Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Photo by @georgiaaquarium
Georgia Accessible Travel Spotlight
Georgia's inclusive communities and attractions extend a warm welcome to visitors of all abilities.
The state of Georgia offers something for every visitor — and this is true for people with disabilities as well. From the plethora of museums and activities in Atlanta to exploring the history of Savannah and lesser-known places of interest around the state, there are enough accessibility options to keep you busy for days, weeks or even a lifetime. If you are looking for places to visit as a wheelchair user, with a visual or auditory impairment, or as someone with cognitive/sensory needs, we’ve got you covered.
Note: The information in this article came from the businesses mentioned and is just a sampling of Georgia attractions with accessibility offerings. Reach out to each location — and any others you plan to visit — to find out what other features you can take advantage of during your visit.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway train journey begins in the small North Georgia mountain town of Blue Ridge and goes through forests and along the Toccoa River. One dedicated, open-air train car is equipped with two lifts, allowing wheelchair users to easily board. A spacious family/companion-care restroom is available inside the accessible train car as well. Car 405 was originally built in 1947 for the Boston & Maine Railroad so its passengers get to enjoy the historical feel of riding the rails while a car host points out interesting landmarks as they pass by.
Tybee Island Beaches
If you’re looking to soak up the sun at an accessible beach, special beach wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Ocean Rescue lifeguard station on Tybee Island's South Beach. They even have a chair that can float in the water! Additionally, multiple beach-access mats — called Mobi-mats — are available to navigate your own wheelchair on the beach. (Tip: You can find similar amenities on Jekyll Island.)
Georgia State Parks
Thanks to Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Aimee Copeland Foundation, qualifying visitors can explore Georgia’s natural side via free, high-mobility, all-terrain track wheelchairs that let you hike, hunt, fish and more. Ten state parks, historic sites and a wildlife center offer the chairs, and you can also find numerous accessible amenities and places to stay at Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.
Lion's Eye Trail
Located at Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, the Lion's Eye Trail was specifically created for people with visual impairments to enjoy. It is a fully paved hiking trail with interpretive signs in both normal text and Braille. A cable handrail is available to guide you from one interpretive sign to the next. This trail is 0.1 mile long and goes along Smith Creek.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta consists of a natural-history museum, a Giant Screen Theater and an old-growth forest. They strive to be accessible for all guests; and for those with visual impairments, Fernbank offers descriptive-narration headsets in the Giant Screen Theater, where science-based docs and IMAX films like “Dinosaurs of Antarctica” and “Secrets of the Sea” are shown daily. These headsets feature an adjustable volume control that describes the visual setting and action taking place in the film. Audio and sound effects are amplified in the movie as well.
College Football Hall of Fame
If you are a sports fan at all, the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta is calling you. There are a variety of interactive exhibits, making this a fun attraction even for those who aren’t huge college football fans. For visitors with visual impairments, the hall can arrange complimentary tour guides when given 48 hours’ notice.
Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park is one of the Southeast’s most visited attractions — and after visiting yourself, you’ll understand why. You can ride a cable car to the top of the mountain and enjoy a variety of other activities as someone with hearing impairments. The 4-D theater and the scenic railroad have written scripts available, and the Memorial Hall Auditorium has closed captioning available on the screen if you ask a team member before the show begins. (Entrances to all attractions are wheelchair-accessible, too.)
National Center for Civil & Human Rights
The National Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta believes in justice and dignity for all and, therefore, is fully inclusive for all abilities, including those with hearing impairments. There are immersive exhibits and events, which will give you a greater appreciation for how far we’ve come in the quest for equality and how much further we still need to go. Handheld text and audio devices are available for checkout upon entry.
The legendary Fox Theatre in Atlanta hosts numerous concerts, touring Broadway shows and other productions throughout the year. Designated seats for guests with hearing impairments are available in the front of the theater. Assisted-listening devices are available on a first-come, first-served basis at all performances, and closed captioning can be requested by calling the ticket office. Sign-language-interpreting services are also offered for certain show dates but can always be requested by calling the ticket office at least two weeks in advance of your show date.
To give you the most accurate information about visiting Georgia with cognitive and sensory needs, Cory asked Shalese Heard about her favorite Georgia attractions. She is known as the Autistic Travel Goddess, and she is a proud travel blogger, author and speaker who creates content on traveling the world as an autistic adult.
As the first-ever aquarium to be designated as autism-certified, Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta goes above and beyond for guests with disabilities. They offer Sensory Hours each morning that consist of lower guest capacity, reduced audio, sensory aids and quiet spaces. Sensory bags can be checked out anytime and contain noise-canceling headsets, fidget devices and “I need/I feel” cards to help nonverbal visitors communicate. Whether admiring the animals of the ocean or watching one of the shows, everyone can have an enjoyable visit at this aquarium.
No matter what your favorite animal is, there’s a good chance that you’ll see it at this zoo. Zoo Atlanta is certified autism-friendly and offers things like sensory bags, fidget tools, weighted lap pads, quiet zones and noise-canceling headphones. The zoo aims to be an inclusive destination for everyone, and they provide a seamless experience for guests with sensory needs.
iFly Indoor Skydiving
If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure activity, this indoor-skydiving and flight experience could be the perfect place to visit. iFLY in Atlanta offers an All Abilities Night where extended accommodations and specialized trainings are offered to skydivers with disabilities. It is a truly inclusive environment that is tailored to each guest’s specific challenges.