No visit to Virginia is complete without spending a few days in the lovely town of Fredericksburg. Famed for its colonial and Civil War history and colonial-era architecture, Fredericksburg is home to many amazing attractions ranging from cultural landmarks to chef-owned restaurants, hip breweries, and art galleries. Whether you wish to visit historical sites like the 4 battlefields of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, admire the beauty of picturesque old Georgian mansions and buildings, or enjoy beautiful parks, here is our list of the best things to do in Fredericksburg VA.
1. Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
History and military buffs should not miss the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park when visiting the city. A memorial to four Civil War battles including Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, The Wilderness, and Chancellorsville, this fabulous national military park is home to 4 buildings and two visitor centers. These buildings include Chatham Manor, Ellwood Manor, Salem Church, and a house where Stonewall Jackson passed away. There is also a nice park that offers guided walking tours.
2. Chatham Manor
Looking for things to do in Fredericksburg, VA today? Head out to Chatham Manor, a Georgian-style manor from the late 18th century where many notable Americans stayed including people like Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, this place served as headquarters for the Union. Nowadays, Chatham Manor is a museum and an office space. Make sure to visit the lovely gardens that resemble an English countryside.
3. Motts Run Reservoir Recreation Area
For another great option for outdoor activities, you can visit the massive Motts Run Reservoir recreation area. Motts Run is spread out over 86 acres and includes a 160-acre reservoir, miles of hiking trails through the forested landscape. The reservoir itself is a big destination and is a popular place for fishing, boating, and canoeing. In addition to the water and hiking activities, there are picnic areas and grills that you can enjoy a nice meal by the water. We think Motts Run Recreation area is one of the best outdoor destinations you need to visit while in Fredericksburg.
4. Fun Land of Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg is not short on family-friendly attractions and a visit to the Fun Land of Fredericksburg is simply a must when exploring the city with the little ones. This indoor/outdoor family fun center boasts nearly 20 rides and attractions including miniature golf, laser tag, arcade games, carnival rides, rock climbing, bumper cars, and much more. In case you get hungry, there is a nice on-site café that offers a wide range of drinks and snacks.
5. Alum Spring Park
A 34-acre woodland retreat, Alum Spring Park is a great place to reconnect with nature while visiting Fredericksburg. Expect to find everything from picnic tables and grills to restrooms and walking paths. The park is also home to many butterflies and has a nice area where travelers can bring their kids out to play and enjoy the summer heat. If you are searching for a place where you can unwind and enjoy peace and quiet, Alum Spring Park should definitely be included in your Fredericksburg travel itinerary.
6. Kenmore Plantation
Not many restored historic homes in the US are as beautiful as the Kenmore Plantation. For those who don’t know, this historic plantation was built by Fielding Lewis and his wife Betty Washington Lewis. Betty was the sister of US president, George Washington. Located in the old town, the house offers guided tours that last for about an hour and allows visitors to learn more about the plantation’s history. You will also have a chance to see the first floor and the kitchen, as well and the charming gardens.
7. Old Mill Park
One of the city’s most popular parks, the Old Mill Park is located along the Rappahannock River on Caroline Street. With playgrounds, picnic shelters, soccer fields, and amazing river views, it’s easy to see why this park is an excellent spot for the entire family. Some of the activities here include kayaking, fishing, and hiking. It is worth mentioning how Old Mill Park is a perfect rental location for celebrations like children’s birthday parties and weddings.
8. James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
Travelers looking for indoor things to do in Fredericksburg, VA can spend an afternoon exploring the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library. Opened in 1927, this place focuses on the life and history of the US president James Monroe. During the tour, you will have a chance to see a massive collection of artifacts ranging from pottery and plates to letters and documents. An interesting fact is that the museum was started by a direct descendant of the president.
9. Old Town Fredericksburg
The best place to go shopping in Fredericksburg, VA is in the Old Town. Whether you wish to admire the beauty of 18th and 19th-century buildings, shop for souvenirs and clothing, or visit some of the city’s finest breweries, the old town is a favorite gathering place for both locals and tourists who wish to experience the “small-town atmosphere”. With a vast array of residential and commercial activities, it is the city’s main social, political, and cultural area.
10. Mary Washington House
Fredericksburg is home to many historical homes and the Mary Washington House also falls into this category. This house was purchased by George Washington who gave the house to his mother, Mary in the 18th century. Mary lived inside the house for nearly 20 years and nowadays, the house is a museum where guided tours are available. The tour shares details of her life in the city and tells us all about the times when her son visited the property.
11. The Rising Sun Tavern
Although you can’t order a bottle of a cold one or food here anymore, the Rising Sun Tavern is a must-visit spot while exploring the streets of Fredericksburg. It was built in the 18th century to serve as home to the younger brother of George Washington, Charles. In 1792, it became a popular tavern that served drinks and foods for nearly 40 years. Today, the tavern offers a lively interpretation of late 18th-century life with costumed guides who will tell you everything and more about eccentric drinking and eating customs from the 18th century. During the tour, you will also have a chance to see period furniture and a variety of artifacts.
12. Fredericksburg Battlefield and Visitor Center
One of the most famous tourist attractions in the city, Fredericksburg Battlefield and Visitor Center is the largest battlefield park in the region. With nearly 9,000 acres of land where many historical events happened, this place can be explored both via a guided and self-guided tour. The visitor center is an excellent location to learn more about the Battle of Fredericksburg which took place in 1862 and is our top historical thing to do in Fredericksburg VA.
13. Gari Melchers Home and Studio
One of the city’s lesser-known things to do in Fredericksburg VA – the Gari Melchers Home and Studio is located just across the Rappahannock River. A prominent painter of murals and landscapes, Gari Melchers was a successful 19th-century artist who purchased a house in Falmouth, Virginia. Also known as the Belmont Estate, his home, and the studio has been transformed into a museum that offers a tour that includes a visit to the 1790s Georgian house museum, self-guided tour of the gallery spaces and the beautiful gardens, and a short introductory movie. On your way out, make sure to check out the cute gift shop.
14. Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center
A 120,000 square foot facility with 11 meeting rooms, Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center is a perfect place for a variety of events ranging from trade shows and business meetings to large conventions and weddings. With fully carpeted ballrooms, 30 foot high ceilings, and lighting and sound control, this expo and conference center has it all. Whether it’s a holiday party, banquet, or a fundraiser vent, Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center is definitely the most popular place for events in the city.