Fly your own Flag at Historic Fort McHenry for Families

Posted By Katie on Oct 15, 2014

This post may contain affiliate and sponsored links. We donate 10% of our sales commissions to charity.


Fort McHenry, famously known as the inspiration for the Star Spangled Banner, is a historic fort in Baltimore, Maryland.  In September 1814, the British navy needed to control Fort McHenry to invade Baltimore.  The brutal attack lasted 25 hours.

Francis Scott Key, an attorney attempting to negotiate with the British to free a prisoner of war, observed the battle from a British boat in the harbor.

In the early morning hours after the battle, the victorious Americans raised the American flag to show that they still held the fort.  This sight inspired Key to pen the famous words that became our national anthem.

Tips for visiting historic Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland with kids. This is the fort that flew the Star Spangled Banner and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the U.S. National Anthem! | | family travel | educational | summer vacation | spring break | patriotic

Here are 5 reasons your family will enjoy a visit to Fort McHenry.

Fort McHenry’s visitor center is kid-friendly

A 10-minute film explains the Battle of Baltimore and ends with an inspirational rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”  The film was long enough to teach the story to my children while still holding their interest.

The visitor’s center museum was filled with interesting displays, interactive video screens, and a cannon that kept my 3-year-old entertained while we explored the museum.

Historic Fort McHenry Tips for Families |

Kids can run and play at Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry, built in a the shape of a star, has a pathway all along the ramparts that my children loved exploring.  I love to visit a historical site that inspires my children to learn history through play, and Fort McHenry did not disappoint.  My eight-year-old son and his friends ran around all morning shouting “The British are coming” as they explored the fort and pretended to fire the cannons at the ships in the harbor.

Historic Fort McHenry Tips for Families |

Exhibits throughout Fort McHenry teach history

In the center of the fort, you can enter many smaller exhibits that show examples of officers quarters, traditional meals, sleeping arrangements, etc.  You will see bomb shelters, magazines, gun powder storage, and much more at Fort McHenry.

The kids were entertained by exhibits like the flag below that they could play with as they learned about the history of this flag flown during the War of 1812.

Historic Fort McHenry Tips for Families |


Check the schedule for special events such as Civil War weekend, Star Spangled Banner weekend, reenactments, twilight tattoo ceremonies and more.

Fly your own flag at Fort McHenry

Take home a souvenir flag flown at Fort McHenry.  Bring your own flag or purchase one in the gift shop and take it to a ranger near the flag pole, and you can fly your flag over Fort McHenry.  The visitor’s center will give you a certificate to certify that the flag was flown at Fort McHenry.

When we were there, a Boy Scout leader was there to fly a flag for one of his boys who had just earned his Eagle Scout award.  He was kind enough to let my daughter help him raise and lower the flag.Fly your own Flag at Historic Fort McHenry


Visit nearby Baltimore Harbor

Fort McHenry overlooks beautiful Baltimore Harbor, and if you’ve got time, you should consider riding the water taxi to Baltimore Harbor after visiting Fort McHenry.

Baltimore Harbor is home to many restaurants, battleships and cruise ships, and a world-class science museum and aquarium.Historic Fort McHenry Tips for Families |

Good to Know

Location:  Baltimore, Maryland.

Cost:  $7 per adult.  Children under 16 are free.

Amenities:  The fort is wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly.  There are restrooms at the visitor’s center and the fort, as well as a nice gift shop at the visitor’s center.  I would have liked a place to eat a picnic lunch, but didn’t see any picnic tables.

How long?  Plan to spend about two hours exploring Fort McHenry.

Check out our Maryland or Washington D.C. pages for more great activities for families in the area.

Katie is a busy mom living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. When she isn't traveling, she is planning her next trip. Katie loves all types of travel, but she especially loves beach vacations. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a favorite family destination.

Leave a Reply