What’s more patriotic than being in “The Birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner”? In 1814, Francis Scott Key paid witness to Fort McHenry’s victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore and memorialized it with a poem that would become America’s national anthem. Today, Baltimore has embraced this contribution as its official slogan, with Fort McHenry a central historical site. You can also check out the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, which was once the home and workplace of the iconic flag’s creator, Mary Pickersgill. While not open for the holiday, take a look if you’re in town for a few days.
Already a site of historical and patriotic significance for its role in the Battle of Baltimore, Fort McHenry also hosts “Celebrating the Glorious Fourth!”—guests can observe the holiday the old-fashioned way with fife and drum music, musket and cannon demonstrations, and a public reading of the Declaration of Independence. You can also tour the fort and learn its history or stroll the grounds and have a picnic. Whatever you choose, there’s nothing quite like seeing the American flag flutter over Fort McHenry on Independence Day.
Did you know that Baltimore’s Washington Monument shares a birthday with the United States? The nation’s first tribute to George Washington opened on July 4, 1815, exactly 39 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. So, on the Fourth of July, you can celebrate both birthdays by visiting the monument and making a reservation to climb to the top, taking in a great scenic view of Baltimore.
The USS Constellation, a Civil War-era tall ship now part of the Historic Ships of Baltimore museum, is an incredible piece of American history. On July 4th, you can climb aboard the Constellation for its annual Independence Day Deck Party, which includes all-you-can-eat barbecue favorites and local beverages, music, tours, cannon firings, and an excellent view of the fireworks. All ticket proceeds go towards the Historic Ships of Baltimore’s educational programs.
If you’re looking for something less historic, look no further than Visionary Pets on Parade. This annual event is hosted by the American Visionary Art Museum in Federal Hill and features all sorts of adorable animals on display, including AVAM’s Fifi the Pink Poodle. Creatures of all shapes and sizes, from dogs and cats to turtles, come out in costume to strut their stuff, with awards like Visionary Pet Tricks, Best Costume, and Most Patriotic up for grabs. If you love animals, this parade is fun and free for all ages.
Just north of Baltimore City, the Towson 4th of July Parade is a tradition dating back over 120 years, with a focus on honoring American veterans. It kicks off with the Air National Guard and Towson’s firetruck brigade, followed by bands like The Marching Ravens, floats, military units, and public figures. Also, nearby Catonsville’s 4th of July Celebrations have drawn a crowd every year since 1947. The Grand Parade is said to be one of Maryland’s best, with firetrucks, 12 marching bands, roller skaters, and more. So, check out one or both parades if you’re in the area.
There’s nothing like baseball on the Fourth of July, so if the Orioles are in town, make sure to head down to Camden Yards! Both teams will sport special Fourth of July caps, jerseys, and socks, which are also available for purchase to support servicemen and servicewomen, veterans, and military families. Plus, Orioles fans have a special way of singing the national anthem that is best enjoyed at Oriole Park. You can also swing by the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, just three blocks west of the stadium, to celebrate an American legend.
Of course, what is the Fourth of July without fireworks? The Ports America Chesapeake Fourth of July Celebration sets off fireworks over the Inner Harbor, making for a marvelous display. There are plenty of spots around the harbor to get a good look at the show, and the U.S. Navy Band Commodores group makes it a party with live performances of big band, jazz, and more.