Wheelchair Accessible Santa Cruz, CA

by Mira Landers 2005


Perhaps we should have planned our Santa Cruz, California  visit with more thoroughly with access in mind, but my friend Beth and I were on a tight budget, and the idea of staying at the Carmelita Cottages, a hostel two blocks from the Santa Cruz beach and close to the city center, intrigued us.

The price was right to stay at the Carmelita Cottages (321 Main St., 831-423-8304) about $21 apiece to share an allegedly accessible hostel room and an accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower nearby.

While these old cottages date from the 1870s and are badly in need of restoration, the hostel staff is friendly and welcoming. We were led to the ramped entry of the cottage that included a wheelchair—adapted bathroom (bring your own towels).

Our bedroom was quite small with one double  bunk bed. My able-bodied friend took the top bunk and I managed to transfer to the bottom one, which took a lot of upper body strength to achieve.

We brought groceries to take advantage of the spacious self-help kitchen, which is not suitable for cooking from your wheelchair. Beth whipped up some superb spaghetti and salad and, we opened some sodas with our budget meal.

We were doubly thrilled to have a hot meal because the cottages had no heating on and in April it was still quite chilly there.

The accessible bathroom was spacious to maneuver in, and I was able to maneuver myself onto the bench in the low-floor shower and use the handheld shower. However, I would never classify this facility as having a roll-in shower. People without a lot of upper body strength will be hampered by the shower’s narrow entry. I want to add, that the lack of heat in the hostel did not make showering a pleasant experience.

The next morning, we packed up and put our things in the car by 10 am as the hostel closes for the day. After a quick drive by the beach and Santa Cruz Boardwalk (an amusement park area), which must be fun on a summer day, we parked downtown at the Garden Mall, a lovely pedestrian mall several blocks long with many accessible shops and eateries.  Our first stop was the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co. (1330 Pacific Ave.) where we warmed ourselves over some hot java and decided to stroll the mall poking in shops and bookstores before having breakfast.

We spent some time browsing at Logos Books (1117 Pacific Ave.) and Gateways Books (1531 Pacific Ave., then stopped for breakfast at Lulu Carpenter's, which had an accessible unisex bathroom.

While it was not the warm, sunny day we craved, we still enjoyed our brief visit to this beach town.


Access Santa Cruz County

City of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Hostel The Carmelita Cottages
E-mail: info@hi-santacruz.org

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