Wheelchair accessible beaches in California
The famous Golden State is graced with hundreds of miles beautiful coastal beaches. Many of them offer facilities adapted for people living with physical disabilities so that everyone can enjoy a beach vacation in California and spend time actively. Here are 10 of the best wheelchair accessible beaches in California that are especially worth considering on your next trip!
Best wheelchair accessible beaches in Southern California
Leo Carillo State Beach
Leo Carillo State Beach is comprised of a beautiful 1.5 miles of sand in California, 28 miles to the northwest of the town of Santa Monica along the state’s Pacific Coast Highway. The beach boasts coastal caves, tide pools, and reefs to enchant visitors looking to explore. Campgrounds here are shaded by giant sycamore trees.
At the moment, accessibility at this park is limited, since the Woolsey Fire destroyed much of the wheelchair accessible infrastructure. However, visitors can bring their own beach wheelchairs to enjoy the long stretch of sand.
Mission Beach in San Diego is often mentioned as one of the best accessible beaches in California with good reason. Beloved for its two-mile-long resort ambience, the peninsula features a boardwalk that runs the length of the whole beach along the bayside as well as the ocean.
At least one of the boardwalks here is paved and 2.3 miles long, making it ideal for wheelchairs. San Diego provides a choice of free use power beach wheelchairs or manual ones at this and eight other popular area beaches.
Oceanside City Beach and Pier
The San Diego area is known for featuring the most wheelchair accessible beaches in California. One of the best is the Oceanside City Beach and Pier. The beach and town are renowned for international surfing competitions, outrigger races, and endurance events, so there is almost always something going on here.
Historical Oceanside Pier goes out an impressive 1,942 feet, making it among the longest stretching wooden piers along the West Coast of America. From here, visitors will enjoy watching surfers on the waves, applauding fishermen hauling in a catch, and even dining at the famed Ruby’s Diner found on the pier’s end. This site is one of the few California beaches that provide free power beach and manual wheelchairs at no charge to those with limited mobility.
San Clemente City Beach
San Clemente City Beach offers a two-mile narrow expanse of sand along the bottom of imposing sea cliffs. At the end of the Avenida del Mar is the Clemente Municipal Pier that extends from the middle of the beach. You can enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants found on Avenida Victoria or at the pier’s base.
Unfortunately for those using a wheelchair, a great part of this beach requires stairs to access it. Some good news is that you can easily get on the pier to enjoy the amazing view and breathe in fresh ocean air.
Crystal Cove State Beach
Crystal Cove State Beach is unique for being among the biggest and last existing examples of natural seashore and wide open space in Orange County. The park with 3.2 miles of coastline and 2,400 acres backcountry wilderness is one of the best wheelchair accessible beaches in California. It boasts a nationally registered Historic District, with 46 preserved vintage coastal cottages that were constructed to be a seaside colony back in the 1930’s and 1940’s. They lie at the Los Trancos Creek mouth.
The state park offers beach wheelchairs to visitors. You can go to the entrance kiosk of the Moro Beach and request that the staff unlocks their beach chair that they store conveniently adjacent to the beach path. There are also a few more beach wheelchairs kept near the Beachcomber Restaurant in the historic district.
Related post: Quiet beaches in Southern California
Accessible beaches in Northern California
Beach Front Park Crescent City
Crescent Beach’s Beachfront Park is part of an impressively large accessible family-friendly park on the ocean. Visitors here will be thrilled by the Kidtown playground, acres of lawns, swimming pool, and picnic tables. The park is only a little walk from the beach itself.
The location is very unique because there is also a marine mammal rescue center as well as the nearby Crescent Lighthouse which occupies a little island that is 200 yards off of the shore. You can actually get out to this first lighthouse built in California when the tide is low, taking a walk over a rocky beach and over the causeway.
Unfortunately reaching the lighthouse is not wheelchair accessible. Those individuals who would like to use a beach wheelchair on the sand can get one at the Redwood National and State Parks info center found at Crescent City’s Information Center on Second Street.
Mac Kerricher State Park
The Mac Kerricher State Park is unique for being the only one within the state park system that used to be included in the Mendocino Indian Reservation. The beach and park occupy a great amount of the land to the west of Cleone as well as a span of beach found in between Ten Mile River and Fort Bragg. On this beach you might see a seal mother with her pups.
A few different accessible facilities exist at Mac Kerricher State Park, including two boardwalks at Laguna Point and also Haul Road making it one of the most popular accessible beaches in California. You can reserve the beach wheelchair here by calling the number (707) 937-5721 a few days in advance of arriving.
Central California beaches with wheelchair access
Carmel River State Beach
Carmel Bay offers a one mile in length beach that includes a bird sanctuary on the lagoon. This enchanting facility lies where the Carmel River meets the sea. Here you can take in the song of birds and waterfowl that abound in great variety.
The beach in this park is called Monastery Beach, and it also goes by the name of San Jose Creek Beach. You should be aware that walking, wading and swimming around the ocean on this beach are highly dangerous. The park lies a mile to the south of Ocean Avenue.
While wheelchairs can reach as far as the edge of the parking lot here (about 400 feet from the edge of the water), there are not any wheelchairs offered at this beach so you need to bring your own.
Half Moon Bay State Beach
There are several postcard-perfect California beaches, but we especially like the Half Moon Bay Beach that boasts four miles of golden sand. This location offers fishing, sunbathing, and picnicking. There is also a campground if you want to extend your stay.
A paved, wheelchair-friendly walk path runs close to the beach and the state beach provides use of the all-terrain beach wheelchair for free. You can check it out at the entrance station to the Francis State Beach along Kelly Avenue. Using these chairs, you can gain access to the beach from a few different points on the coast of Half Moon Bay.
Pismo State Beach
Pismo State Beach is found on the California Central Coast. The climate here is optimal all throughout the year allowing for visitors to participate in outdoor activities. Walking trails run along the sand dune coastal habitats as well as through the freshwater Oceano Lagoon. An unusual attraction at this beach is the presence of Western Monarch Butterflies from November through February in the Monarch Butterfly Grove.
Sand wheelchairs can be obtained at any of the entrance stations around the park. There is also a boardwalk that is accessible to wheelchairs. It includes viewing platforms starting at Grand Avenue and running north to the dunes.
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