Fredericksburg is the place to go if you are a Civil War enthusiast, enjoy the outdoors, shopping and like the occasional scare.
Four major civil war battles were fought in and around Fredericksburg, including the Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. More than 85,000 men were wounded in these battles and 15,000 were killed. According to the National Park Service website it states that, “No place more vividly reflects the Civil War’s tragic cost, in all its forms. These places reveal the trials of a community and nation at war.” Visitors can explore all of these battlefield sites and the NPS has helpful information listed on its website, including directions, hours of operation, and areas that have guided tours.
So, taking all of that into consideration, it’s no wonder that Fredericksburg has been considered by many to be the most haunted city in the United States. If you love Halloween and wish it lasted longer than one day, Fredericksburg is the place to be if you would like to give yourself a scare year round. There are a few ghost tours that visitors can go on, including the Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tours, which combines history with ghost tales. The tours are every Friday and Saturday night and they are led by costumed guides that will take you on an 80-minute tour of the historic downtown area.
There are additional tours available in the downtown area that are a little less spooky, including one you can take by trolley, which is available almost year round. The Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg transports visitors through what it states is “America’s Most Historic City,” and helps them learn about the city’s rich past while taking the sites in along the way.
Another option for a tour is by way of the “City of Fredericksburg,” a 100-foot boat that resembles a steamboat. Brunch and dinner cruises are available that will take you on a tour of the scenic Rappahannock River and there are also two decks, a dance floor, dining and bar on the boat.
The historic downtown area is also home to the Civil War Life Museum, which is located at 829 Caroline Street. The museum has original artifacts on display as well as a tintype photography studio where you can have your own Civil War tintype picture made, and a 3-D theater that uses photographic images called “stereographs.”
The downtown area may be haunted, but it’s also a great place to go shopping, get a bite to eat and enjoy the arts. Visitors can stop into the Art First Gallery located in the heart of downtown Fredericksburg on Caroline Street. The gallery’s website states that it’s the “first established artists’ cooperative,” with exhibits that change monthly and feature everything from painting to photography.
A great place to get lunch or dinner is Sammy T’s, which is located on the corner of Caroline and Hanover Streets and only one block from the Visitor’s Center. It has a menu that caters to vegetarians, but meat eaters can also enjoy their cuisine along with many of their specialty imported beers that are available. But, if you need an energy boost after taking a long tour, Hyperion Espresso is the place for you. It’s a staple in the downtown area, and it has great coffee, espresso, snacks and atmosphere.
If you’re not a big history buff and you don’t like to take tours, there are many great places to shop in the historic district, including the Irish Eyes gift shop and Corky’s which has clothing, shoes, jewelry and more for sale. There are also numerous antique stores lining the streets of the downtown area that may contain a Civil War relic or two. If you still want to walk around and spend money, then Central Park is the place to go next and it’s only a short ten minute drive from the downtown historic area. It’s a 310-acre shopping area full of department stores and restaurants including DSW, Target, Walmart and Bonefish Grill.
If you are the outdoorsy type, the Rappahannock River is a great place to be on a hot summer day. Many Fredericksburg residents go tubing down the river, but there is also the Clore Bros. Outfitters, where you can rent a canoe and kayak to take down the river. The Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market is also a place where you can walk around and purchase produce, meat, baked goods and plants. The market runs during the growing season, which is April through October, and is located near Hurkamp Park and Prince Edward and George Streets.
But, if you had to pick one place to go in Fredericksburg it should be Carl’s Ice Cream, located on 2200 Princess Anne Street, which is famous for its soft-serve ice cream and long lines that will be wrapped around the block. Carl’s has been open since 1947 and has maintained its popularity ever since. It is open every day from mid-February to mid-November.
Fredericksburg is a diverse area that has so much to offer visitors. You could make a day trip and just go to the downtown historic area, or you could spend a whole weekend exploring the Civil War battlefields and taking a tour or two. Central Park would take you weeks to fully explore and a big wallet, because there are so many businesses and stores in this area.