by Suzanne Bair
The city of Boston is full of rich history and culture. From walking or rolling tours, museums and galleries, sports, food, or shopping… this city has something for everyone, no matter what your accessible travel needs are.
I was rather amazed at the abundance of accessible transportation options available in Boston. With so many ways to get around I could rely on public transportation my whole trip starting from the Airport. The subway, MBTA or the “T”, connects travelers throughout Boston and neighboring Cambridge starting with the convenient Silver Line providing quick transportation from Logan Airport into the heart of the city for free. From there passengers can connect to one of the many other subway lines and local buses for a nominal or discounted fare for passengers with disabilities. Local buses have easy entrance doors for travelers with limited mobility or requiring wheelchair access. MBTA makes traveling between the bus and subway easy and convenient with the Charlie Card, required for all fares, no cash is accepted. Ride share companies Uber, Lyft, and Fasten offer other alternatives as well traditional taxis. And then don’t forget all the hop on-hop off trolley tours that loop around to popular tourist attractions throughout the city.
While the options may seem limitless, there are limits. Not all MBTA -T stops are accessible and only about a third of the hop on-hop off tour stops listed on their routes are accessible. You may need to go far out of your way if choosing one of these options to reach the nearest accessible stop. Be sure to check accessible routes and stop locations by contacting those providers directly. MBTA, who provides both the bus and subway service, offers a great app to provide you with more information about accessible routes and updates about closures.
There are no shortage of accessible activities in this bustling city. The Boston waterfront area was one of my favorite walking spots with beautiful views and plenty of resting places, a perfect respite for a water lover like myself. It was also the convenient starting point for many other accessible activities such as the New England Aquarium, Boston Duck Tours, Whale Watching and several other Boston Harbor Cruises trips I participated in.
Just a few blocks away, you can jump on the Freedom Trail at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market which will take you on a 2.5 mile guided or self-paced walking tour through a sizable portion of the city. Just follow the red brick line on the sidewalk to find your way to most of the area’s top historical attractions.
For a fun evening out, consider taking in the local beer culture. Boston Beer Tours offers fantastic small group and private tours to four local breweries throughout the city. Each tour takes you to a diverse selection of breweries with up to 16 unique tastings along with a lunch or dinner pairing. Not all breweries are fully accessible so be sure to call ahead to check the location stops for each tour. Tour locations rotate daily and are approximately 5 hours long.
I laughed. I cried.
I drank a lot of beer that night.
Make visiting Boston and the surrounding area more affordable by purchasing a Boston Go Card or City Pass. Both discount cards offer a variety of attractions at deeply discounted prices and often allow you quicker entrance into your chosen activity. All the locations included in the City Pass are accessible. About a third of the attractions included in the Boston Go Card are not accessible but still well worth the purchase. Be sure to check their website for accessible locations ahead of time. Super Tip* For travelers only in Boston for the day, the City Pass is a great option. However, travelers who are going to be in the city for a few days or longer, I recommend the Boston Go Card which will offer you more activity and ticket options.
For wheelchair users: historical attractions come with historical buildings and with historical builds comes out dated architecture, meaning… you guessed it, not wheelchair accessible. Narrow streets, narrow and uneven sidewalks, lack of curb cuts, and garbage day can make many historical neighborhoods problematic, but not impossible, to navigate. If you are a wheelchair user, and able to use one, you may want to carry your own portable ramp with you to provide your own access for all your travel. This will help with small architectural barriers such as lack of curb cuts and transitions into buildings, but some places will remain inaccessible. Additionally, while most Boston Harbor Cruises 52 vessels are labeled as (wheelchair) accessible, many vessels have difficult bridge plates, transitions, or rolling carriage doors in restrooms that may not be accessible for some wheelchairs. Water taxis and Codzilla are not accessible. If you are planning a day on the water, call Boston Harbor Cruises to learn more about boarding and your specific vessel.