Experience Southern History and Small-Town Charm in Fredericksburg, Virginia
From the gas lanterns lining the downtown streets to the 18th-century brick facades, Fredericksburg, Virginia, exudes a quiet, calm energy. While the town has a palpable sense of history, it can be difficult to imagine that the picturesque area was once the site of the Battle of Fredericksburg, one of the largest battles of the Civil War. Today, visitors can experience the changing seasons while walking Prospect Hill, staying in charming bed-and-breakfasts, and taking in the scenes along the Rappahannock River.
Where To Stay
The historic small town of Fredericksburg 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 inviting inns to experience a warm Fredericksburg welcome. 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. The beautifully appointed property and grounds are an ideal place to relax after a day spent exploring the town and countryside.
Nearby, you'll also find the The Richard Johnston Inn, which was constructed in 1770 and is located downtown. A former mayoral residence, it's another great option for those who want to experience a piece of history. There's also the 1890 Caroline House on Caroline Street, a Victorian structure built by Robert Walker Adams, a Fredericksburg city treasurer, which, like The Richard Johnston Inn, is operated by L&L Hospitality Group.
What To Do
With the nearby Rappahannock River and Lake Anna State Park within driving distance, Fredericksburg is a hub for outdoor adventure. In the warmer seasons, visitors can take a kayak out on the river and see the scenes from the water. Or, if you'd rather stay on dry land, you can take a hike along the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail. Summer finds travelers splashing in the waters along Falmouth Beach, which is located just across the river, and in the fall, you can admire Virginia's colorful bouquet of foliage on a hike in nearby Alum Spring Park.
For a fun 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 "antiques row," where the Fredericksburg Antique Mall & Clock Shop sells early pottery, historic relics, and vintage grandfather clocks. You can ride the streets in style in Fredericksburg's Olde Towne horse-drawn carriage or tour Fredericksburg's Civil War battlefield on a shuttle bus. The Mary Washington House is also located downtown at the corner of Charles and Lewis streets. It was purchased by George Washington for his mother, Mary, in the late 18th century, and is now a heritage museum that's open to visitors.
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 serving classic, authentic Italian food. You'll find antipasti, pizza, and pasta at this red-and-white-checkered-tablecloth spot.
For a 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. There's also Sedona Taphouse, another local favorite, and Foode, which is housed in a stately brick-faced building where visitors can enjoy leisurely farm-to-table meals.
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 lend a sense of fun to a morning meal.
For a laid-back weekend getaway, set your sights on Fredericksburg, a Virginia town in which you can shop, explore, dine, and float along the Rappahannock River—with no crowds in sight.