Fort McHenry National Monument, MD

Kids in front of the entrance to Fort McHenry National Monument. (Photo by Nushin Huq)

By Nushin Huq

Between 2 Pines Magazine

IF YOU GO

Operating Hours: 9am-5pm, but check online for changes

Fees: $15 for visitors 16 and older
Ages 15 and younger are free

"And the rockets' glare, the bombs bursting in air.."

The famous lines were penned at this Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key in the Star Spangled Banner. Your family will enjoy not only learning about the history of the song and the fort, but the structure is a fun place for kids and adults to explore.

WHAT TO SEE

The visitors' center has exhibits about the fort as well as history about Francis Scott Key and the Star Spangled Banner. There is also an informative video. Then walk outside the visitor center and visitors are greeted with beautiful views of Baltimore Harbor. It's a quick walk across the field to actually fort. There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Some of the rooms have been restored and volunteers dressed in period clothes give presentations about various aspects of life in the fort.

WHERE TO STAY

Fort McHenry is right in the middle of Baltimore. There are a number of hotels available. Baltimore is relatively close to Washington DC (with BWI as an airport that is in Baltimore but used by travelers to DC as well). Visitors could see both cities in a single visit (but make sure you give yourself enough time to see everything).

WHERE TO EAT

There are no places to eat in the park, but Baltimore is home to a number of great restaurants.

BEST HIKES FOR FAMILIES

There is a walking trail/path that goes around the property behind the visitor center and around the fort. It's a good place for little kids to let off some steam. You'll often see joggers from the city taking a run there.

BEST TIPS FOR KIDS

There's a junior ranger program at the park, where kids can do activities and earn a junior ranger badge.

Also, call ahead or look online for the schedule. Twice a day, there's a flag changing ceremony, where you can assist. Kids will also enjoy live demonstrations such as cannon and musket firing, fife and drum performances, and period games.

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