- Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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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 $7 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! Fire! series from Wednesday through Sunday 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 say 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. "The park rangers are very knowledgeable and give impromptu insights and tours," explains one TripAdvisor user.
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 $12 per adult passenger.
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