Fredericksburg in Virginia is famous for being President George Washington’s childhood hometown and playing a significant role in the American Civil War. Much of the city’s tourist industry honours this history, showcasing several Georgian mansions and other stately buildings connected to the USA’s first president, a military park devoted to the Battle of Fredericksburg and a poignant national cemetery.
In addition, there are plenty of cultural landmarks and museums that date back to this period too, supported by a vibrant bar and restaurant scene, an eclectic range of shops and some other notable attractions. Visitors will find enough things to do in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to make a visit worthwhile.
Also read: 21 Virginia Landmarks
- Fredericksburg, Virginia
- 20 Things To Do In Fredericksburg
- 1- Visit Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
- 2- Wander Around The Grounds At Chatham Manor
- 3- Learn About The Civil War At Fredericksburg Battlefield
- 4- Explore The Washington Heritage Museums
- 5- Pay Homage To Fallen Soldiers At Fredericksburg National Cemetery
- 6- Visit The Monument to the Angel of Marye’s Heights
- 7- Learn About Culture At Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
- 8- Have Fun At Central Park Funland
- 9- Drink Soda At Goolrick’s Pharmacy
- 10- See The Collection At Fredericksburg Area Museum
- 11- Enjoy A Sweet Treat At Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe
- 12- Taste Shrimp Po Boy At Sammy T’s
- 13- Admire Art At The Belmont Estate
- 14- See The Indian Punch Bowl
- 15- Admire Vintage Aircraft At The Shannon Air Museum
- 16- Visit The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
- 17- Dine At The Alpine Chef
- 18- Watch A Show At Riverside Center for the Performing Arts
- 19- Belvedere Plantation
- 20- Learn The Story Of Ebert House and Store
- 20 Things To Do In Fredericksburg
20 Things To Do In Fredericksburg
1- Visit Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is a memorial to four of the Civil War’s most significant battles in Virginia: Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Chancellorsville and The Wilderness.
Also within this park lie significant buildings – Chatham Manor, Ellwood Manor, Salem Church and the house where Stonewall Jackson died.
All of which you are free to explore.
At Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, two visitor centres present exhibits and information about the park.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is at 1013 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
2- Wander Around The Grounds At Chatham Manor
An ornate Georgian mansion, Chatham Manor is an outstanding piece of architecture and a mausoleum of Virginia’s past.
This 1771 manor is a stunning property that has endured a fascinating lifespan, including an infamous slave rebellion in 1805.
It was also the site of a Union Headquarters, as well as a Civil War battleground too.
Sadly, the war was not kind to the beautiful manor and much of it was destroyed, while its floors and walls were left bloodstained.
The grounds were burned and deforested by the soldiers who camped and battled there.
The property has been restored and while visitors can’t enter the house, they can stroll through the gardens, grounds, and outbuildings.
Chatham Manor is part of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park at 120 Chatham Ln, Fredericksburg, VA 22405.
3- Learn About The Civil War At Fredericksburg Battlefield
The Battle of Fredericksburg is a significant part of Civil War history that took place between 11 and 15 December 1862.
It is the famous site where the Union Army suffered significant losses during their failed attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond.
Many visitors to Fredericksburg come to the battleground site, which now takes the form of a tree-lined grassland, to soak in the area’s history.
There is also a very cool visitor’s centre that showcases a fascinating museum of related artifacts.
Fredericksburg Battlefield is at 1013 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
4- Explore The Washington Heritage Museums
For a greater insight into the life of George Washington, you should check out the four historic buildings that the Washington Heritage Museums manage.
At Mary Washington House, you can peruse the home George Washington bought for his mother, while at St. James’ House, which is built on land once owned by Mary Washington, you can marvel at one of Fredericksburg’s oldest frame houses.
Elsewhere, at the Rising Sun Tavern, the construction of which was overseen by his younger brother Charles, you can see original woodwork from the 18th century.
At the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, you can also learn about the doctor who treated Washington’s mother there.
Washington Heritage Museums is at 1300 Charles St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
5- Pay Homage To Fallen Soldiers At Fredericksburg National Cemetery
Tragically more than 15,000 Union soldiers were buried at Fredericksburg National Cemetery.
Many of whom died in combat in the area between Richmond and Washington DC, where the most significant Civil War battles occurred.
Sadly, of those 15,000 soldiers, less than 2500 have ever been identified, so most of them remain unknown.
However, the cemetery’s grounds, which is open every day from dusk till dawn, is a peaceful place to remember them.
Fredericksburg National Cemetery is at 1013 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 72401.
6- Visit The Monument to the Angel of Marye’s Heights
Aged just 19 years old, Richard Rowland Kirkland earned himself the moniker of the Angel of Marye’s Heights for his selfless act during the gruesome Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg.
Without regard for his own safety, Kirkland – a confederate soldier – repeatedly risked his own life to carry water to those left injured and dying on the battlefield.
Most of whom were fallen Union Army soldiers.
Today a lone bronze memorial, awarded to him posthumously by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1965, represents his compassion and bravery.
This monument is in Fredericksburg National Military Park and is well worth checking out for anyone interested in Civil War history.
Kirkland’s monument lies within the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park at Sunken Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
7- Learn About Culture At Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
The Central Rappahannock Heritage Centre is a fascinating museum to visit for those who want to find out more about the area.
Celebrating the culture and history of Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas, it focuses on the lives of communities dependent on the Rappahannock River.
It offers an insight into the lives of the people back in the day by showcasing their photographs, love letters, wedding documentation, local court cases and other trinkets and keepsakes.
Central Rappahannock Heritage Center is at 900 Barton St #111, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
8- Have Fun At Central Park Funland
While it’s good to show kids the Civil War attractions, kids are still kids. So when in Fredericksburg, it is well-worth allowing them to be kids at the Central Park Funland.
The 40,000 square feet (3716 sqm)of indoor attractions offer plenty of great things to do, including bowling, laser tag, arcade games, bumper cars, a climbing wall, carnival rides, and a virtual reality video game.
An excellent option to allow them to blow off steam, they also have a range of fantastic outdoor activities, including go-karts, miniature golf, carnival games and batting cages.
While the kids play, you can enjoy a coffee or snack at the onsite cafe.
Central Park Funland is at 1351 Central Park Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
9- Drink Soda At Goolrick’s Pharmacy
A pharmacy might seem like a strange thing to put on a list of the best things to do in Fredericksburg, but then Goolrick’s Pharmacy is not like most other pharmacies in the USA.
An institution in downtown Fredericksburg, this venue has been operating continuously since 1863.
While it’s still a working pharmacy, most people actually go there to eat good, hearty food, listen to music and sip on a soda.
Sodas are made using America’s oldest operating soda fountain, a machine that has been working since 1912.
Goolrick’s Pharmacy is at 901 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
10- See The Collection At Fredericksburg Area Museum
Another excellent place to discover more about the region’s history is the Fredericksburg Area Museum.
Situated in the old Town Hall and Market House of downtown Fredericksburg, which was constructed in 1816, the museum offers a fascinating collection that highlights the area’s history.
From the Native Americans who first lived in the area to Fredericksburg’s role in the Black Lives Matter movement, the museum’s range of temporary and permanent exhibitions is thought-provoking.
Fredericksburg Area Museum is at 907 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
11- Enjoy A Sweet Treat At Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe
Have breakfast or a snack at Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe. Known for using fresh and local ingredients, they make all of their delicious pastries and bread daily but be sure to come early as they quickly sell out.
As well as their signature breakfast sandwiches and quiches, they also serve up fabulous homemade soups.
They excel in coffee and espresso drinks, which you can enjoy with one of their tasty sweet baked treats.
Eileen’s Bakery and Cafe is at 1115 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
12- Taste Shrimp Po Boy At Sammy T’s
While Eileen’s Bakery has you covered for breakfast or an on-the-go snack, Sammy T’s is an excellent place for lunch or dinner.
Housed within an 1805 building that has previously been an auction room, a post office, and both a service and gas station, Sammy T’s has been dishing up exceptional meals to locals since 1981.
Initially, it was run and owned by Samuel T. Emory when it opened.
However, it is now owned by a group of local residents who wanted to safeguard its future, as they loved going to the place during their younger years.
Try their Shrimp Po Boy or Camper Special. Your taste buds will thank you.
Sammy T’s is at 801 Caroline St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
13- Admire Art At The Belmont Estate
If you love art, the Belmont Estate is the place to go.
The former home of Gari Melchers, a prominent American painter renowned for his portraits, murals and landscapes, the property was purchased as a place for him to escape World War I.
Providing him with an environment to paint just for sheer joy, he resided there until he died in 1932.
When his wife passed away in 1955, she bequeathed the home and its contents to the state of Virginia.
The beautifully maintained house and gardens are now a popular tourist attraction, packed with plenty of examples of his work.
The Belmont Estate is at 224 Washington St, Falmouth, VA 22405.
14- See The Indian Punch Bowl
The Indian Punch Bowl is an arresting landmark on the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail that is well worth checking out.
Taking the form of a unique rock depression that is believed to have been crafted by early Native Indian tribes that resided by the river.
The round and bowl-shaped structures are thought to have been used to mix poison for their hunting arrows.
During the 1700s, a family called the Thornton’s opened a grist mill and used the rock depression as a punch bowl when entertaining guests.
This bowl is an interesting diversion to seek out if you have time on your hands.
The Indian Punch Bowl is on the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
15- Admire Vintage Aircraft At The Shannon Air Museum
One of the things to see and do in Fredericksburg is to visit the Shannon Air Museum.
Home to one of the world’s rarest collections of vintage aircraft, this museum is a must-see if you love aviation.
Originally the Shannon Air Museum was established in the 1950s, although it closed in 1981 after its founder, Sidney Shannon Jr., died.
However, now it has been restored and reopened, so everyone can drop by and discover the history of flight in Virginia.
Shannon Air Museum is at 3380 Shannon Airport Circle, Fredericksburg, VA 22408.
16- Visit The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library is a museum that honours the history, achievements and life of James Monroe, who was America’s fifth president.
Opened in 1927, the museum was set up by some of his direct descendants, who wanted a place where they could safely keep some of their most treasured heirlooms and personal collections.
Set within sight of his office where he practised law, the museum has a vast collection of exhibits and artifacts, documents and letters he worked on, and even plates and pottery he ate dinner off.
James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library is 908 Charles St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
17- Dine At The Alpine Chef
For over a decade, the Alpine Chef has been a stalwart on the Fredericksburg dining scene.
Originally opened in Madison in 1974, this family-run business opened a second restaurant in Fredericksburg’s iconic train station in 2010.
The restaurant is renowned for fabulous German classic dishes prepared according to secret family recipes, and all their dishes are homemade with fresh ingredients.
On the menu are hearty portions of traditional bratwurst and wiener schnitzel.
The food is served in a warm, congenial atmosphere by servers wearing dirndls or lederhosen.
Order a full stein of authentic German beer to wash down your meal.
The Alpine Chef is at 200 Lafayette Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
18- Watch A Show At Riverside Center for the Performing Arts
Fredericksburg is not short on culture, and one of the best places to experience it is at the Riverside Center.
Since opening in 1998, they have run hundreds of successful stage productions, focusing on musical theatre and dinner theatre.
If you visit the city, take the opportunity to watch a show and enjoy a fabulous three-course dinner.
Riverside Center for the Performing Arts is at 95 Riverside Pkwy, Fredericksburg, VA 22406.
19- Belvedere Plantation
One of Fredericksburg’s oldest and most impressive buildings is the Belvedere Plantation.
A heritage farm that dates back to the 1760s, the land there has been continuously farmed since that time, producing tons of wheat, corn, pumpkins and soybeans over the years.
In recent times, the Belvedere Plantation has started to host several seasonal, fun events for all the family, including their Fall Harvest Festival and an Easter Eggstravaganza.
Belvedere Plantation is at 1410 Belvedere Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22408.
20- Learn The Story Of Ebert House and Store
Established by Prussian immigrants Henry and Sophia Ebert in the 1840s, the Ebert House and Store was a small grocery store (and their home) that served the local community until the Civil War started.
Forced to leave their home and business by Confederate officers, they returned after the war had finished finding it damaged and strewn with the decomposed corpses of soldiers from the fighting.
Rebuilding back to its former glory, they kept the property and business going until the 1930s, with the house standing until the 1950s.
Unfortunately, it is no longer there today, but foundation and markers highlighting the intriguing history of the building tell its story.
Ebert House and Store is at 701 Sunken Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401.
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