Accessible Ways to Play in Minneapolis
Minneapolis has a reputation for welcoming everyone, including visitors in wheelchairs and those with other mobility or sensory needs. Many parks, theaters, shopping malls, restaurants and hotels roll out the red carpet for those who require accessibility services. Getting around is manageable, too, with ramps on Metro Transit buses, step-free boarding on light-rail trains, and Metro Mobility buses providing exclusive transportation for people with disabilities. While the below locations have been self-designated as being accessible to all, it’s best to call ahead with individual needs and requests.
Parks and Recreation
All of the downtown parks overseen by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board offer accessible pathways and other features. That includes Mill Ruins Park along the Mississippi River, where ramps allow visitors to explore the remnants of the city’s 19th-century flour industry. The adjacent Stone Arch Bridge provides breathtaking panoramas of the river with the Minneapolis skyline forming the backdrop. From the downtown riverfront, follow a portion of the paved 51-mile Grand Rounds Scenic Byway Trail, connecting the Mississippi River with the Chain of Lakes and Minnehaha Falls. At the falls, wheelchair users get a birds’-eye view of the 53-foot cascade from a pedestrian bridge and connected pathways. Want to take a refreshing dip? Get your feet wet at the zero-depth-entry Webber Natural Swimming Pool, which uses a natural filtration system instead of chlorine for safe, chemical-free splashing.
There’s plenty to cheer about at Twins and Vikings games, and you’ll be an even bigger fan after visiting the state-of-the-art accessible stadiums they play in. Home of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, Target Field provides a seamless experience from pre-game to the bottom of the 9th, with accessible parking and drop-off areas, wheelchair and companion seating on all levels, and an abundance of elevators. Those who are hard of hearing or have vision impairment can get free assistive listening devices that transmit ballpark audio from Guest Services. U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Vikings play, is equally navigable, featuring power-assisted doors, complimentary wheelchair escorts at every entry point and ADA-accessible stadium tours. During the game, announcements are presented with closed captioning next to the video boards, and Guest Services offers large-print stadium maps and assistive listening devices.
Looking to explore beyond Minneapolis? The city’s own Wilderness Inquiry matches adventure-seekers with knowledgeable guides who can provide adaptive gear for kayaking and other outdoor adventures while allowing you to stay as independent as you’d like. Excursions take place on the Mississippi River and in the state’s scenic northern regions at Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Arts and Culture
Wide paved and hard-packed gravel paths lead to eye-popping artwork at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Encounter more than 40 sculptures—including the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry—at the recently renovated greenspace adjacent to the world-class Walker Art Center. The Walker provides braille materials and American Sign Language interpretation with two weeks’ advance notice. They also host Sensory Friendly Sunday the 2nd Sunday of each month from 8 to 11am, allowing people with sensory processing differences to explore the museum in a calm environment.
More than 90,000 works spanning 5,000 years of history adorn the walls at the free Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), with verbal description, ASL interpretation and assistive listening devices on hand. A few blocks from Mia, accessible parking spaces and elevators allow visitors to easily navigate the American Swedish Institute’s engaging exhibits.
For an entertaining night on the town (or a matinee), check out the Guthrie Theater. With a designated Accessibility Manager on staff, the theater’s world-class plays are matched with unparalleled access for visitors. Wheelchair seating and seats with removable arm rests are located in all three theater spaces, and many performances accommodate those who are deaf, blind or have sensitivity to loud noises and visual stimuli. Similar accommodations are made at Orchestra Hall, the stunning home of the Minnesota Orchestra, which offers courtesy wheelchairs and accessible seating and restrooms.
Minnesota’s famous “megamall” can be intimidating, but the Mall of America was designed with an all-access approach. Wheelchair and electronic cart rentals allow you to cruise among the 520-plus shops. All of the mall’s doorways, hallways and public spaces are ADA compliant, and many of the rides at Nickelodeon Universe theme park were built to accommodate thrill-seekers of all shapes and sizes. The mall and theme park have also been the first places to be recognized as Certified Autism Centers in the state. People with autism and their families can check out a Sensory Guide on the mall’s website, ranking all of the Nickelodeon Universe rides on a scale of low to high sensory stimulation in the categories of touch, taste, sound, smell and sight.
Downtown, stroll or roll along Nicollet, which was recently remodeled to be more pedestrian friendly. You’ll want to get a pic with the famous Mary Tyler Moore statue at Nicollet and 7th Street. Just west of downtown, the trendy North Loop boasts riverfront brick warehouses converted into loft apartments, restaurants and chic shops such as Martin Patrick3 (for sophisticated men’s suits and accessories). New pedestrian improvements include Accessible Pedestrian Signals and ADA-compliant curb ramps.
Travel around the world in one visit to Midtown Global Market, home to more than 45 businesses spanning nearly two dozen cultures. Wide passageways allow easy accessibility for people in wheelchairs. Between bites from international food vendors, shop for Scandinavian textiles at Cafe Finspång and gorgeously crafted Himalayan singing bowls at Tibet Arts and Gifts.
Places to Stay
Downtown offers a wealth of places to rest your head after a busy day of exploring the city. Memorable overnights await at The Marquette Hotel, featuring roll-in showers in addition to creature comforts such as feather pillows, scent machines and a beauty salon. Connected to the Minneapolis Convention Center via skyway, the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis is a smart choice for convention guests as well as downtown explorers. Scandinavian-inspired décor and local art add character to the 645 rooms and suites.
It’s easy to chill at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel thanks to five-head massaging showers, fully-stocked minibars and the on-site Embury Spa. The Courtyard Minneapolis Downtown provides convenient access to the University of Minnesota campus, and the accessible outdoor courtyard makes a great space to relax or mingle. For serious shoppers, the Radisson Blu Mall of America allows you to roll out of bed and hit the megamall without leaving the building. Spacious restrooms with grab bars and an indoor pool with an access lift mean everyone can join in the fun.
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