11 Wheelchair accessible date ideas
In honor of Valentines Day being just a few days away, I thought I would console my sadly single self by coming up with some fun date ideas that are all wheelchair accessible! There’s this strange belief that disabled people don’t or can’t date, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. But I do know that it can be hard to come up with something fun or exciting to do, especially when you have the nerves surrounding a date involved and maybe aren’t used to thinking about accessibility.
A few things to note before I get to the list: these are all ideas that would work for me (a power wheelchair user) but it’s going to depend on your person. Some people use a manual chair, others use a power chair. Some people are paralyzed, others are ambulatory. Have an honest conversation with your date about their needs if you aren’t sure! Also, remember that wheelchair accessible doesn’t equal accessible for everyone. There are lots of different disabilities, and I can only speak from my personal experiences as a wheelchair user.
Anyway, onto the list. Here are 11 wheelchair accessible date ideas I came up with!
Cook dinner with each other
Cooking dinner for someone can be super romantic, or you can cook together (if everyone is able to). Share a favorite recipe, spend the evening hanging in the kitchen, and light some candles. Not only is it intimate, but it relieves the stress of trying to find an accessible restaurant by staying in.
Wander a museum
If there’s an accessible museum nearby, this could be a great way to spend an afternoon or evening! Usually museums are quite spacious, which makes it super easy for wheelchair users. Plus, it’s inside with a smooth and flat surface. As for the date, museums offer plenty to wander around and look at together which helps keep a conversation going naturally.
Explore a botanical garden together
Not all botanical gardens have paved paths, so this is one to check on ahead of time. If it is paved and accessible, it’s a great option for a wheelchair accessible date! Botanical gardens are gorgeous and peaceful, and usually pretty affordable (sometimes free!). You could explore for an afternoon, pack a picnic and get to know each other.
Get tickets to a musical
Musicals can be pricey, but some cities have really great local theater programs with more affordable shows you can look into as well. Going to see a show is a great option because it doesn’t require any physical participation. You both are just going to sit together and watch – easy peasy. Just make sure the theater has accessible seating available, because there usually aren’t a ton of seats to begin with and can sell out quickly.
Go to a comedy club
If musicals aren’t your thing, try going to see a comedy show! Different vibe but same principle. Activities that don’t require physical participation are great for wheelchair users with limited mobility like myself. They give everyone an equal chance to enjoy the date with none of the embarrassment or awkwardness of someone having to say they can’t do something.
Work on a DIY project
If you and your date are creative types, spend a day together working on a project with each other. Grab a canvas or two and some paint and have a Bob Ross day, tie dye some shirts, build a model, work on a puzzle. There are endless options available, and if you’re needing suggestions Pinterest never disappoints. This is another great option if you or your date are feeling like staying in.
Watch the sunset
Watching the sunset together is a sweet way to spend the evening together. Making picnics accessible doesn’t have to be complicated. Look for parks with tables available. Paved areas are helpful, but not always 100% necessary. My wheelchair can go in grass if it’s not too soft or muddy, so ask your date ahead of time to see what works for them. If you’re not feeling a picnic, find a nice restaurant or hotel with a balcony and view. And as always, double check ahead of time with whatever place you choose.
Theme your date around your favorite movie or show
Make your favorite character’s meal. Cook something iconic from the city or country the movie is based in. Have a bunch of snacks you associate with whatever show or movie you’ve picked. Make it a costume party and invite friends, or decorate your home to look like a specific place or scene from the movie/show as a surprise for your date. Put together a special playlist. Make bingo sheets to play while you watch or come up with a funny drinking game. Throw a scavenger hunt. There’s a million options, just get silly and creative! And then, obviously, watch whatever it is you’ve themed the date around.
Trivia or game night at a local bar
I’m a big fan of game nights, so obviously I had to include this on the list. Bars can be sort of notorious for not being the most accessible though, so this is fully dependent on where you live and what places are nearby. Make sure there’s an entrance with a ramp and tables or bars low enough for a wheelchair and you’ll be golden. If there isn’t an accessible place near you hosting a game or trivia night – host your own!
Aquarium or zoo day
Aquariums and zoos, like museums, give you a large space to wander with plenty to look at and talk about. I recommend checking you’re going to an ethical zoo or aquarium first, as well as their accessibility, but it’s a great option if there’s a decent place local to you!
Classic dinner and movie night
It’s a cliche, sure, but I love going to see a movie. It can take the pressure off of trying to make conversation all night and you’ve automatically got something to talk about after. If you want a fun twist, see if your town has any movie in the park events or a drive in theater, pick the worst movie playing and have a laugh or pick something you’d normally never see.
Going to a nice restaurant is always special. At least, I think so. Scope out the place ahead of time, though. Even with a ramp and low tables, it might not be accessible. Many restaurants are crowded and super difficult to maneuver a wheelchair around without interrupting several strangers dinner to ask them to move. It can be a mood killer. Google images is your friend! You can usually get a good idea of how crowded a place will be just from photos people have posted in their reviews.
Coming up with a wheelchair accessible date isn’t that complicated, it’s just a matter of open communication and being aware of accessibility needs going in.
The main thing is about picking a location that is wheelchair accessible, so no steps, wide doorways and paths, accessible bathroom stalls, low tables and bars, etc. Most dates can be made accessible if you just do a little research ahead of time and pick the right location. Planning a wheelchair accessible date doesn’t need to be something you stress over.
Like I said, I came up with ideas that would work for someone in a similar situation to mine. Some wheelchair users like myself are pretty limited in the kinds of activities they can participate in but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything fun together! Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting creative, other times it’s compromising and going with the flow when plans don’t work out. There’s plenty of fun things that are based around visuals rather than physical activity. Watching a show together versus going to play mini golf or wandering a paved park versus going on a hike.
But lots of wheelchair users are physically active and love to go on adventures, so don’t automatically assume they can’t participate in something physically demanding just because of their disability. Have a conversation and trust their judgment when they say they can or can’t do something.