San Diego is one of the most accessible cities in the world, with a fully accessible trolley system laid out along a grid. But there’s still some things that are helpful to know before you go. Below you’ll find some resources to make navigating America’s Finest City as easy as possible.
In addition to the information below, we’ve compiled a list of travel tips specific to Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Getting to San Diego
Whether driving, flying, or taking the train, it’s important to plan ahead. Ensure any medical needs are properly communicated to the airline or rail line and know who to call when an issue arises. All airlines are required to have a complaint resolution officer (CRO) available via phone or in person during operating hours.
Travelers that fly will have to organize accessible transport from the airport to the hotel. There are several options. An accessible airport shuttle runs from the San Diego International Airport to the Old Town Transit Center every 20-30 minutes from 4:45 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. From the Transit Center, you can take the accessible Trolley to the convention center station, minutes away from the Marriott and other hotels.
Trolleys and trains
The one-way fare for the trolley is $2.50 for adults and kids and $1.25 for seniors and those with disabilities. A day pass is $6. You can purchase passes through the PRONTO app ahead of time and scan your phone when you board any train, trolley, or bus part of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.
If you already live in California, the Amtrak Surfliner might be a great option and can help you avoid the hassle of stowing your power wheelchair in the plane’s luggage compartment. This line takes passengers from San Luis Obispo through Santa Barbara and Los Angeles and ends at San Diego’s Santa Fe Station.
(Note: as of March 31, the Surfliner requires a bus transfer between Irvine and Oceanside during the week. It offers non-interrupted service on the weekends)
The Surfliner is wheelchair friendly, with a 29.5” maximum width for power chairs. Most standard power wheelchairs are 25” wide, but heavy-duty power wheelchairs can be as wide as 32”. If it is wider than 29.5” they still may be able to accommodate you depending on the specific car. Be sure to contact them at their phone number listed here beforehand.
The Surfliner ends at the Santa Fe Depot. From there, travelers can hop on San Diego Trolley’s green line to the Convention Center Station and walk and roll across the street to the Marriott or nearby hotel.
Wheelchair accessible cars
Travelers may also opt to use an accessible cab, book a medical transport driver, or rent a wheelchair-accessible vehicle if they’d like to explore outside the city. Accessible cabs are limited, however. It is not possible to get an accessible cab at the airport without calling ahead. Schedule with one of these providers at least a few days ahead
- Boris (independent driver, MV1 cab): 858-542-1924
- Coronado Cab (MV1 cab): 619-545-1924
- Happy2Help: 619-885-3737
- RideFACT: 888-924-3228
- Care4UMobility: 858-564-9069
- Comfort Ride Transport: 619-855-5113
- Possibilities Medical Transport: 619-499-7723
There are a few options for wheelchair-accessible rentals.
Things to do in a wheelchair
The greater San Diego Bay offers several amazing activities you don’t want to miss. It’s worth noting that San Diego is one of the most accessible cities in the U.S., with easy, ADA-compliant ways to get around the town’s major areas and many attractions.
The USS Midway was the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. The museum of the same name offers guests the ability to explore the floating city on their own or with a guide. According to the museum website 60 percent of the exhibits are wheelchair accessible. It also includes free admission for a professional caregiver.
Balboa Park offers numerous attractions including the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Air and Space Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Art. Most of the park is wheelchair accessible. It is a 20-minute bus ride from the FUTURES convention.
Old Town San Diego
Old Town San Diego is a short trolley ride from the hotel and includes the site of the first Spanish settlement in California. Restored Victorian-era homes are also on display in Heritage Park. An outdoor space in Old Town also honors the Kumeyaay people, who began living there more than 10,000 years ago.
Mission Beach and Sea World
There are tons of activities outside of the immediate convention center area for those people who are feeling more adventurous. It will be important to book wheelchair accessible transit for these locations.
One of the most well-known beaches in the area is Mission Beach. It is quite a jaunt on public transit so booking an accessible cab for this trek would be wise. A six-mile-long boardwalk cuts through the sand and past the historic amusement park, Belmont Park, which offers rollercoasters and an arcade.
Right across the bay from Mission Beach is Sea World, which offers several wheelchair accessible attractions. They can be found in The Accessibility Guide.
Coronado Island is a bit harder to get to (it requires riding the trolley and a bus or a 40-minute walk and ferry ride) but is a beautiful destination. Coronado means crown in Spanish, and the island includes a long stretch of beach that glitters in the sun. A historic landmark, Hotel del Coronado has stood overlooking these sands since 1888, and the surrounding area is marked by restaurants and shops along a main drag, flanked by manicured homes.
Beach mats, which allow wheelchair users to traverse down the shore, are available in Coronado at Central Beach, North Beach, dog beach and Glorietta Bay Park. Beach manual and power wheelchairs available for rent first come first serve by calling 619-525-8247.
La Jolla is on the north side of San Diego and features beautiful beaches. The only downside is the hilly terrain. Wheelchair users can drive along the paved, coastal walkway. A stretch of beach called Children’s Pool has seals, sea lions, and other animals open to view on the beach.
Go north to find more fun
San Diego Safari Park
Further north lies North County, about 30-45 minutes away from downtown San Diego. In Escondido you will find San Diego Safari Park, which mimics the experience of driving through Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
In Carlsbad lies the city made of bricks, also known as Legoland. It’s an ideal experience for younger kids, though there is plenty to appreciate for all ages in the millions of Lego blocks used to build dragons, cities, and The Death Star.
Nearby, The Flower Fields features 50 acres of multi-colored ranunculus flowers. Blooming season is from early March through early May. FUTURES falls in the middle of that season. A tractor wagon ride, accessible by power wheelchair takes visitors through the horticulturist’s dream.
The next city up the coast, Oceanside, features even more pristine beaches, and a chance for those with disabilities to get out on the water. Waves4All, an organization based there, offers adaptive surfing for people of all abilities.
Drive further inland and you’ll hit Temecula, which includes plenty of wineries. You can schedule a tasting at any of the 46 wineries that dot the valley’s landscape. Be sure to check accessibility with each.
Medical ID bracelets
You’ll should also prepare for the worst when traveling. Sometimes unexpected emergencies happen. Be sure to take advantage of the free MyID medical bracelets CureDuchenne offers. In case of any emergency, medical personnel can scan the QR code found on the bracelet and immediately access information about Duchenne, medication contraindications, and anesthesia considerations.