Fredericksburg is one of Virginia's prettiest historic towns, where elegant downtown streets are backed by residential avenues lined with white picket fences.
In the 1816 town hall, the Fredericksburg Area Museum, 907 Princess Anne St (Mon– Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 1–4pm; Tel:540/371-3037, Web: www.famcc.org ; $7), has a range of displays tracing local history, from Native American settlements to the Civil Rights era. The Rising Sun Tavern, 1304 Caroline St, was built as a home in 1760 by George Washington's brother, Charles. As an inn, it became a key meeting place for patriots and a hotbed of sedition. It is now a small museum (March– Nov Mon– Sat 9am–5pm, Sun 11am–5pm; Dec– Feb Mon– Sat 10am–4pm, Sun noon–4pm; Tel:540-371-1494; $5), where costumed guides take visitors around a collection of pub games and antique pewter. If you're interested in George Washington, you can venture out to his family's Ferry Farm, 268 Kings Hwy (daily 10am–5pm, except Jan & Feb Sat & Sun only; Tel:540/370-0732, Web: www.kenmore.org ; $5), where he grew up and which still maintains gardens appropriate for the era.
Fredericksburg's strategic location made it vital during the Civil War, and the land around the town was heavily contested with more than 100,000 men losing their lives. The visitor center, 702 Caroline St (daily: summer 9am–7pm; rest of year 9am–5pm; Tel:540/373-1776, Web: www.fredericksburgva.com ), has informative exhibits and can lead you out to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park (dawn– dusk; Web: www.nps.gov/frsp ; free), south of town.