Wheelchair Accessible Southern California: Barona Casino
by Paula Rose © 2003  

Throughout California, gambling at Indian casinos is a popular pastime, so one afternoon my friend and I decided to visit a popular nearby casino to check out the wheelchair accessibility and try our luck. We chose Barona Casino near Lakeside, CA and quickly found it a showcase of good access.

Parking in their spacious lot was a cinch that afternoon, and a  ramped sidewalk provided easy rolling from the parking lot to the casino.

Upon entering the 310,000 square-foot casino, I immediately noticed other wheelchair visitors—always a good sign of accessibility. The décor at Barona has a western theme with a massive rock fireplace on view in the center. I was delighted that smokers were not as prevalent as I had imagined they would be. This may be due to the fact that Barona is still seeking a liquor license. We passed through a dazzling collection of flashing slot machines on our way to the customer service desk in order to sign up for free Barona Club Cards. The cards can be used for discounts on various games, the buffet, and the gift shop. At the customer service counter, I noticed that they had thoughtfully included a lowered wheelchair accessible counter, too.

A spacious elevator took us to the basement level where the bingo sessions are held at 1, 3 & 5 pm in the afternoon and throughout the evening. A set of 7 bingo cards was priced $3 for first-time visitors to Barona who obtained the  free club card in advance. Subsequent bingo sessions cost $10.. We entered the long bingo hall that was divided into smoking and nonsmoking sections. Row upon row of long tables awaited the players, who numbered only about 30 for the first session. After visiting the nearby snack bar for refreshments, I found it easy to pull under a table. Again, there were several other wheelchair users there. We played through two sessions before hunger hit us and we headed upstairs for the dinner buffet. 

En route, I checked out one of several accessible bathroom stalls. The bathroom held about a dozen stalls, two of witch were wheelchair accessible. The large stalls had adequate grab bars, but I thought it was somewhat disconcerting that the toilets automatically flush every few minutes. Fortunately, I was not using it at the time when it went off like Old Faithful.

The 850-seat all-you-can-eat Ranch House Buffet was a real treat, which proved to a cornucopia of great food to choose from. The buffet featured eight stations of food from throughout the world, including Italian (featuring a range of entrée’s and pasta dishes), Mexican ( (a variety of spicy favorites like enchiladas, chili verde and chicken fajitas), Chinese (everything from sweet and sour pork to kung pao beef), American (featuring standard burgers, fries, meatloaf, and fried chicken), a Mongolian barbecue, a rotisserie with turkey, pork and roast, a huge soup and salad bar, and a large selection of seafood such as crab legs and shrimp. The Dessert section was phenomenal with its extensive collection of cakes, tarts, cookies, pastries, and ice creams. The dinner buffet is priced $14.99 on week days and $16.99 on weekends. If you're like us, you won’t feel hungry again for days.

After dinner, we wandered around the casino for a while, and I noted that a few of the gaming tables were wheelchair accessible before deciding to try my luck at a few of the slot machines. Barona has quite a collection of fun theme slot machines—everything from "Lucy & Desi" to "Monopoly." Losing money, however,  didn’t seem fun for long, so we said farewell to Barona that night but vowed to return again someday. To learn more about Barona Casino, visit http://www.barona.com/

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