Chicago Unbound: Wheelchair & Mobility-Friendly Attractions in Chicago

Accessible Guide to Chicago

By Sara Yaniga, publisher of Macaroni KID Chicago October 7, 2023

A few years ago a longtime family friend wanted to come and visit with her kids, but was hesitant. Her youngest utilizes a wheelchair and gait trainer to get around and she wasn't sure if Chicago would be "mobility-friendly". From that moment I was on a mission to encourage them to come for a visit and kept sending her messages every time I found myself in a spot that I knew her family would love AND was accessible for someone with mobility-issues. 

Turns out Chicago offers plenty of attractions and activities suitable for individuals with diverse mobility (and sensory!) needs, providing various venues that are welcoming to ALL guests. 

Navy Pier wants everyone to feel welcomed when they visit and more recent renovations have made visiting even easier for those in wheelchairs. Guests are able to plan in advance with this great Accessibility Map, plus two of their most popular attractions, Chicago Children's Museum & Centennial Wheel, are very accessible for all! You can even request a wheelchair rental if needed - just allow a little time to plan as they are first come first serve.

  • Architecture & Sightseeing Tours

Various Dock Locations - Navy Pier, Chicago Riverwalk and Lake Michigan

There is no better way to see Chicago than from the water and while small passenger crafts are not subjected to access regulations, some Chicago companies try to be as accessible as possible for guests. 

Wendella - The West Docks (west of the Wrigley Building) are accessible by elevator from Michigan Avenue (walkway between 400 & 410 N Michigan Ave) and Wabash Avenue (401 N Wabash Ave). Approximately half of the scheduled tours and cruises depart from these docks during the summer. Once you are down to river level there is a wheelchair accessible ramp to board the boat. Restrooms are ADA compliant but located on the lower deck and one can only move between the upper & lower decks via stairs once on board. You can contact Wendella’s Corporate Office at 312-337-1446 or reach out to one of our on-site Guest Service Ambassadors prior to your tour or cruise if you have questions or need more information.

Chicago First Lady - this company has three vessels that are probably the most accessible I have experienced. Electric wheelchairs or scooters are not allowed aboard, but guests can borrow a manual wheelchair if needed (arrive at least 30 min in advance and request at the ticket window). Chicago First Lady includes a handy guide on their website to help guests determine which vessel will be a good fit for their chair. You can also contact Chicago First Lady by calling 847-358-1330.

Shoreline Sightseeing - Navy Pier dock is the most accessible with a ramp that can accommodate chairs with narrow wheel bases. Restrooms are located on the lower deck, are not accessible and only stairs are available to move between the two decks on board. If you have questions please call 312-222-9328 ext. 1. Find out more details on dock accessibility here.

  • Water Taxis

Chicago Water Taxi has select routes that are ADA accessible and are subject to availability. Individuals with disabilities may request a reasonable modification of Chicago Water Taxi operations and schedule in order to accommodate a disability. Chicago Water Taxi asks that requests be made in advance of planned travel by submitting an email request to To inquire about ADA accessibility or schedule a pickup from our accessible locations please contact us at 312-337-1446 or

Shoreline Water Taxis are not accessible

The Chicago Riverwalk is a great spot to explore and it connects you to Navy Pier and Lake Michigan, plus gives you access to several of the boat tour companies that operate from the Chicago River. The Riverwalk has paths on both the north and south sides, but only the south side has easily accessible ramps for those with mobility devices. You can find the ramps east of State Street, west of Clark St and west of Franklin St and all are clearly marked from the street and along the Riverwalk. During warm weather this is a popular seasonal spot midday. 

Skydeck Chicago and The Ledge are both accessible for guests in wheelchairs or scooters, with ramps for easier mobility and large elevators. Staff are great at making sure all guests have an excellent experience! Complimentary wheelchairs are also available on a first come, first served basis.

Field Museum is not only one of my favorite museums to visit, but it is also accessible for friends who visit and use a chair. The Field Museum offers an accessible entrance (on the East side facing the Shedd), complimentary wheelchairs at both entrances, elevators on either end of the museum and if you require a PCA (personal care assistant) they are welcome to join you - no ticket required - just let the staff know at the entrance and they will make sure your PCA is given the same admission as you. If you are an Illinois resident be sure to check for FREE admission days, or use your Chicago Public Library card to borrow a Digital Museum Pass

Art Institute of Chicago is another of my favorite spots to visit and they are extremely accessible for those with mobility needs. Both entrances are ADA compliant and both have manual wheelchairs available to borrow if needed - but don't worry, personal wheelchairs, both manual and electric, are allowed. Elevators are available to help move between floors and an online Museum Floor Plan is available to help plan your visit before arrival. All children ages 13 and younger are always free, Chicago youth ages 17 and younger have free admission and you can again take advantage of Illinois Resident FREE admission days or the Digital Museum Pass from CPL.

LPZoo strives to connect all guests with nature and has made Lincoln Park Zoo, it's buildings and habitats and the Farm-in-the-Zoo area accessible for those who require the use of a wheelchair, scooter or walker. There are ADA parking spots available in the paid lot and in the free parking area on Stockton Drive. Wheelchairs and ECVs are available for temporary use at the Searle Visitor Center - $20 refundable deposit required for either; ECVs have a $30 rental fee.

Millennium Park is fully accessible for all guests to enjoy everything from cooling off at Crown Fountains, posing for a photo by Cloud Gate or enjoying a live performance or movie at Pritzker Pavilion. Also lovely is Laurie Garden which provides a serene spot to recharge from the business of the city. Wheelchairs are also available to borrow - first come, first served. Guests are encouraged to enter from the Randolph Street entrances.

The Play Garden at Maggie Daley Park is one of the first of its kind in Chicago - designed especially for kids ages 12 and under (and their adults). This is a space of various interconnected themed areas, all with accessible pathways for enjoyment from all. There are some steep inclines, especially at the Wave Garden, but you will quickly notice the wide ADA compliant paths that are available to use to get from the high and low sections. In the winter months you can even request a skate-assist sled and enjoy a trip or two around the skating ribbon with a companion skater!

Maggie Daley and Millennium Parks (part of the larger Grant Park) are connected via the BP Pedestrian Bridge which is ADA compliant for wheelchairs

Accessible Restaurants

Getting Around

  • Chicago Transportation - the "L" and buses

While the CTA has made ADA accommodations on trains and buses it is far from fully accessible. Some train stations and platforms do not have elevators or turnstiles which can accommodate a wheelchair or other mobility aids. There have been multiple times where I have carefully planned a trip only to discover upon arrival that an elevator is out of service. Buses are better and many have multiple ADA seats which can accommodate wheelchairs (or scooters), but on some of the busier lines, or busier times, these spots can be full resulting in a longer wait for the next bus.

  • WAV Taxicabs

Call 1-888-WAV-CABS (1-888-928-2227) or download the CURB app to request a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle taxicab. You are also able to pay within the app and request rides a minimum of 3 days in advance.

Download the CURB app 

Do you know of a local business that should be included in this or our Sensory-Friendly Chicago Guide?