Monday, April 7, 2014

Part l: 15+ Reasons to Visit Maryland in War & Peace


“And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
— Francis Scott Key, September 1814,
Flag at Fort McHenry
By Jacquelin Carnegie - (Baltimore, MD)
Crab cakes, lighthouses, antique stores, quaint country shops, historic sites, fantastic museums, and, let's not forget, the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. Maryland's many counties, including the City of Baltimore, each has its own unique beauty and list of historic places. Whether you're a history buff eager to check out the War of 1812 sites or just looking for some peaceful relaxation, there are so many reasons to visit Maryland, you'll want to come back time and again. Here are some highlights:
Baltimore: Museums Galore & So Much More
"Francis Scott Key" Watermark Harbor tour
There are wonderful museums throughout the state, but Baltimore's 20+ offerings take the cake. Baltimore's Museums: There's everything from places that celebrate African-American heritage such as the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum to art appreciation at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland's largest art museum with an impressive Matisse collection.
Fascinating tales and artifacts of American history are on display at the Maryland Historical Society such as Francis Scott Key's original manuscript of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. And, at the 1793 Star Spangled Banner Flag House, see where the huge flag was made that flew over Fort McHenry, inspiring Key to write what became our national anthem. 
Annapolis: Ship To Shore
Known as America's "sailing capital," Annapolis in Anne Arundel County is in fact the state capital with the oldest state house in continuous legislative use in the nation. This historic town is filled with charming, 18th-century brick buildings and dashing midshipmen! For its pride and joy is the US Naval Academy where future officers of the US Navy and Marine Corps are formed.
Commencement at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis
United States Naval Academy:
(Daily guided tours) Founded in 1845, the Academy prepares some of America's finest young men and women. But, you don't have to enlist to tour the impressive site and experience some of the famous traditions such as noon formation, formal parades, Blue Angels' flight demonstrations, and Navy football.
Sail Away or Cruise On Down the Bay
After visiting Annapolis' historical buildings and the US Naval Academy, consider cruising along the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. Rent a powerboat or sailboat for a week or a weekend (if you just want to relax, hire a charter). As you travel along, admire the Chesapeake’s miles of shoreline. Then, stop to explore the Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, wander around Oxford, one of Maryland's oldest towns, or do a little antiquing in Rock Hall
Baltimore Fells Point
South River Boat Rentals (Annapolis, MD; Tel: 410-956-9729; www.southriverboatrentals.com) - Powerboat & sailboat rentals and charters.
Chesapeake Great Eats
Blue Crab season starts Memorial Day. Go out of your way to stop for lunch at Harris Crab House (425 Kent Narrow Way, North Grasonville, MD; Tel: 410/827-9500; www.harriscrabhouse.com) in Queen Anne’s County. For more than crab cakes, check out Baltimore's new, trendy restaurant scene. 
Stately Homes & Gardens
Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage

(April-May)
Every year in springtime, get an upclose-and-personal peek at spectacular private homes and gardens, along with historic sites, churches, and farms in select Maryland counties.
Star-Spangled History
The state's history is rich and varied. The first colonists from England arrived on March 25, 1634. Commemorative celebrations are held every year on Maryland Day.
Many of the crucial battles of the War of 1812, “America’s Second War of Independence," were fought in Maryland. It's fascinating to visit the sites where American troops fought back against the British invaders. Plan your trip on the Star-Spangled Banner Trail

Baltimore, MD: Fort McHenry 
During the War of 1812, troops in the fort defended Baltimore Harbor, keeping the flag aloft and inspiring Francis Scott Key's "Star-Spangled Banner," now our national anthem. Watch the daily flag change at 9:30am & 4:20pm.
Calvert County: Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum, St. Leonard, MD 
Site of the War of 1812's Battle of St. Leonard Creek, the largest naval engagement in Maryland's waters.
War of 1812 sites in Maryland
St. Mary’s County: Sotterley Plantation, Hollywood, MD 
Tour the Manor House with a War of 1812 "living history" presentation.
Star-Spangled 200th Anniversary: Commemoration of Maryland’s defense of the nation during the War of 1812 wraps up in 2014 with some spectacular events.
Where to Stay: Baltimore has a wide selection of every type of accommodation from B&Bs to world-class hotels. As you travel around the state, staying at a nice country inn is a lovely way to experience Maryland's charm.
Getting There: Fly into BWI Airport, drive, or take Amtrak.

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