Charm City. A city of neighborhoods. Industry. Seafood. Science. Religion.
These are each hallmarks of the city of Baltimore, the largest city in the state of Maryland. Baltimore was first settled in 1729 and soon became a major shipping and commerce center in the mid-Atlantic. While the city remains an important shipping port, it is also an important center of finance, industry and science. The area has become a leader of innovation in the fields of health and science, due in large part to the presence of Johns Hopkins University and the nearby University of Maryland. Accessibility in the city is quite good, with one particular bright spot being the fully accessible public transportation system.
Baltimore’s public transportation system is fully accessible to the disabled and wheelchair users. By using a combination of metro subway, light rail and bus service, wheelchair users can access all parts of the city. Information, tips and guidelines for using the city transportation network if you have a mobility challenge can be found below.
Metro Subway system
The Baltimore subway system features a single line with 14 stops. The subway and its train cars are wheelchair accessible. Elevators from the street entrance to train platform are available at all stations. The subway runs from Johns Hopkins Hospital to Owings Mills.
Light Rail (LR)The Baltimore Light Rail is wheelchair accessible on all trains and at all stops. The network features three lines which serve 33 stations. A map of the light rail system is available via a link below.
Riders access the light rail by climbing several steps. Wheelchair access to light rail trains is provided by a high platform, accessed via ramp, at each station. The first train car is equipped with a fold-out ramp which allows the wheelchair user to cross the gap and board or alight from the train. Wheelchair users should wait at the top of the elevated platform prior to the arrival of the desired train.
Seats at the front of each train car are reserved for the elderly and disabled. Spaces are also available for wheelchair users.
Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) is served by one line of the light rail which offers service between the city center and the airport. The airport train connects to the metro subway at the Lexington Market station and numerous bus routes at all stations.
City bus network
The Maryland Transit Administration operates 80 city bus routes within and around the city of Baltimore. Service times and schedules vary among routes.
All city buses are wheelchair accessible with lowered floors and wheelchair ramps or lifts. Buses offer spaces for wheelchair securement with provided tie downs and straps. Priority seating is available for the elderly and disabled.
Fares, route maps and schedules
Fares on the metro subway, light rail and city bus services are $1.60 each way. Day passes are available for $3.50.
Disabled patrons with a valid Medicare card, a state disability card or who have a visible physical impairment (i.e.: using a wheelchair) are granted a discount rate of $0.55 each way or $1.20 for a day pass. Details on the application process for a reduced fare ID can be found at www.mta.maryland.gov.
- For a map of the light rail system, click here (PDF).
- For a map of the metro subway system, click here (PDF).
- To check for elevator outages at metro subway stations, click here.
- For bus times, schedules and directions, click here.
- For information on the city’s ADA Paratransit service and to see if you qualify, click here.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of accessibility of the world’s public transit systems, please use the comments section at the bottom of this page to share your experiences and any changes you may have noticed in Baltimore.
Accessible Taxi Services
Baltimore has a relatively small size fleet of wheelchair taxis which can accommodate both manual and powered wheelchairs. The accessible taxi vans have a lowered floor and are equipped for rear (lift gate) entry. Accessible taxis have ramps, offer roll-in/out ability and are outfitted with wheelchair securement straps and tie-downs. Wheelchair taxis can be ordered on demand, but wait times are extremely variable — from 15 minutes to an hour or more. Accessible cabs are directed to the airport with priority. For all other calls, travelers should reserve the ADA accessible taxi with at least two hours advanced notice.
Yellow Cab of Baltimore
(410) 685-1212 — 24-hour dispatch
Wheelchair taxis are charged at the same rate as a normal taxi. Baltimore’s city-approved fares are below:
Flag Drop & first 1/11 mile — $1.80
Per additional 1/11 mile — $0.20
Waiting time (per 30 seconds) — $0.20
Surcharge (taxi arrives within 30 minutes of call) — $1.00
Nighttime surcharge (9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.) — $0.50
Flat Rate (Airport to/from downtown) — $30.00
Flat Rate (Airport to/from cruise ship terminal) — $30.00
Surcharges for additional passengers are not permitted. Charges for luggage or use of the taxi trunk are not permitted. Additional charges for wheelchair handling are illegal.
Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) is accessible to the disabled and wheelchair users.
Taxis can be ordered on demand from the airport. Access to the city’s Light Rail system is available at the airport. Travelers should follow the signs to the Light Rail platform at baggage claim. The airport’s Light Rail train provides service to downtown, the Inner Harbor and both professional sports stadiums.
Each terminal features ADA compliant restroom facilities. For additional information on the accessibility of BWI, visit www.bwiairport.com.
Should you require a wheelchair at the airport or any other type of assistance, contact your airline directly prior to travel.
Accessibility of Sidewalks/Streets
In 2013, Baltimore was rated the 14th most walkable city in the United States in a study conducted by the University of Baltimore. While this accolade is certainly impressive, it sheds little light on the “rollability” of the city.
The condition of sidewalks varies between neighborhoods. The smoothest and most well cared for sidewalks are located in the central business district, surrounding the Inner Harbor and around major tourist areas and attractions. In less touristed parts of the city, sidewalks may have cracks, potholes or other impediments that may make a smooth roll difficult to achieve. This is not uncommon for cities in the United States.
Curb cuts are present at nearly all intersections. Certain crosswalks in the low traffic areas with sidewalks in disrepair may not lead to an accessible curb, but this is a rare exception. While there is elevation in parts of the city, it should not prove to be prohibitive to users of manual wheelchairs and those who have difficulty walking.
Winter weather and snowfall will present additional challenges to those navigating the sidewalks by wheelchair. While the city makes a concerted effort to clear sidewalks of snow, wheelchair users may wish to rely on public transportation while snow is on the ground.
Attractions & Sights
Baltimore features a wealth of both free and paid attractions, museums and sights, the majority of which are fully accessible. Listed below are many of these top sights and activities. All listed here are at least partially wheelchair accessible.
Note: For each of the below-listed attractions, the nearest metro subway and/or light rail station is listed. All listed stations are within one mile of the attraction. If no station is listed, the distance to the nearest accessible station is greater than one mile. Please share any experiences you have accessing these sights in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
The Inner Harbor
The Inner Harbor is a downtown district of Baltimore which surrounds and includes what is a historic seaport and landmark in the city. Sightseeing ferries, dinner cruises and water taxis operate out of the harbor. Due to the shallow depth of the harbor, it never served as a major shipping port, but as a focal point of the city. Today, the Inner Harbor is the center of downtown activity. Restaurants, hotels, museums, shops/stores, parks and both of the city’s professional sports stadiums are within walking distance of the harbor. The USS Constellation, the only Civil War-era ship still afloat, is docked in the harbor. Other attractions in the immediate vicinity of the harbor include the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and the Baltimore World Trade Center’s “Top of the World” observatory. The Baltimore Visitor’s Center is also located adjacent to the harbor. The docks, walkways, Harbor Place shops and restaurants surrounding the harbor are wheelchair accessible. For more information on the Inner Harbor and surrounding attractions, restaurants and more, visit baltimore.org.
Nearest subway station: 0.4 miles from Charles Center
Nearest light rail station: 0.4 miles from Pratt Street
USS ConstellationThe USS Constellation, constructed in 1854, is the only Civil War-era ship that remains afloat. It was the last sail-only (not engine-powered) ship designed and built by the United States Navy. The Constellation spent her early years in the Mediterranean and became the flagship of the African Squadron from 1859-1861. Following the Civil War, Constellation was used for humanitarian and training purposes, with a short time spent as a floating naval barracks. The ship was decommissioned in 1933, but recommissioned in 1940 to serve as a national symbol and flagship. Finally decommissioned in 1955, the USS Constellation reached her final docking place at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 1963. The ship is now on display to the public via the Historic Ships in Baltimore museum. Wheelchair users can access both the top deck and lower deck of the Constellation via mechanical wheelchair stair lifts. The lifts are designed for manual wheelchairs, but can accommodate some power wheelchairs depending on the combined weight of the wheelchair and its occupant. For more information on the Historic Ships in Baltimore museum or to purchase tickets, visit www.historicships.org.
Nearest subway station: 0.5 miles from Charles Center
Nearest light rail station: 0.5 miles from Pratt Street
Built between 1798 and 1800, Fort McHenry is a star-shaped fort which sits on the shore of the Baltimore Harbor, guarding the entrance to the city’s Inner Harbor.
The fort is today known for its role in the War of 1812, in which it kept the British navy from entering the Inner Harbor through a two-day military engagement. During the exchange of fire between the British warships and Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” now the national anthem of the United States. The fort’s visitor center is accessible to wheelchair users and the fort itself is “mostly” accessible. Pathways in and around the fort are accessible and the grounds have multiple ADA compliant restroom facilities. Adults may gain admission to the Fort McHenry National Monument for $7.00. Admission is free for disabled visitors with the National Parks Access Pass. For more information on the monument, its grounds and facilities, visit www.nps.gov. You can also read my detailed review in the article, Wheelchair Accessibility at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
BUS route 1 operates from downtown center/Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry
National AquariumThe National Aquarium in Baltimore, opened in 1981, is among the top 5 aquariums in the United States as rated by the Travel Channel, Coastal Living magazine and others. Welcoming more than 1.5 million visitors annually, the National Aquarium entertains with a diverse selection of exhibits. Among the most popular are the Upland Tropical Rain Forest, an open ocean shark tank and the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin marine mammal pavilion. Amid 2.2 million gallons of water, the aquarium is home to some 17,000 specimens representing more than 750 species of marine life. Wheelchair accessibility is excellent, with disabled access to all exhibits throughout the property. Tickets for adults are $34.95, with a discounted rate of $31.95 available to seniors (age 65+). For more information on the National Aquarium or to purchase tickets, visit www.aqua.org.
Nearest subway station: 0.4 miles from Shot Tower
Nearest light rail station: 0.6 miles from Pratt Street
Federal Hill Park
Federal Hill Park is situated on a hillside next to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The park is within the larger Federal Hill Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. A lush green space, the park is a community gathering place and serves as host to frequent outdoor music and theatre events. The historic, 19th century Cross Street Market is located within walking distance of the park. Numerous bars and restaurants are located nearby. The park and neighborhood are wheelchair accessible with sidewalks and pathways throughout.
Nearest subway station: 1 mile from Charles Center
Nearest light rail station: 0.8 miles from Hamburg Street
Baltimore Museum of Art
The Baltimore Museum of Art was established in 1914 and is recognized for its world renowned collection of 19th and early 20th-century modern and contemporary art. The museum today holds more than 90,000 pieces of art and maintains the largest collection of works by Henri Matisse in the world. The B.M.A.’s most important collection, assembled and donated by Ms. Etta Cone, include works by Degas, van Gogh, Manet, Matisse, Picasso and Renoir. The museum and its exhibits are fully accessible to wheelchair users. Admission to the B.M.A. is free to all. For more information on the museum and its collections, visit www.artbma.org.
BUS route 3 operates from downtown center/Inner Harbor to B.M.A.
Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin MaryCommonly referred to as the Baltimore Basilica, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built between 1806 and 1821. Consecrated in May of 1821, the Basilica was the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the United States. Architect Benjamin H. Latrobe, known as the “Father of American Architecture,” utilized a neoclassical style. Latrobe is perhaps best known for his architectural contributions to the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica in 1995, followed by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1996. The Basilica was restored between 2003 and 2006 at a cost of $34 million and is regarded as one of the most beautiful cathedrals in North America. The Basilica is wheelchair accessible. Guided tours are offered are offered at different times every day of the week. Mass is celebrated daily. For more information on the Basilica, tours or Mass times, visit www.americasfirstcathedral.org.
Nearest subway station: 0.4 miles from Lexington Market
Nearest light rail station: 0.3 miles from Centre Street
Edgar Allen Poe House & Museum
The Edgar Allen Poe House, a National Historic Landmark, is the home the author shared with his aunt, grandmother and two cousins from 1833 to 1835. The house has been preserved extremely well, but is not wheelchair accessible due to small corridors and winding staircases. The museum, however, can be accessed and features exhibits which tell the story of Poe’s life and death. A video tour of the house is available to those who are unable to tour it themselves. For more information on the house, museum and tours, visit www.poeinbaltimore.org.
Nearest subway station: 0.8 miles from Lexington Market
Nearest light rail station: 0.9 miles from Baltimore Street
Professional Sports Teams
Two professional sports teams reside in Baltimore and both stadiums have accessible seating and wheelchair access. The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens MLB’s Baltimore Orioles each provide exciting game day experiences. Links to the team-specific accessibility information and ticket office phone numbers are listed below. Each stadium is accessible via public transportation. Details for each team, information on how to reach the stadiums and links to stadium accessibility information is provided below.
NFL – Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium
Nearest light rail station: Hamburg Street
Website – Disabled Access Info
MLB – Baltimore Orioles
Orioles Park at Camden Yards
Nearest light rail station: Camden Yards
Website – Disabled Access Info
Wheelchair Accessible Hotels in Baltimore
Due to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the vast majority of hotels in the United States are wheelchair accessible and have rooms with roll-in showers. For individuals requiring an accessible hotel room with roll-in shower, we recommend booking with a major hotel chain such as Hilton or Marriott for the best experience.