In my last post, I talked about the difficulty that a lot of disabled people, myself included, experience when dating. One of the things I did not mention is that it can sometimes be difficult to find accessible places that are fun to go to and fun to have a date at. Since it’s getting warmer out (at least in the northern hemisphere) I figured I would compile a list of fun activities that are usually* accessible to those with mobility issues. Even if you don’t go on an official date, the following list is full of fun places to go with a lover or with a friend!
* I say usually here because nothing is guaranteed. It’s always best to call the organizers ahead of time and make sure that things are accessible and learn what accommodations the venue is willing to make.
Museums have always been my number one choice of a first date spot. Call me a nerd, but museums can be really interesting if they showcase something you like and they’re one of the few places in America that are 100% guaranteed to be at least mostly wheelchair accessible. This is because they are public buildings funded by the government, so their accessibility standards are much higher than, say, those of a public business. Museums often cater to elderly patrons, so having rentable or borrow-able wheelchairs or other mobility aids is usually a hidden feature of museums. They also can cater to other disabilities such as deafness or blindness (meaning some places have written information and brochures in alternate formats).
2. Movie Date
This is my favorite type of date, but that’s just because I really like movies. I don’t think this is the best choice for a first date because it prevents people from communicating much, but theaters are required to have accessible seating with at least one spot for a caregiver, friend, or date, so this is definitely an option if maybe you know your date already.
3. Zoo or Aquarium
Public zoos and aquariums are, like public parks and museums, held to a higher standard of accessibility because they are public services at least partially funded by the government. Zoos and aquariums can be really fun because the accessible path is usually the past most traveled by everyone else, so you and your date will not be separated from everyone else for very long, if at all. I know this helps me feel more comfortable because if the business doesn’t see me as an afterthought, I feel more confident and able to focus on who I’m with.
This can be hit or miss depending on the physical activity level of everyone involved. I love cooking with my boyfriend because I’m usually the one looking at the instructions and recipes while he does all the physical stuff. It takes a lot of communication to do it this way but working together to make a delicious meal can be a really fun activity.
5. Sporting Event
If you are a sports fan, or if your date is, this can be a wonderful activity to share! Disabled seating often allows for at least one companion spot next to a wheelchair spot, and the thing I like about going to sports games is that because everyone is sitting down, I am at the same level as everyone in my wheelchair. I don’t feel like people immediately notice my disability, which is nice. Accessible seating can be less than ideal in some stadiums, though, so you should definitely call ahead when you order tickets.
6. Botanical Garden
Again, if your city has a botanical garden that is run by the government in any way, shape, or form, the standards of accessibility are usually higher. One of my most memorable dates with my boyfriend was going to the Butterfly House in St. Louis. We walked around that humid little hot box for like an hour trying to find all the different butterflies and all the different types of flowers they had growing.
You can go to your city’s website or join a volunteering meetup group to find what is needed in your area. Why not spend time on a date giving back to the community? In my experience, this has been a good way for me to get to know my date very well. If they’re willing to volunteer with me, I know that they care about the community, which is a trait that is important to me in a potential partner.
This could be a really exciting date night activity! My advice would be to plan out your night strategically beforehand. Have a budget in mind of what you can afford to lose and stick to it so that your fun date night doesn’t turn into a bad life choice. Work together at a video poker machine or have fun teaching your date a strategy that you use to win a certain type of game! If you’re not in a gaming mood, even just people-watching at a casino can be an absolute blast.
9. Class or Lecture
If you live near a university, museum, or library, be sure to check their websites to see if there is an interesting lecture or class you might want to go to with a date. If the two of you share a hobby or passion, this can be a great opportunity to learn something and spend time with the person you’re trying to get to know. Plus, it can be a fun way to see if you both are compatible because if one person’s favorite hobby is something that the other person can’t stand, you would probably want to know that early on in the relationship.
10. Picnic at a Park
This can be a wonderfully cheap and cute date and idea that I would recommend, with one major caveat. If you or the person you are taking on a date is mobility impaired, be sure to scout out a picnic table ahead of time. One good thing about finding a table is that you won’t have to worry too much about bugs! Other than that, you and your date will also want to make sure ahead of time that your picnic doesn’t land on a day with cold weather or rain (or even too much heat).
So, before you automatically say no to this suggestion, please note that there is tons of equipment that help people with disabilities bowl more easily and without much assistance. And bowling can be a ton of fun! It can be very valuable to see how competitive your date is and to see how they play games like bowling in which they have to compete with you. And since most bowling alleys have concession stands and other activities, you don’t have to stick to one activity if it isn’t as fun.
12. Street fair, Convention, or Festival
If you have a shared hobby, or even if one of you has a hobby that they’re very passionate about, a fair, convention, or festival that takes place in your city might be a great place to have a date! On the date, you guys can geek out about about your shared hobby or one of you can educate the other how about what they like.