TRIP IDEA

Battles, Banners, and Boats: Discovering Baltimore History

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Aerial view of Fort McHenry
Duration Full Day
Topic(s) African American Heritage, Enslavement, Maritime, Maritime - Military, Ships and Shipwrecks, Civil War, Arts, Forts, Industry, Factories, Military, Monuments and Memorials, Transportation, Trains and Railroads, Urban America, War of 1812, Laborer and Worker, Women's History, Science, Technology and Innovation
Activities Guided Tours, Arts and Culture, Hands-On, Museum Exhibits
Type Kid Friendly, Active, Urban, Educational
Parks Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Photograph of Baltimore with water and boats in foreground and buildings in background.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Photo taken by Bruce Emmerling. CCO

From the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag to the battle at Fort McHenry, Baltimore is a city with a dynamic past. Visit the historic ships in Baltimore’s harbor, including the USCGC Taney, the SS John W. Brown, or the steam-powered tugboat the Baltimore. Or take a watertaxi to nearby Fort McHenry and learn about the Battle of Baltimore that took place in 1814. As American soldiers fought to defend the city from the British, Francis Scott Key watched from a ship out in the harbor. Heartened by the sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry, Key wrote what is now our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. Whether by car, bike, boat, or on foot, travel the city to discover its rich history.

Travel more of Baltimore, or explore more stories at our homepage: Telling All Americans’ Stories.

Discover Baltimore History
  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

    Board the USS Constellation

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–3 Hours
    Black and white photo of the USS Constellation sailing on the water

    Built in 1855, the USS Constellation is a 22-gun sloop that was active for 100 years. The vessel served in several military conflicts and also played a central role in ending the foreign slave trade. Decommissioned in 1955, the ship is now located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and is open for tours.

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  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

    Honor the Flag at Fort McHenry

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Hands-On
    • Pets: Yes
    • Duration: 30–45 Minutes
    Soldier and Child with Flag Background

    Learn about the War of 1812, the Battle of Baltimore, and the Star-Spangled Banner by completing the Fort McHenry Junior Ranger Activity Booklet. You’ll find a scavenger hunt, a maze, and fun games like BINGO.

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  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

    Visit the Baltimore: The Last Steam-Powered Tugboat

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Museum Exhibits
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–3 Hours
    The Baltimore in the process of being restored.

    The Baltimore is the oldest operating steam-powered tugboat. Built in 1906, it towed large barges and workboats into the harbor and helped break up ice during the winter months. The tugboat even carried school groups and VIP visitors on tours around the city. Now a National Historic Landmark, the tugboat was gifted to the Baltimore Museum of Industry where it is docked today.

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  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

    Tour the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House

    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Museum Exhibits
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–3 Hours
    View of the front of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House.

    Built in the late 1700s, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House was the home of the Pickersgill family. Mary Young Pickersgill, a widow, started a flag sewing business to support herself and her family. Out of her home, Mary and her family sewed the flag that was raised over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.

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  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

    Discover Baltimore National Heritage Area

    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Arts and Culture
    • Pets: Yes
    • Location: Baltimore
    • Duration: 1–2 Days
    • Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
    Photo looking down at Baltimore\'s Inner harbor with a view of the old power plant.

    Discover Baltimore National Heritage Area to learn about and explore the city’s historic neighborhoods, museums, and restaurants. From the Inner Harbor, hop on a Water Taxi to Fell’s Point, Federal Hill, and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine or follow the red brick Waterfront Promenade and step into historic neighborhoods to see why this inland harbor made Baltimore such an important port.

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Last updated: June 26, 2018