In 1812, American troops invaded Toronto and burned down the Governor's house, the Parliament building and the newspaper, "York Express." In reprisal, Admiral Cochrane, with the help of Generals Cockburn and Ross, invaded Washington on August 19, 1814 and burned the President's house, the Treasury, the War Office and destroyed the Navy Yard. Only the walls of the President's house remained and when it was later rebuilt, the fire damage was covered over with white paint, hence the name "White House." Admiral Cochrane then turned his sights on Baltimore. Its harbor was shallow and the Americans had sunk a number of vessels across the harbor approach. Some 14,000 men were amassed for the defense of Baltimore. On September 12, 3800 British troops disembarked at North Point for a flank attack on the city. A naval assualt began the following day. On land, General Ross was shot dead, and on sea, after a night of bomardment, Old Glory still waved at daybreak. The battle had been witnessed by a Baltimore counsel, Francis Scott Key, who was on board the British ship Surprise to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes. The British had developed rockets as offensive weapons five years earlier. When used at night, the propellant burned with a fiery red glow and the shell or casing burst like a bomb, all of which Key penned in his poem which would later become our National Anthem. Today, visitors to Ft. McHenry can relive the battle through multi-media exhibits, walk in the footsteps of those who defended Baltimore and look out over the Chesapeake Bay where the Surprise was anchored. The visitor's center houses a large exhibit and the Naval Academy choir provides a stiring rendition of our national anthem. Plan on spending at least a couple of hours. The Fort's history after the War of 1812, especially its roles in the American Civil War and the World War I, are fascinating and well documented. The Water Taxi is the best way to visit.
Pros: Beautiful view of Chesapeake Bay and Key Bridge
Cons: The ramparts are not too convenient for those with walking problems but it is a fort afterall.