by Kris Ankarlo

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WNEW) — As we collectively celebrate the bicentennial of our national anthem, who better to lead you on a walking tour of Annapolis than Francis Scott Key.

No need to hit 88 mph in a DeLorean, just head to Annapolis on the second or fourth Saturday of any given month. Two centuries removed from the War of 1812, Watermark is offering a special walking tour tracing the steps of that mainly-forgotten conflict.

“We started that tour last year, and we actually worked together with the Naval Academy to develop the tour,” says Katie Pierson, marketing specialist at Watermark Tours. “If you’re lucky, you might be out there with Francis Scott Key taking you where he went to school and where he went to church.”

When it comes to personas, it’s up to the individual guide, but they all wear period-themed outfits and bring a bevy of stories.

A Civil War walking tour and ghost tours join the War of 1812 in the roster of special weekend offerings, but Watermark’s most popular tour runs every day. The Four Centuries Walking Tour is offered twice a day, at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

“Our guides take guests through the historic district in Annapolis,” says Pierson. “You also get to go in the State House, and through the yard of the Naval Academy. It’s a really great way to see Annapolis, and we kind of jam four centuries of history into just about two and a quarter hours, and it’s a very personal tour.”

Crunching that much history into one tour is impossible, there are just too many stories to pull from. But Pierson says that’s the advantage, instead of an obstacle, in developing a tour in Annapolis.

“Every tour you take is going to be different. Even if you’ve taken it before, if you take it again it’s going to be a little different,” says Pierson.

The tour costs $16 for adults and runs on a two-a-day schedule from the end of March to the beginning of October. You can buy the tickets online or when you meet the guide. It’s key to wear comfortable shoes, and bring everything from sunscreen to umbrellas.

“We’re pretty much on the street as much as we can unless it’s very bad weather,” says Pierson.

Walking the cobblestones along rows of Georgian-style homes allows for a more tactile experience. And with a good guide, this type of tour can unlock a connection to abstract history that’s too often lost in an 8th grade textbook.

Sure, it’s touristy, but that’s why we travel to places … to hear the stories that make them unique.

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