a travel planning website for people with limited mobility.

incredibleACCESSIBLE is an upcoming travel information site for wheelchair users, slow walkers, and everyone in between. We seek to empower each other to travel by sharing in-depth accessibility information, travel tips and incredible experiences.

While the full site is still in the works, we’ll be sharing the accessible experiences of our home base – the beautiful California Wine Country – on the IncredibleACCESSIBLE development blog. We hope to inspire those planning to travel to the area, while providing a tantalizing glimpse at what the full site will offer.

 

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Breakaway Cafe- A locals spot that visitors to Sonoma should know about

rated:  Incredible Accessible

I have to be honest.  Though a very popular go-to place for the locals to have casual meal, I hadn’t been here in a very long time.  My mistake.

Breakaway Cafe is part of the fabric of the Sonoma Valley.  The locals know all about it, but it’s off the tourist radar.  I am now letting out our little secret.  The Breakaway Cafe is an epicurean discovery when you’re looking for a reasonably priced, casual spot away from the bustle of the Plaza.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I announced to the Sonoma Valley Visitor’s Bureau members that I was ready to showcase accessible tourism businesses on incredibleACCESSIBLE.com, Bob Rice at the Breakaway Cafe was the first to contact me.  He wrote that he has several regular customers in wheelchairs and they find the restaurant easy to navigate.  So his was the first restaurant that I went to visit.

Wow!  Look what I’ve been missing!

Nicoise Salad

Nicoise Salad with Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna, from the lunch and dinner menu $15.50

 

I took my first bite of that tuna steak and realized that this was no simple shopping center diner.  It may be the best Nicoise Salad I’ve had anywhere at any price.  My friend Genevieve was equally impressed with her meal, but she comes here all the time so it was no surprise for her.

 

Gen's lunch

La Bamba Bowl from the breakfast menu: Scrambled Eggs with Tortilla Chips, Jack Cheese. Topped with Salsa Ranchera, Avocado $10.50

Breakaway Cafe is not a chain restaurant.  Breakaway is a little diamond of a restaurant, locally owned by Bob Rice.  Bob started his restaurant in a tiny spot in Boyes Hot Springs 20 years ago, having been the former owner and chef at the Glen Ellen Inn.  Quickly building a reputation for having the best breakfast around he moved and expanded 14 years ago to the current location in Maxwell Village.

It’s still known for its great breakfasts, but now the reputation has spread to weekend brunch, grass fed burgers, steaks, and margaritas.  This is casual fine dining that will not disappoint.  Take a look at some of these menu items:

Breakfast:

an array of egg specials from Huevos Rancheros $7.50 to Corned Beef Hash $11.50

an array of griddle specials from One Hot Cake $4.50 to Cinnamon Raisin French Toast with Bananas $9.95

an array of This ‘n’ That from One Egg $2.00 to Bowl of Fresh Fruit $6.95

Lunch:

a cup of Soup of the Day $4.75

an array of salads from House $7.50 to Nicoise $15.50 (served with Ciabatta Bread)

an array of sandwiches from Tuna Melt on Grilled Sourdough $12.25 to Three Shredded Pork Tacos $13.95 (served with soup, slaw, fries, or salad)

an array of burgers from 1/3 pound Cheeseburger $10.75 to Fancy Fish Burger $14.95 (served with soup, slaw, fries, or salad)

Dinner:

same great soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers, but now kicked up a notch with:

an array of appetizers from Chicken Quesadilla $7.50 to Grilled Prawn Cocktail $11.25

steaks from 8 oz Flatiron $19.95 to 10 oz Filet $23.95 (presented with the chefs daily inspiration)

an array of entrees from Meatloaf $14.50 to Jambalaya $16.50

Plus Nightly Specials, Plus Holiday Specials

http://breakawaycafe.com/

Brunch:

(changes every week, seasonally inspired)

recent specials:  Nectarine and Blueberry Upside Pancake $10.50, Florentine Benedict $13.95

cocktails from the bar:  Coconut Gelato Pina Colada $8.50

So many options, so little time!

Yes, the Breakaway Cafe is incredible.

But is it accessible?  Yes!

Let me now establish what I will be reviewing in each of my restaurant accessibility reviews:

  • parking
  • distance to restaurant from parking
  • ease of entry into restaurant
  • ease of getting to the table
  • comfort at table
  • helpfulness of staff
  • restrooms

Parking and Distance to Entry

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There are 2 handicap parking spaces right at the entrance.  Both have the “no parking” zone allowing for a side entry ramp extension.  The Breakaway Cafe is located in the Maxwell Village shopping center with a huge parking lot.  If these 2 spaces are taken there are other van accessible spots in the parking lot, though some distance away.  The regular parking spaces are wide, typically allowing for sufficient space to unload walkers.  Drop-off at the curb cut is always an option, with ample parking for the able-bodied driver.

Ease of Entry Into Restaurant

There are 2 entry doors.  Opening the first puts you in a small vestibule where there is another door.  Both were lightweight and easy to open without assistance.  There was sufficient space in the vestibule to maneuver.

Ease of Getting to the Table

The restaurant is wide open and spacious.  Every table is easy to get to in a wheelchair or scooter.  There is seating for one, several, or a large group.

Comfort at Table

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI often transfer from my scooter to regular seating and it was easy to do here with lots of space to maneuver.  The banquette seat was very cushiony and dropped me lower than I prefer.  The next visit (yes, I’ve been back already!) I opted for a chair like the ones appearing on the left and that was better for me.

 

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Though the banquette was lower than I expected, it was quite comfortable.  I usually need to sit on a cushion but it wasn’t needed here.

Helpfulness of Staff

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeet Bob Rice, the owner of Breakaway Cafe.  Bob is about the nicest guy around!  Yes, I was here for an official visit, but I could tell that Bob cares.  He’s proud of his restaurant and proud of it’s accessibility.

His staff reflects the same attitude.  On this visit, Gen moved my scooter; on the next visit my husband was tied up with his cell phone, and the host helped get me seated, and drove the scooter to an out of the way location.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There it is next to the toy cabinet and booster chairs.  Oh, yes, Breakaway Cafe is also kid friendly, with a menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Restrooms

And now for perhaps the most critical part of an accessibility review, the restrooms!  These are great.  The location is good, just to the right past the bar, as you enter the restaurant.  The door was marked with a handicap symbol, and was lightweight and easy to open, as was the door into the stall.  The handicap stall is traditional ADA size and configuration with a tall toilet and grab bars.  The double sinks allowed plenty of space for me to be sideways in the scooter, with the paper towels, soap dispenser, and waste chute within reach.  There is a Women’s Restroom and a Men’s Restroom, both having an ADA stall and 1 regular stall.  4 stalls means less waiting time.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Rating:  incredibleACCESSIBLE

 

The Breakaway Cafe, 19101 Sonoma Highway in the Maxwell Village Shopping Center

707-996-5949

Breakfast:  8:00-2:00 Daily

Weekend Brunch  8:00-3:00 Sat, Sun

Lunch:  11:00-2:00 weekdays, 11:00-3:00 weekends

Dinner:  5:00 pm-9:00 Sun-Thurs, 5:00-9:30 Fri, Sat

Full Bar, Micro Brews, Local Wines

Kid Friendly:  menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

No Reservations needed

Noise Level: Quiet, easy to have a conversation

Ambiance:  Casual

Good for Large Groups

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Question: Can physically challenged people fly?

Answer:  Generally, yes.  We will work with you any way we can to share this unique and memorable experience.

from the website of Coastal Air Tours

Sonoma Skypark Airport

Sonoma, CA

 


Captain Bob Berwick is proud of his beautifully restored 1926 Travelair bi-plane.

Fortunately he selected Sonoma Skypark as his airfield, 6 minutes from where I live.   I met Captain Bob at the annual Family Fun Day in June.  Spotting him helping an elderly gentleman onto the wing and into the passenger seat, I wondered if he would do the same for people with disabilities.IMG_2576

I can stand but I can’t walk.  I can’t lift my legs to step into the plane.  Can I get into Old Blue?

I told Captain Bob about incredibleACCESSIBLE.  Without hesitation he said yes, he would take me flying.  It turns out that he knows disability.  His father had MS when Captain Bob was a kid, and Bob was his caregiver.  He understands.IMG_2634_2

Captain Bob will work with you any way he can to share this unique and memorable experience.

We took it slow.  Left foot up.  Right foot up.  Wait.  Move the right foot forward.  Pick the right foot up and put it on the seat.  And so forth.  Captain Bob was supporting me while Chip moved my feet around.IMG_2592

I knew we were going to get me in; Captain Bob wanted me to fly.IMG_2594

Matthew the mechanic was there to help but also to observe.  These two guys are going to invent something to help get people into the plane.  They don’t have to but they want to.  There is no ADA requirement for 1926 bi-planes to take disabled people flying.

Captain Bob is making up his own rules.

IMG_2604_2We were snug in our seats, our leather helmets in place.  A couple of selfies and we start rolling down the runway to a gentle lift off.

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We’re up!  For 30 minutes we glided over vineyards, mountains, and tiny houses with the incredible view framed between those two beautiful wings, the sky fresh on my face. IMG_1396

She flies low and slow and shows you the Sonoma Valley more intimately than you ever could see in an enclosed plane.

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I spot familiar landmarks.  The Plaza!

This is beyond incredible.

 

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Much too soon we circle back to the airport and within minutes we are making a perfect landing.

 

 

 

Now it’s time to get me out.  Slow step by slow step I make my moves, onto the wing, and down to the ground.   I have just experienced a thrill that I never would have guessed was accessible.

Old Blue is accessible and Captain Bob is incredible.

Coastal Air Tours 685 Denmark Street, Sonoma, CA 415.609.7273 CaptainBob@CoastalAirTours.com 30 minute Wine Country Tour $175…Add a second passenger for $95 check website for other options

COASTAL AIR TOURS IS

rated “BEYOND INCREDIBLE”

CoastalAirTours.com

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Transcendence Theater Company presents Broadway Under the Stars!

handicap accessible

“Beyond Incredible”

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Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen, California is a magical place.  Three years ago Transcendence Theater Company added the fairy dust when they introduced the Sonoma Valley to Broadway Under the Stars.  Over a hundred performing artists, many featured on Broadway, have dazzled audiences in Jack London’s beautiful open-air winery ruins.

Transcendence Theater Company has a goal of being the most accessible outdoor theater company in America.  It’s pretty terrific already.

TTC asked me to attend opening night and capture photos of accessibility details, to give people with limited mobility visual knowledge of the grounds.  We now present:

The Accessibility Guide to the incredibleACCESSIBLE

Broadway Under the Stars

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Arrive early!  There is so much to enjoy.

Bring a picnic, drink wine, listen to music, shop, visit with friends, savor the moment. The time will fly and suddenly arriving at 5:00 will make total sense.

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Entering the park, a volunteer will guide you to appropriate handicap parking.

  • VIP tickets-   Upper Parking Lot if self-mobile

                                      Lower Parking Lot for a shuttle

  • Premium and General Admission

                                      Lower Parking Lot for a shuttle

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Lower Parking Lot

Parking is easy and a shuttle follows you to your parking space.

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The ramps flips down and on you roll

One shuttle has a ramp, the other does not.  They’ll send the one that you need.IMG_2380

Handicap check-in is in the parking lot, avoiding the trip up the hill to the box office.

 

 

Scenic Route from the Lower Parking Lot

The shuttle takes you past picturesque vineyard views
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VIP tickets and the Upper Parking Lot

If you’re strong enough to walk uphill, or have a power wheelchair or scooter, you can park here and hike up the hill.

The hill is somewhat steep, somewhat long, wide but with loose gravel.  The shuttle is the easier choice from the Lower Parking Lot.

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The closest portable toilet

If you’re in a rush there is a portable toilet at the edge of the VIP Upper Parking Lot.

If you’re in the Lower Parking Lot, there are more portable toilets once you arrive at the theater.

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The uphill climb from the Upper Parking Lot

It’s steeper than this makes it look, but for some it may be fine.

 The bright turquoise spot on the right is the portable toilet in the Upper Parking Lot indicates the distance.  Powerful scooters and wheelchairs can handle it, though you may need a push through patches of loose gravel.

 

 

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Shuttle Stop #1 the theater entrance

This is the most popular shuttle stop, adjacent to many activities.

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A big beautiful handicap portable toilet

Adjacent to Shuttle Stop #1 and level

Clean, convenient, and accessible

Clean, convenient, and accessible

 

 

Get your t-shirts and sweatshirts at the Merchandise Tent

Adjacent to Shuttle Stop #1 and level

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The VIP lounge

Adjacent to Shuttle Stop #1, and down a slight grade.  Pick your route as some will be steeper than others.

Chatting with Brad Surosky, Co-Executive Director of Transcendence Theater.  You’ll spot him and other performers roaming the meadow and mingling prior to the show.

It’s empty looking now but later the crowds arrive.  Get here early!

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Entertainment at the edge of the meadow

The meadow is a natural feature in this beautiful state park.  It’s level, but may have bumps and divets.  If you use 2 levels of mobility equipment, tonight’s the night to use the walker rather than the cane, the scooter rather than the walker.

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The meadow- Jack London’s Beauty Ranch lawn

Come early and picnic in the meadow, with picnic tables, hay bales and pedestal tables provided for your use.  More picnic tables are up the hill if it’s not too steep for you.  To guarantee a picnic table, reservations should be made in advance at a cost of $50.

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Shuttle stop #2  Broadway Wine Circle

At every performance the featured winery hosts a pre-party.  For a $40 annual membership you can be a member of the Broadway Wine Circle and support Transcendence Theater Company.

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Yes, the Broadway Wine Circle is accessible!

Enjoying pre-performance conversation with friends.

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Food truck picnic

A variety of food trucks are on the meadow.  Such decisions!  Bring your picnic or buy one here.

Chip can reach it from the window, but if you need them to bring it to you they will.
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Picnic tables at the top of the hill

There’s more shade up the hill, but it is up the hill.  Note the accessible picnic table.  The first 24 inches are barrier free, for an easy transfer.

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Even the performers are accessible!

Carrie Manolakos, Broadway star in Mama Mia and Wicked, is beautiful, talented, and mingling with the crowd.

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In case of emergency

The paramedics are standing by

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Time for the show!

VIP seats = thick white cushion.   Premium seats = medium thick burgundy cushion.  General admission = no cushion.  Bring your own if you want more padding and will be using a chair.

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the sun sets, the music rises

let the magic begin
IMG_1520Get ready for one of the best nights of your life.

 

 Rated “BEYOND INCREDIBLE”

 

TIPS to make the most of your evening

  • call 877-424-1414 prior to arrival to reserve handicap seating arrangements
  • General Admission ticketholders start lining up about 6:30 before the doors open at 7:00; with reserved handicap seats you don’t need to be in line
  • arrive early to enjoy the park, 5:00 to 5:30 is great
  • arrive no later than 6:45 to allow ample time to make the show at 7:30
  • dress in layers- it may be hot at the beginning
  • bring a blanket- it may be cold at the end
  • bring a cushion if you have General Admission tickets and will be using a chair
  • if you walk, wear comfortable shoes
  • bring a flashlight
  • bring an umbrella or parasol for pre-show if heat sensitive
  • bring a picnic or buy from the food trucks
  • bring only a service dog- no pets
  • bring NO alcohol
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