Monday, June 13, 2022

Accessibility Review: St. Pete Pier and Museum of Fine Arts

Accessibility Grade: A-
Even though this review contains two locations, we decided to include them both in the same post. After recent renovations, the St. Pete Pier reopened in July of 2020. Both it and the surrounding areas are surprisingly accessible, and accommodate a wide range of disabilities. Parking is one of the biggest obstacles, which requires pier goers to access a pay station. Other than that, the park, and even its boardwalks, are pretty easy to access.

The St. Pete Museum of Fine Arts is huge, and offers plenty of room for wheelchair users to navigate the exhibits. Most of the works are eye-level for people who use mobility equipment, and are easy to approach, with little to no barriers. Just be careful not to bump into anything, because these works of art are priceless!


Though there was a decent amount of accessible parking, you must pay a fee to park (detailed below). The park itself had wide sidewalks, shaded areas, benches, and even free sunscreen dispensers. There is an area with beach access, which features an accessibility mat for wheelchair users (note that this only reaches about a quarter of the way to the water).

The St. Pete Pier has a number of parking lots, some of which are closer than others. This picture shows two accessible spots, with an unloading zone in between them, a ramp located at the top of the unloading zone, and a ramp leading to the pay station and into the park. If you are a wheelchair user or have a disability that impacts your ability to walk long distances, it would be a good idea to park as close as possible. Click here for the locations of these lots, and for the parking rate. Until writing this review, I wasn't aware that payment can be made with a mobile app called ParkMobile, which you can access by clicking here. Since I needed my friends' help to access the kiosk shown above, paying with ParkMobile would've been much easier for me to access. We were told that there was an accessible shuttle, but didn't have a chance to follow up on it.

After we got out of my van, I was surprised to find a free sunscreen dispenser. Painted a bright blue, this cylinder is pretty easy to see, and is located next to an interactive map. This feature is incredible for people who have either sensitive skin or skin conditions. Since this dispenser is operated with a pedal on the floor, wheelchair users may need assistance to use it.

Making our way to the pier, we passed a large sidewalk that led to and followed the sea wall. There's a sign that reads "ADA RAMP ACCESS," with an arrow pointing towards the right. Taking this path will give you some great views of the water, which will be to your left, immediately after a stretch of bushes and palm trees.
There is a beautiful sculpture that is located next to the path, leading up to the Pier's Visitor Center. Surrounded by stones, it's a light green, and looks like a splash of water that has been frozen in time. In the foreground of the picture is an interactive map, which has the words "St. Pete Pier" repeated along it's side.

At the end of the pier, there's a large building that holds an information center, gift shop, and a few restaurants. Leading up to it is a concrete path, which has a boardwalk that branches off to the side. This path is extremely wide and smooth, and has tall handrails that would prevent sightseers from falling into the water. Though it isn't shown in this shot, there are no guard rails on the right side of this path. Wheelchair users, and other people with mobility-related disabilities, may feel safer to stay close to the side with the elevated hand rail.
In this shot, Kyle is positioned so that he is facing the handrail, mentioned in the previous photo. He is leaning on it with his right arm, looking out into the ocean. Since Kyle sits pretty tall in his wheelchair, this shot is intended to give the viewer some perspective regarding the height of the handrail.
Spa Beach is a small stretch of sand, reaching out into the ocean. What's nice about this particular beach, is that it has an accessible mat, which lets wheelchair users drive onto the beach without getting stuck in the sand. Though this is a nice feature, it only reaches half way down the beach, and doesn't extend to the water. If you want to access the rest of the beach, you may want to reach out to the City of St. Pete and inquire about beach wheelchairs. In this picture, Kyle is driving his power wheelchair on the accessible mat that reaches onto Spa Beach. He looks over his left shoulder, at the camera, and smiles. There are some palm trees in the background, on the right side of the picture. The ocean sprawls out in front of him, and the large building located at the end of the Pier.
After visiting the Pier, we got back in our vehicle and drove down to the St. Pete Museum of Fine Arts, which was only a few minutes away. The museum is large, and features a number of exhibits. Some of them include pieces that will only be on display for a limited time, whereas others are permanent. This picture shows the front of the museum, which is really tall, off-white, and is supported by four, ornate pillars. There are a few banners hanging from the roof. In the center is an advertisement for a current exhibit that is featured of Gio Swaby, called "Fresh Up." To the left and right of the advertisement are two replicas of her work. To the left is another poster that says "Women's Work." A wide flight of stairs, with a handrail toward the left, prominently leads to the entrance. And just in case you're wondering, the cost of admission is currently $20, but there is payment assistance for people who receive food stamps.
While the accessible entrance isn't visible from the front of the building, it is located to the left of the main entrance. We actually asked for assistance to find it, because there we didn't notice any signs that indicated its location. This picture shows the accessible entrance, which is a ramp that curves gently to the right. There is a dark brown sign, with a white wheelchair symbol and an arrow pointing right, that's located on the wall to the left of the ramp.
Inside the museum, the exhibits are usually arranged in large rooms, similar to the one in this picture. Some paintings may be a little tough for kids to see, though adult wheelchair users shouldn't have trouble. There was a single door frame that I couldn't fit my wheelchair through, though there was an alternate entrance that I could enter through, which was located just around the corner. There aren't any barriers in front of many paintings and sculptures, so make sure to be careful around them. If you are a power wheelchair user, it may be a good idea to select a slower speed setting while you're in these areas. In this picture, Kyle is in the corner of a large room with dark brown, arranged in a herringbone pattern, and the walls have a blue and off-white floral patter. There are three paintings, one to Kyle's left, one in front of him, which he's looking at, and one to his right.

Author & Producer:
Kyle Romano

Luis Rodriguez

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