Fort McHenry is a great stop if you’re planning a day trip to Inner Harbor Baltimore or just looking for something off the beaten path for a Saturday afternoon. It has quickly climbed the list as one of my favorite spots in Baltimore (just behind Camden Yards).
If you’re looking for something to add to your day trip, Fort McHenry is it! Located just outside of downtown Baltimore, the star-shaped Fort McHenry is easily visible when flying out of BWI. Last year we hit it up during National Park Week (April 22-26 this year), and I’m looking forward to going again this spring. It’s got grassy areas, walking paths along the water, a fantastic old fort, a great little visitor center and plenty of space to roam for big and little ones.
O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
(From The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key)
Fort McHenry provided the backdrop and inspiration for Key’s Star Spangled Banner. When you look off the edge of the fort into the Chesapeake Bay, it isn’t hard to imagine the bombs bursting in air and the rockets’ red glare– with soldiers and citizens alike hoping the American flag would still be standing at Fort McHenry in the morning.
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On the day we were there, we actually got to help lower the flag (they were using a replica of the one that would have flown over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812). IT IS MASSIVE!
If you go, I recommend packing a picnic. We didn’t last time, and I wish we would have. I also wish we would have taken my daughter’s stroller and snacks for her, as we could have stayed a bit longer and watched the sun set over the Inner Harbor.
Visiting Fort McHenry National Historic Site and Shrine
- 2400 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230
- The park is open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; the Star Fort and Visitor Center are open from 8 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Extended summer hours begin May 25, and last until Sept. 2. The park will then stay open until 8 p.m., with the Visitor Center and Star Fort open until 7 :45 p.m.
- Admission to Fort McHenry is $7 for adults (ages 16 and up), children 15 and younger are free. Admission is free April 22-26 (National Park Week), Aug. 25 (National Park Service Birthday), Sept. 28 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 9-11 (Veterans Day weekend).
- Visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine for more information and special events.
More Nearby Fun
- Visit the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum near Dulles Airport
- Head to the National Arboretum to check out the Magnolia trees and Azaleas
- Take a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, or just check out the visitor center
- Find a local baseball game (major or minor league) and satisfy your spring fever