Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine#4 in Best Things To Do in Baltimore
While detained on a ship in the Chesapeake Bay during a battle in the War of 1812, lawyer, poet and writer Francis Scott Key saw a flag of 15 stars and stripes soaring above the fray, signaling the Americans success in holding of a British naval attack. As the story goes, this sight inspired him to write the country's national anthem. Today, the site of the battle – and Key's moment of inspiration – is one of the most popular tourist haunts in Baltimore.
Admission to the general park area is free, but there is a $15 fee for visitors ages 16 and older to enter the historic star-shaped fort. At the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, spectators can partake in a variety of programs, including the Fort, Flag and Fire! Ceremony every Saturday at 2 p.m. in July and August, which invites spectators to enjoy guided tours and even assist in the changing of the 42-foot flag. After the history lesson, relax on the grounds and enjoy a picnic with the family. Recent visitors said their favorite part of the tour was soaking in the scenic views of the water and brushing up on American history with "flag talks" given by highly informative park rangers.
To reach the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historical Shrine, take the No. 1 bus to the main park gate, and walk 100 yards to the Visitor Center and Star Fort. Or, if you're planning to visit from the Inner Harbor, you can take a Baltimore Water Taxi; all-day tickets cost $16 per adult passenger. For more information about the park, check out the official National Park Service website.
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#1 Baltimore Museum of Art
Situated in Charles Village, just north of the downtown area, the Baltimore Museum of Art claims the title of largest art museum in Maryland. Filled with more 95,000 art pieces, including an impressive Matisse collection, donated by Baltimore natives Claribel and Etta Cone, the museum draws art enthusiasts from across the globe. An entire Cone Wing of the museum is devoted to the sisters' spectacular repertoire of paintings from distinguished artists like Matisse, Picasso and Cézanne. Recent visitors praised the extensive collection, citing free admission to the world-class museum as a major perk.
The museum is also home to one of the largest Andy Warhol collections in the world and features European sculptures, African and Asian arts, and decorative arts. The Contemporary Wing, which showcases works by women and artists of color, among others, and the sculpture garden, which hosts jazz sessions during the summer, are two main museum highlights. If you're interested in discovering what else is on display, check out its official website.
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