Local author pens a Baltimore bucket list

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Carol Sorgen

Lifelong Maryland resident Judy Colbert has published a book identifying 100 fascinating and somewhat unsung activities to enjoy in Baltimore — from the American Visionary Art Museum to feeding the sharks at the National Aquarium (if you’re a certified scuba diver!).
Photo courtesy of Judy Colbert

Judy Colbert, who has lived in Maryland virtually all her life, is also an accomplished travel writer, making her the ideal go-to source for visitors and residents alike who want to know what there is to do and see in Baltimore.

That’s just what she does in her recently published book, aptly named, 100 Things to Do in Baltimore Before You Die. The book is part of a
series produced by Reedy Press that, so far, also includes Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

Colbert, who is 75 and lives in Glen Burnie, has authored numerous other travel books including, It Happened in Maryland, Maryland and Delaware Off the Beaten Path, Insiders’ Guide to Baltimore and Peaceful Places Washington, D.C.

As part of her travel writing ways, Colbert says that she’s always “doing research,” so she already had a head start when she signed on with the publisher to pen this newest installment in its series. To get even more input, though, and hear what other locals had to say, Colbert posted requests for suggestions on Facebook groups such as Baltimore Old Photos, as well as consulting with the Baltimore and Maryland Offices of Tourism.

Locals can learn a lot

“The book is half for locals and half for visitors,” said Colbert, saying she wanted to go “beyond what you can find on a website.”

“You may know, for example, about the National Aquarium, but did you know that if you’re a certified scuba diver, you can arrange to feed the sharks?” she said.

The slim (144 pages) fun-to-read volume is jammed pack with suggestions divided into categories including food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, culture and history, shopping and fashion, and festivals and activities by season.

Of course, having lived in the area most of her life, Colbert already had some favorites that made her list: the 8 oz. crab cakes at G&M Restaurant in Linthicum Heights, for example. And she considers the American Visionary Art Museum (founder Rebecca Meyerhoff) to be a “treasure.”

Some unsung favorites

But Colbert has also found some new favorites in her research. At the top of the list is Herman Heyn, Baltimore’s Street-Corner Astronomer who, at 84 years of age, has set up his telescope at the Thames Street end of Broadway in Fells Point for 29 years, inviting passersby to “have a look.” (There is no charge, but “hat” contributions are welcomed. Check out his website at www.hermanheyn.com. Call (410) 889-0460 before going down, in case of weather cancellations.)

As readers go through the book they will, of course, have their own favorites — some of mine include Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop in Little Italy (I’m devoted to their cannoli!), Cylburn Arboretum (I used to live next door), Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (which we have featured in the Beacon), and Charm City’s very own Christmas-light extravaganza, “Miracle on 34th Street,” in Hampden. By the time I work my way through the entire book, I’m sure I’ll discover others as well.

But I need to get started. As Colbert writes in her preface, “...there’s too much to see and do in Baltimore in any one lifetime.”

100 Things To Do in Baltimore Before You Die is available locally at the Ivy Bookshop in Lake Falls Village, at Barnes and Noble, and on Amazon.

Colbert will be appearing at local libraries throughout the area. Her next lecture and book signing is scheduled for Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m., at the Light Street Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 1251 Light St.