Fredericksburg, VA is known as the childhood home of President George Washington and has played an important part in the American Civil War. Much of Fredericksburg’s tourist industry is devoted to this history, with old Georgian mansions and buildings connected to Washington, a national cemetery and military park devoted to the Battle of Fredericksburg, and plenty of museums and cultural landmarks that date back to these times. Fredericksburg is also home to great local businesses and attractions, including breweries, cafes, restaurants, theater, and shops.
1.Washington Heritage Museums
© Washington Heritage Museums
Washington Heritage Museums manages four historic properties in Fredericksburg, which represent significant parts of American history as they relate to the life of George Washington, the first president of the United States. At St. James’ House, built on land once owned by Mary Washington, visitors can see antique furniture in one of the oldest frame houses still standing in Fredericksburg, and in the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, they can learn about the doctor who treated patients - including Washington’s mother Mary - there. At the Mary Washington House, visitors can explore the home that George Washington bought for his aging mother, and in the Rising Sun Tavern, which was built by his younger brother Charles, guests can see original woodwork in the place that once served travelers in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
1300 Charles St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-373-5630
2.Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
© Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
Open Tuesday through Thursday from 10am to 4pm, the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center is a historical museum that celebrates the cultural history of Fredericksburg and the surrounding region, particularly communities connected by the Rappahannock River. The area is well known for some of its more grand roles in history, particularly the Civil War, but the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center takes care to document the smaller aspects of life: marriages, love letters, local court cases, personal photographs, and other keepsakes and belongings that help to paint a full picture of life and culture in the region throughout history.
900 Barton St #111, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-373-3704
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Built in the ornate and elegant Georgian style, Chatham Manor is more than just a beautiful piece of architecture. This house, which was finished in 1771, has seen a lot of history in its long life, including a slave rebellion in 1805, and actively took part in history as the site of a Union Headquarters and subsequent battleground during the Civil War. The war left the beautiful manor desolate, its walls and floors stained with blood and graffiti and its grounds burned and deforested by the armies who camped and fought there. In the early 20th century, Chatham was finally restored to its former glory, and today, visitors can wander the grounds, gardens, and outbuildings at their leisure. The house itself is closed to the public.
120 Chatham Ln, Fredericksburg, VA 22405
4.Central Park Funland
© Central Park Funland
When traveling with family or small kids, Central Park Funland is absolutely a must for the itinerary. With 40,000 square feet of indoor attractions, including laser tag, bowling, arcade games, a climbing wall, bumper cars, carnival rides, and a virtual reality video game called Hologate, Central Park Funland is great no matter what the weather. There are also plenty of outdoor attractions, like go-karts, miniature golf, batting cages, and more carnival games, making this place perfect for a day of excitement for all ages. There is a cafe with food, snacks, and drinks, and guests can opt for wristbands that allow unlimited fun within the entire adventure park.
1351 Central Park Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-785-6700
5.Fredericksburg Area Museum
© Fredericksburg Area Museum
Located in the old Town Hall and Market House of historic Fredericksburg, which was built in 1816, the Fredericksburg Area Museum works hard to collect and preserve the history of the region, and teach that history to its visitors, whether they be residents of Fredericksburg or guests to the area. The collection at FAM spreads across thousands of years of history, from the Native Americans who called the region home to much more recent events, like Fredericksburg’s role in the Black Lives Matter movement. The museum has a host of permanent and temporary exhibitions, which rotate on a seasonal basis, and often hosts events for the community. Visitors can explore the Fredericksburg Area Museum from 10am to 5pm, Thursday through Monday.
907 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-371-3037
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The Battle of Fredericksburg took place on December 11-15, 1862, as a failed attempt by the Union Army to cross the Rappahannock River in their attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. The arrival of Union pontoons took longer than expected, so General Robert E. Lee had time to fortify his ground. The result was not so much a battle as it was a total massacre. Visitors to Fredericksburg often take time to visit the site of this bloodshed, which belies its violent history with its tranquil, tree-lined grounds. The visitor’s center at Fredericksburg Battlefield contains a sizeable museum with artifacts and history from the Civil War, a short documentary about the battle, and a bookstore/gift shop.
1013 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
7.Fredericksburg National Cemetery
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More than 15,000 Union soldiers were laid to rest in Fredericksburg National Cemetery, men who gave their lives in battles fought in the area between Washington DC and Richmond, which was hotly contested during the Civil War. And of those 15,000 bodies, less than 2500 were ever identified. Today, the grounds of Fredericksburg National Cemetery are a peaceful place, where visitors can visit monuments to those who fell fighting for the Union in the Civil War in Marye’s Heights, and also view the graves of soldiers and veterans who were buried in Willis Cemetery until 1945. The National Cemetery is open daily from dawn until dusk, and is part of the national military park.
1013 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 72401, Phone: 540-373-6122
8.Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park
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Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park serves as a memorial to the four major battles that were fought in the region during the Civil War, including Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, The Wilderness, and Chancellorsville, and the soldiers who died in the fighting. Inside the park are also four major buildings that had significance during the Civil War: Chatham Manor, the house where Stonewall Jackson died, Ellwood Manor, and Salem Church. There are two visitors centers within the park, at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, which contain exhibits and information about the park, and during the summer season, guided walking tours around the parks and battlefields are offered.
1013 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
9.Eileens Bakery and Cafe
© Eileens Bakery and Cafe
Using lots of fresh, local ingredients, Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe hand makes all of their breads and pastries daily. Visitors can enjoy a hearty breakfast of quiche, breakfast sandwiches, or baked goods, or a delicious lunch of homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches on fresh bread at Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe. Many others go to Eileen’s for their delicious coffee and espresso drinks, which they can take with them on the go or enjoy in the cafe with a tasty sweet baked good. Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe is open Tuesday through Friday from 7:30am to 3:00pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00am to 4:00pm.
1115 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-372-4030
10.Gari Melchers Home and Studio
© Gari Melchers Home and Studio
Gari Melchers was a prominent painter of landscapes, portraits, and murals, who lived during the late 19th and early 20th century. Melchers was already a well-known and successful artist when he purchased his home - the Belmont Estate - in Falmouth, Virginia, a place where he could escape the start of World War I and paint for the joy of it. When Melchers’ wife died in 1955, she left the home and all of its contents to Virginia, making the Gari Melchers Home and Studio one of the most complete examples of a historic artists’ home and work in existence. Today, the Belmont Estate is a beautiful and historic house that is available for touring.
224 Washington St, Falmouth, VA 22405, Phone: 540-654-1015
11.Ghosts of Fredericksburg
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A place as old and illustrious as Fredericksburg is bound to have a few ghosts lurking about, and with Ghosts of Fredericksburg, visitors can take a guided evening stroll through the streets of the historic city to learn about the past. Guides are costumed and engaging, and their tours vary from local graveyards to historic houses, and even to the tunnels beneath the city. Guests will learn about various folklore and history, and some of the ghost sightings that have been claimed in the area. Seasonal tours are also offered, especially around Halloween, and visitors can find a full schedule of tours and events on Ghost of Fredericksburg’s website.
623 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-710-3002
© Goolrick's Pharmacy
In the heart of downtown Fredericksburg is Goolrick’s, a pharmacy and soda fountain which first opened its doors in 1863. Going to Goolrick’s today is like stepping into the past, into a simpler time with music, good cheap food, and a friendly staff. It the home of the oldest most continuously run soda fountain in the US, which was installed in 1912 and has been happily serving customers on their tall stools at the long bar ever since. Goolrick’s is still a working pharmacy, but by far most of its visitors come for lunch or a milkshake up at the counter. Goolrick’s sells simple sandwiches like grilled cheese, BLTs, and tuna salad, as well as egg creams, malt shakes, and fresh squeezed lemonade made to order.
901 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-373-3411
13.James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
© James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library first opened in 1927, and it strives to commemorate the life, history, and achievements of James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States. The museum was created by direct descendents of Monroe, who wanted a place where their family heirlooms and personal collections could be kept, and the place they chose was in fact once the site of Monroe’s office, where he practiced law. The museum has a massive collection of artifacts and heirlooms, from letters and documents to the plates and pottery he used at the dinner table, and is open to the public from 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday, and from 1pm to 5pm on Sundays, with a closing time of 4pm during December, January, and February.
908 Charles St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
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The historic Kenmore plantation was built and owned by Fielding Lewis and his wife Betty Washington Lewis, who was the sister of our nation’s first president, George Washington. Lewis was a rich man who built his house from the money he earned trading with England, until the Revolutionary War, when his business was interruped. But his house stillm stands as an amazing example of Georgian architecture and historic elegance, and visitors today can take a 45 minute guided tour of the house’s first story and kitchen, or stroll the grounds and gardens at their own pace.
1201 Washington Ave, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
15.Pappagallo Fine Gifts & Imports
© Pappagallo Fine Gifts & Imports
At Pappagallo Fine Gifts and Imports, customers can find some amazing presents to bring back home, both for themselves and others. Many of their jewelry pieces have been imported from Europe, like the Polish amber necklaces and earrings, and jewerly made from italian murano glass. Their fragrances feature both perfumes and lotions for the body, and candles and other air fresheners for a room or home. With home decor like clocks, paintings, and carvings, garden decor like flags and wind chimes, and other simple gifts like hand crafted greeting cards, Pappagallo Fine Gifts and Imports is a one stop shop for souvenirs.
300 William St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-372-2001
16.Riverside Center for the Performing Arts
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Since they first opened in 1998 with a performance of the classic musical Oklahoma!, Riverside Center for the Performing Arts has been delighting audiences with hundreds of stage productions. With 36,000 square feet of space and an emphasis on musical theater and dinner theater, Riverside Center for the Performing Arts is an excellent choice for a full evening of entertainment. Riverside offers a full three course dinner to their guests, including salad, bread, entrees, and dessert, with options for gluten free and vegetarian guests as well as for children, which they can enjoy as they watch the show.
95 Riverside Pkwy, Fredericksburg, VA 22406, Phone: 540-370-4300
© Sammy T's
Sammy T’s has been an iconic part of Fredericksburg’s community since it first opened in 1981. The building where the restaurant is housed is a couple of centuries old - built in 1805 - and throughout its lifetime has been an auction room, a post office, and service and gas station. When it first became a restaurant, owned by Samuel T. Emory, it was a family owned place that quickly earned a spot in the hearts of local residents. Today, Sammy T’s is owned by a group od people who loved the place growing up and wanted to preserve it and help it grow. Sammy T’s is a friendly staple in downtown Fredericksburg, serving up classic good food and new twists on old favorites for everyone who walks through its doors.
801 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-371-2008
18.The Bavarian Chef
© The Bavarian Chef
In 1974, the Thalwitz family first opened The Bavarian Chef, offering German classics from their family’s recipe book to the world. In 2010, they took their fantastic Madison restaurant and opened a second location in Fredericksburg’s historic train station. Their foods are all homemade and use the freshest ingredients available, and the place is well knwon for its warm atmosphere and heaping portions of delicious food like wiener schintzel and bratwurst. Food comes served by waitresses in dirndls or servers in lederhosen, and of course the experience would not be complete without a full stein of delicious German beer.
200 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-656-2101
19.The Ebert House and Store
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Henry and Sophia Ebert were Prussian immigrants who made their home in Fredericksburg during the 1840s. They built their home into a small grocery store, which served the community on the Telegraph Road until the Civil War struck Fredericksburg in 1862. The Eberts were forced to leave their home by Confederate officers, and when they returned after the battle had ended, they found corpses of soldiers and their home and business badly damaged by all the fighting. The Ebert’s were persistent however, and they owned the house for generations to come, into the 1930s. Their house and store stood until the 1950s, and today, markers and foundation describing the history of the building are all that remains.
701 Sunken Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
20.The Frenchman's Corner of Fredericksburg
© The Frenchman's Corner of Fredericksburg
Tamara Villegas always knew she was an artist, so when she found that chocolate was the canvas she preferred, she went headlong into the world of gourmet desserts. This Le Cordon Bleu trained chocolatier uses the finest Belgian Neuhaus chocolates in her truffles, fudges, cakes, and other delicacies, which she sells at her shop, The Frenchman’s Corner, in downtown Fredericksburg. Visitors can purchase some of her amazing chocolates as well as the many baked goods they produce, like French macarons, fruit tarts, doughnuts, cakes, and more. The selection is constantly changing, but whatever they’ve got in stock, it’s certain to be beautiful and delicious.
817 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-899-7655
21.6 Bears & a Goat Brewing Co.
© 6 Bears & a Goat Brewing Co.
Named for the mascots of the branches of the military that each of the founders served in (US Coast Guard and US Navy, respectively), 6 Bears and a Goat Brewing Co., or 6B&G as it is fondly known, is a casual and delicious brewpub where guests can enjoy a pint after work, chat over burgers with friends, and relax in a great, welcoming atmosphere. Their beer is made in house and most taps are on a rotating basis, constantly making room for new experiments and varieties depending on the season or the brewer’s whims. At 6 Bears and a Goat Brewing Co., guests can take advantage of happy hour, which is offered from 4-6pm on Tuesday through Friday.
1140 International Pkwy, Fredericksburg, VA 22406, Phone: 540-356-9056
22.A. Smith Bowman Distillery
© A. Smith Bowman Distillery
This small, family owned distillery handcrafts its fine spirits from the best ingredients. A. Smith Bowman was a farmer who bought his estate in 1927 and used it as a dairy farm as well as a granary. But he soon had so much grain he didn’t know what to do with it all, so after the end of Prohibition, he began distilling alcohol. The distilling grains were fed to the cattle after use, a tradition that still continues. A. Smith Bowman Distillery is open Monday through Saturday, from 10am to 4pm, and offers complimentary guided tours of the distillery every hour on the hour.
1 Bowman Dr, Fredericksburg, VA 22408, Phone: 540-373-4555
23.Adventure Brewing Company
© Adventure Brewing Company
Adventure Brewing Company knows that craft beer is a growing industry. They help cater to lovers of small batch craft beer by creating full-flavored beers in numerous varieties including IPAs and APAs, Hefeweisens, lagers, stouts, and red ales. Many of their beers are on tap year round, such as the Expedition IPA and Stiletto Stout, but many more are seasonal, like Bobsled Winter Ale and Go East Young Man Peanut Butter Banana Wheat. Adventure Brewing Company has two tasting rooms in Fredericksburg, the original North location, and the South location, which is where the beer is produced and which also includes a brewpub.
3300 Dill Smith Dr, Fredericksburg, VA 22408, Phone: 540-242-8876
24.Basilico New York Deli
© Basilico New York Deli
Basilico Italian Market and New York Deli takes its food seriously. Guests can choose from a menu packed with options like pizza made in a brick oven, a wide variety of fresh grilled paninis, bowls of pasta full of different sauces and vegetables, and daily selections of soups and salads. Then of course there are the desserts, like homemade gelato, traditional butter cookies, cannoli stuffed with filling and topped with chocolate chips and a dusting of powdered sugar, and other traditional Italian treats like tiramisu and tartufini. The deli also sells coffee and espresso, and beer and wine, and is open on Sundays from 11am to 8pm, and every other day of the week from 9:30am to 9pm.
2577 Cowan Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-370-0355
25 Best Things to Do in Fredericksburg, Virginia
- Washington Heritage Museums, Photo: Washington Heritage Museums
- Central Rappahannock Heritage Center, Photo: Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
- Chatham Manor, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- Central Park Funland, Photo: Central Park Funland
- Fredericksburg Area Museum, Photo: Fredericksburg Area Museum
- Fredericksburg Battlefield, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- Fredericksburg National Cemetery, Photo: Courtesy of alice - Fotolia.com
- Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- Eileens Bakery and Cafe, Photo: Eileens Bakery and Cafe
- Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Photo: Gari Melchers Home and Studio
- Ghosts of Fredericksburg, Photo: Courtesy of celiafoto - Fotolia.com
- Goolrick's Pharmacy, Photo: Goolrick's Pharmacy
- James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, Photo: James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
- Kenmore, Photo: Courtesy of margie - Fotolia.com
- Pappagallo Fine Gifts & Imports, Photo: Pappagallo Fine Gifts & Imports
- Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, Photo: Courtesy of peych_p - Fotolia.com
- Sammy T's, Photo: Sammy T's
- The Bavarian Chef, Photo: The Bavarian Chef
- The Ebert House and Store, Photo: Courtesy of GCapture - Fotolia.com
- The Frenchman's Corner of Fredericksburg, Photo: The Frenchman's Corner of Fredericksburg
- 6 Bears & a Goat Brewing Co., Photo: 6 Bears & a Goat Brewing Co.
- A. Smith Bowman Distillery, Photo: A. Smith Bowman Distillery
- Adventure Brewing Company, Photo: Adventure Brewing Company
- Basilico New York Deli, Photo: Basilico New York Deli
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com