Fredericksburg, Va. worth a day trip

 (Part of the Fredericksburg Battlefield.)

Recently I made my first trip to Fredericksburg Virginia and I was glad I did.  Up to that point I only past it while driving on 95.  It is worth your time and effort to see the town, espcially if you like history.  The town is steeped in Civil War history which I suspect is one of the main reasons people visit.

On Dec. 13, 1862 the Union fought the Confederates in a bloody battle within the town itself and along the Rappahannock River.  By Dec. 16 it was over, and what was left was a destroyed town.  Actually it was four times the Confederates would fight on these grounds.  Among the many generals to lead the troops was none other than Robert E. Lee.  In all, more than 100,000 casualties resulted from these battles along with over 100 buildings burned to the ground.

Caroline Street, Frederickburg Virginia. The Visitors Center is on the left.

Today however the town is alive with activity.  There are still 350 original 18th and early 19th century buildings that remain within a 40 block area in the historic district.  The main street is Caroline where you’ll find shops, restaurants, lodging and many of those historic buildings.  Fredericksburg got its name from King George’s III oldest son and it became a town in 1728.

I certainly enjoyed my many strolls along Caroline Street and made some interesting discoveries.  For example, there’s Goolrick’s (901 Caroline), the oldest continuously run soda fountain in the country.  It opened in 1867 and put in a fountain in the 1920’s.  Then there’s Wally’s Homemade Ice Cream (821 Caroline), complete with a talking parrot and The Frenchman’s Corner Shop with chocolates from Belgium.  I don’t know why, but I spent quite a bit of time there.

I suggest you begin your visit at the Visitors Center (Caroline & Charlotte) and gather your brochures.  Select where you want to go and what you want to see and you’ll be kept busy for days.  Though I do think this is a good place for a day trip.  From the Baltimore area, and with traffic cooperating, you can arrive in Fredericksburg in about 90 minutes.

Another suggestion is to take a 75 minute narrated trolley tour.  Trolleys leave from the Visitors Center.   Adult tickets are $17.00.  This is an excellent way to see much of the town.  You can always go back to the places where you want to spend some additional time.  Some of those places might include the James Monroe Museum and Library, Hugh Mercer’s Apothecary Shop, The Mary Washington House (George’s mother), Fredericksburg Museum and Cultural Center, Kenmore House (George’s sister lived here), Ellwood Manor and of course the Fredericksburg Battlefield.

For lodging I’ll recommend the Courtyard by Marriott, 620 Caroline Street, in the historic district.  It has 98 rooms, an indoor pool, exercise room and a bistro. For dining I’ll recommend Castiglia’s, 324 Williams Street, serving Italian dishes in a casual atmosphere.

While on the trolley tour, I learned many people commute to Washington everyday either by train or car.  This is a trip that can take upwards of 90 minutes each way.   So this is considered a bedroom community of DC.

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