Did you know that Grand Rapids ranked the #2 Best U.S. City for People with Disabilities?
So how accessible is Grand Rapids, really?
We put our city to the test and recruited an experienced traveler for the real story --Grand Rapids native, Kyle, grandson of GR Quotarian Diane. Kyle, in his customized wheelchair, is hard to keep up with!
We started with a walking tour led by Caroline Cook of Grand Rapids Running Tours, who believes “the best way to experience GR is by moving at street level.” She guided us through the city with history, trivia and fun facts along the way. (Amelia Earhart and Winston Churchill have been guests here!) The streets and sidewalks are easy to navigate for walkers, runners and wheels, and even rain couldn’t stop us!
Next we went to the Amway Grand Plaza to check out the hotel lobby, sleeping rooms, restrooms and restaurants.
There are brand new accessible restrooms right next to the registration desk. And there are 26 accessible sleeping rooms with roll-in showers – both in the old historic section and the newly renovated side of the hotel. Doorways are 32” wide, elevators are easy to access, and the Skywalk takes you to the parking ramp and other parts of the city as well.
OK, so what about fun? We went to the hotel’s sports bar. Easy peasy and thirst quenching too, not to mention the friendly bartender. Kyle then led us down the street to another restaurant bar just to test it and he let us know that the Grand Rapids DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle) accommodates wheel chair passengers and is free! He has taken the DASH to our very popular Bridge Street with its pubs and unique eateries.
Kyle also let us know that the Grand Rapids airport is the best one he’s found. Accessible facilities and lots of very friendly staff that help you get from the plane to the taxi stand.
While the Amway Grand does not have shuttle service, there are transportation companies that provide vans with lifts for wheelchair passengers. These need to be reserved in advance.
(Just FYI, the hotel provides rooms that cater to hard of hearing guests, including strobe alarm clock, doorbell and phone. Hotel staff can accommodate just about any special needs if you just ask, such as shower chair, lowered bed, lowered sink, and lowered or raised toilet.)
During this month of traditional Thanksgiving, we are grateful that Grand Rapids welcomes every Guest!
This is part of our Convention Series, written by Cathy Kaiser. We thank her and all of Region 4 for their continued support and excitement of Convention 2020.