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Baltimore Sights

Fort McHenry

  • E. Fort Ave. Map It
  • Locust Point
  • Military Site
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 10/07/2014

Fodor's Review

This star-shaped brick fort is forever associated with Francis Scott Key and "The Star-Spangled Banner," which Key penned while watching the British bombardment of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Key had been detained onboard a truce ship, where he had been negotiating the release of one Dr. William Beanes, when the bombardment began; Key knew too much about the attack plan to be released. Through the next day and night, as the battle raged, Key strained to be sure,

through the smoke and haze, that the flag still flew above Fort McHenry—indicating that Baltimore's defenders held firm. "By the dawn's early light" of September 14, 1814, he saw the 30- by 42-foot "Star-Spangled Banner" still aloft and was inspired to pen the words to a poem (set to the tune of an old English drinking song). The flag that flew above Fort McHenry that day had 15 stars and 15 stripes, and was hand-sewn for the fort. A visit to the fort includes a 15-minute history film, guided tour, and frequent living-history displays on summer weekends. To see how the formidable fortifications might have appeared to the bombarding British, catch a water taxi from the Inner Harbor to the fort instead of driving.

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Sight Information


E. Fort Ave., Baltimore, Maryland, 21230, United States

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Sight Details:

  • $7
  • Memorial Day–Labor Day, daily 9–6; Labor Day–Memorial Day, daily 9–5

Updated 10/07/2014


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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By pugluv

  • Service

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Aug 25, 2007

Great place for a day trip

I used to live near Fort McHenry and went there everyday. A great place that is surrounded by water. Talk a walk, sit on a lawn chair, walk your dog, have a picnic, visit the memorial site, fly a kite. It always smells like the salt water and has a nice breeze. Enjoy!

By kiwanji

  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Jul 31, 2007

A must for every American

Relive period events through the actions of volunteer actors, walk the walls of the famous fort, watch a movie explaining the history surrounding the writing of our National Anthem, all in less than 3 hours. Well worth the drive or the trip across the harbor on the water taxi.

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