers in the lampposts along The Strip.

But the purpose of this blog isn’t about my personal preferences; it’s about sharing information regarding accessibility with other wheelchair travels that will help them enjoy their visits to the places we’ve been.

As far as accessibility, I would have to give Las Vegas very high marks.

Positive features about Las Vegas for Wheelchair Travelers and their companions:

  • The city has a fleet of “Handivans”; Regular taxis with the added feature of a ramped space for a wheelchair in the back. This meant that I could stay in my chair and just roll right in without having to make a transfer, and Helen was able to sit in the seat in front of me. Some of the drivers were flexible about not having to belt me in (I prefer not to go through the rigamarole, especially since they usually just belt the chair in, leaving me free to go flying in the unlikely event of an accident). These Handivans are available at the airport taxi rank, as well as through summons by phone with the staff at the hotels.
  • The terrain is flat. If there are any grades in Las Vegas, they are so slight as to be almost unnoticeable.
  • The curbs were all ramped, and the sidewalks were nice and smooth, if a bit crowded in places.
  • All of the establishments that we went to had step-free access.

Negative features about Las Vegas:

  • It’s illegal to hail a cab out on the street, so you have to go into a hotel or casino and have someone do it for you.
  • Unless you can afford a hotel on The Strip, it can be a long trek from your hotel to where everything is happening. We were over a mile away (although it was flat and relatively easy rolling).

I honestly cannot think of anything else that’s specific to negative accessibility in Las Vegas.

Some Tips:

  • The Mirage Hotel has a “Secret Garden”, which we found to be a nice break from the hustle of The Strip, where you can watch dolphins and see lions and white tigers up close. There is still piped music in this place, but it’s simulated jungle sounds and less intrusive. I we paid something like $27.00 for the two of us. If you ask for a disabled discount, the staff can give you the military discount (they did for me, anyway). It closes at 18:00. Enter through the main doors of the hotel, and follow the signs.There is a free “Volcanic Eruption”, starting at 19:00 in front of the Mirage, repeating every hour on the hour. The eruption is a fountain and pyrotechnic display in the fountain in front of the hotel, choreographed to jungle drums. I liked it.
  • There is also a free show in the Bellagio Fountain in front of the Bellagio Resort and Hotel. The show we saw started at 20:30 and lasted for about ten minutes, complete with a dry ice fog and an amazing choreographed fountain display (showtimes are on the page in the link provided above). The music that was used was not to my taste, but it was still impressive.If the weather is nice, Morel’s (3325, Las Vegas Blvd. South) has a nice balcony overlooking The Strip, where one can get a decent–albeit not cheap–lunch (this was the only meal we had in Las Vegas where our server was not intrusively attentive).
  • We stayed at the Candlewood Suites (4034, Paradise Road), and the bathing facilities in the room were completely accessible. Roll in shower and a good, sturdy, fold-down shower bench. The staff were also very friendly and helpful. There is a decent (if expensive) steak house right down the street on the corner of Paradise and E Flamingo roads, called “Morton’s” where we had dinner, and a liquor store close to the hotel as well.
  • Do not try to cross East Flamingo Road using the elevator/walkway combination near the intersection of E. Flamingo Road and S. Las Vegas Blvd. We did this and one of the lifts/elevators was out of service. We had to back track and continue on the ground. Elevator malfunctions in these sorts of situations are pretty common in my experiences, and in my opinion, if one can get there by staying on the ground—even if it means a little further to walk—then this would be the better and safer choice.

I don’t think Helen and I will be going back, but if Las Vegas is one of those places that you’ve always wanted to visit, there isn’t any reason why having a mobility impairment should stop you from going. It’s a very accessible city.


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