While making plans for a recent Baltimore visit, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Judy Colbert, author of 100 Things to Do in Baltimore Before You Die (www.amazon.com/100-Things-Baltimore-Before-You/dp/1681060132). And although I think everyone should buy her excellent book, here’s a sampling of her favorite accessible Charm City finds.
Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
At the top of Colbert’s list is the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum (baberuthmuseum.org). Remodeled in 2015, the building now includes elevator access from the Dover Street Entrance. And although they operate on a skeleton crew from October to March, wheelchair-users and slow walkers just need to call (410) 727-1539 if they find that entrance closed in the off season. The small museum is packed full of Babe Ruth exhibits, which shed light on both the baseball player, the father and the friend. Says Colbert, “I like this museum better than the larger one in Cooperstown, as it has a lot of cute design touches such as the balustrade of bats on the staircase.” Colbert even recalls witnessing a wedding there once — when a California couple was married in the Babe’s bedroom and they had their recessional under raised bats. Now that’s what I call a couple of diehard baseball fans!
For a look at a piece of naval history, Colbert suggests heading over to the Inner Harbor for a tour of the USS Constellation (www.historicships.org/constellation.html). Constructed in 1854, this all-sail Navy warship has been painstakingly restored. There’s lift access up to the main deck, and a stair lift down to the gun deck, so wheelchair-users can get a good overview of the ship. Additionally there’s a lot of open space on the ship, which makes wheeling around relatively easy. It’s an excellent opportunity to get a closer look at a piece of naval history. And advises Judy, “If you have a personal connection to the ship, let them know in advance; as they keep a database of descendants for research purposes. They also have a reunion of the descendants every other year.”
No trip to Baltimore is complete without a trip to the National Aquarium (www.aqua.org), or rather what Colbert refers to as a “super aquarium”. With over 20,000 animals and more than 100 exhibits, you’ll want to spend the better part of the day there. And coming in 2020 a new dolphin sanctuary will be added to the lineup. Access throughout the aquarium is excellent, and they’ve even published an access guide (www.aqua.org/-/media/Accessibility-Guide.ashx). And if you have any access questions or concerns, just give the Special Guest Liaison a call at (410) 659-4291. Best of all disabled visitors are admitted a half-hour early — to allow for a more relaxed visit — on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month. Additionally, Judy likes to remind folks that you can stay in the aquarium for up to 90 minutes after they close. “So, if they close at 5:00, you can take your time and wander around until 6:30,” she adds.
Finally, Judy’s top suggestion for getting to and from Baltimore’s top tourist attractions, is to hop aboard the Charm City Circulator (CCC) (www.charmcitycirculator.com). This free shuttle has four routes in the central business district, and links many of the popular areas of the city. Even better, all CCC buses are ramp-equipped and include two wheelchair tie-downs. Plus the drivers are super friendly, and are always happy to offer assistance. Says Colbert, “It’s an easy, accessible and affordable way to get around town.”