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
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
3. Chatham Manor
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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
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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.
907 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-371-3037
6. Fredericksburg Battlefield
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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.
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
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11. Shannon Air Museum
© Shannon Air Museum
The remarkable Shannon Air Museum is home to one of the rarest collections of vintage aircraft in the world. The original Shannon Air Museum was established in the 1950’s but was disbanded in 1981 when the founder, Sidney Shannon Jr. passed away.
Now, after all these years, the Shannon Air Museum has retrieved much of the original collection of aircraft and aviation artifacts and is once again open to the public.
The old Shannon Airport has been restored and re-opened for business and everyone is invited to stop by and learn about the history of aviation in Virginia and to admire the collections. More Romantic Weekend Getaways in Virginia
Shannon Air Museum, 3380 Shannon Airport Circle, Fredericksburg, VA 22408, 540-642-4387
12. Goolrick's Pharmacy
© 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.
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. More Luxury Weekend Getaways
1201 Washington Ave, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
15. Indian Punch Bowl
Found along the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail, the Indian Punch Bowl is a curious rock depression which is thought to have been made by early Native Indian tribes who used to live in the area around the river. Perfectly round and bowl-shaped, many people believe it was used by the early tribes to mix poison for their hunting arrow tips. (More than one of these depressions has been found near the river). In the 1700’s, the Thornton family opened a grist mill along the river and legend has it that this particular rock depression was used as a punch bowl for entertaining guests – it is inscribed with a date – 1720, thought to have been added by Major Francis Thornton.
Indian Punch Bowl, Rappahannock River Heritage Trail, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
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
17. Sammy T's
© 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 Alpine Chef
© The Alpine Chef
In 1974, the Thalwitz family first opened The Alpine 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. More Romantic Weekend Getaways
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. Monument to the Angel of Marye’s Heights
Located at the site of the bloody Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg, a lone bronze memorial honors the bravery and compassion of one member of the Confederate army. Richard Rowland Kirkland, aged just 19 years, became known as the Angel of Marye’s Heights, for repeatedly risking his life to carry water to the wounded and dying (mainly Union) soldiers who were left littering the battlefield at the end of one of the most gruesome battles of the war. The monument was erected in 1965, after the Sons of Confederate Veterans posthumously honored Kirkland by awarding him their Confederate Medal of Honor. The veracity of the legend is uncertain, but the memorial is well worth a visit for anyone interested in Civil War history.
Monument to the Angel of Marye’s Heights, Fredericksburg National Military Park, Sunken Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
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.
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 offers complimentary guided tours of the distillery every hour on the hour.
1 Bowman Dr, Fredericksburg, VA 22408, Phone: 540-373-4555
23. Strangeways Brewing
© Strangeways Brewing
Established in 2013, Strangeways Brewing has spent more than 8 years endeavoring to create great craft beers which stand out from the crowd. Strangeways founder, Neil Burton has always enjoyed doing things a little differently and his determination to seek out the unknown has culminated in the production of some exceptional craft beers at Strangeways Brewing. You can come and find out all about these innovative and trail-blazing brews at the Fredericksburg Tap Room which features at least 36 beers on tap, spacious indoor and outdoor tasting areas and rotating food trucks. If you are not sure where to start your Strangeways journey you can order a tasting flight.
Strangeways Brewing, 350 Lansdowne Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, 540-371-1776
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.
2577 Cowan Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, Phone: 540-370-0355
25. Belvedere Plantation
© Belvedere Plantation
Belvedere Plantation is a heritage farm which dates back to the 1760’s. Since that time this piece of land has been continuously farmed, producing crops of corn, wheat, soybeans and pumpkins. More recently the Belvedere Plantation has hosted a number of family-friendly seasonal fun events including their Fall Harvest Festival (which runs from September to November) and features a pick-your-own Pumpkin Patch, a Maize Maze and many other attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Spring events include their Eggstravaganza with Easter egg hunts, a petting zoo and much more. If you happen to be travelling with a school group you can schedule a fun and educational field trip at the farm.
Belvedere Plantation, 1410 Belvedere Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22408, 540-373-4478
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More Ideas: The Richard Johnston Inn
Nestled in the historic town of Fredericksburg, Virginia famous for its Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, The Richard Johnston Inn is a charming bed and breakfast in the heart of the town. Built by architect John Taylow, one of the original signers of The Declaration of Independence, in 1770, this unique, upscale 18th century Inn was once home to the mayor of Fredericksburg, Richard Johnston, and so named. The celebrated bed and breakfast features seven elegant guest rooms and two luxurious guest suites and makes an ideal venue for small weddings, receptions, intimate family gatherings and other special events.
The Richard Johnston Inn offers luxury accommodations in the form of seven well-appointed guest rooms and two luxurious suites, decorated with period décor and antique furnishings, fine bed linens, and lavish oriental rugs, private bathrooms with showers and bathtubs, and an array of modern amenities. Guest rooms and suite feature conveniences such as flat-screen televisions with cable channels, individual climate control with heating and cooling functions, kitchenettes with microwaves, mini-fridges, tea and coffee-making facilities, and complimentary wireless Internet throughout.
The Loft is an airy two-level suite with beautiful views over the Inn's courtyard and features a handsome king-size bed with fine linens and down comforters, a private bathroom with walk-in shower, and whirlpool-style jetted spa bath and a spacious living area and small kitchenette. Guests are treated to a complimentary breakfast every morning and have access to free parking.
The Town House is located on the third floor of the Inn and features a beautiful mural of Fredericksburg on the wall above the bed. The room offers a king-size bed with luxurious linens, a private en-suite bathroom with bath and shower and a sunny sitting area.
Named after Fredericksburg's sister city in France, The Frejus is an elegant room on the third floor with a breathtaking mural of a French château on the wall behind the king-size bed. The room features a private en-suite bathroom with a soaking bathtub and walk-in shower with a slightly lower showerhead due to the distinct shape of the chamber.
Located on the second floor of the Inn and gorgeously decorated in hues of red, white and blue, The Virginian is a well-appointed room with a queen-size bed in beautiful linens, a private en-suite bathroom with bath and walk-in shower and lovely views of Caroline Street below.
Olivia's Room features a romantic queen-size canopy bed with deluxe linens, soft pillows and plush comforters, and a private en-suite bathroom with shower and bath, while the rose-toned Canopy Room offers the same amenities of a queen-size canopy bed and private bathroom and inspiring views of the courtyard. The Peyton Mae is a comfortable room decorated in blues and whites with a queen-size bed and a private bathroom located across the hall from the room.
The Kitchen House is a lovely room located just off the courtyard and features original brick flooring, a traditional wood-burning stove, two queen-size beds and a private bathroom with a walk-in shower and a large whirlpool-style spa bath for two.
Isabella's Suite is a beautifully appointed private suite located just off the courtyard and features a bedroom with two queen-size beds, a separate living room with comfortable seating and a small kitchen and eating area. The suite boasts a private en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower and whirlpool-style jetted bathtub for two.
A gourmet breakfast is served every morning as part of the stay with mouthwatering hot and cold delights, including fresh fruit, granola, cereals and yogurt, egg dishes, freshly baked pastries, rolls and bread, and coffee, tea, and juice.
In addition to the luxurious accommodations and gracious service, the Richard Johnston Inn also offers an array of amenities and guest services, including a complimentary gourmet breakfast each morning, free parking, a sunny courtyard in which to relax and free wireless Internet throughout the property. A spacious living room is an ideal spot to relax and socialize with other guests, and the Inn has a laptop and printer that guests can use for business purposes or check their email.
Back to: Weekend Getaways in Virginia
711 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401, Phone: 540-899-7606