By: Todd Long
Why live in the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County area? It has history. It has class. It has culture. Many people new to the area will find that this part of Virginia offers much in the way of things to do. As I stated, the Fredericksburg region boasts of many historic sites that hold a place in our nation’s history, from its early founding, struggles for independence, and growing pains that led to the Civil War.
The Fredericksburg area is the site of where more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives in our nation’s struggle that culminated in the Civil War. The area, simply put, is hallowed ground. But there is also a hallowed beauty to it. Go visit the Fredericksburg Battlefield, where in 1862, General Robert E. Lee defeated the Union Army of The Potomac. Down the road from the Fredericksburg Battlefield is the Chancellorsville Battlefield, a site considered to be Lee’s most brilliant victory, where he defeated an army almost three times the size of his own army. Then nearby are the battlefields of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, where Lee faced off against Union General Ulysses S. Grant, a man who would go on to become our nation’s 18th President. If you’re not a big history nerd, but are more of a fitness junkie, these battlefields offer many hiking trails and the roadways on these battlefields, which are run by the National Park Service, are great places for biking. The Park Service also puts on many living history events and Fit History walking tours during the spring and summer months.
Historic Downtown Fredericksburg is definitely worth going to see as it has many buildings that date to the Civil War and earlier. In the historic district there are many shops that offer a wide variety to visitors; restaurants, antique shops, specialty foods, clothing, jewelry, home furnishings and much more. Located in downtown Fredericksburg is Kenmore, the home of Fielding Lewis, an American Patriot who gave and sacrificed much during our country’s struggle for independence, not to mention, the brother-in-law of George Washington, having married Washington’s sister Betty. Since we are speaking of George Washington, across the river from Fredericksburg is the site of Ferry Farm, where young George spent his childhood. It is a living history site which recently has underwent archaeological work to locate the foundations of his boyhood home and has been rebuilt to what it probably looked like. Also located in downtown are the Mary Washington House, Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop and St. James’ House, all operated by the Washington Heritage Museums. Also near downtown, for the nature fanatics, is Alum Spring Park, a 34-acre park that hosts many natural features including sandstone cliffs and a swimming hole. If you are looking for a nice romantic getaway with your significant other, look no further. The downtown area also offers two nice B&B’s, the Kenmore Inn and the Richard Johnston Inn. Both Inn’s are historic homes, offer wonderful accommodations, excellent food, and show classic Virginia hospitality.
Aside from all the history and historic sites that Fredericksburg offers, there is also much in the way of class and culture. The downtown area also features art shops, the James Monroe Memorial Library, Fredericksburg Area Museum, and Belmont, the home of Gari Melcher, one America’s prominent portraitists and Impressionist painters. Fredericksburg also offers several craft beer and alehouses including Harry’s Alehouse on Route 3 and Sedona Taphouse and Capital Ale House in downtown Fredericksburg. The food at these locations are excellent. Not far from downtown, for those who have a taste for wine, there are a few local wineries which include Bacchus Winery, Hartwood Winery, and Eden Try Winery. If you have a flare for French cuisine, located downtown is La Petite Auberge, a French restaurant that has been serving the area since 1981. If you enjoy theater, located nearby is the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, a local dinner theater which has been putting on main-stage musicals, broad way shows, and dramatic productions for over 20 years. The shows are always fun and entertaining and the food and service is always top notch. With all that Fredericksburg has to offer, it is no wonder that the area is continuously growing.
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