Jowanna, Kevin and I visited Castle Island, a 22-acre Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Park and I was really impressed with the wheelchair accessibility of this beautiful park.
There are plenty of accessible parking spaces located in front of the parking lot. Castle Island is FREE for all to visit; its open year-round and easy to get to because it’s connected to land by both pedestrian and vehicle causeways. A very nice Park Ranger told us that various activities and events scheduled can be found on their website listed above.
Before touring the island, we had lunch at Sullivan’s, a fast food restaurant located on the island. The entrance is wide open making for easy access. The countertops and soda machines are all of an accessible height; the employees were all friendly and kind. We ate our lunch at one of the picnic tables on the patio outside. The picnic table is wheelchair accessible because there is an open space between one of the attached benches for my wheelchair; the height is good and I could reach my food and drink.
After lunch we took a stroll along the Harborwalk. This walkway which goes along the beautiful water’s edge of Castle Island is wide, nicely paved and easy to wheel along. I enjoyed watching cruise ships and sailboats passing by. I also liked seeing the planes landing and taking off from Logan Airport. Kevin told me he was here on the 4th of July and could see the Boston fireworks!
We saw some picnic tables placed along the walkway that are not wheelchair accessible. All water fountains we saw are of a wheelchair accessible height. We came upon a Children’s Playground and were disappointed to find it is not wheelchair accessible; the terrain is of wood chips and there are no accessible play structures for children in wheelchairs. The most wheelchair accessible playground for children I’ve seen is the Mission Hill Playground in Boston.
Though I didn’t bring my beach wheelchair, the larger section of the beach is wheelchair accessible. It would be easy to roll my beach wheelchair right onto the sand. There is one small section of the beach that is NOT accessible because the wheelchair accessible ramp has some pieces of wood broken; and the end of the ramp has a large gap caused by sand washed away. A shower to rinse off the sand is very accessible with a push button to operate. Beach loaner wheelchairs are available on a first come basis.
Along the way we saw a Fish Pier at Castle Island which would be a cool spot to come and fish. All I would need to do is drop the bait on my fishing line into the water without having to cast far away.
We also stopped at two Memorials which are very accessible; the South Boston Korean Memorial; and the memorial of the late Fire Fighter Robert M. Greene, Ladder Company 23.
Located at the end of Harborwalk is Fort Independence (built between 1834 and 1851). This historical fort is the major feature of Castle Island. Tours are available throughout the summer months and hours vary. I didn’t get to tour the Fort yet was told only the first level is wheelchair accessible. It reminds me of the historical fort I toured at Georges Island in which only the first level is wheelchair accessible.
The Harborwalk around the island took us about an hour to wheel around with stops along the way to take a few pictures. Most of the walkway has a railing or fence along the way. A person in a wheelchair should be careful for some paths felt a little unsafe for there are slopes off the path where the fences are set too far back.
The restrooms are wheelchair accessible with a sloped cement walkway leading to the entrance; it is spacious and ADA compliant except the pipes underneath the sinks are not covered as is ADA required.
Overall Castle Island is an accessible and fun place to visit to take a stroll, fish, swim or take an historical tour of the fort.
I give Castle Island FOUR STARS for wheelchair accessibility. To earn the fifth star they would need to fix the broken ramp leading to the small part of the beach; make the children’s playground wheelchair accessible; place a few accessible picnic tables along the walkway; and cover the pipes underneath the accessible sink in the restroom as is ADA required.