It’s important for people with disabilities to feel confident that their needs can be met whilst on holiday or a day out. If you’re looking for accessible day-out options on the South Coast, here are four great examples of places to visit which provide enjoyable, accessible experiences for everyone.
Boscombe’s Blue Flag beach has a gentle shelving sand beach and a pier with beautiful views across Poole Bay. It’s a great summer destination that’s easily accessible by rail from central London or beyond.
Boscombe Beach is home to the UK’s first wheelchair-friendly accessible beach huts, which are capable of accommodating up to four wheelchair users at one time. The seafront huts were designed in consultation with disabled beach users and are available to hire for day trippers and holidaymakers.
The beach also has several other accessible features including a fully accessible public toilet, featuring internal shower unit, a charge point for electric mobility scooters, accessible parking bays, a Changing Places facility and a beach access wheelchair available to hire from Boscombe Beach Office on a first-come, first-served basis. Between May and September, Mobi Mats are also available to help wheelchair users access the beach.
Marwell Zoo is a great family day out in Hampshire and the 140-acre park is home to hundreds of animals, from tigers and giraffes to penguins and meerkats. It’s also a disability-friendly venue, making it ideal for a day out if you have accessibility needs.
Marwell Zoo welcomes assistance dogs and offers free entry for carers. They also have wheelchair-accessible toilet facilities and were the first UK zoo to install a Changing Places facility. Hearing loops and audio descriptive zoo guides are available and their website advises of quiet areas where visitors can take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the zoo. Marwell Zoo was the first zoo to become Makaton Friendly and supports the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme.
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is a large forested conservation area and home to the largest pinetum in the world. The 350-acre site in the Wealden countryside is the perfect day-out for those wanting to get closer to nature.
Bedgebury Pinetum offers sensory nature walks for the visually impaired, with two trails available of different lengths, both of which are suitable for wheelchair users. Designed to help people connect with the National Pinetum, and experience nature, the walks can be used in conjunction with a Sensory Walks Toolkit. Bedgebury also has level access, a viewing area for wheelchair users and a disabled toilet.
Winchester Science Centre
Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium offers visitors a journey through the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and is a fully accessible attraction that offers free entry to carers and welcomes assistance dogs.
The centre has an open plan design with level surfaces and a lift, and accessible toilets on both floors, including a Changing Places facility that has 24-hour access using a radar key. It also offers a ‘recombobulation room’ designed as a quiet space for people with autism and sensory support backpacks are available. You can also loan a wheelchair on a first-come, first-served basis or book one in advance. For deaf visitors, an induction loop is available and all the films have subtitles. Winchester Science Centre also holds special British Sign Language days.