Accessible Days Out in the UK

There are plenty of world-famous attractions across the UK. That being said, not all of them are easily accessible. Whether you want to go see some animals or visit a historical museum, we’ve done some research and put together a list of some of our favourite accessible and wheelchair friendly attractions for days out in the UK, and what you can expect when you visit them.

Cornwall – The Eden Project

File:The Eden Project, Cornwall.JPG
Source: Juliesnotebook

Close to the town of St Austell in Cornwall, the Eden Project is a breathtaking ‘global’ garden that showcases the relationship between plants and people. Its most dramatic features are the Mediterranean and rainforest biomes – the latter being the largest rainforest in captivity. There are also outdoor gardens and exhibitions.

The Eden Project is an award-winning accessible attraction. Some of the features mentioned in its accessibility guide include:

  • accessible walkways
  • accessible car parks for those in possession of a Blue Badge as well as those who have mobility issues
  • free entry for carers or personal assistants
  • assistance dogs welcome
  • accessible toilets
  • free-to-use powered wheelchairs
  • a single all-terrain mobility scooter available for booking
  • braille guidebook and text reader available

Euan’s Guide, which provides reviews by disabled people for disabled people, gives the Eden Project an aggregate score of 4.5 out of 5.

Devon – Paignton Zoo

File:Tiger in Paignton Zoo.jpg
Source: Nilfanion

Spread across 80 acres, Paignton Zoo is a natural environmental park with over 2000 animals and a number of attractions, ‘wild’ events and play areas – making it perfect for a fun family day out. The zoo is part of a worldwide network of zoos committed to caring for and breeding rare species.

The zoo’s accessibility page mentions it aims to offer the best experiences to guests, regardless of any physical or non-physical disability, with features like:

  • Wheelchair access to the majority of their exhibits, shops, and the restaurant. Path slopes are quite gentle, with gradients less than one in twelve.
  • free entry for carers or personal assistants, provided they are above the age of 12 and the person with a disability has a Blue Badge, disability living allowance letter or P.I.P. award documentation
  • fully trained assistance dogs welcome
  • disabled toilet facilities, with the zoo registered with Changing Places, the accessible toilet campaign
  • dedicated parking spaces for visitors with a Blue Badge or disabled parking permit
  • wheelchair and scooter hire

Paignton Zoo has an aggregate score of 4.5 out of 5 on Euan’s Guide.

Kent – Turner Contemporary 

File:English Magic at Turner Contemporary, Margate.JPG
Source: Poliphilo

A fabulous destination for art lovers, the Turner Contemporary is located by the Margate seafront and is less than a mile away from Margate railway station. The elegant and light-filled exhibition space is the largest in the South East outside of London, hosting plenty of fascinating programmes, events and learning opportunities. Admission to the art gallery is free.

In terms of accessibility, the Turner Contemporary:

  • is wheelchair accessible, with step-free access, ramps and a lift serving all floors
  • has wheelchairs available for use
  • has accessible toilets
  • has accessible parking bays available for people with permits
  • large print versions of all wall texts are available, along with BSL tours

Turner Contemporary has an aggregate score of 4.5 out of 5 on Euan’s Guide.

Lancashire – Sandcastle Waterpark

File:Sandcastle Waterpark, South Beach, Blackpool - - 2527484.jpg
Source: P L Chadwick

Located on Blackpool’s famous promenade, less than a mile away from Blackpool South train station, Sandcastle Waterpark is the largest indoor waterpark in the UK. It’s open throughout the year and has water roller coasters, slides, chutes, wave pools, and more – it’s a guaranteed great day for swimming enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. What’s more, it happens to be an award-winning accessible venue with a range of features for guests with physical and non-physical disabilities.

Some of the many accessibility features they provide for guests include:

  • step-free, barrier-free and level access throughout the park
  • accessible toilets
  • Changing Places wet room facility with height-adjustable changing bench and ceiling-track hoist
  • Water Ambassadors to assist disabled visitors during their visit
  • floatation aids
  • Braille signage, plus audio commentary and subtitles for key videos
  • Familiarisation visits for guests with autism, plus a fast-track queue policy
  • Quiet Hour at the beginning of each day with minimal announcements and no background music

Sandcastle Waterpark has an aggregate score of 5 out of 5 on Euan’s Guide.

Norfolk – Blickling Estate

File:Blickling Estate. nr Norwich - Flickr - gailhampshire.jpg
Source: Blicking Estate

A great choice for wheelchair accessible days out, Blickling Estate is located in Aylsham and is in the care of the National Trust. There’s a charming 4-mile, multi-use trail adapted for wheelchair users which winds its way through woodlands and farmland. Discover wildlife and historical monuments along the way. There are also plenty of other sights and things to do, including exploring the stately Jacobean mansion, visiting the formal garden that extends across 55 acres, or enjoying a bite at the cafe.

Under their facilities and access page, Blickling Estate confirms it has the following:

  • level access, ramps, and multi-use trail adapted for wheelchair users
  • accessible car parking
  • accessible toilets
  • wheelchairs and mobility scooters available for hire
  • lift access and ramps in Jacobean mansion

The estate currently holds an aggregated review score of 5 out of 5 on Euan’s Guide. 

North East – Washington Wetland Centre

File:Wader Lake and Heronry, Washington Wetland Centre (geograph 3931460).jpg
Source: Oliver Dixon

The Washington Wetland Centre is a wetland nature reserve in Washington, Tyne and Wear. It’s managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, whose goal is to protect wildlife and wetlands while connecting people with nature. There are plenty of scenic paths, woodlands and open spaces to explore, with accessible shelters built for visitors to discover an impressive array of wildlife – from Asian short-clawed otters to flocks of Chilean flamingos. It’s a great destination for those looking to get away from the city, destress and reconnect with nature.

The reserve is built on the principle of making it accessible to all. Some of their accessibility features include:

  • drop-off space outside of the visitor centre, with 6 designated spaces for free accessible car parking
  • walkers and 1 manual wheelchair available for use
  • 4 mobility scooters available for hire
  • mostly level access, with step-free entry to all hides (the Hawthorn Wood hide has a window designed for use by wheelchair users)
  • disabled toilet and accessible compost toilet
  • reserved position for wheelchair users at the pond dipping area
  • fully trained assistance dogs welcome

All WWT wetland sites have aggregate scores that are consistently above 4 out of 5 on Euan’s Guide.

North West – National Football Museum

File:National Football Museum, Manchester (Ank Kumar) 03.jpg
Source: Ank Kumar

The National Football Museum is a great option for football fans. It’s located in the striking Urbis building in the city centre of Manchester and is under a mile away from Manchester Piccadilly train station. Recognised by Arts Council England as having a Distinguished Outstanding Collection, the museum is spread across 4 floors with areas dedicated to exhibitions, activities, and displays of football artefacts and archives. Free museum tours are included in the price of admission.

In terms of venue access for wheelchair users and people with other access needs, the museum has the following:

  • automatic doors at the main entrance
  • lift to all floors, ramps to all raised areas
  • accessible toilets
  • wheelchairs available upon request
  • disabled parking spaces in nearby National Car Parks

It also has an induction loop and large print guides available upon request.

Scotland – Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

File:Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.JPG
Source: Ham

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is only a mile away from the city centre and spans 70 acres of beautiful landscape. Formed in 1670, it is the second oldest botanic garden in the UK and has a rich history and vast plant collection for visitors to explore. Garden highlights include the Rock Garden, Alpine Houses, an Arboretum, Rhododendron collection and the Scottish Native Plants collection. In addition to the collection and its various exhibitions, there are also plenty of activities including on-site health and wellbeing projects.

Some of the wheelchair-friendly features of the Royal Botanic Garden include:

  • Blue Badge parking spaces
  • step-free, level access
  • accessible toilets 
  • mostly accessible routes with ramps (those paths which are wheelchair accessible are sign-posted)
  • 6 motorised scooters and 2 wheelchairs for visitors to use
  • lift access to the restaurant, library, Herbarium and outdoor terrace

The site also offers BSL Seasonal Garden Tours, a hearing loop at welcome points and the option to bring fully trained assistance dogs.

Sussex – Drusillas Park

File:Lemurland at Drusillas Park.jpg
Source: DZP

A fun trip for the whole family, Drusillas Park is a zoo in Alfriston, East Sussex, that’s spread across 10 acres and is specially designed to create memorable experiences for young children. In addition to the zoo, events, play areas and rides, there are plenty of exciting activities to enjoy including being a zookeeper for the day, having close encounters with some of the animals, and feeding the penguins.  

Their access statement outlines:

  • disabled parking on level ground close to the entrance
  • accessible toilets and a Changing Places facility
  • completely wheelchair accessible with level surfaces and ramps
  • wheelchairs available for hire
  • accessible seating at the cafe
  • 1 carer or personal assistant may enter free of charge (as long as evidence of a DLA, PIP or an Attendance Allowance is provided)
  • ride access to give wheelchair users or people with mobility issues priority access

For visitors with other access needs, hearing induction loops are fitted across the site and signage is available in large print and contrasting colours. 

Drusillas Park also gives priority access to their SPARK sensory play area, to SEND visitors and their families. The first play session of each day is reserved for those with special educational needs and disabilities.

West Midlands – Cadbury World

File:Cadbury World sign, Bournville.JPG
Source: Rept0n1x

Cadbury World is another great option for the family. It’s located in Birmingham, under a mile away from Bournville train station, and offers a self-guided exhibition tour that tells the history of chocolate and the Cadbury business. Entertainment events are included in the cost of entry, and you have access to a variety of activities including the chocolatier experience and a chance to get hands-on by piping and tempering chocolate. It also has the world’s largest Cadbury shop.

Some of their accessibility provisions include: 

  • accessible car parking spaces
  • level access, with a permanent ramp to the main entrance
  • automatic doors
  • lift to all floors 
  • Changing Places toilet
  • members of staff have disability awareness training
  • display information set low for wheelchair users
  • hearing loops, some staff trained in BSL 
  • display information available in both audio description and BSL formats
  • free entry for one carer or personal assistant

Cadbury World has an aggregate review score of 4.9 out of 5 on Euan’s Guide. 

Yorkshire – Royal Armouries Museum

File:Horned Helmet Royal Armouries Museum leeds.JPG
Source: Geni

Under a mile away from Leeds train station, the Royal Armouries Museum contains the UK’s national collection of arms and armour. There are 5 galleries with more than 4500 objects on display – offering an immersive experience through which you can learn how arms and armour have influenced the country’s culture down the ages. 

There are live combat demonstrations that take place every day to showcase how historic arms and armour were used. Some of the highlights from the collection include a full-size all-metal elephant armour, the ‘Hornet Helmet’ presented to Henry VIII in 1514, and the Tula Garniture – weapons which belonged to the Empress of Russia, Elizabeth Petrovna, from 1752.

The museum’s accessibility features include:

  • accessible parking spaces
  • level access, step-free paths
  • wheelchairs available to borrow
  • all galleries accessible via lifts, with operation buttons at a height suitable for wheelchair users
  • accessible toilets (that being said, the toilets do not meet fully meet current disabled access standards and are 200mm shorter than recommended)
  • assistance dogs welcome

On Euan’s Guide, the Royal Armouries Museum has an aggregate review score of 4.7 out of 5.

These are just a few of the great options available throughout the UK for wheelchair-friendly and accessible days out, and accessible attractions suited to visually impaired and hearing-impaired visitors, among other needs. If you know of other destinations that deserve a mention, let us know!
For more travel information and inspiration, take a look at our tips for transporting mobility scooters by train, and our guide to great wheelchair accessible pubs across England.