When bound to a wheelchair, outdoor recreation is often dismissed as impossible or inconvenient. That may be true in many cases, but along the Nature Coast of Florida there are a number of beautiful beaches that are ADA accessible.
Several of these beaches have sidewalks stretching out into the sand. Though they don’t go down into the water, they are certainly close enough to the water to enjoy the Gulf breeze. Setting up a beach chair and umbrella to lounge in the sun is probably not going to work. While there are wheelchairs available that are capable of traversing sand, such equipment is not practical for most disabled persons. However, there is an alternative that will allow sun-worshippers to get their fill.
Picnic shelters are available at the likes of Pine Island Park in Weeki Wachee, Green Key Beach in New Port Richey In these shelters there are picnic tables on which the end portion of the bench is cut away, making it possible for the wheelchair-bound person to roll up to the table. These shelters allow the disabled person to read, enjoy a picnic lunch, or even nap in the fresh air. The cement slab floor of the shelter helps make maneuvering easier in the shelter.
One sidewalk at Pine Island Park extends out to a wooden deck that, during high tide, hovers over the edge of the water. This affords great photo opportunities of some stunning sunsets. Often, dolphins can be seen frolicking by, going to or from the bay, coming as near as thirty feet from the shore. The park does close at sundown, so visitors must arrive in plenty of time prior to be allowed to enter and park.
Green Key Beach also has accessible picnic shelters. Here the beach area is smaller, but the swimming portion is cordoned off. Dolphins can be seen in the area just beyond the ropes. Kids can play at the playground just off the beach.
Accessible restrooms are available at both beaches. Some are more accessible than others, though, and floors in the restrooms are often wet, so caution is advised.
The wheelchair-bound person no longer needs to be confined indoors. There are too many splendid local beaches that offer accessibility for them.