Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brevard Zoo

   This is a nice small zoo but most of the exhibits have some type of obstruction at eye height. It’s still possible to see the animals –you just have to peek through or over the fences.
    It’s much easier to see the birds in the aviary.
   Parking for RVs is along the edges of the service road-follow the signs. The zoo wasn’t busy when we visited so we parked in the sandy lot on the left. The sand is soft so it’s hard to roll through and the curb cut up to the sidewalk is a little high. If you have a van, park in the paved lot on the right. The ticket window is low and  zoo’s  boardwalk paths are in good condition.  Brevard Zoo
28.22559, -80.71539

McKee Botanical Garden

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   During the 1940s, the garden was a very popular tourist attraction but most of the land was sold in the 1970s. Only 18 acres are left so it doesn't take long to walk all of the paths. The paths are mostly hard packed sand and shell so rolling is fairly easy.

  Parking for RVs is to the right after you turn off of Route 1. Follow the paved path to the ticket booth. McKee Botanical Garden
27.60711, -80.38198

Donald MacDonald Park Campground

  This is a county park with a small campground. None of the sites are handicapped accessible. The bathroom (which we didn’t check out) is supposed to be ADA compliant but there aren’t any paved paths to it. The tables are concrete with a concrete base raised a bit above the ground surface. Using them would be difficult. The ground is pretty soft sand so rolling around is hard.

  Most of the sites are small but there are a few large enough for big class As.  Campground
27.82488, -80.50468

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge

  Refuge houses were built along the east coast of Florida in the late 1800s to shelter shipwreck victims until they could continue their journey. The shelters were important because there were no roads and few towns.

The house is handicapped accessible but there is little parking, just a few spaces long enough for cars. We managed to park sideways in the handicap spot but a larger RV will not fit. The admissions building has a set of steps but there’s also a gate and a ramp to the back door. The gate was locked. Tony had to go inside and get someone to unlock it for us.  House of Refuge
27.1996, -80.16577

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

  The campground in this park was recently renovated. Unfortunately all of the palmettos and trees were uprooted and, for now, the campground is just one large grassy expanse. They did a great job with the sites – level, large with fair amount of space between them. Most of them have graveled pads which make it a little hard to roll around.

  Two sites are officially handicapped sites but there are others, like the one in the picture above, that are handicapped sites but not officially listed as such. They have large paved pads extending to a table with long overhangs, a fire pit with tall sides and paved paths to the bathroom. They differ from the official handicapped sites which are completely paved. These ones have a graveled tent pad. Campground
26.99949, -80.10149

Sunday, January 23, 2011

North Lake Bike Trail , Palm Beach

  The bike trail starts a little north of Flagler Museum at Sunset Ave. and ends at the Sailfish Club , about 6 miles round trip. There’s also a shorter section south of the museum. The trail is on the west side of the island so the view is of the water and skyline of West Palm Beach. Most of the homeowners have high hedges and other landscaping blocking views of their properties. It's all very manicured and pretty.

The trail is smooth, mostly flat asphalt. We visited on a slightly cool Sunday afternoon and had no trouble finding parking along Royal Poinciana Way –free but limited to two hours.
26.71901, -80.04265

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Palm Beach Zoo

  We weren’t very impressed by this zoo. It’s small and poorly laid out. Many of the enclosures aren’t big enough for the animals. The newer section is fairly good for accessibility and has great landscaping and architectural  details. The older sections have broken and uneven pavement. Some railings are at eye level making it hard to view the animals.
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  The parking area isn’t very big but there’s overflow parking south across Summit Blvd.  Palm Beach Zoo
26.66622, -80.06871

Mounts Botanical Garden

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  This is a small public garden with some plants that we hadn’t seen in any of the other gardens. 2/3 of the paths are paved and accessible but the other 1/3 are graveled, mulched or grassy and most wheelchair users will need help. The parking lot isn’t very large but most RVs should be able to fit across the spaces.Botanical Garden
26.68511, -80.11393

Friday, January 21, 2011

American Orchid Society

  So many different kinds of orchids! We know absolutely nothing about orchids but we still enjoyed visiting the gardens.

 Closed but many orchids are now on display at Fairchild Gardens.
  The parking lot is large enough for RVs parked across the spaces. The gift shop, gardens and greenhouse are accessible. There are a few areas with gravel paths which are extremely difficult to push through. Watch for raised edges on the concrete pathways. Orchid Gardens
26.42807, -80.15118
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Boca Raton Museum of Art

  Finding a parking spot for a RV in Boca Raton is difficult. We circled the block several times before spotting a good place on a one way street. Most of the on street parking is free but limited to two hours. Sidewalk construction is underway so currently some of the curb cuts are hard to navigate.

This is a medium sized museum with very good personal collections, donated by wealthy Boca Ratonians. The temporary exhibits are interesting too. Handicapped access is good. A few of the exhibits were a little too high to view. Some of the galleries are carpeted – a little hard to push. Museum of Art
26.35595, -80.08591

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

   This is the summer home of the Bartletts, one of the first houses in the Fort Lauderdale. Frederick and Evelyn Bartlett were both artists and designed and decorated the house to reflect their interests.

  It is not very handicapped accessible. The parking lot is large enough for RVs but it’s surfaced with large loose gravel. The door threshold to the ticket building has a high lip. The path from the ticket building to the staging area, where the tour begins, is up a grade with loose gravel. If you have a car or van, ask about driving to this area.

The house is constructed with a center courtyard. All of the rooms have doors which open to a wide patio running around the entire house, facing to the courtyard. That means that there are many doorways, each with a step up from the patio. Some aren’t wide enough for most wheelchairs to fit through. The others are made accessible with two types of movable ramps – wooden and foldable metal ones. Most of them are a little too steep and don’t fit as flush as they should to the ground or the thresholds.

The staff is willing to help with everything but they may not know exactly what has to be done. We didn’t have trouble with any of this but we’re very used to maneuvering to overcome problems. An older woman on our tour, pushing her husband in a loaner wheelchair, had a hard time with many of the ramps.  Bonnet House
26.13517, -80.10449
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hollywood Florida Boardwalk

   This boardwalk is about 3 1/2 miles long roundtrip and is completely handicapped accessible. Parking for RVs is available in North Beach Park at the intersection of A1A and Sheridan Street- $10.00 for the day. The boardwalk is lined with a combination of condos, small art deco motels, beach souvenir shops, and casual restaurants with a good view of the beach and ocean on the opposite side.

The park has picnic tables and a concession stand.  Boardwalk      Park
26.03395, -80.11367

Markham Park Campground

The handicapped campsites in this campground are very good. The pavement extends to the fire ring and to all of the utility hookups. Like all of the public campgrounds in south Florida, this one gets busy in the winter so it’s best to make a reservation. There are eleven handicapped sites which are rented to the general public  with the condition that they will move if a handicapped person needs the site. Since the handicapped sites are the nicest they’re always filled. We took a regular one because we were only staying for one night. Markham Park
26.13417, -80.35889

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hard Rock Casino Hollywood , Florida

  The casino does not allow any RV parking on the paved lots but parking is allowed across the street in a sand and gravel lot. It’s directly across from the main entrance. Most of the time it’s okay to stay in this lot overnight. Edit-we stayed several nights but on the day that we left the casino closed and locked the gate so this lot will not be available. Ask about parking elsewhere. Wheelchair users will most likely need to have help to wheel through the lot. The crosswalk light is very short. Follow the sidewalk through the outdoor mall to the casino entrance.

The casino is very handicapped accessible. Most of the chairs are movable. The money , club card and ticket slots are all low enough to reach easily. The aisles are wide enough to maneuver through. The carpeting is a little too plush making it a bit hard to roll along.  Hard Rock
26.0402, -80.20937

Swap Shop Fort Lauderdale

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This is a huge flea market with a permanent mall building, video arcade, food court and even a kiddy amusement park. It also has rows of outdoors booths, fruit and vegetable stands, and many spaces for casual sellers.

It’s all handicapped accessible but getting there is a journey. The parking ( paved roads) is on the opposite side a busy highway with a pedestrian bridge to cross it. There’s a long, long ramp for wheelchair users. The swap shop side has an elevator. The shopping areas are all paved with ramps where necessary. Swap Shop
26.13656, -80.18757 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science

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   This museum is mainly for kids 12 and under but it is well done for that age group. It isn’t very good for accessibility. Two sections are completely inaccessible-stairs without any alternative access. Some of the hands-on displays are too high. Some have chairs that don’t move. All of the aircraft simulators have seats that don’t move or require some climbing to access.

  There aren’t many places to park a RV.  We parked a few blocks east close to the art museum in a lot that is free on the weekends. The sidewalks are in good shape, the curb cuts are good too. There is a railroad crossing, flush with the sidewalk but with a steep slope up and over.  Museum of Discovery and Science
26.12053, -80.14788 

Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale

 This is a small museum with changing exhibits. All the exhibits are easy to see.

 The museum sits above street level and is accessed by a ADA compliant ramp on the Los Olas Blvd. side of the building. There are a few parking spots at meters on 1st Ave. but we parked in a lot on the corner of  2nd Ave. and 2nd Street which is free on the weekends. Don’t use this lot if your RV is longer than 25’ or wider than 8’. The turning radius in and out is very tight. Sidewalks and curb cuts are good.Museum of Art
26.11953, -80.14268

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Flamingo Gardens

  Flamingo Gardens has many little accessibility problems. The ramps to the ticket/gift shop building are too steep. There is a very steep little ramp at the door threshold. Some of the bridges over streams are too steep. The ramp from one level to  the other in the Wray house is too steep. Some of the paths are potholed. Others are loose sand.
Don’t let this deter you – as long as you get a little help over the bad parts, the rest is okay. This is a sanctuary for injured wildlife, mostly birds. It’s not as polished as the other gardens that we have visited but the plants are lush and abundant and all of the animals look very well cared for. There’s a large aviary where you can get very close to the birds and a short wildlife encounter talk. Injured birds are caged but the others are free to come and go as they please.

Parking for large RVs is across the street in a gravel lot.   Flamingo Gardens
26.0742, -80.31005