I recently made my first visit to Fredericksburg, Virginia after simply passing the town on I 95 for years. It is stepped in Civil War history, which is one main reason people visit here. On December 13th 1862 there was a major battle that pitted north against south that raged within the town and along the Rappahannock River. By December 16th it was over. What was left behind was a town destroyed and many killed. Actually during the Civil War there were four battles here. In all, there were over 100,00 casualties and over 100 buildings leveled. So if you like Civil War history, this place is a must. From the Pikesville area, and assuming no traffic problems, you can arrive in slightly less than two hours.
Today the town is alive and vibrant, but still maintaining its link to history. It is a location perfect for walking. There are 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 lots of shopping, restaurants, bars, lodging and historic sites. One place I found very interesting was Goolrick's, the oldest continuously operating soda fountain in America. Another was Wallys, where you'll find homemade ice cream, a talking parrot and the locals gathered for a chat.
The town got its name from King George's III oldest son and it became a town in 1728. So in essence what you'll find here is a harmonious mix of history and today, sometimes next door to each other.
I recommend you begin your visit with a stop at the Visitors Center (corner of Caroline and Charlotte). Here you can ask questions, get a map and pick up lots of brochures. Then step outside, walk 50 feet and take a trolley ride. This is an excellent way to learn the area. They depart daily, last for 75 minutes and it is narrated. Adult tickets are $17.00.
While walking in town here are some suggested stops: the James Monroe Museum and Library; Hugh Mercer's Apothecary Shop (complete with live leeches); the Mary Washington House (George's mother); the Fredericksburg Museum and Cultural Center and the Fredericksburg Battlefield. For the battlefield stop you have to drive five minutes.
Interestingly, I learned that many people commute to Washington everyday either by car or train. Travel time is about 90 minutes one way. I give those folks credit for their patience. One final point, everyone I spoke with was very friendly and eager to help. And I do love that southern accent. So I'll talk to you next time y'all. For more informaton go to visitfred.com.