I’m Jeanne Allen and I use an electric scooter. I love to travel but, like others with limited mobility, I’m often frustrated by how difficult it is to research and plan a trip. We baby boomers are slowing down, but we do not want to give up traveling. As canes, walkers and wheelchairs become more common to the aging population, so do the places that accommodate them. The missing link is the information and knowledge. That’s why I created incredibleACCESSIBLE – an at-a-glance, accessible travel guide to give people with limited mobility, and their travel companions, the knowledge, confidence, and inspiration to travel.
My dream is to expand incredibleACCESSIBLE into a global resource. I’m starting in my backyard creating THE Accessibility Guide to Sonoma/Napa Wine Country. I’ll feature hotels, wineries, restaurants, shops, and points of interest, visiting in person and reporting to incredibleACCESSIBLE.com. Come with me on my journey. You will get a first-hand account of the things that matter – where to find accessible parking, entrances, seating and restrooms, and helpful staff that ensure an accessible experience.
Be empowered to go places you weren’t sure you could go and to do things you weren’t sure you could do.
My incredibleACCESSIBLE Hometown of Sonoma, California
Make planning easy with our database of accessibility information. Find the right hotel rooms, restaurants, and attractions to make your trip a success.
Discover the amazing accessible experiences in the Wine Country, with stunning photos, informative videos, and recommended itineraries.
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Read about accessibility in Sonoma/Napa
The autumn colors were raging in Yountville during the NVFF and set the tone for a beautiful sunny day to meander through the village, watch films, and sip wine.
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Calistoga is about a 30 minute drive up the Napa Valley from the town of Napa. Though there are only 2 theaters it is well worth the drive just to see the beautiful Napa Valley.
There are 2 highways that go from Napa to Calistoga. Highway 29 goes by Yountville and through St. Helena, so is the one to take if you’re stopping in either of those towns. The Silverado Trail is the faster route, with much less traffic, if you’re not making any stops, and the scenery the entire distance is gorgeous with vistas of hills, vineyards, and wineries. We took the Silverado Trail.
It was unclear if there was accessible parking so we parked in the gravel lot next to the Napa Valley Film Festival sign. This is a recommended improvement for next year! Calistoga needs better accessible signage for both the parking and the restrooms. This year there was not accessible parking next to the theater because the NVFF banner created an automobile barrier to the long roadway that leads to the theater. Fortunately I use an electric scooter so I was able to cover the distance without effort, but those with canes, walkers, and manual wheelchairs would have a problem.
The Gliderport Theater is pretty rustic! This is where accessible parking should be located next year and though the ground is a bit uneven due to loose dirt, it should be workable for most people. The portable restrooms are also a needed improvement. Not only were they standard size, there was a step to enter them, making it difficult for anyone uncomfortable with stairs. The entrance to the theater, however, was perfectly accessible as was the theatre itself.
This really was a gliderport at one point in time, and in fact Chip and I took a glider ride from here on our 1st wedding anniversary. A thrill! But now it works beautifully as a theater, and a space for my scooter was no problem. We saw a great and inspirational documentary, “Underwater Dreams”.
After the film the search was on for the accessible restroom, and we found it back at the Indian Springs Art Gallery, which is also the location for the Village Center. It’s a long walk from the theater, so next year the accessible portable toilet is a necessity.
The Indian Springs Art Gallery serves as the Wine Pavilion for Calistoga, but as we were there on Wednesday evening, the Wine Pavilion had not been set up yet. The Wine Pavilions are open every afternoon, Thursday through Sunday. The Gallery was a wide open space with an accessible entrance, so should have been perfect. The Gallery owner showed us around and I loved the art, well worth a trip back. The Village Center, an opportunity to purchase t-shirts and hats, was set up right in front of the Gallery.
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Chip and I attended the Festival, from Wednesday through Sunday, from morning to night. We saw 10 movies, attended 3 parties, visited 4 Village Centers, saw a chef demonstration, sipped at 2 wine pavilions, ate in 3 restaurants, nibbled at the Lifestyle Pavilion, photographed 14 restrooms, and had a blast.
Our task was to review the venues for accessibility. The vast majority of the Festival was accessible as anticipated, but we did indeed find some problems. I’ll be reporting back to the Co-Founders, Marc and Brenda Lhormer, so that next year’s Festival can be 100% accessible. Marc and Brenda are my friends and neighbors, and they care. But they’re able-bodied, so some inaccessible things cropped up. That’s exactly what they asked me to look for.
I saw very few people this year with canes, walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs. Don’t stay away! If you love film, the Napa Valley Film Festival will be accessible to you! Whether you are a filmmaker/director/actor, in the Patron Circle, Pass Holder, or get a Rush Ticket, next year do not hesitate to come for this incredible event.
Oh, that thing about the Napa Earthquake? Forget about it! The Napa Valley has recovered, is open for business, and accessible. Take a look with me.
Our First Film Venue Presented a Challenge!
Our first venue was The Lounge, on the second floor of the Napa River Inn at 500 Main Street in Napa. website. I’m smiling so big because I already know there is an elevator. This main entrance to “The Lounge” is from the exterior of the building.
Look left from the NVFF entrance and go to the main entrance for the Napa River Inn to take the lobby elevator to the same spot. The elevator was plenty big for me, Chip, and our photographer. A sign designating where the accessible entrance is will be added next year.
The accessible seating was flexible due to the use of chairs in addition to the theater seats. We saw “Gone Doggy Gone” a delightful romantic comedy, and a great way to start our Festival experience. The Napa River Inn built in 1884, has been beautifully renovated, and holds a Historic Hotel of America designation.
The restrooms are fully accessible with space beside the toilet and grab bars, and sideways scooter space at the sinks.
Napa River Inn is actually on the Napa River at the end of Main Street, and this corner of the hotel is what you’ll see as you approach. Note the ramp that brings you up from the street and puts you directly in front of the lobby and the elevator to The Lounge.
There are 3 accessible spaces in the parking lot, and 2 more on the street to the left of the front entrance.
Sweetie Pies is right next door and was a great spot for a quick cup of soup, then on to the next movie!
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