Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Accessibility Review: Pass-a-Grille


Kyle is shown in his white, Quickie S-636 power wheelchair. He's wearing a maroon- and navy-striped shirt, and is facing away from the camera. He's wearing sunglasses, and looking to the right, over the ocean. His wheelchair is positioned on a concrete path that runs along a stretch of the beach. To his left are a few palm trees, as well as a flight of concrete stairs and an aluminum hand rail.
Accessibility Grade: A
Whether you are local to the area, or visiting on vacation, the quaint town of Pass-a-Grille has plenty to offer for the entire family. Complete with a breathtaking beach, shops, restaurants, and unique spots like the Merry Pier, this destination offers a little bit of something for everybody. What's even better, is that Pass-a-Grille is pretty easy for wheelchair users to navigate. So, grab your shades, suntan lotion, and leave your troubles behind, as we take you through this beachy paradise.

A blue Toyota Sienna is parked in an accessible parking spot. The ramp has been deployed, and is sticking out of the rear passenger door. The unloading zone is on the passenger side of the minivan. In the background are a number of palm trees, a yellow building with colorful beach chairs in front of it, and a bright blue sky.
Since many wheelchair users need an accessible vehicle to travel, I find it helpful to start these Accessibility Reviews by discussing accessible parking. Located in front of the Paradise Grille restaurant, which is actually located directly on the beach, are a number of accessible parking spaces. As far as parking goes, these spots are located within walking distance to the beach, including an accessible entrance to the beach and surrounding area. Since it is also right across the street from a number of other restaurants and shops, this parking lot is pretty central to the area. That means there's less distance for you to travel. Additionally, it's free to park here, and there is plenty of room to unload your wheelchair or mobility device. Next to the Paradise Grille are also a pair of public restrooms. Both the "Men's" and "Women's" restrooms each include an accessible stall, which have plenty of room for people who use mobility devices, and also have grab bars next to the toilet.

Three, manual beach wheelchairs are parked next to each other. The first two look like lounge chairs, and have one large wheel in front, plus two large wheels in the back. The canvas of the seats is blue- and white-striped. On the right is a beach wheelchair with four tires. The two in the front are larger than the two in the back. There are white armrests, and a blue canvas that acts as the seat, as well as the seat back.

Located at Paradise Grille, you'll notice three beach wheelchairs. These devices are available at no charge, and at a first-come-first-serve basis. You can use these wheelchairs all day, though you have to return them to the restaurant by 15 minutes after sunset.

When you make your way passed the restaurant, you'll see an accessible boardwalk. Taking this will lead you to an accessible, concrete path, which gives wheelchair users a chance to get down to the beach, without needing to worry about getting stuck in that pesky sand.

Though Pass-a-Grille offers a chance to rent beach wheelchairs, which is great, those devices aren't necessarily accessible for every wheelchair users. For people who aren't capable of transferring from their own wheelchairs, this concrete path is a great way to access the beach. It isn't quite the same as being on the sand, but is a great alternative that we haven't seen on many of the beaches that we've reviewed so far.

While there are a number of entrances to Pass-a-Grille's beautiful beach, the one located next to Paradise Grille is definitely the most accessible one in the area. Otherwise, most other entrances to the beach are either accessed via stairs that lead to a short boardwalk, or some other kind of narrow path.

Venturing away from the beach, you can find a number of independently-owned restaurants and shops. Along Pass-a-Grille's historic 8th Avenue, the road is made of bricks. Crossing it could be a little tough for some wheelchair and mobility equipment users, so make sure to take proper precautions.

While strolling around 8th Avenue, keep a lookout for the unexpected. Perched on the side of the Evander Preston Gallery are two sculptures that resemble a pair of flies. These works of art were created by repurposing old car parts, and are a well-known landmark.

Coming to the end of 8th Avenue, you'll find yourself at the Merry Pier, a must-visit destination for fishermen and sightseers alike. Featuring a fresh fish market, as well as a bait shop, you can either rustle up your own dinner, or get everything over with and buy it right there! You can even rent fishing rods and bicycles, right out of the shop.

In addition to fishing at the pier, a number of captains run their own charters out of the Merry Pier. If you don't consider yourself an avid angler, not to worry! There are alternatives, such as the Shell Key Shuttle, which offers nature watching (including birds and dolphins) and sunset cruises (by reservation).

Next to the Merry Pier is one that's a bit smaller, which has seating at its end. The pier's entrance sports a sturdy and wide concrete ramp, making it easy to access for wheelchair users, and people who use mobility equipment. However, since there are no guard rails along the sides of this pier, please mind your mobility device, and be careful not to get too close to the edge.

Pass-a-Grille has a sleepy, beach town kind of vibe. Relaxing and quaint, this destination has a surprising amount to do, a lot of which is pretty accessible. If you're searching for a nice place to relax on your vacation, or just looking for a fun place to spend the day, Pass-a-Grille is a hidden gem among the many beaches that our great state is known for.

Kyle Romano

Luis Rodriguez

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