Fredericksburg (Virginia)

Fredericksburg's historic downtown

Fredericksburg is a city nearly halfway between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia.


Fredericksburg was founded in colonial era as a "port city" on the Rappahannock River—the fifth longest river in Virginia. At the time, it was at the farthest point navigable by large ships trading goods with the Old World. Although the city became a key trading center for the plantation owners and farmers nearby, it never achieved the level of commerce enjoyed by Richmond and Alexandria.

The city was contested during the American Civil War, changing hands numerous times between Union and Confederate forces. The most famous battle in Fredericksburg saw Union General Burnside repeatedly march thousands of his troops across the Rappahannock River and up Marye's Heights to their doom.

In recent years, Fredericksburg's population and surrounding communities have boomed as housing costs closer to Washington, DC forced commuters to seek neighborhoods farther out. Many living in Fredericksburg drive up to two hours or catch the VRE commuter rail to work in DC. Fredericksburg is also a popular home for military families employed by the nearby Quantico Marine and Dahlgren Naval bases.

The downtown area has experienced a revival since the 1970's allowing a strong arts community to thrive. Galleries, music venues, and fine dining can all be found in the historic district. While the city has seen massive growth, the downtown area and battlefields have been well preserved due to strong local commitment to historic preservation, providing a unique blend of old and new culture.

Get in

By train

One Amtrak train station serves Fredericksburg at Caroline St. and Lafayette Blvd., which is a stop for Amtrak's Carolinian and Piedmont and Regional trains.

The Virginia Railway Express runs commuter trains between Fredericksburg's Amtrak station and Union Station in Washington, DC on weekdays from 5:15am to 8:25pm. The trip from DC takes approximately an hour and a half, depending on freight train schedules (the railway is shared with CSX) and track work. A single ticket from Union Station is $8.80 and discounts are offered for Ten Trip, Five Day, and Monthly passes. VRE does not run on Federal holidays but does run special service on Independence Day.

By car

Fredericksburg is about fifty miles south of Washington D.C. located directly on Interstate 95 at exit 130. It is also one hour north of Richmond on Interstate 95.

Travel time from the north (Washington, DC) will vary due to traffic conditions (avoid rush hour). Between 2:30PM and 7:00PM, typical travel times to Fredericksburg are from an hour and a half to two and a half hours. Alternative routes include taking either State Highway 28 through Manassas to US Route 17, or by taking US Route 29 through Warrenton to US Route 17. Both routes take about an hour and a half, but the traffic is much more bearable and most of the trip consists of rural driving at full speed.

Another alternative to I-95 South from Fairfax is to take the following route:

Chancellorsville Battlefield

This way takes about one and a half hours, but you avoid the stop-and-go traffic from the mixing bowl (I-95/I-495 interchange) all the way to the HOV merge (just south of the Dumfries/Triangle Exit). You also avoid the bottleneck on Hwy 123 at Occoquan. Joplin Road is especially fun as the road is very windy and hilly. It runs between Prince William Forest Park and the Quantico Marine base.

Get around


Kenmore Plantation
The Mary Washington Monument



Monroe Hall at Mary Washington University



In addition to the numerous fast-food options scattered around the area, such as McDonald's, Arby's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Burger King and so forth, it is worth trying out the following local places for a cheap meal or snack and to get a taste of the local culture



Central Park

Central Park contains many notable (if not generic) chain eateries, including Panera Bread (with free wireless internet), Chipotle, Bonefish Grill, Olive Garden, A&W, Long John Silver's, TGI Friday's, Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday's, Joe's Crab Shack, Melting Pot, and many more. The Stafford Marketplace has a few places to eat, most notably another Panera Bread (also with free wireless internet), and other generic chains.



Downtown Fredericksburg may not be huge, but due to the presence of a college and a fun-loving local crowd from both the city and the surrounding counties, it does have a good number of decent places to catch a drink. Catering to those who want a relatively low-key atmosphere to catch up with friends and to those who simply want to let loose and get drunk, there should be something for everyone. A good route for a downtown bar crawl: start at Capitol Ale House for some good beers and burgers; hit Spirit's for a can of PBR; stop by J. Brian's for a pint of Guinness; then check the scene at Fatty J's, Brock's or The Colonial Tavern, and stop in if they're hopping and let loose.

Bowman's Center

Central Park

While downtown is far more charming, inviting and local, if you are more into the strip-mall bar scene, Central Park (Route 3 West, just outside of the city) has several places to go hang out, not all of which are totally generic. Yeah, Central Park has it's fair share of dime-a-dozen joints like TGI Friday's, Applebee's and Ruby Tuesday's; but do yourself a favor and skip them in favor of these places:


Go next

George Washington's boyhood home, Ferry Farm, is located across the river in Stafford county. Many other sites of historical interest are a short drive away, including Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Lake Anna is about 20 miles or so outside of town, which is a popular boating and fishing destination. The Lake Anna State Park features some 15 miles of hiking trails, a beach on the lake itself, as well as picnic areas. Camping has also been recently added.

A trip down to Kings Dominion, which is a large theme park a mere 35 miles to the south along I-95, is worth a day to see and experience. In decent traffic, it takes around a half an hour to get there from Fredericksburg. The park features many roller coasters and other rides, including some world class rides such as Volcano : The Blast Coaster and the Dominator.

About 20 miles to the north along I-95 is the awesome National Marine Corps Museum near the Quantico Marine Corps Base. This museum features all kinds of interactive displays detailing the history and evolution of the United States Marine Corps.

For those that love to shop, Potomac Mills, one of the largest outlet malls in the country is only about 1/2 hour or so to the north (assuming decent traffic). There are more than 220 outlet stores in this place, so all kinds of options for the shopping fanatic. There are also several restaurants as well as an 18-screen movie theater.

About and hour and half west of town is the Shenandoah National Park, which includes over 500 miles of hiking trails, as well as camping. If you are not the hiking nor camping type, at the very least, a drive down Skyline Drive can be worthwhile to check out some of the incredible views. Be warned that in the fall, during the peak of the fall colors (later part of October to the first part of November), this can get pretty crowded.

During the winter, there are two places within 2 hours of Fredericksburg to go skiing, Wintergreen Resort and Massanutten. Massanutten also has the added benefit of an indoor waterpark, featuring one of the east coast's only Flowriders. During the summer months, there is also an outdoor section with a wavepool and additional slides available. Both of these resorts also feature golfing, fitness centers, as well as spas. Either one would be a worthwhile get-a-way. If you are willing to go even farther, there are other places that offers skiing that are within a few hours of driving from Fredericksburg

Routes through Fredericksburg

Washington, D.C. Quantico  N  S  Ashland Newport News
Washington, D.C. Stafford  N  S  Doswell Richmond
Washington, D.C. Stafford  N  S  Doswell Richmond
END Winchester  N  S  Gloucester Norfolk
Ends at Culpeper  W  E  Jct → Jct Gloucester CourthouseNorfolk via
END  SW  NE  Stafford Washington, D.C.

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