Traveling on an antique train through the picturesque Napa Valley sounds like a marvelous adventure, but if you’re in a wheelchair it can also seem impossible. Fortunately the Napa Valley Wine Train has thought of nearly everything to make this incredible experience accessible to all, even those of us with limited mobility.
It’s a common sight in the Napa Valley, catching a glimpse of the Napa Valley Wine Train as it makes its way through the Valley from Napa to St. Helena and back again. We had ridden the Wine Train years ago with Chip’s mom, enjoying a springtime lunch while viewing the passing mustard covered vineyards. But that was before I was using a scooter for mobility. I had heard the Wine Train was accessible and I wanted to find out for myself, so this time we decided to try the Sunset Dinner Train.
Pulling into the parking lot gave me my first clue that this was going to be a very doable adventure. Accessible parking spaces galore! The train station is framed by long stairs, but thankfully a very impressive ramp was just off to the side. I love the ingenuity of a creatively designed ramp! It’s a bit lengthy with a couple of switchbacks to get to station level, so folks pushing walkers be forewarned!
The ramp and wide entrance door allowed me to easily get to the expansive lobby, where the ticket counter, as well as the gift shop, were simple to navigate. You will want to arrive early as the shopping is fun, with lots of train related items and plenty of wine choices.
The staff was gracious and eager to assist me. I had called ahead of time and informed them of my needs, so they knew what to expect. There are only 2 accessible cars on the train and you’ll need to book that ahead of time. While some wheelchairs will fit on the train, most scooters probably won’t, so I arranged for a transport chair that was ready for me when I arrived.
Here’s an important restroom tip – don’t transfer from your own mobility equipment to the transport chair too soon. I realized that I needed to go to the restroom after the transfer, but Chip needed to push the transport chair, and he didn’t really want to push me into the multi-stall Ladies Room. Fortunately a kind passenger saw our dilemma and pushed me. The restrooms in the station are accessible, but the train itself does not have accessible restrooms so you’ll want to think ahead on this!
We were comfortably seated in the waiting room when we heard the train whistle and the cry “All Aboard”! We headed out to the platform with the assistance of a young lady who pushed me to the lift. The hand-operated lift was waiting at the appropriate car, complete with a canopy in case of rain. The lift operator was friendly and happy to help me get onto the lift safely. It was easy to use, actually kind of fun, and made it possible for me to board this beautiful vintage train.
Once inside the magnificently restored train car, we were escorted to our table. White linens, lovely china and a fragrant orchid set the scene for our romantic dining experience. Every table on the train has a window seat, with views of the vineyards and world famous wineries that will take your breath away. We pulled away from the station and the magical vistas of the Napa Valley started to unfold. This thankfully is no bullet train. At a leisurely pace, we enjoyed the rhythm of the rails while taking in a rolling array of ever-changing scenic splendor.
This is more than a train trip; it’s a culinary adventure. The multi-course gourmet meal was professionally served and leisurely paced, perfectly complementing the leisurely progression of the train. There was even a refreshing sorbet to cleanse our palates between courses. What would a Wine Train experience be without wine? There was an extensive wine list from which to select one of the area’s amazing bottles.
As we pulled back into the station three hours later, the sun had set and the stars had come out. Even in the darkness it was magical with views of lighted wineries and the afterglow of our lovely dinner and wine. What an incredible, memorable, and wheelchair accessible adventure!
Napa Valley Wine Train
1275 McKinstry Street
Napa, CA 94559
for more information: http://winetrain.com
for accessibility information: http://winetrain.com/faq/#Wheelchair
for service dog information: http://winetrain.com/faq/#ServiceAnimals
Sunset Dinner Train
offered May – September (Dinner Trains available year round)
$124- $199 per person
multiple course dinner
3 hour train journey
- 6 accessible parking spaces including 1 van accessible
- paved parking lot
- wide ramp to enter station
- wide entries with flat thresholds
- spacious interiors with ample maneuverability space
- accessible Men’s and Women’s restrooms
- lift for entry into dining car
- transport chair available with attendant
- wheelchairs and scooters may not fit into dining car
- will need to transfer to transport chair
- no accessible restroom on board train
- will need to use accessible restrooms in station
- call to book accessible dining seating
- discuss your personal wheelchair dimension to determine if transport chair is needed
- use station restroom before transferring to transport chair