Charleston, South Carolina Wheelchair Travel Guide
It’s going to take me a week to get this southern drawl off my lips, I thought to myself on the plane ride home. I can still hear them saying “Yes Mam!” The folks of Charleston or Charles Town, South Carolina are as sweet as the sweet tea and mellow as Jell-O. There is no rush for just about anything, including finishing a conversation. People take their time; enjoy themselves. The best time, weather wise, to visit Charleston is in the short-lived spring or fall. In the spring you can enjoy a variety of brightly colored blooming flowers and fall brings spectacular colors with the changing of the leaves as well. The summertime gets incredibly humid and hot. Even the locals spend most of their days inside with air-conditioning during that time of the year. Very little tourist venture the streets in the month of August and for good reason.
The Charleston Area (view map) is made up of several land masses separated up by rivers. The center of it all is Historic Charleston or the peninsula (view map) and above that is North Charleston. On one side of the peninsula is West Ashley and the other is Daniel Island. Almost directly in front of Historic Charleston is James Island and between is Johns Island, Wadmalaw Island, Sullivan’s Island and Mt. Pleasant. In 2013, I stayed in Historic Charleston the first week of April and was greeted with fresh blossoms everywhere including many hanging baskets and potted plants in the downtown area, all draped with spring color. With no transportation of my own I was limited to how much exploring I could do outside of where I was staying.
Touring Downtown Charleston
Downtown Charleston or Historic Charleston has been coined the “Disneyland of History,” in other words, it is built for tourists. There are a few ways to explore Downtown Charleston and I recommend doing it all, starting with a tour. All over you will find stands promoting various tours. A guided “walking” tour is a stroll around town to view some of major landmarks and historical buildings. You can also get a map from one of the many tourist information spots and seek attractions for yourself or just aimlessly wonder because every street has something to see. View one possible self guided tour map.
Horse-drawn carriage tours are the most popular but only Charleston Historic Carriage Tours is remotely accessible. The adaptive loading platform is located at the Palmetto Carriage Barn or the “big red barn” behind the Rainbow Market. Inside the barn you can expect to find horses and possibly goats or other livestock. On my visit there were two baby goats. Next to the goat pin was the ramp to the loading platform and on the way are two uni-sex bathrooms marked handicapped accessible. A carriage pulls up next to the platform but the rest was up to me. However, I could not jump over the gap and up onto the seat so a nice southern gentleman working there picked me up. Even though the seat was slightly padded, I grabbed my seat cushion to sit on and I am glad I did cause the 45min to 1 hour long ride was a bit bumpy.
The route the carriage takes is determined by the color of a ping pong ball that the driver, Jenny, sarcastically laughs as their “sophisticated method.” It’s all humor with Jenny from the get-go as I am sure many of the other drivers are. She had me going hook, line and sinker, “you know I’ve never taken one of these tours…” “Yea?” I said not realizing her role with company, “I guess locals don’t do the touristy stuff.” I had a good laugh at myself. Jenny left little space in between breaths as she explained all the history she could in such a short window of time. Architectural and natural features of Charleston were also highlighted. Tips are appreciated at the end. With so many horse tours running morning until night everyday it’s amazing to not find horse manure everywhere for which you can thank the city for hiring people to be constantly cleaning this up.
Now a boat tour of the harbor gives a completely different perspective on Downtown Charleston with a few overlapping details. Charleston Harbor Tours is wheelchair accessible and tours run a few times during the day. Guests all board at pier/dock #17 at the Maritime Center and those who are in wheelchairs board first unless arriving late. The initial longer ramp has none-slip treads about every foot and for someone using a wheelchair they act as speed bumps. Another much shorter ramp is just slightly after this initial one but does not have such treads. The top deck of the boat is the only wheelchair accessible section. Plastic chairs are dispersed all over the deck that can be easily removed to create space for a wheelchair wherever. Even though access is only on the top deck there are shaded and slightly enclosed areas if needing a break from the sun or wind. Also on the top deck is a snack bar. The boat tour goes into more depth about the general history of Charleston compared to the carriage or walking tour that focuses on specific buildings. The highlight of the tour is a close viewing the Fort Sumter, which resides in the Charleston Bay along with passing under the iconic Cooper River Bridge. Often seen along this tour are also dolphins that feed in these waters. I got to see a few but it all happened in an instance.
On just about every street in Historic Charleston has some kind of a historic building. The most common in the downtown area are the mansions and other historic homes, like the ones on Rainbow Row. Some of these mansions offer tours but not surprising, basically none are wheelchair accessible except for the occasional outdoor garden. A fellow wheelchair traveler informed me that the Nathan Russell Museum House is accessible on both floors, including the gift shop and restroom. However, the accessible entrance is on the opposite side of where everyone else enters, is not well marked and cannot be opened independently–someone has to walk up the stairs to notify the museum staff inside. So perhaps having a phone number before hand would be helpful if unable to climb stairs. The pathways around lovely garden were challenging and occasionally there was a small step. The biggest setback to vising the Nathan Russel House was the customer service as the staff acted bothered when asked to do the extra work to accommodate a wheelchair using guest, including starting the tour without them. In situations like this, politeness and persistence allow you to experience what you are after. The Aiken-Rhett House Museum (near the Visitors Centre) is also partially wheelchair accessible but again, the attitude from the staff to accommodate wheelchair guest was sub-par.
Some of the older mansions and homes still have a light blue ceiling on the outside porches. This, I learned, was to ward off evil spirits. The light blue color was to confuse the spirit so that the sky and earth were not distinguishable. At the base of some of the mansions is a smaller door, which was historically designed to be the entrance of servants where they could enter the house undetected and get the kitchen or wherever and get right to work. Iron was popular to construct gates and some windows as it could withstand the impact of war. Some iron craftsmanship on the mansions and churches are exceptionally beautiful. A few neat alleys exist on the peninsula, some more historical than others. For instance, Longitude Lane off E Bay Street consists of colonial cobblestone lane built on a longitude line. However, this particular alley would be extremely difficult for almost any wheelchair to manage. Stoll’s Alley, named after a local blacksmith who owned the property in the mid 1700′s, is much more accessible. It doesn’t really have a famous history but its historic makeup and surroundings leads the imagination to wander about the people who strolled down it or perhaps just lingered. The pathway itself is brick but is still good shape and along the way you can see the iron gate work of this blacksmith.
Over sixteen churches exist in the Downtown Charleston area and about half have cemeteries with some gravestones dating back to the 1600s. Wheelchair access varies at the churches. Some have had access for some time like the Unitarian Church while others like the French Protestant (Huguenot) Church just completed their ramp installment early April 2013. Still, there are some that have no access inside. The Unitarian Church is the second oldest church in Charleston and the oldest Unitarian church in the south. It has a lovely garden hosting a cemetery with a paved walkways through it. I could roll directly into the main door (no ramp needed) but directly inside to the right there was a short one to the main floor. The Unitarian Church also has a lovely stained-glass windows. Still on the peninsula but a good ways away from the main downtown area by the Medical University of South Carolina is Saint Luke’s Chapel which I was informed by a local is one of the finest examples of a stained-glass church in the area. Stella Maris Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island is another this local recommended, which is definitely a drive from Downtown Charleston.
Fort Sumter resides in the Charleston Bay and is the declared the location where the American Civil War began. The fort can be seen on the harbor tours but to actually explore, one must arrive by ferry. The only fully accessible dock is at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center. Fort Sumter has made major steps to make sure the attraction is accessible for both manual and power wheelchairs, including an elevator which allows wheelchairs to access all levels. Equipment to make this all happen does breakdown or needs repair, etc. so it is requested that you call in advance to make sure everything is all working. Here is the website with more access details phone numbers for Fort Sumter.
Waterfront Park and pier is eight acres along the Cooper River resides along the Cooper River. Fountains and tree-lined walkways make it very picturesque. The pier is frequently used as a port for cruise lines.
The Battery is an iconic promenade along the bay in Downtown Charleston. It also overlooks a number of historic mansions. Currently, wheelchair access to The Battery is only possible in one location, which means at some point the level walkway is met with stairs and therefore, one must turn around. Once this set of stairs is past though, The Battery walkway continues for a while longer. On the East Battery at about nine o’clock in the morning tons dolphins appear right on the shoreline and in the evening, the East Battery is an exceptional place to watch the sun set.
Associated with The Battery is the White Point Garden, which is not a garden at all but rather a gathering of trees and statues. White Point Gardens is not a large by all means but is a lovely area that most people add to their strolls while touring Downtown Charleston. The pathways are level and are made up of finely packed granite rock.
Charles Town Landing, along the Copper River on the peninsula, is a replication of the first permanent colonial settlement in South Carolina equipped with a natural habitat zoo with species indigenous to Carolina in the 1670s. 10 total handicapped parking spots exists (6 at the visitor center and 4 more at the Founder Hall). All pathways are paved or boardwalk and all slopes are ADA compliant.
Every area and facility in the park are accessible by wheelchair with the exception of the Adventure Exhibit (a 17th century replica ship). The Adventure Exhibit is viewable from shore but boarding is not accessible by wheelchair. Restrooms are located in three different areas of the park. All Charles Towne Landing restrooms meet modern ADA regulations for entry and turning radius are all recently built to ADA specifications.
On historic Broad Street downtown is a piece place of tranquil space known as Washington Park. Large oak trees encircle the inner walkway which leads to a monument dedicated to General George Washington, the first president of the United States.
Outside of the Downtown Charleston are other great walkways a wheelchair traveler can enjoy, including Hampton Park and North Charleston Riverfront Park. In West Ashley there is the Ashley River Road Bike Path and the West Ashley Greenway. James Island County Park has a number of good trails to meander on if on James Island or there is also Folly Beach Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier which has a wheelchair accessible restroom. Folly Beach is where one local explains “all the hippies hang out.” On Mount Pleasant there is Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park and Pier and Shem Creek Park. The Isle of Palms Country Park has a beach wheelchair for rent, subject to availability of course, and a beach boardwalk that is accessible. Kiawah Beachwalker Park is on the west on of Kawah Island and also has a beach wheelchair on a first come, first serve basis. You can call 843.768.2395 to check.
On Johns Island, about 15 minutes from Downtown Charleston, is the natural landmark known as the Angel Oak. Free of admission, this southern live oak is thought to be one of the “oldest living things” east of the Rocky Mountains and estimated to be around 500 years old. A number of the oak’s branches are far bigger than the trunks of the trees surrounding it and will only get bigger. All oak trees in Charleston will keep growing in fact because it is against the law to cut down an oak tree— you will go to jail. The park gates to the Angel Oak Tree open at 9am Monday-Saturday and at 1pm on Sunday. The gates close at 5pm. The Angel Oak is a gateway attraction to plantations in the area. People usually don’t stay very long but many come, so the less populated photos take place right when the gates open but even then you’ll likely have a little competition. One handicapped parking spot exists but it is not paved nor is a pathway to the tree. The ground is packed dirt, so watch out for the occasional soft spot, rock or twig. It is only a few feet to the tree itself. A small gift shop is next to the handicapped parking spot which has a ramp. However, unfortunately although there are porta-potties, non are accessible. The Angel Oak Tree is located at 3688 Angel Oak Road, Johns Island, 29455. Right next to the Church, you’ll see a dirt path that leads behind the church. Drive down this dirt road approximately 1/2 mile to the fenced area on your left.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in West Ashley is one of the oldest and most popular plantations in the south. Many things can be seen on this 70 acre plantation that rests along the Ashley River so an all-day visit is necessary. Old southern Live Oak trees with dripping Spanish moss surround the plantation like beautiful ornaments accenting the bright green lawns, buildings and gardens. Near the entrance is small petting zoo with a few animals including white-tailed deer that loved to be fed. Several small exhibits also exist in this area. No buildings are wheelchair accessible, expect apparently one of the slave cabins. The boat tour is accessible for those who can leave their wheelchairs and overcome one small step. The open-air train tour has a ramp to one of the cars, though not ADA, and one can stay in the wheelchair. However, the width and steepness of the ramp as well as the height of the train car may prevent most power wheelchairs and scooters from access. The garden is overall wheelchair accessible. At one scenic point it brushes against the Ashley River. Some of the pathways are hard-packed dirt but then these pathways turn into including small rocks and some areas are real thick with rocks. This terrain can be challenging for some. Plus, the size of the rocks could cause harm to the wheels of some wheelchairs so be aware. A few bridges exists on-site and all are wheelchair accessible. The boardwalk at the swamp is also accessible. The swamp is most famously known for being the backdrop to the blockbuster movie the “Swamp Thing.”
Drayton Hall is a southern plantation that is partially accessible in the area of West Ashley. Drayton Hall has made adaptions to provide public access throughout the site, but the historic nature and preserved state of this national historic landmark, result in a combination of grass, mulch, and sand shell-mix surfaces and pathways. The grounds, restrooms, Museum Shop, raised English basement of the Main House, and the “Connections: From Africa to America” program are all accessible to individuals with physical disabilities. In addition, a video tour is available for those who are unable or prefer not to join the tour; written tours are available for the hearing impaired.
Guests may bring their own wheelchairs into the basement only and must be accompanied by a Drayton Hall staff member. They may not bring their own wheelchairs up the stairs into the house. For guests who are able to climb the stairs, there is a wheelchair located in the first floor of the main house. It may be used on the first floor only and may not be taken upstairs.
The raised basement was a working space, with storage spaces designed to suit specialized needs. One room, with a brick floor laid in a herringbone pattern and a heavy, lockable door, may have been used to store wine, spices, and other valuable commodities. Another room, originally paved with brick but now with a dirt floor, may have been used to store root vegetables and other things that required cool storage. Additional rooms were likely used for a plantation office, supplementary storage, and other work spaces for enslaved people. A large fireplace in the main basement room heated the space, and kept food warm before serving; it is likely that the fireplace was used for cooking before the kitchen flanker was completed and at other times throughout the year.
There is an online tour of the house and grounds available on the website that will help orient you with the site and allow you to view the pathways, interior rooms of the house (including the basement), as well as the museum shop, restroom area, etc. Please call 843.769.2600 or email email@example.com.
Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding is located on Johns Island is a therapeutic riding center that works with children and adults with a wide range of disabilities. In order to participate in the program several forms are required to be competed including a physician’s evaluation and release. Once forms are completed then an on-site evaluation is done. The wait list to into the program can be around 6 months sometimes so plan accordingly.
Museums and Aquarium
South Carolina Aquarium on Charleston Harbor is a wonderful stop for the family. See the renovated Saltmarsh Aviary, home to 25 stingrays; the new albino alligator exhibit; and a 4-D adventure theater. An elevator or long ramp takes guests using wheelchairs to the exhibit areas. Accessible restrooms and elevators are found within the aquarium.
The Charleston Museum is located on the Museum Mile which has two handicapped parking spaces with a ramp to the entrance. If are without a vehicle there is a ramp entrance on the Meeting Street side of the building (next to the museum sign). At the admission desk a wheelchair is available for rent if needed. The museum itself has wide aisle in all the exhibit areas and has an elevator for wheelchairs to access the second floor. Accessible restrooms are found on both the ground and second floors.
The Gibbes Museum of Art, also on the Museum Mile, has wheelchair access via ramp on the right side of the building—just look for the universal symbol. The side doors open automatically with a push of a button. The admission desk has no lowered space for wheelchair access but the staff adapted. Here you can also rent a wheelchair free of charge. Access around the museum’s 2.5 floors was easy due to the open layout and usage of the elevator. The restroom, however, though it is labeled to be handicapped accessible was the smallest public restroom I encounter in Charleston. Even with my small 24” frame wheelchair, I could not close the door and believe me, I tried.
The Old Slave Mart Museum is located on the ground floor, barrier free. The sidewalk to the museum, however, is not very even. There is an elevator inside but it is really small and can only accommodate one wheelchair at a time. A handicapped restroom is also available.
In addition to having ramps the front door, back doors and plenty of space to navigate inside, the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry also has a special program, CML Superstars, that takes place every Second Sunday at CML from 10:00 am – 12:00 Noon and provides free access to children with special needs and their families and friends. The great thing about this program, especially as it relates to wheelchair access, the number of people in the building is limited to about 20% of our capacity – only 100 people total. This provides extra room, space and access for all children to be able to explore, play, learn & discover.
The Old Exchange Building is handicap accessible. If you are able to, please call ahead at 843-727-2165 and speak to a staff member and let them know what time you are arriving. They will arrange to meet you at the back of the building (off Gillon St) and let you enter on the ground level. An elevator will allow you to tour all three floors of the Exchange. Should you be unable to call ahead, you can simply flag down one of the costumed docents on the front (Broad St & East Bay intersection) and they will go down to the back door for you. If you do not see anyone at the front, please wait a minute or two, the docents may be inside assisting customers but should return to their station shortly. At the Old Exchange Building there are not handicapped parking spots but there are about 16 metered spots directly behind the museum and a parking garage on block away. Both men and women accessible restrooms are available inside the museum.
If you don’t make it all the way over to the actual Fort Sumter, the Fort Sumter National Memorial is a free museum with all kinds of photos and information on the fort. This is located in the Maritime Center right next to the South Carolina Aquarium. A wheelchair user can either access the museum floor by elevator or by a fairly long ramp. I took the elevator up and the ramp ride down.
A few areas exist in Charleston for shopping. Despite that you will find many storefronts with at least a step if not a few into the store, you will find enough places to spend money that are accessible. Power wheelchairs will be even more limited due to the tight arrangements of stores. The most spacious and wheelchair friendly shopping area is the Old City Market, also known as the Old Slave Market. This market has existed since colonial times. Wealthy woman would come to the market with their slaves to do a little shopping and then have lunch while the slaves finished and did the real shopping. Today, the market is filled with local artists and craftsmen and woman selling their hand-made items. Fine jewelry can also be purchased at this market. A couple of to-go counter cafes are inside, including a Caviar & Bananas. Public restrooms, including a handicapped stall are located within the market. The market runs right in the middle of the street with traffic on either side but the market itself is pedestrians only. The market is divvied up into a few sections. At either end of the sections you will find an accessible ramp but not access at the small, side entrances. Furthermore, entrance into each section of the market is through glass doors, which are not automatic.
Parallel to the Old Slave Market is the Rainbow Market, a small indoor mall of a few shops. Wheelchair access is located on the backside and includes a steep non ADA ramp. The shops were not impressive. Furthermore, across the street from the beginning of the Old Slave Mart on Meeting Street are The Shops at Charleston Place. Wheelchair access to these shop is possible through the hotel lobby. An accessible restroom is available in the lobby as well. A block from Meeting Street is King Street where you can find about a dozen blocks of antique and boutique shopping.
The French Quarter (view map) is an area of downtown Charleston with an array of art galleries and restaurants. Some of the major streets of Charleston create its border: Meeting, Market and Broad Street. The other side is the Copper River with Waterfront Park. The streets mentioned above are particularly concentrated with galleries and eateries. However, East Bay Street is also a main street in the area that popular for visitors and includes Rainbow Row.
Outside of Historic Charleston is Tanger Outlets in North Charleston.
It may be no surprise that Charleston has a number of spa, salons and wellness centers. Some of the most popular places is the Spa at Charleston Place as well as Stella Nova and Tease located on King Street. Also located on King Street is an alternative medicine, massage and wellness center called Seeking Indigo unlike anything else in Charleston. When you first arrive at the address it may seem like all the other boutique stores in the area but on the back right wall is a large carved wood door that leads to a space three times as large as the storefront. The spa menu at Seeking Indigo contains treatments found around the world that heal and strengthen the inner and outer cells of the body. A number of different detox and Ayurvedic treatments exists along with massage therapies like Reiki, Qi Gong and Shiatsu to name a few. Facials, tarot readings and hatha yoga are also some of the services offered at this unique Charleston wellness center.
Festivals & Events
Women’s Tennis Association Tour’s Family Circle Cup occurs annually in the spring on Daniel Island. It is the largest women’s only tennis tournament in the world.
The Charleston Marathon every January is an exciting all weekend event during this winter month.
Located in Marion Square, Charleston’s Farmers Market is open every Saturday, from April 3 to Dec. 19, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market sells fresh produce and specialty items, including homemade candles, cloths and jewelry. Local vendors serve breakfast and lunch.
Second Sunday of each month from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., King Street will be closed to vehicle traffic to celebrate Southern Sunday afternoons by welcoming everyone to stroll, shop, dine and enjoy Charleston at its finest. Both restaurants and shops spill out of their doors and setup booths in the streets. This is known as 2nd Sunday on King.
Both the Lowcountry Oyster Festival and Taste of Charleston take place at the Boone Hall Plantation on Mount Pleasant. Restaurant Week is another event in which participating Charleston restaurants offer pre-fixed, 3 course menus for one set price.
The Spoleto Festival USA happens every spring in Charleston for 17 days and nights. Well-known and rising opera, dance, theater, classical music, and jazz performers take the stage. The Piccolo Spoleto Festival is a smaller version of the Spoleto Festival, lasting 2 weeks and featuring local musicians.
The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is a 3-day celebration of wildlife and nature art, as well as conservation research and environmental education of over 500 artists and exhibitors that takes place in February. Christmas in Charleston happens in December where buildings all over deck their halls with holiday décor and Christmas inspired events occur.
The North Charleston Arts Festival showcases national, regional and local artists and performs in the areas of dance, music, theater, visual arts, crafts, photography, media arts and literature.
Local cuisine in Charleston, SC is known as lowcountry cooking; shrimp and grits being the most famous dish but She Crab Soup is also favorite in these parts. Be prepared for a lot of fried food items, even vegetables like tomatoes and okra. Historic Charleston is filled with restaurants and other eateries and around half are wheelchair accessible due to stairs or some other kind of barrier. Furthermore, out of the places that are wheelchair accessible only some also have a handicapped restroom so if this is needed asked if it’s accessible before you sit down or even check yourself.
Below is a complied list of restaurants in the Historic Charleston Area that were visited by wheelchair travelers and/or recognized by the city as being wheelchair accessible. However, this does not mean that the entire restaurant is accessible it may only be partially. Furthermore, it was uncommon to find a lowered bar section anywhere but often there were tables nearby.
82 Queen is a fine example of lowcountry cuisine. However, only the patio is wheelchair accessible and for this reason and its extreme popularity, reservations are recommended.
Bananas & Caviar is a gourmet and specialty food grocery store on George Street which is off King Street. Great to-go food and in-store dining menu items are available for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
Blossoms on East Bay Street is a fine dining restaurant with a flair for lowcounty dishes and a nice outdoor patio. No lowered section at the bar but there is a handicapped restroom.
Boone’s Restaurant & Bar on King Street has a wheelchair access only on the group floor and though there is a handicapped restroom, there is no lowered section at the bar.
Circa 1886 is restaurant is wheelchair accessible. The patio, entrance, main dining room, bar (there is a lowered table), and bathrooms are all accessible. The private room is not wheelchair accessible as it is located on the second floor of the restaurant and there is no elevator.
Hotels are good places to find accessible restaurants. The most famous hotel is Charleston Place with a few different dining options: The Charleston Grill (fine dining for dinner), the Palmentto (breakfast, brunch and lunch) which has indoor and patio seating and the Thoroughbred Club (lounge/bar). At both the fining dining restaurant and bar live music is performed every night. The only restroom in the lobby is usually pretty busy as there is one handicapped stall and one regular stall so be prepare. The Mills House has the Barbados Room which serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. An accessible entrance is at the side door on the right and then a lift takes you down to the dining room floor and on the way you pass perhaps the biggest handicapped restroom in Charleston. The Market Pavilion Hotel is on the corner of East Bay and Meeting Street where you can find a fine dining restaurant as well as a rooftop bar and café. At first glance there are no accessible tables on the rooftop but if you ask the hotel staff, a table can be brought up from the restaurant to the patio. That’s some good service! An elevator gets wheelchairs guests to the rooftop patio and an accessible restroom is available inside.
Leaf Café and Bar is all located on ground level, including the outdoor patio, handicapped restroom and bar. The bar, however, does not have a lowered section.
Nick’s Bar-B-Q is an affordable restaurant on King Street mostly known for their ribs but all BBQ items are well liked. The entrance is at sidewalk level. You order inside at the counter and then your food is brought to a table you select. The restroom is not wheelchair accessible.
STARS Rooftop and Grill Room on King Street is steakhouse. The restaurant has an elevator that goes to each floor (including the 3rd floor rooftop) and both of the bathrooms on the 1st & 2nd Floor are wheelchair accessible. The bar does not have any lower sections but there are lots of great tables.
Virginia’s on King is partially wheelchair accessible. The front door and bathroom allows access with no steps. The bar is all one height and does not feature any lowered areas. The upstairs private space is not wheelchair accessible because there is no elevator.
Public Toilets and Automatic Doors
Automatic doors were exceptionally rare to almost anywhere. Besides the airport, I only recall seeing one other such door. The handicapped restrooms in Charleston are smaller than the ADA standards outlined on the US ADA government website. Out of the entire weeks stay, I only saw one bathroom that was big enough for a power wheelchair which was at The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. A lift takes you down to the dining and bar floor and at the base of the lift is a private wheelchair accessible bathroom. My manual wheelchair is about a 24” frame and I have been known to fit in very small spaces, even non accessible restroom on occasion. However, despite my small frame I was not able to fit in one stall labeled as handicapped at the Gibbes Art Museum, which greatly surprised me. Overall it seemed that public handicapped bathrooms were designed for someone who can walk a little or at least stand up in mind—leaving the wheelchair outside the stall. In a number of the handicapped restrooms two grab bars were not seen. More commonly one would be located on the back wall of the toilet and occasionally there would be a handicapped restroom with no grab bars. Basically, the word “handicapped accessible restroom” should be loosely. Always personally check access yourself and don’t assume that an able-body person knows if your chair will fit.
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