This Rappahannock River town cemented its place in history during the Civil War, but today, it draws visitors for its old-time charm and outdoor attractions.

By Zoe Denenberg
March 10, 2020

From the gas lanterns lining the downtown streets to the 18th century brick façades, Fredericksburg exudes a quiet, calm energy; despite the palpable sense of history, it can be difficult to imagine that the town was once the site of the Battle of Fredericksburg, one of the largest battles of the Civil War. Today, visitors can walk Prospect Hill—the station point for Confederate artillery—and see the Civil War-era cannons that still sit on the now-peaceful hilltop.

Where to Stay

The historic small town of Fredericksburg, Virginia is the ideal destination for a weekend getaway, particularly in the fall, when Virginia’s signature foliage bursts into peak color. Stay at one of the local bed and breakfasts or homey inns—there’s no better way to spend a morning than with a cup of coffee on the Kenmore Inn’s regal, column-lined front porch. Constructed in 1770, the Richard Johnson Inn—located right downtown—is a great option for those who want to experience a piece of history.

What to Do

With the nearby Rappahannock River and Lake Anna State Park, Fredericksburg is a hub for outdoor adventure. In the warmer seasons, take a kayak out on the river; in the fall, admire Virginia’s colorful bouquet of foliage on a hike in Alum Spring Park.

For a nice afternoon activity, hit the quaint downtown streets for a little local shopping. Fredericksburg’s historic downtown includes over 350 original 18th and 19th century buildings within a 40-block loop; don’t miss the riverside “antique row,” where the Fredericksburg Antique Mall & Clock Shop sells early pottery, civil war relics, and vintage grandfather clocks. Ride the streets in style in Fredericksburg’s Olde Towne horse-drawn carriage or tour Fredericksburg’s Civil War battlefield on a shuttle bus.

Where to Eat

In terms of dining, the local options are plentiful. At Orofino, Chef Danilo Orofino—who opened his first restaurant at 18 years old in Sicily—helms the kitchen, maintaining his commitment to serve classic, authentic Italian food. You’ll find antipasti, pizza, and pasta at this red-and-white checkered-tablecloth downtown spot. For a true taste of Virginia, head to Fahrenheit 132, where the ingredients are locally sourced, from the Virginia angus beef steaks to the Chesapeake Bay crab cakes. The popular Park Lane Tavern is another spot where “locals and imports unite” for a drink and a bite.

At two popular locations in downtown Fredericksburg and Stafford, the Mason-Dixon Café serves local favorites like gourmet melts and loaded hot dogs—but the all-day breakfast (specifically, the Chicken & Waffles with Maple Bacon Sauce) is hard to resist. It’s all made from-scratch each day. For a throwback breakfast, the vinyl booths and red neon lights at Tito’s Diner will transport you right to the 1950s.

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