The city of Gulf Shores, known for its soft, white-sand beaches, has recently made it easier for everyone, regardless of mobility, to get up close and personal with the beautiful beach scenery.

Where are some of the places wheelchair users can go to explore the fun and beauty of the Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach and Perdido Key area? There are several options.

Wheelchair accessible beach walkway in Gulf ShoresWheelchair Accessible Mat At Gulf Shores Public Beach

One of the newest additions to the west end of Gulf Place Public Beach is a bright blue ADA-compliant beach accessibility mat that stretches from the sidewalk to the beach of the main public beach area in Gulf Shores.

The 350-foot mat is about five feet wide and is held down with 12-inch stakes.

The Access Mat is designed to ease the walk over sand for wheelchair users, those with limited mobility, vacationers hauling gear, or those who prefer a smoother surface on which to access the Gulf.

Local officials said the city plans to add more access mats along the beach in the near future.

More Hard Surfaces Make Beach Area More Accessible

The addition of the mat is part of the Gulf Place Revitalization Project, which also includes the addition of a public boardwalk on the beach side of the parking areas, public green spaces, walking paths, shade structures, restrooms and upgraded landscaping.

Access to the beach is something many in the hospitality industry seek to improve for visitors and local residents alike.

Beach Wheelchair Rentals For Greater Mobility At Beaches In Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

Beach Power Rentals, recommended by a Meyer Vacation Rentals staff member who prefers the strength and stability of the company’s beach wheelchairs, is a Gulf Coast company offering custom-made beach wheelchairs for rent.

Accessible beach walkway in Gulf Shores, AlabamaOperated by a joystick placed on whichever side the user prefers, the motorized beach wheelchair can also be adjusted to foot rest length, height, width and rotation.

The beach wheelchairs are made from a welded aluminum frame and come with a padded, comfortable seat that partially reclines.

The joystick has a power level control, a horn and a low battery indicator. When the battery indicator reflects a low charge, users can plug the onboard charger into a 110v power outlet. At delivery, operation instructions are explained in detail to the renter.

A recent testimonial from the Campbell family of Franklin, Tenn., whose daughter used one of the beach wheelchairs had this to say: “The powered beach wheelchair was an incredible blessing for my daughter, Samantha, and my back when we used it at the beach last week. Normally, I would carry her out to the beach, which isn’t an easy task in the sand. The chair made it so simple, and the seating system was comfortable enough for her to sit on the entire time we were at the beach each day.”

Wheelchair Accessible Gulf Shores Attractions & Activities

Accessibility can also be found throughout the attractions and vacation rental properties in the area.

The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, located in both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, stretches about 15 miles and is part of Gulf State Park. The trail is completely paved and is suitable for wheelchairs and bikes.

Another great spot for wheelchair users to explore is the Gulf Coast Zoo, where boardwalks and smooth paths make the animal habitats accessible to everyone.

At the zoo, you'll find 600 exotic animals, including lions, tigers, bears, macaws, reptiles, lemurs, sloths and more.

New on site is a mining sluice near the Reptile Garden that is open for visitors during the weekends through Memorial Day and open daily throughout the summer.

For those who would like to enjoy getting out on the water, many dolphin cruise operators as well as deep sea charter companies offer accommodations for wheelchairs onboard. A quick call to one of the operators is in order to double-check.

The Fort Morgan Civil War Historic Site is also accessible to wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. The ground is uneven in spots, but wheelchair users frequently do navigate them. The on-site museum is fully accessible. Here, you’ll find numerous artifacts portraying the artillery, uniforms and history of the area.

Gulf State Park is also accessible for wheelchair users who want to fish, go to the beach or just relax, including the Gulf State Park Fishing & Education Pier, which is a wide pier jutting directly out into the Gulf of Mexico for 1,540 feet. The pier features indoor seating at the concession area; indoor retail for tackle and souvenirs; comfort stations and restrooms at the midpoint of the pier; and wheelchair accessible rail fishing.

Wheelchair Accessible Vacation Rentals

Meyer Vacation Rentals offers numerous options for guests who need extra ease of accessibility, including houses with their own elevatorsground floor properties, condos with elevators. Some condo properties have equipped pools with powered pool lifts, including Caribe, The Resort.