Unfortunately when you’re editing a book, some tough decisions have to be made; and that usually involves cutting out a chunk of material. That doesn’t mean that those sights, properties and restaurants that ended up on the cutting room floor weren’t great places to visit in their own right; it’s just that they didn’t make the final cut for a variety of reasons, having nothing really to do with their road trip worthiness.
They could have been cut because I altered the route and didn’t pass close enough to include them, or because I already had my fill of restaurants or accommodations in a particular destination. After all, my goal was to present a balanced book, with lots of selections across the U.S.
But I just couldn’t let my cuts go without some mention. They’re just too good to pass by, so I saved this tiny little piece of cyberspace just for them. Check back often, as from time to time I may add something else that I think is uber road trip worthy.
Author, 22 Accessible Road Trips; Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers
Sunset Crater Volcano
Get a good view of the 1,000 foot volcanic cone from the Lava Flow Trail. The first-quarter-mile of this one-mile loop is wheelchair-accessible, and offers a unique look at the lava flows and cinder fields at the base of the volcano. This section of the trail is paved, with interpretive signs along the way and access out to the overlook for a good view of the cinder cone. It’s a great stop for a picnic too, as accessible tables located near the trailhead.
Mormon Lake Lodge
Mormon Lake, Arizona
Spend the night at this off-the-beaten-path lodge, which features four accessible cabins, including one with a roll-in shower. There’s also level access out to the back pasture, where you’ll find the resident buffalo – Romeo and Juliet – and their family. Additionally, there’s a small Zane Grey Museum on the property, as well as an open-pit steakhouse that serves up some tasty beef, chicken and fish entrees, with all the trimmings. A fun place to soak up a little cowboy culture and get away from it all!
Somethin’ Else Cafe
New Orleans, Louisiana
Start out your day with a hearty breakfast at this French Quarter mainstay. Billed as the place where the locals eat, it offers a creative menu filled with Cajun inspired comfort food – not to be confused with Cajun tourist food. The Crab Cake NOLA, which features a crab cake topped with corn machoux and a poached egg, is to die for. And the Trinity Omelette, stuffed with shrimp, crabmeat, cheese and Cajun seasonings, comes in a close second. Although there’s one step up to the restaurant and the tables are pretty tight, there’s level access to the courtyard seating area, where there’s plenty of room to roll around.
Miracle Hot Springs
This low key family-friendly hot springs features overnight accommodations in camping domes, and includes one wheelchair-accessible unit. There’s a level paved pathway to the front door, with good pathway access inside. It’s furnished with a 24-inch high queen-sized bed and includes a heater and a fan. And although the domes lack bathrooms, an accessible public bathroom is just a short roll away. The private VIP tubs, which can be rented by the hour, may work for some slow walkers. They feature changing areas and outdoor pools that have two steps and sturdy handrails. And don’t forget to visit the resident alligators before you leave. They’re housed in their own private pool enclosure, down a short gravel path from the domes.
Lee’s Chicken Restaurant
This Lincoln legend has been serving up fried chicken and all the fixings since 1945. The atmosphere is very casual, and no matter when you go, you’ll find the place filled with locals. To add to the quaint ambiance, there’s even a piano player that plays requests. There’s ramp access to the entrance, but no accessible restrooms inside. Still it’s a fun place. Just take exit 397, drive two miles and look for the big chicken.
Barretta Gardens Inn
Spend the night in this quiet country inn located in California’s Gold Country. Although there are steps up to the historic farmhouse, the nearby Merlot Room features level access from a very spacious patio. The nicely done bathroom has a roll-in shower with a hand-held showerhead, grab bars and a fold-down shower bench. A full breakfast is served daily, and the innkeeper is happy to deliver it to your room if you can’t negotiate the steps to the farmhouse. A great romantic getaway spot!
Bonneville Salt Flats
Save some time for this slight detour when traveling along Interstate 80 in Utah. The Bonneville Salt Flats were formed when Lake Bonneville evaporated, and today there’s a hard crusty layer of salt over the sand. Just take the exit east of Wendover, then follow the signs. Drive about three miles all the way to the end of the road, where you’ll find a paved parking area. The spaces are not striped, so there are no accessible ones; but it’s pretty quiet out there and there’s usually plenty of room. Then just wheel out on the salt flats and enjoy. As an added bonus, in the summer and fall you may also see drivers testing out their newest and fastest engines there.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Billed as the World’s First Penitentiary, this downtown Philadelphia lock-up was built in 1830. Designed to isolate inmates so they could reflect on their crimes, this prison can only be described as dank, dark and depressing. That said, if you’ve got a interest in the evolution of the penal system and can stomach a few sobering stories, it’s a fascinating place to visit. Although there are a few steps at the main entrance, the guard can open the gate for level access to the prison yard. Inside the fortress-like walls, there is ramped access to the cell blocks, with level access to most cells. There are a few areas that have a step, but you can still get a good look from the outside. Additionally, there is one area that is only accessible by a flight of stairs. An excellent audio tour is included in the admission price, which features former inmates describing their prison experiences. All in all it’s a fairly accessible tour; however, restroom facilities are somewhat limited. On the plus side, they do have an accessible porta potty.
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Although this Truth or Consequences restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, if you venture in you’ll be rewarded with some great Mexican cuisine and very friendly service. Under new ownership in 2012, this hole-in-the-wall is trying to live down the bad reputation created by the former owner, and it now displays artwork by the locals. There is level access to the front door, ramp access up to the dining room, and plenty of room to wheel around. The enchiladas are muy bueno and the flan is killer. The place to go for Mexican food in Truth or Consequences.
Persephone’s Farm Retreat
For a taste of farm life, spend a night or two with Victoria Nicholson on her 10.5-acre property just outside Sevierville. The accessible Begonia Cabin features wide doorways and good pathway access and is furnished with a recliner, kitchen table, refrigerator, microwave and a 26-inch high king-sized bed. The bathroom features a tub/shower combination with grab bars and a hand-held showerhead, grab bars on the right and back toilet walls (as seated), a roll-under sink and a portable shower chair. A full farm breakfast – which can be delivered to the cabin – is served up daily. And save some time to visit Figgy the Piggy and Mr. Tippy the goat, while you’re there.
How can you pass up the chance to see 10 Cadillacs planted nose first into the ground? Located just outside of Amarillo, this iconic road trip stop is worth the little detour off the Interstate. The cars are routinely painted with graffiti and even dressed up on some holidays. There’s just a wide spot on the road to park, but there’s plenty of room. The entrance gate has a 24-inch clearance, but after that there is a six-foot wide hard-packed dirt path out to the cars. And if you can’t manage the walk, you can still a good view from the road.
Priest Station Cafe
A great place to stop for lunch on your way to Yosemite. Enjoy a burger on the deck and take in the view. Overlooking New Priest Grade, this local favorite is known for their hamburgers, but also they serve up a mean turkey burger and a variety of other sandwiches. And their homemade potato chips are delish! Access is good in this historic eatery, with accessible parking, a large family restroom and barrier-free access to the entrance. They also serve a yummy weekend brunch.
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