Fort McHenry is located in Baltimore, Maryland and is the site of the historic American war defense fort, Fort McHenry. The fort's rich history of strength and national defense began in 1776 when citizens of Baltimore were attacked by British ships. The fort not only survived the attack, but was developed into one of the strongest defensive forts in United States history. The fort has served many different purposes and has withstood many wars over the years, including the War of 1812, the Civil War and even both World Wars. Scroll to see the full list with photos or jump to the table of contents.

Fort McHenry History

Fort McHenry History

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Throughout the Fort's 200 years, there have been countless troops trained, enemies imprisoned, war strategies planned and ultimately fought within the walls of Fort McHenry. It has provided continued shelter of American soldiers and relentless protection of the American dream. The fort has rightfully become a valued piece of American history.

The Fort was named after the U.S. Secretary of War, James "John" McHenry, in the late 18th century. McHenry was a soldier, a physician and a politician during his time. He held the position of "Secretary of War" for both the Washington and Adams administrations. He was also one of the few foreign-born signers of the Constitution of the United States. The Fort was built during the height of his political career and is therefore named after him.

Things to See at Fort McHenry

Things to See at Fort McHenry

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Currently, the Fort is deemed a historic shrine and is surrounded by a national park. The park also contains a national monument to honor Francis Scott Key, the author of the national anthem of the United States - "The Star Spangled Banner". The song was written based off of a poem that Scott Key wrote during the bombings of the War of 1812 entitled "The Defence of Fort McHenry".

Scott Key served during the War of 1812 at Fort McHenry, and he was a born and raised Baltimore man. Therefore, it is only fitting that a monument to his life and his work is safely established in Baltimore at Fort McHenry.

Today, the fort receives hundreds of thousands of visitors a year who come to experience the history and the culture. The fort is also a haven for scientific research, archeology, and nature. The 42-acre national park contains hundreds of small mammals, reptiles and birds to enjoy. The Sea Wall Trail is a picturesque walk along the adjacent sea just outside of the fort where visitors can enjoy the cooling breeze and warm sunshine.

The cultural and historical experiences at Fort McHenry are bountiful. The Fort tells a deep and detailed story of American history that is not to be missed.

Educational Programs

Educational Programs

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Fort McHenry offers a variety of educational tours and programs for visitors of all ages to enjoy. School field trips and classroom curriculum-based tours can be booked year-round.

Children can participate in The Junior Ranger program where they can explore and learn about Fort McHenry. Parents are encouraged to assist their youngsters with gathering the answers to various questions about the fort's history. Begin at the Visitor Center, then explore the Visitor Center, Star Fort and the surrounding grounds. After completing the Activity Booklet, youngsters earn a Junior Ranger certificate and badge.

In celebration of the National Park Service's 100th birthday, there are a large number of special activities planned this year at Fort McHenry. The themes of this year-long celebration, which began in August, is "Call to Action". The Fort alongside the NPS want to get community members involved with the innovation and future development of national parks.

More Programs

More Programs

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There are all sorts of events planned to engage, inspire, education and promote fun within Fort McHenry and all other national parks. Some of these events include plantings, preservation projects, historical reenactments, job skill workshops and even the teaching of music from 1812.

More frequent events are also hosted at Fort McHenry. Every first Wednesday and third Saturday of the month, the Fort's staff hosts morning bird walks. The walks are free and open to the public. Ranger talks can also be enjoyed by visitors who want to learn more about the Fort's history and its surrounding wildlife.

Daily flag changes and formations are also hosted at the Fort. There are also live webcams accessible via the Fort McHenry website that show these flag events.

Currently, Fort McHenry is preparing to host the Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show from October 10 - 17, 2016. The Blue Angels will fly over Fort McHenry and visitors can enjoy the show from the all day festival being hosted below. The event is $10 per adult and more information can be found at

Be sure to check the National Park Service's experience calendar for up-to-date information about all upcoming events at Fort McHenry and all other national parks.

Plan Your Trip

Plan Your Trip

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When planning your visit to Fort McHenry, there are a variety of options available to make your trip as enjoyable as possible. Self-guided exploration is always an option, but there are also Ranger Talks and group-guided tours to help visitors get the most out of their experience.

There are many places to go including the main visitor center with educational videos and exhibits, the fort itself, which contains many more exhibits. There are also plenty of outdoor activities including hiking, exploring, and flag change programs (weather permitting).

The Star Fort is an exciting place to visit and just a stone's throw away from the main visitor center. Activities there include: Exhibits of historical and military memorabilia, electric battle map, restored barracks, restored flag pole. There are also new exhibits: including the Commander's Quarters, Guard House, Powder Magazine and the Enlisted Men's Quarters.

The surrounding Baltimore metro-area is a hub of culture, history, nightlife and exceptional dining and shopping. Some nearby historical parks include: The Maryland Historical Society Museum, The Flag House Star-Spangled Banner Museum, and The USS Constellation Museum. For a bit more of a drive (but within 100 miles), the sites of the following infamous American battles can be visited: Gettysburg, Antietam, and Monocacy.

Back to: Attractions in Baltimore, Maryland

2400 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, Phone: 410-962-4290, website, Map

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland :