Wheelchair accessible boardwalk in Frederick.

Wheelchair Accessibility in Downtown Frederick Makes This Maryland Town Yet Another Reason to Visit

Frederick is Maryland’s second-largest city, and while often overshadowed by neighboring Baltimore and Washington D.C., it’s a town with a great vibe that’s definitely worth a visit. Downtown Frederick is packed with character, and there are worthwhile historic and outdoor attractions surrounding Frederick as well.

Frederick City and Frederick County Maryland have done a good job complying with and often exceeding the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In general, wheelchair accessibility in Frederick is quite good, and in this article, I’ll describe some of our favorite reasons to visit Frederick and specifically list those that are wheelchair accessible.  

Note: While I am not a wheelchair user myself, I am a resident and travel writer for Frederick and I’ve thoroughly explored the place, and have first-hand experience with all the places listed in this article.

Visiting Downtown Frederick in a Wheelchair

Accessible parking sign.
Photo Credit: EpicFrederick.com.

One of Fredrick’s best attributes is its vibrant downtown area. There are a plethora of interesting shops, restaurants, breweries, and distilleries, making Frederick one of the best downtowns to visit in Maryland. Frederick has history and character, is generally alive any time of day, and has a decent nightlife.

First of all—parking! One of the things we love about downtown Frederick is the ease of parking. Street parking is plentiful, but I’d recommend the downtown garages. There are several downtown garages, all have good handicap accessible options. 

This Handicap Accessible Downtown Parking Map has all the details. We usually park at either the Church Street Garage or the Carroll Creek Deck, as they are closest to most downtown destinations. Parking is free on weekends and otherwise extremely inexpensive.

Accessible parking at Church Street.
Photo Credit: EpicFrederick.com.

You can reference several good maps of downtown Frederick to plan your downtown exploration. But I’ll describe some of my favorite spots to get you started.  

Carroll Creek Park is an anchor of the downtown Frederick area and a lovely place for a wander. This mile-long promenade spans both sides of Carroll Creek and is lined with several restaurants, breweries, and our favorite place in Frederick to get a cocktail—McClintock’s Back Bar

Maybe the best time to visit Carroll Creek is during the winter months when Frederick’s iconic Sailing Through The Winter Solstice display happens. This lighted collection of sailboats has become quite popular, especially around Christmas. 

Carroll Creek light show.
Photo Credit: EpicFrederick.com.

Events and festivals are regular occurrences at Carroll Creek in Frederick throughout the entire year.

Regardless of when you visit, most of the access points to Carroll Creek Park are at streets and sidewalks and are wheelchair accessible. There are several overpasses and bridges across the creek, which are accessible as well.

Recommended Frederick Restaurants

Wheelchair accessibility in Frederick restaurants (and all of Maryland) is a requirement due to ADA compliance.  But I’m going to list some of our favorite Frederick restaurants to visit 1) because they are Frederick’s best and 2) I can confirm they go out of their way to ensure wheelchair accessibility.

  1. Thatcher and Rye. This is Frederick’s most upscale downtown restaurant (and my personal favorite). It has a guest parking lot with wheelchair access.
  2. The Wine Kitchen. Another Frederick gem, right on Carroll Creek, has an emphasis on wine pairings with their dishes. You can park at the Carroll Creek Deck right across from it, and the restaurant has wheelchair access.
  3. Hootch and Banter. More casual, amazing sandwiches and drinks. Also right off Carroll Creek in the heart of downtown. The first floor is wheelchair accessible. Note that H&B can get crowded!
  4. Brewer’s Alley. Iconic Frederick Brew Pub in a historic building in the heart of downtown. The building dates to the 18th century and has been the site of several Frederick historic events. Now, it’s just a fun place to eat and drink, and it’s wheelchair accessible!
  5. JoJo’s Restaurant and Tap House. Lively place on East Patrick Street. Always good craft beers on tap, cocktails, and casual food. Also a good place for late-night snacks.  

Breweries and a Few Distilleries

Frederick has a sneaky good brewery scene, which I believe is the best in Maryland. Olde Mother Brewing is a few blocks north of downtown and has the advantage of sharing space with Frederick’s best burger joint: Fifty Fifty Burger. Both are wheelchair accessible and the perfect place for a craft beer and a burger.

Olde Mother Brewing Co. sign.
Photo Credit: EpicFrederick.com.

If you are in the Carroll Creek Park area, there’s a cluster of great breweries at the east end. For wheelchair guests, I’d recommend the two righthand breweries on the park promenade: Idiom Brewery and Steinhardt Brewery.  

I can confirm both are wheelchair accessible, and if the weather is nice, you can roll right up to an outside table by the creek and enjoy Frederick craft beer in a perfect setting. Food trucks rotate at these spots but are usually there on weekends.

What few people know is that Maryland has a rich history of distilling rye whiskey, all the way back when Europeans started settling here and bringing their taste for whiskey with them.  A few distilleries right in downtown Frederick carry on the tradition and are super fun places to visit, sample whiskey, and just hang out.

The first is the previously mentioned McClintock’s Distillery, right of Carroll Creek.  They produce rye, bourbon, and gin, all of which we keep regularly stocked in our home bar as they are top-shelf quality.  

If you visit, I recommend going directly to the McClintock Back Bar, a speakeasy type of place with amazing cocktails and the best vibe in the city. Both the main distillery and back bar are wheelchair accessible.

Tenth Ward Distilling is downtown on East Patrick Street, and while it is two stories, the first story is fully wheelchair accessible. Tenth Ward produces not only rye but bourbon, gin, and the lesser-known absinthe (smells like fennel). But we usually come for the craft cocktails, which are funky and delicious.

Theater in Frederick

The Weinberg Center is Frederick’s main theater and is an important part of the arts in Frederick. The Weinberg regularly hosts concerts, plays, musicals, and films and is also right downtown in Frederick.

The Weinberg Center has wheelchair accessible seats and bathrooms on the main level if you have an opportunity to attend a performance.

Taking in Frederick’s History

Frederick’s history goes back to the mid-18th century when it was founded as a German settlement. Sitting at a critical crossroads, it has played a pivotal role in both American and Maryland history, even serving briefly as Maryland’s capital in 1861.

Frederick’s most significant historical event occurred during the Civil War. The Battle of Monocacy was fought just southeast of Frederick adjacent to the Monocacy River and was the site of the only Confederate victory on Union soil. (The battle is also known as “The Battle that Saved Washington” because, even though defeated, Union troops delayed the Confederates long enough for the Union to reinforce D.C.)

Monocacy National Battlefield is a great visit for Civil War and history buffs in general. Among its series of trails around the battlefields is Gambrill Mill Trail, much of which is a flat accessible boardwalk (about 0.2 of the 0.5 miles is accessible).

Gambrills Mill accessible path.
Photo Credit: EpicFrederick.com.

Other Accessible Trails Around Frederick

If you’re looking to get outside more, there are several other wheelchair accessible options in the Frederick area. Below are some of the ADA accessible trails in our favorite Maryland State Parks or regional parks in the Frederick area:

  1. C&O Canal Bike Trail. Frederick has close proximity to this historic park along the C&O Canal. The entire path along the canal is flat and accessible (but sometimes bumpy). You can choose from several access points; we love the Noland’s Ferry C&O Canal Trailhead, about 14 miles from Frederick.
  2. Cunningham Falls State Park – Boardwalk Trail. Cunningham Falls is a beautiful Maryland State Park with a cascade waterfall. The Boardwalk Trail is wheelchair accessible and about 0.2 miles.
  3. Catoctin Mountain Park – Spicebush Trail.  Another pleasant Maryland State Park about 17 miles from Frederick near Thurmont is Catoctin Mountain Park. The Spicebush Trail is 0.3 miles and a great wheelchair accessible trail to explore. 
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park sign.
Photo Credit: EpicFrederick.com.

See VisitFrederick.org’s comprehensive list of accessible trails around Frederick.

Transit Services Around Frederick

If you are visiting Frederick, driving, parking, and wheelchair accessibility is generally quite good. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that if you are considering residing in Frederick (or anywhere in Frederick County, Maryland), there has been comprehensive investment in transportation services for disabled residents in response to ADA compliance.

Transit Plus is a community-sponsored rideshare service available to anyone over 60 or with a disability.  It requires registration, and its various programs operate on a request basis.

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