Excited, overwhelmed or both? Visiting a new city for someone in a wheelchair can bring the same excitement as it does for everyone else to try new food, see new scenery, meet new people and have new adventures to talk about for years to come. One thing a lot of people don’t have to think about is the accessibility of a city, and that can be extremely overwhelming.

I’m here to tell you there’s nothing to worry about! Why? Because I’ve been living in Wichita, Kansas, for years on my wheels, and I’ve been to many places.

Hunter Vance sits in his wheelchair outside on the porch of River City Brewery in Wichita

Enjoy breweries / Downtown Wichita nightlife

The breweries and the downtown area are where I tend to end up in Wichita. We have several breweries that I enjoy going to, and they’re fairly easy to get around.

Wichita Brewing Co. is one of my favorite places to go, and they have enough low-top tables to go around. There is one on the west and east side of the city. The west location has a handicap parking spot right up front, but it’s a toss-up if it’ll be available. If it’s not, park at the handicap stall around the corner, or don’t be afraid to double park. The door is fairly easy to open, and chances are the hostess will help. There are two bathrooms that are accessible. The east location has a large bathroom, two handicap parking spots and slightly fewer lower tops so don’t count out the end of the table on a booth. All together they have good beer, good food and good service.

Nortons Brewing Co. is a cool place to go. Norton's is one of the more spacious breweries in Wichita, specializing in a great selection of sours. The outside area has some little rocks that aren’t too hard to get through, but your pants and hands could get dirty. It wouldn’t hurt to have someone hold your drink while navigating around. The tables have benches, which can be removed, and plenty of low tops. The bathroom doors are large, but manageable to get into. One thing to keep in mind, the doors are metal and are the perfect height to ruin white shoes if you push open doors by running into them like I sometimes do.

River City Brewing Co. is one of my favorites because they have an elevator, so you can easily get to that rooftop hang out. The elevator is used mainly by their staff, so you might be riding with a waitress, but it’s a functional elevator, nonetheless. There is a ramp on the southwest side of the building, and it’s the only way to get inside. At the top of the ramp there’s a backdoor that will occasionally open, depending on the weather, but you’ll more than likely have to go around. Once you get past the hefty doors, you’ll come into about half-and-half of high tops and low tops. The bathrooms have a little bump that isn’t hard to get over, but it’s definitely something you’ll notice.

River City is in the Old Town District, so once you are there, there’s a lot of nearby places to go next. If you don’t have a problem with getting over a curb or have some people who can lift you over one, Mort’s Martini & Cigar Bar has mostly low-top tables. It’s small though, and chances are you’ll need someone to slightly move to get through, taking into consideration all the tables aren’t taken. However, if that isn’t an issue and you enjoy live music, cigars and good drinks, I’d give it a test run.

Brickyard is one of the more popular bars in Old Town, and although there is a place in the bar that’s not accessible, the parts that are accessible are just as fun. When accessing the outdoor bar area, there are two ramps. One is a bit steep but if you think it's too difficult to navigate, simply ask to use the other one. The staff has always let me use the ramp that’s easier, and even offered to help me down or up, if needed. Another ramp that's steep is the one that leads to the downstairs area, there is a big door that leads into the area and lots of low tops all over. The bathrooms are on the other side of the main floor where you’ll enter, and if there’s a crowd, there’s a good chance some toes will suffer. Not much we can do about that, though.

Hunter Vance travels on the brick roads of Old Town in his wheelchair

How to get around downtown

While going through the streets of downtown Wichita, there are a few things to consider: the ground is brick with a few sticking up, the drain in the middle of the street will require you to pop a slight wheelie and the street dips in the middle, so hugging one side to stay on a more even ground might be necessary. Some of the most popular downtown bars are easy to manage when they are not extremely packed.

The last thing to consider is transportation. Unfortunately, Wichita doesn’t have Uber Wave, which can put you at a disadvantage to getting around if you plan on drinking. The Uber XL’s always have room for a chair in the back, but the driver might need some coaching if your chair needs broken down. One good thing about my car, besides the adaptable hand controls that allow me to drive, is the pedals can be used for other people to drive me. Plus, there are handicap parking spaces all over downtown. It can look like there are no spaces until you turn into a lot, so give each lot a peek even if you’re not sure. Adapting to situations we aren’t prepared for isn’t new for us, but hopefully I have given you a good idea on what to expect.