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Top 10 Accessible Attractions in New York
By: Danielle Max | Nov 8 2017
There is no end of sights to see in New York. In fact, the hardest decision for any visitor is deciding exactly what to do. No matter if it’s your first visit to the city, or if you’re a New York veteran, there is always something new and exciting to see in this city that never sleeps and rarely takes a rest.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Upper East Side, Manhattan | © NYC & Company/Marley White

1. The Empire State Building
5th Ave, New York, NY 10118
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Top of the Rock view of Empire State Building | © NYC & Company/Marley White

Feel on top of the world with a visit to the Empire State Building. The iconic building is so big it has its own zip code (10118) and offers exhibits, two observation decks, shops and restaurants. Take in the incredible view or reenact your favorite movie moment from one of the films the building has starred in (“King Kong,” “An Affair to Remember” or “Sleepless in Seattle” among them).

The Empire State Building is wheelchair accessible. There are accessible restrooms on the 86th Floor Observatory, which also has lowered viewing walls and binoculars. For visitors using a wheelchair, the accessible entrance at 34th St. is open Monday-Friday until 6pm. Use the main entrance at all other times. Service dogs are permitted throughout the building. Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: Make the Empire State Building first on your itinerary and arrive early. The least busy time to visit is between 8am-11am.
2. Rockefeller Center
45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
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The Tree at Rockefeller Center | © NYC & Company/Will Steacy

There are shops and restaurants galore at Rockefeller Center, making it a welcome stop on a busy day’s touring through New York. If you are visiting in the winter, enjoy the sight of skaters twirling on the world’s most famous ice rink (an especially beautiful sight once the sun goes down and the lights come on). If you have time, take a guided tour of the building. No matter the season, head up to the Top of the Rock and enjoy the view from 70 floors up.

Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock are wheelchair accessible. All entrances are accessible, with power assist doors located at the main entrance on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. All restrooms on Top of the Rock have wheelchair-accessible stalls. Guides on the Rockefeller Center Tours will lead the tour through wheelchair-accessible routes and at an appropriate speed. Printed transcripts for all the short films played during the Top of the Rock experience are available. Service dogs are welcome.

Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: Buy a timed ticket in advance to avoid waiting to go up to the Top of the Rock.
3. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
Ferries Depart from Battery Park, New York, or Liberty State Park, New Jersey
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State of Liberty | © NYC & Company/Joe Cingrana

Take a step back into the past and learn about the more than 12 million immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island (also known as the Island of Hope and Tears) between 1892 and 1924. Once you’re done with the past, get up close and personal with Lady Liberty, the world’s most iconic statue.

The only way to reach both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is by wheelchair-accessible ferry. Priority seating is located near the enclosed main deck cabin. Personnel can provide assistance on ferry gangways. A limited number of free wheelchairs can be borrowed on a first come, first served basis on both Liberty and Ellis Islands. Wheelchair access to the Statue of Liberty is available from where the main pedestal elevator stops to the top of the pedestal.

The interior of the top of the pedestal is wheelchair accessible, but the outdoor observation deck and balcony is not. All video presentations with audience are open captioned and all video programs with sound and ambient audio exhibit programs are induction-looped and compatible with t-coil-enabled hearing aids and cochlear implants. American Sign Language interpretation tours can be arranged. Audio descriptive tours are available free of charge from the Antenna Audio pavilion located near the Liberty Island Information Center. Several tactile models of the Statue and Liberty Island are located in the Statue lobby and exhibit areas (reservation required). For further information, call 212-363-3200 or NY/NJ relay at 711 at least three weeks in advance.

Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: Go before you go. The restrooms on the ferries are not accessible.
4. High Line Park
New York, NY 10011
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The High Line | © NYC & Company/Julienne Schaer

Stay on the right side of the tracks with a visit to the High Line park – a 1.45-mile-long park built atop a raised section of the old West Side Line railroad. The once decrepit train track has been transformed into a modern, linear public park that runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. Enjoy the view, get close to nature and take a moment or two to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The High Line is fully wheelchair accessible, with elevator access on Gansevoort, 14th Street, 16th Street, 23rd Street, 30th Street and ramp access on 34th and 12th Street. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are located at Gansevoort Street and 16th Street. Design features, such as “peel up” picnic tables, the Rail Track Walks and the Beams play feature are wheelchair accessible.

Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: If you are visiting in the spring or summer, take a free tour of the High Line to get an insiders perspective on the park’s history, design and landscape. The tours take place twice a week on Tuesdays at 6.30pm and Saturdays at 10am between May and October.
5. Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
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The Met 5th Ave, Upper East Side, Manhattan | © NYC & Company/Tagger Yancey IV

There’s something for everyone at the Met Fifth Avenue. The museum presents over 5,000 years of art spanning all cultures and time periods and is spread out over more than two million square feet. While it can feel overwhelming, there are a few must-see sights for first-time visitors, including the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, the Medieval Sculpture Hall, the Greek Terracotta Vases and “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” painted by Emanuel Leutze.

The museum is wheelchair accessible with entrances located at Fifth Avenue and 81st Street and through the parking garage at Fifth Avenue and 80th Street. Manual (standard and wide) wheelchairs can be borrowed from the coat check at the 81st Street entrance on a first-come, first-served basis. To request an escort for a wheelchair user, email or call 212-570-3711 at least two weeks in advance. Assistive listening devices (with headsets or neck loops) are provided at a variety of gallery programs. Ask at the Audio Guide Desk in the Great Hall. Induction loops are located at the Information and Membership Desks and at select Admissions Desks in the Great Hall and Burke Hall in the Uris Center for Education, as well as at the MetLiveArts box office in the Great Hall.

Real-time captioning is available for lectures upon request with at least three weeks notice, subject to the availability of captioners. American Sign Language interpretation is available free of charge for museum events or guided group tours with two weeks notice, subject to the availability of interpreters. Voice interpretation may be requested for programs in ASL only. Email or call 212-650-2010 (voice).

In addition, large-print label booklets are available for some exhibitions and large-print “What's On Today” flyers are available at Information Desks.

Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: If you buy tickets at a museum ticket counter, the amount you pay is up to you. Ticket includes same-day admission to The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer and The Met Cloisters.
6. 9/11 Memorial
180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
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9/11 Memorial, Financial District, Manhattan | © NYC & Company/Marley White

The 9/11 Memorial is one of New York’s newest, but most compelling sites. It consists of a museum and memorial and focuses on the story of what happened on September 11, 2001 and commemorates those who died in both the 9/11 attacks and the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. The Memorial and Museum are fully wheelchair accessible. Manual wheelchairs (standard and wide) and wheeled walkers are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

The 9/11 Museum Audio Guide is downloadable to smartphones or available via handheld devices at the Information Desk. It includes an audio description tour, which allows visitors who are blind or partially sighted to independently explore the site. Guided verbal description tours are also available upon request with three weeks written notice. Email or call 646-583-3419 (voice) or 212-266-5212 (TTY) to place a request.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum offers free monthly tours in American Sign Language (ASL), without voice interpretation. An ASL video tour is available through the app. ASL interpretation is available free of charge for guided tours and public programs or events by request with two weeks advance notice. Open captioning or transcripts are available for all exhibition media installations that feature audio. For audio that accompanies video, open captioning is provided on the screen. For audio without video, captions are provided nearby on a printed label, transcript card, projection, or monitor. For Rebirth at Ground Zero, captioning is provided on the 9/11 Museum Audio Guide app. Induction loops that transmit sound directly to visitors with T-coil compatible hearing aids and cochlear implants are installed throughout the Museum wherever there is audio, including in the exhibitions, auditorium, and classrooms. All audio wands in the museum are also T-coil compatible and have volume-control adjustment buttons. T-coil compatible neck loops to accompany the handheld devices are also available at the Information Desk. Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: The historical exhibition may not be appropriate for visitors younger than 10 years old. For families traveling with children, the Museum Guide for Children (PDF)Museum Guide for Visitors With Children.pdf can be downloaded in advance to help visitors aged 8 to 11 understand the history of the World Trade Center, what happened on 9/11 and how the site has been rebuilt.
7. Staten Island Ferry
Whitehall Ferry Terminal – 4 Whitehall St, New York, NY 10004
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Staten Island Ferry, St. George, Staten Island | © NYC & Company/Jen Davis

Forget an expensive river cruise, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is one of the best bargains to be had on any trip to New York. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week between the Whitehall Ferry Terminal (South Ferry) in Manhattan and the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island and offers beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on the outward journey and iconic Manhattan skyline on the return journey. Best of all, it’s free, and in New York, that’s hard to beat.

The terminals and boats are wheelchair accessible. The terminals are equipped with elevators and escalators. Passengers using wheelchairs are encouraged to use the lower-level boarding at both terminals. The boarding ramps can be slippery when wet. Service animals are allowed on board. Click here to find out more. Top Tip: Avoid rush hour when the boats are packed with commuters going to or returning from work.
8. American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024
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American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side, Manhattan | © NYC & Company/Marley White

Discover a whole lot of nature at the American Museum of Natural History. Stand underneath a 94-foot-long, 21,000-pound model of a blue whale (don’t worry, it’s securely fastened to the ceiling!) meet a dinosaur or two or check out the planetarium. The museum offers a range of self-guided tours in which you can see the real exhibits behind the characters featured in the “Night at the Museum” movie, explore connections to President Theodore Roosevelt (who preferred his nature at the end of a shot gun) or find out about our galaxy in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. You can even take part in a sleepover for grown-ups and have the whole night to explore this massive museum.

Wheelchairs are available on a first come, first serve basis at the membership desk. All of the museum’s exhibits are wheelchair accessible, as are all food service areas. All theaters include wheelchair locations and companion seats. Accessible restrooms are available on each floor. Induction loop hearing systems are available upon request in some of the galleries, as are infrared assistive listening devices (headsets and/or neck loops). Rear Window captioning (RWC) is available in the LeFrak Theater for most films. Open captioning is provided in most theaters throughout the museum. Sign language interpreters may be requested with at least two weeks’ notice and simultaneously signed and free spoken tours are available (register 72 hours in advance) Email or call 212-769-5250 for more information.

Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: The American Museum of Natural History is part of the New York CityPass and includes General Admission plus an IMAX or Planetarium show. If you are planning on visiting some of New York’s other great attractions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock or the Statue of Liberty among them, it might be worth checking out the pass to save money.
9. Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001
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Madison Square Garden: Entrance to Madison Square Garden, This landmark multi-purpose indoor arena, located above Penn Station. It opened February 1968. |

You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy a visit to Madison Square Garden (MSG). This multi-purpose indoor arena is home to the New Rangers (National Hockey League), the New York Knicks (NBA) and has singer-songwriter Billy Joel as its resident musician. Take in a game or a concert or go on a tour of this giant stadium and check out exclusive VIP areas, explore the locker rooms and view the arena like never before.

The MSG tour is fully wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available for transporting guests from the Main Lobby to their seats at events. Canes, walkers, wheelchairs or other mobility devices can be stored at the Guest Experience Office at section 117. Assistive listening devices are available in both The Arena and The Theater at Madison Square Garden (photo ID required). Service animals are permitted at MSG. Contact the venue in advance to request a photo ID, which will help expedite their entry and access. Visitors requiring interpreting services for concerts should contact MSG at least three weeks before the show. Email or call 212-465-6034. 

Top Tip: Buy your All Access Tour tickets online to save $7 on the regular price.
10. New York Public Library
5th Ave at 42nd St, New York, NY 10018
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New York Public Library Steven A. Schwarzman Building, Midtown West, Manhattan | © NYC & Company/Marley White

Best known for its appearance in “Ghostbusters,” the flagship New York Public Library branch on Fifth Ave offers more than just books (and ghosts). The library puts on year-round events including concerts, author talks, performances and exhibitions. Take a free docent-led tour to visit all the must-see spaces of this Beaux-Arts building, including the Rose Main Reading Room and the library’s exhibitions.

All public service units of the library are wheelchair accessible. There is a ramp entrance to the building located at the 42nd Street entrance. All levels of the building are accessible by an elevator at the north end of the building. Accessible restrooms are located on the ground and second floors. Free self-guided audio-tours of the library are also available from the visitor’s desk in Astor Hall.

Click here to find out more.

Top Tip: Outside food and drink is not allowed in the library, but there is a small café at the back of Astor Hall where you can get snacks.

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