Here Are the Most (and Least) Accessible Cities in the U.S.

published Apr 20, 2022
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Whether you’re looking to move or have upcoming travel plans, finding accessible locations and services can be a challenge — to say the least. The Social Security experts at Social Security Office Near Me wanted to figure out which U.S. cities are the most accessible overall, looking at 50 cities and ranking them based on the number of accessible restaurants and attractions, public transit, and disabled parking permits up for grabs.

Credit: Social Security Office

With a ranking of 7.4 out of 10, the most accessible U.S. city is New York City. Offering the highest number of accessible restaurants out of all of the cities researchers looked at, New York is the ideal destination for those with mobility restrictions who love to dine out, thanks to 2,848 accessible locations.

New York City is one of only two locations on the list where those with a mental impairment can qualify for a disabled parking permit with no issuing fee for a permanent placard, making it easier for those with mobility, visual, or hearing impairments to obtain access to disabled parking spaces. Transportation is also notably easier thanks to the city’s ‘Access-a-Ride’ paratransit service, which serves as an alternate mode of transport for those unable to use public trains and/or buses. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

That said, researchers found zero accessible attractions for disabled folks in the Big Apple — a disappointing stat given that the city is home to more than eight million people and 66.6 million visitors per year (as of 2019, before COVID’s impact on tourism). That means plenty of residents and tourists alike are shut out of many of the city’s biggest attractions.

Credit: Social Security Office

Seattle came in a close second with a ranking of 6.89 out of 10, offering up more than 900 accessible eateries and 12 landmarks listed as ‘wheelchair accessible’ on Tripadvisor and Get Your Guide, two popular trip planning platforms. Seattle also offers parking options for many disabled drivers, including those who are legally blind or are affected by sensitivity to light. The city also offers mandatory accessible bus options for those with disabilities, as well as King County’s ‘Access’ service, which takes you anywhere a Metro bus, Seattle streetcar or Sound Transit light rail goes.

Los Angeles came in third place with 1,752 restaurants and 30 attractions listed online as wheelchair accessible, as well as no issuing fees for a permanent parking placard.

Credit: Social Security Office

The researchers also looked at the least accessible U.S. cities, finding that Raleigh, North Carolina has 403 wheelchair-accessible restaurants. Raleigh also has a small fee ($5) for a permanent parking placard, which could prevent those with mobility, hearing, sight, or mental impairments from accessing disabled parking spaces. 

Check out the full accessibility index for more info about the most (and least) accessible U.S. cities.