Touring on the Napa Valley Train with a Wheelchair

Riding the Napa Valley Wine Train is a unique way to get a brief overview of this famous wine country region while enjoying a multiple-course gourmet meal with wine.

The entire journey is 3 hours long (36 miles) and begins at the station in Napa then up to St. Helena and back. The tracks run alongside the historic highway 29 which turns into highway 128. This route has some of the well-known wineries in the Napa Valley, some of which are over-priced and over-rated, but these are just the tip of the iceberg into a plethora of quaint wineries.

The train itself is 100 years old but a few modifications have been made to allow some wheelchair access. The train is not equipped to handle every size chair due to the width of the car doors. The width to the vintage 1915 Pullman Dining Car is the largest at 31 inches. If your wheelchair cannot fit then the Wine Train can loan you one of theirs that is approximately 23 inches wide. To get into the Pullman Dining Car, one needs to go up a steep 1ft ramp into the dining car, some will want help and others may not. This car has been lavishly restored, velvet curtains and all. Here you will enjoy a 3-course lunch or dinner, designed by a renowned chef using local, organic ingredients. Besides water, beverages are not included. If you want to bring your own bottle of wine on board then a $15 corkage fee applies.

From May to the end of summer the Silverado Car, an open-Air BBQ bar, is also available to wheelchair users and is a little less expensive. The door width to this car is slightly smaller than the Pullman Dining Car at 25 inches. It is only available during the summer time because the windows are completely open. Enjoy a 3-course gourmet BBQ meal along with one glass of wine (Train Private Label Wine) or a beer.

Whether you choose the Pullman Dining or Silverado Car experience, both menus offer a vegetarian selection. Furthermore, both cars have large windows with the same views of the wine country. For either option, you remain at the table where you have been seated throughout the journey. Since there is so much leisure time, perhaps space out the courses to extend the pleasure. For instance, have the first course on the way to St. Helena and the main course and dessert on the way back.

For those that have chairs narrow enough to fit aboard or are willing to use the complimentary chair, the biggest concern once on the train is the size of the bathroom on the train. Located in the Open-Air BBQ Car, it is by far not by ADA standards and impossible to fit through the door even with a narrow chair. Wheelchair accessible bathrooms are available in the train station before and after your train trip. Handicapped parking is also available at the station.

To board the train, a manual lift is used for in wheelchairs. When the lift is on the floor, the 1.5ft incline to the platform was manageable with a little momentum; otherwise, someone is right there to help if preferred over a member in your party. Finally, only a maximum of two wheelchairs can be accommodated on the train at the same time.

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