Why should I visit now?
For history buffs, Fredericksburg is best known as the site of the most one-sided battle in the Civil War. The Battle of Fredericksburg saw the Union experience a crushing defeat, suffering more than twice as many casualties as the Confederates. Thousands more died in the nearby Battles of Wilderness, Chancellorsville and Spotsylvania Court House.
Fredericksburg has marked the 150th anniversary in style, with re-enactments and smaller exhibits and performances highlighting the impact of the Civil War on the city and surrounding area.
What should I see?
Beyond the battlefields, there's plenty to see in Fredericksburg. Top of the list should be Mary Washington House, a fascinating homage to George Washington’s mother, who lived here from 1772 until her death.
Just a short walk away is Kenmore Plantation, the former home of Washington’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, and her husband. This Georgian-style mansion has been beautifully restored and is set in stunning grounds.
Foggy Morning at Kenmore by John Earl via Flickr (CC license)
Another famous Washington family residence is the Rising Sun Tavern. Initially the house of George’s younger brother Charles, this place was a frequent stopping point for many influential figures during the Revolutionary War, most notably Thomas Jefferson. The building became a popular tavern in 1791 and is now a living museum.
Other important sites include the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, a museum filled with an eclectic mix of objects from the life of the Fifth President of the United States (who practised law in Fredericksburg), and Chatham Manor, a former plantation house that was the site of a slave rebellion in the nineteenth century and later became a hospital during the Civil War.
Where do only the locals know about?
Locals will tell you that the very best way to get a feel for Fredericksburg is to stroll through the streets of the Old Town and explore some of the city’s more unusual shops.
Must-see stores include the Picket Post, a veritable treasure trove of items from the Civil War battlefields; the Cottage Room, a shop dedicated to antique teapots and jewellery; and Fraser Wood Elements, which specializes in distinctive wooden furniture and one-of-a-kind hand-carved items. A tempting array of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and local wine can also be found at the Farmers' Market in Hurkamp Park.
Where are the best places to eat?
No trip to Fredericksburg would be complete without visiting Carl’s. There’s always a queue round the block for this retro frozen custard stand, which set up business in 1947 and hasn’t changed a bit since then. Opt for a scoop of one of the three flavours available (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), or try one of the legendary root beer floats.
For something a bit more substantial, head to Basilico Deli for a lunch of freshly made sandwiches or pasta, or enjoy a hearty evening meal at Pueblo's Tex Mex Grill.