15 Must-Visit Places For History Buffs

By Jim Meyer

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Watch battle reenactments at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine

One of the 13 original colonies, “The Free State” is a hub for history lovers. With living-history colonial towns, National Shrines, the home of The Star-Spangled Banner, and the birthplaces of some of the nation’s most important civil rights leaders, Maryland is home to a wealth of historic sites and museums. 

Watch battle reenactments at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

1 Salute the Flag at Fort McHenry, Baltimore

This beautiful brick fortress stands sentry at the mouth of Baltimore Harbor and today, as a National Historic Shrine, it preserves our history. In 1814, its battle-flag inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star-Spangled Banner. During the Civil War, the fort served as a union hospital and, later, Fort McHenry was the second biggest point of entry for European immigrants. 


More about Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine


Type:
General Attractions


Location:
2400 E Fort Ave
Baltimore, MD 21230
410-962-4290


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Maryland State House Photo By: Visit Annapolis

2 Walk the halls of history at the Maryland State House, Annapolis

Once the capital of the United States, it was here that the Continental Congress signed the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War. Later, General George Washington stepped down as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. Today, you can admire this beautiful old building on its hill in the heart of Annapolis, which remains the home of Maryland Government.


More about Maryland State House


Type:
History & Heritage


Location:
100 State Cir
Annapolis, MD 21401


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Historic St. Mary's City Photo By: St. Mary's City

3 Experience Colonial Maryland at Historic St. Mary’s City, St. Mary’s County

Founded in 1634, today living historians keep the streets, fields and ships of Maryland’s first capital alive. Tour the working 1600s plantation, experience the reconstructed state house, and walk the decks of the Dove, a reconstructed sailing ship that brought the first colonists to Maryland.


More about Historic St. Mary's City


Type:
Attraction


Location:
Rt 5 and Rosecroft Rd
St. Mary's City, MD 20686
240-895-4990


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B&O Railroad Museum Photo By: Clark Vandergrift

4 Ride the rails at the B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore

Step beyond the Monopoly board and feel the power of old steam engines at the birthplace of American rail. Often called the most important railroad museum in the world, tour its beautiful roundhouse and ride genuine historic trains.


More about Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum


Type:
Attraction


Location:
901 W Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21223
410-752-2490


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Pay tribute to those who were sacrificed at this tremendous Civil War battle. Photo By: VisitMaryland.org

5 Honor the fallen at Antietam National Battlefield, Washington County

Its rolling hills, idyllic streams and bucolic forests give no sign of the soldiers' blood that once soaked the fields of Antietam, site of the single bloodiest day of fighting in American history.  Learn more about the Civil War in Maryland.


More about Antietam National Battlefield


Type:
Attraction


Location:
5831 Dunker Church Rd
Sharpsburg, MD 21782
301-432-5124


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Benjamin Banneker Museum and Historical Park Photo By: VisitMaryland.org

6 Meet a great African-American thinker at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum, Baltimore County

This park and museum honor Benjamin Banneker–scientist, astronomer, mathematician, abolitionist, surveyor, farmer, almanac publisher–on the site of his former farmstead. This 138-acre park is the largest African-American historical site in the country. 


More about Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum


Type:
Attraction


Location:
300 Oella Ave
Baltimore, MD 21228
410-887-1081


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Portrait of Harriet Tubman

7 Witness the birth of courage at the Bucktown Village Store, Dorchester County

It was here that American hero Harriet Tubman made her first act of defiance when she gave aid to another enslaved person. The blow to the head she received from an angry overseer would cause her health problems for the rest of her life, but never dimmed her courage.
Also, visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center (opens March 11, 2017) to learn about Tubman’s world through informative, evocative and emotive exhibits. The center is a great place to get oriented to sites along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway where Harriet's life unfolded. More Byway info...


More about Bucktown Village Store


Type:
Attraction


Location:
4303 Bucktown Rd
Cambridge, MD 21613
410-901-9255


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Clement's Island State Park

8 See Maryland’s tenuous first foothold at St. Clement’s Island State Park, Colton’s Point

It was here on this island in the Potomac River that Maryland’s first colonists landed on March 24, 1643. The state park now preserves this place where those brave people fleeing religious persecution prepared to build their first colony.


More about St. Clement's Island State Park


Type:
Attraction


Location:
38370 Point Breeze Rd
Coltons Point, MD 20626
301-872-5688


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Clara Barton House Photo By: Clara Barton House

9 Visit the home of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, Glen Echo

Part of the Clara Barton National Historic Site, the Clara Barton House was built partly from lumber recovered from emergency buildings built by the Red Cross in the aftermath of the Johnstown Flood. Barton, the famed humanitarian who launched the Red Cross, lived here until she died in 1912. 


More about Clara Barton National Historic Site


Type:
Attraction


Location:
5801 Oxford Rd
Glen Echo, MD 20812
301-320-1410


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Stroll over the bridge in this State Park, then head to the Casselman Inn for lunch. Photo by Kevin Moore Photo By: Kevin Moore

10 Marvel at American ingenuity at Casselman Bridge, Garrett County

This beautiful, 354-foot long stone bridge spanning the Casselman River was a marvel of engineering when it was completed in 1811. The bridge was part of the historic National Road that opened the west and stands as the country’s first great civil works project.


More about Casselman River Bridge State Park


Type:
Attraction


Location:
10240 National Pike
Grantsville, MD 21536
301-895-5453


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USS Constellation Photo By: USS Ships in Baltimore

11 Walk the decks of the USS Constellation, a Civil War sailing ship, Baltimore

With her soaring masts reaching high above the harbor, the USS Constellation is an enduring part of Baltimore’s skyline, but the historic vessel marks the end of an era. Once the flagship of the US Navy’s Africa fleet during the fight against slavery, the Constellation was the last, all-sail warship built by the Navy.


More about USS Constellation


Type:
Attraction


Location:
301 E Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-539-1797


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Fort Frederick

12 Man the frontier at Fort Frederick, Washington County

Built in 1756, on what was then the frontier, the fort served in the French and Indian, Revolutionary and Civil wars. The fort was restored using the original plans and now stands as a look into the days of westward expansion. 


More about Fort Frederick State Park


Type:
Attraction


Location:
11100 Fort Frederick Rd
Big Pool, MD 21711
301-842-2155


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Launch your driving tour along the Star-Spangled Banner trail from Solomons, home to this popular museum.

13 Get a taste of the Chesapeake at J.C. Lore Oyster House in the Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons

In the heart of Chesapeake oyster country, this historic structure was literally built on old oyster shells. Now part of the Calvert Marine Museum and considered one of the most important remnants of America’s historical oyster industry, J.S. Lore stands as a testament to the watermen of the Chesapeake. One of the house’s original Bugeye Schooner boats is preserved at the museum.


More about Joseph C. Lore & Sons Oyster House


Type:
History & Heritage


Location:
14430 Solomons Island Rd
Solomons, MD 20688
410-326-2878


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Learn about the War of 1812 here where the flag that inspired the National Anthem was sewn.

14 Follow the trail of British Troops on the Star-Spangled Banner Trail

Journey back to the pivotal days of the War of 1812, also sometimes called “America’s Second War of Independence,” while visiting Southern Maryland towns, the state’s largest city and sites surrounding the nation’s capital. As fighting continued throughout the summer of 1814, Maryland’s brave defenders not only stood strong against British invaders up and down the Chesapeake Bay, but also inspired the poem that would become our National Anthem. 

Explore this Byway
Frederick Douglass Sign Photo By: Clark Vandergrift

15 Visit the home of an American icon at the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center, Highland Beach

A strident speaker, brilliant thinker and unwavering crusader for freedom, few people have shaped the American Landscape like Frederick Douglass. His book, Frederick Douglass: Narrative of an American Slave remains one of the great works of American literature and a foundation for the philosophy of freedom and equality. This museum, built in Douglass’s former summer home, preserves his legacy and life.  


More about Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center "Twin Oaks"


Type:
Attraction


Location:
3200 Wayman Ave
Annapolis, MD 21403
410-267-6960


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Featured Places
Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine
01
Location:
2400 E Fort Ave
Baltimore, MD 21230
Maryland State House photo
02
Location:
100 State Cir
Annapolis, MD 21401
Historic St. Mary's City re-enactor
03
Location:
Rt 5 and Rosecroft Rd
St. Mary's City, MD 20686
Round House at the B&O Railroad Museum
04
Location:
901 W Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21223
Antietam Battlefield
05
Location:
5831 Dunker Church Rd
Sharpsburg, MD 21782
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum
06
Location:
300 Oella Ave
Baltimore, MD 21228
Bucktown village Store
07
Location:
4303 Bucktown Rd
Cambridge, MD 21613
Aerial view of St. Clement's Island State Park
08
Location:
38370 Point Breeze Rd
Coltons Point, MD 20626
Clara Barton National Historic Site
09
Location:
5801 Oxford Rd
Glen Echo, MD 20812
Casselman Bridge
10
Location:
10240 National Pike
Grantsville, MD 21536
USS Constellation docked in the Inner Harbor
11
Location:
301 E Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21202
Aerial view of Fort Frederick State Park
12
Location:
11100 Fort Frederick Rd
Big Pool, MD 21711
Joseph C. Lore and Sone Oyster House
13
Location:
14430 Solomons Island Rd
Solomons, MD 20688
Frederick Douglass
15
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