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.
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
2400 E Fort Ave
Baltimore, MD 21230
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
100 State Cir
Annapolis, MD 21401
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
Rt 5 and Rosecroft Rd
St. Mary's City, MD 20686
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
901 W Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21223
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
5831 Dunker Church Rd
Sharpsburg, MD 21782
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
300 Oella Ave
Baltimore, MD 21228
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 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
4303 Bucktown Rd
Cambridge, MD 21613
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 25, 1634. 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
38370 Point Breeze Rd
Coltons Point, MD 20626
9 Visit the home of Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross, Glen Echo
Clara Barton National Historic Site is closed temporarily for renovations.
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
5801 Oxford Rd
Glen Echo, MD 20812
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
10240 National Pike
Grantsville, MD 21536
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 U.S. 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
301 E Pratt St
Baltimore, MD 21202
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
11100 Fort Frederick Rd
Big Pool, MD 21711
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
14430 Solomons Island Rd
Solomons, MD 20688
14 Follow the trail of British Troops on the Star-Spangled Banner Byway
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
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.
Or venture out on Maryland's Frederick Douglass Driving Tour for an immersive experience of one of America's most iconic figures.
More about Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center "Twin Oaks"
3200 Wayman Ave
Annapolis, MD 21403