Fredericksburg Civil War history

Day Trip: Fredericksburg

Images and editorial supplied by City of Fredericksburg

Take the Scenic Route

There’s something to see around every corner in the Fredericksburg region. From the Wilderness Battlefield just off U.S. 3 in Spotsylvania County, to St. George’s which towers over Princess Anne Street in downtown Fredericksburg, to the lush wilderness of Widewater State Park in Stafford County, just a quick jaunt off U.S. 1.

A vantage point for every view: The history buff. The bookworm. The adventure seeker. The foodie. Take a quick tour and see for yourself:

Fredericksburg History

The region is the cradle that American history sprang from. Revolutionary history is alive here, at the Mary Washington House, home to the mother of George Washington; Washington’s own homeplace Ferry Farm; his friend’s business, the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop; and his sister’s home Historic Kenmore, which features breathtaking plaster ceilings.

From John Smith’s first exploration up the Rappahannock River in 1608 to artist Gari Melchers’ purchase of a peaceful country retreat in Falmouth in 1916, the Fredericksburg region has been a rewarding landing place for centuries of seekers. That tradition continues, and a new generation of offerings make this just the place to find yourself, whatever you seek.

Fredericksburg Civil War history

Historic Attractions in Fredericksburg

The Fredericksburg Spotsylvania National Military Park is an expansive system of civil war sites, from Chatham Manor to the Fredericksburg Battlefield and the Wilderness and Chancellorsville battlefields.

See the wide expanse of local history at the Fredericksburg Area Museum or the Spotsylvania County Museum and take in the stunning vistas that inspired impressionist Gari Melchers at his home and studio, now a museum, Belmont. A look into a collection of rare aircraft at the Shannon Air Museum; follow the journey of African Americans in Spotsylvania County at John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center Museum or visit the Rappahannock Railroad Museum to learn railroad history and take a quick ride on the little yellow train.

History has never been so alive as it is at Ferry Farm, where dedicated craftsmen are working to build a replica of the house where George Washington came of age. Across the Rappahannock River in Downtown Fredericksburg, the newly refurnished Kenmore mansion dazzles in the 18th-century grandeur in which Washington’s sister, Betty, and her husband, Fielding Lewis, furnished it, before the Revolutionary War turned their world upside down. The Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center tells the region’s story in a brand-new collection of exhibits in the oldest continuously used public building in the U.S.

Outdoor Attractions in Fredericksburg

Outdoor enthusiasts have a vibrant river ecosystem to explore. Take a river trip by canoe, kayak, tube or stand up paddleboard from the Virginia Outdoor Center. There are more bodies of water to explore at Mott’s Run Reservoir. River Rock Outfitter in downtown Fredericksburg makes adventuring easier than ever, offering supplies and tours of the region’s outdoor destinations. Hikers also have plenty to explore at the region’s parks and the many trails, including the recently opened Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail.

Outfitters on the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers and Lake Anna can get you up on a stand-up paddleboard, cruising the rapids in a kayak or connecting with nature on a multi-day trip on the water. Explorers are welcome at Lake Anna State Park, Motts Run Reservoir, Government Island and a long list of other places.

downtown Fredericksburg

Other Attractions in Fredericksburg

Clutching the wheel as you navigate one of the 12 turns in the two-mile road course at Spotsylvania County’s Dominion Raceway, you won’t want for adrenaline. Adventure is not in short supply here. The Fredericksburg Skydiving Center at Shannon Airport can help you with the ultimate bucket-list item. 

Arts and Entertainment in Fredericksburg

Artists thrive here. That becomes evident on any visit to Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont in the historic village of Falmouth. Downtown’s Ponshop celebrates modern forms like skateboard art, graffiti and tattoo art, while Artful Dimensions celebrates everything three-dimensional. You could fill multiple days wandering through the many other galleries and studios that artists have established in Downtown Fredericksburg. Riverside Center for the Performing Arts continues to up its game in bringing nationally recognized talent to an expanding repertoire that includes both the classics of musical theater and more modern dramatic favorites.

Shopping in Fredericksburg

Downtown Fredericksburg offers a vibrant shopping district. Find artworks from a variety of local creators of Liberty Town Arts Workshop, three floors of used books at the charming Riverby Books, handmade wooden goods at Fraser Wood Elements and designer women’s clothes at Monkees. Looking for something with a little more timeworn? Deep Creek Vintage is a haven for antique collectors.

Caroline Street Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg Restaurants

Every meal is an opportunity to explore the artistry of a Fredericksburg-area chef.

From Adventure Brewing to Zibibbo 73 Trattoria, cuisine in the region reflects its diverse history and culture. You can eat and drink like a local, whether that’s at the region’s many wineries and breweries. Ty out our newest brewery, Barley Naked Brewing Company or our world-renown A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Dine at award-winning restaurants, including Foode, La Petite Auberge, Amy’s Café, Orleans Bistro & Grill, Capital Ale House, The Confident Rabbit and Mason Dixon Café among many others. There’s something for every taste.  

There’s so much see in between: galleries, performances, events, vistas. We’re making history every day in the Fredericksburg region.