The sight of the American flag flying over Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the 'Star Spangled Banner'. The fort is best known for the part it played during the War of 1812, successfully holding off an attack by the British Navy. When Scott Key saw the flag still flying over the fort after surviving the attack, he wrote the poem that became the national anthem. Today, the fort is a National Historic Park. The restored barracks hold exhibits of military and historical artifacts and a well-kept trail runs along the water's edge, affording spectacular views of ships entering and leaving the busy harbor.
This 173-acre (70 hectares) woodland park in the heart of Baltimore offers nature lovers a respite from the noise and congestion of the city. Formerly an estate, the home and grounds are open to visitors today and include a horticultural reference library, a bird and nature museum and a gift shop. The grounds include formal and woodland gardens and trails. Throughout the year, symposiums, workshops and exhibits on a variety of horticultural-related subjects are held.
This aquarium is perhaps the greatest attraction in Baltimore's celebrated Inner Harbor. The exhibits start small with samples of marine life from local waters, but visitors soon find themselves eye-to-eye with sharks, rays and other very large creatures. The simulated rainforest ecosystem is truly awe-inspiring. The regularly scheduled dolphin shows are very popular, especially with children.
Federal Hill Park is a pristine park offering spectacular views of the Inner Harbor and a wonderful, fenced-in play area for the kids, complete with slides, a sandbox and monkey bars. Dogs are also welcome. While you're visiting the park, take a moment to learn about one of Baltimore's most prominent citizens. A monument details the life of Major General Samuel Smith, who helped defeat the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812. He went on to become a Congressman, then president of the Senate and, finally, mayor of Baltimore.
Patterson Park is located in the heart of Baltimore. This public park is a popular recreational spot among locals and tourists. Take a jog, enjoy a picnic on its verdant lawns or relax with some fishing at the boat lake. It features tennis courts, playgrounds and a swimming pool that are a good bet for sports enthusiasts. Punctuating the center of this landscape is a pagoda-style observation tower that provides stunning views of the city. The architectural highlight of this green space is the General Casimir Pulaski Monument.
Spread over a staggering 1,043 acres (422 hectares), the Oregon Ridge Park is a great place to spend a Sunday with the whole family. Surrounded by nature, it makes for a great getaway from the chaotic and clustered city life, and one of the best ways to take in all that is to go hiking, and the park has miles of trails specially for that purpose. Besides, hiking, the park also has facilities for swimming and for picnicking, thus making it an ideal place to take the whole family for a fun-filled day out. The Oregon Ridge Park also has something for the sports enthusiast as it has a golf course and sledding facilities.
The four squares that surround the historic Washington Monument together form Mount Vernon Place. These four squares were created after the monument was built in order to create a spectacular setting for it. Although the monument is the crowning jewel of the park, by itself too the park is a sight to behold. Verdant trees, grass and shrubs, paved walkways, and beautiful statues and fountains dot the park, making it one of the finest urban landscapes in the world. Mount Vernon Place also has plenty of benches and dining options and is surrounded by houses that have still retained their old-world charm, making it a great spot for spending a peaceful day. Located nearby are the Lexington Market, the Hippodrome Theater, and the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
Clifton Park was previously a farmland purchased by John Hopkins in 1853. The estate was later converted into a recreational space with activities open to the community. It's 18-hole golf course was the first of its kind in Baltimore. This landscape features the splendid Clifton Mansion, manicured lawns, flourishing woods, as well as clay tennis courts and swimming pools. Despite refurbishment over the years, it retains its original English style and charm. It is, however, the various events hosted here that attract visitors the most.