By Charlotte Flach
With a growing number of accessible parks, trails and recreational activities, as well as sensory-friendly events and attractions, Michigan is a top destination for travellers with additional needs.
Innovation in Detroit
For a unique celebration of Detroit’s heritage, The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation should be any client's first stop. Attractions include the very same bus Rosa Parks rode on and JFK’s limousine. The museum has considered accessibility in a number of ways, from wheelchair ramps, providing sign language interpreters, and motorised scooters onsite. Tactile tours and facilities for those with restricted vision or hearing issues, means that all guests will be able to enjoy the many wonderful exhibits on offer.
Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second largest city, has a vibrant craft brewing culture and a City Ale Trail that takes in more than 80 breweries. The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park houses Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, five indoor themed gardens, plus an outdoor Japanese Garden and Farm Garden. There’s a fully wheelchair accessible tram tour, along with plenty of opportunity for sensory and tactile interactions. Fresh farm to table cuisine is available in the city’s restaurants and cafes,including The Cottage Bar which opened in 1927.
The great outdoors
With its 11,000 inland lakes and 3,000 miles of freshwater lakes, Michigan is the state of choice for lovers of the great outdoors. Its 103 state parks are all fully accessible, with track chairs being introduced gradually across the parks, providing off-road electric chairs that can handle trails, snow sand and even up to eight inches of water. They are free to use, and are currently available in Belle Isle Park, the Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Holland State Park and Grand Haven State Park.
Victorian charm has been preserved on Mackinac Island, where chain hotels and cars are banned. Considered the jewel of the Great Lakes, all the authenticity of the era can be experienced on horse drawn carriage rides that are fully accessible and on catered tours, with electric scooter and manual wheelchair hire also available. Many of the historic buildings have undergone refurbishment to allow accessibility, including Fort Mackinac, a revolutionary war era fort.
‘Hitsville USA’, a house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, is the centre of the musical phenomenon that is Motown. Many musical legends including Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Jackson 5 have passed through its doors. The recording facilities and vast array of artefacts it houses, have been preserved in what is now the Motown Museum. The new $50 million complex which is currently being created will be fully accessible, with adapted audio visual tours, specialist tour facilities and personalised services.
Nine miles of beautiful coastline has been developed into a haven for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users alike. Home to lush parks, sprawling plazas, and with waterfront restaurants and shops, it also encompasses the East and West Riverfront areas. The stretch is dotted with popular attractions including the historic Eastern Market, The Centennial Park and Milliken State Park Lighthouse.