Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
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Introduction

Ready to hit the open road on your next RV adventure? Consider stopping by to visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. It's a great place to learn more about America's rich history.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is located just outside Baltimore, Maryland, and is accessible by plane, car, or water taxi. The property is best known for its role in the War of 1812. It was originally built in 1798 to serve as protection for the Inner Harbor and remained in use as a military armament through World War I and II. In 1925, the fort was declared a national park with the designation to be changed to a national monument and historic shrine in 1939.

The monument has a past of rich historical significance. Following the defeat of British forces in the important Battle of Baltimore, a flag proudly flew from the top of the fort. Upon gazing on this majestic scene, Francis Scott Key penned a poem known as the "Defence of Fort McHenry." These moving lyrics were later set to the tune "Anacreon in Heaven" which was later renamed "The Star Spangled Banner" and became the national anthem of the United States. Today, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is considered the birthplace of the national anthem.

Families may visit this historic property year-round due to its relatively mild climate. There are a number of interesting activities here, and the monument is also close to many local attractions.

For a wonderful time learning more about American history, stop by to visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. It's an amazing place to spend the day.

Park Alerts (6)

[Park Closure] Restrooms in Star Fort Closed

The restrooms inside the star fort are currently closed due to a plumbing issue. There are available restrooms located inside the visitor center.

[Information] Motorized Recreational Scooters Not Permitted in Park

For the safety and protection of visitors and park resources, motorized scooters are not permitted within the park. Any vehicles (scooters, bicycles, etc.) that are part of a ride-share program may not be left behind for pick up inside the park

[Information] Park Closed - December 25, 2019

The park will be closed on Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2019) and will reopen on Thursday, December 26, 2019.

[Information] Park Closed - New Year's Day

The park will be closed on New Year's Day (Wednesday, January 1, 2020) and will reopen on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

[Information] Regular Season Hours Begin September 3, 2019

Regular season hours will be in effect beginning Tuesday, September 3, 2019. Park hours will be 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. The Visitor Center and Star Fort will close at 4:45 pm. The main gate and parking lot will close at 5:00 pm.

[Park Closure] Intermittent Closures of Park Trails

Portions of trails throughout the park may be closed to access due to scheduled maintenance and repairs.

RV Rentals in Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Transportation in Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Driving

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is easy to find just three miles from Baltimore's Inner Harbor. To reach the park, simply follow the signs along I-95 to exit 55 for Key Highway. This route leads through the Fort McHenry Tunnel and passes through a set of toll booths, so be prepared with change to cover the road fees for usage of the highway. It is best to stay to the right when passing through the tunnel, so you are closest to your exit upon emerging above ground. You will want to follow the signs for Lawrence Street instead of the ones indicating Woodall. This is important to note as some GPS' provide different directions.

Once out of the tunnel, turn right onto Light Street south to continue along Key Highway. Make a left hand turn onto Fort Avenue, the street which will lead directly to the monument. The entire journey to the park follows roads of two and four lanes with all highways kept in excellent condition. Traffic remains fluid, and only occasionally is road construction seen.

Parking

There is a lot outside the entrance to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine where families can safely leave their cars.

Public Transport

There are two different ways families can reach Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine via public transportation.

To reach the park using public transit, there is a bus (#1) that will take passengers to the main gate of the monument. From here, it's a 100 yard walk to reach the Visitor and Education Center or Star Fort.

Water transportation is available via a taxi. There are several spots where families can pick up a water taxi on Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Check the Baltimore Water Taxi site to obtain information about sailing times and fees. It is important to note that passage by water taxi must be round trip and must be purchased from the mainland. No tickets can be obtained once already at the fort.

Campgrounds and parking in Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Campsites in Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Reservations camping

Washington DC/Capitol KOA

Washington DC/Capitol KOA is located in Millersville, Maryland, and is only a shuttle ride away from the U.S. Capitol building. This campground offers RV and tent camping and cabin rentals by reservation only from March 1st through November 30th. Generator use is permitted, and dogs are welcome so long as they remain leashed.

The campground offers many amenities including power hookups, Wifi, an outdoor pool, outdoor billiards, a playground, and a dog park.

This camping facility can accommodate large trailers and RV's up to a maximum of 90 feet.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Spring

Picnicking

Picnicking is a popular activity at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Bring along a picnic lunch and some drinking water and prepare to feast right on the grounds where the Battle of 1812 took place.

There are picnic tables on the premises where you can enjoy your meal, or you can spread out a blanket in the grass. Your dog may join you on your picnic adventure, but do keep them leashed and be sure to pick up and properly dispose of their waste.

Summer

Antietam National Battlefield

Close to both Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and Washington DC/Capitol KOA, you will find Antietam National Battlefield. This site was home to a bloody battle which involved 12 hours of intense combat that culminated in the deaths of 23,000 soldiers on September 17th, 1862. This final battle sounded the death knell on the Confederate Army's first invasion into the North and propelled Abraham Lincoln to write the Emancipation Proclamation.

You can visit the grounds to enjoy a battle re-enactment or simply hike the battlefield. Bring along drinking water and snacks to enjoy. Wear your best walking shoes to prevent discomfort or injuries.

Ranger programs

For those looking to experience what life at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine was like during its heyday, there are ranger programs families can participate in. Schedules for each event can be found on the fort's website.

Assist a ranger with the daily flag change, enjoy learning more about the history of the flag and America's national anthem at one of the flag talks, or take in the on-site program which provides an up-close look into the Battle of Baltimore.

Some events such as the flag change are only available when weather conditions are favorable, so do check with park officials upon your arrival to see if the activity you hope to participate in will still go ahead as planned.

Fall

Gettysburg National Military Park

Located near Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is Gettsyburg National Military Park. The Battle at Gettysburg formed a critical point in the fight between the North and the South, marking the success of the Union troops in defeating the 2nd invasion attempt by General Robert E. Lee. The war that was waged here is now referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion" and was the bloodiest fight of them all. This one battle became the inspiration behind Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

There are many activities for families to enjoy at this park. Gettysburg National Military Park is open year-round and offers tours of the battlefield and re-enactments.

Music Demonstrations

Fife, drum and other types of music were extremely popular at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Throughout the year, there are live demonstrations conducted on the premises where families can experience the 19th century music which laid the backdrop for the Battle of Baltimore and Civil War.

Check the website for dates and times. Bring along drinking water and snacks to enjoy.

Winter

Walking

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a picturesque property with lots to see and explore. Bring along your best walking shoes and some drinking water to keep your thirst at bay and head out in search of some exercise and learning opportunities.

Your travels will take you across an important fort in the defense strategy of Baltimore's Inner Harbor as well as picturesque views and old battlegrounds. Enjoy a picnic on the grounds or grab some snapshots as a memento of a great day in an inspirational place.

Share your Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine experience

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