Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fredericksburg VA in 24 Hours: A Guide to the City


Fredericksburg VA in one of those cities that brings you back with it's charm and small-town approach. A few weekends ago I got to walk around the streets of this quaint town and escape the city life a bit. The area itself is known for its civil war landmarks and battlefields as much as it's long-lived appreciation of art and food.

Majority of the stores are owned by members of the community and have been around for decades. It definitely has that 'homey' feel without feeling overly dusty.

Fredericksburg is full of so many little restaurants that feature seasonal farm-to-table options. There seems to be something for everyone: from small coffee shops to dive bars to high-end restaurants to catch a candlelit dinner. My favorites included:
  • Foode: I've been dying to get to this restaurant ever since I saw its owner Joy Crump on last season of Top Chef. For those who don't know, I freakin' love Top Chef. The restaurant's motto is simple: "we believe that the freshest, cleanest ingredients make the best dishes" - and I agree. The restaurant itself probably fits about 20 people at a time so you'll most likely have a wait. However, bare with it because it's so worth it! There is an outdoor patio area that would be amazing come Summer (and that assumingly adds some seating when the weather is right). The restaurant set-up is a bit unconventional. Basically how it goes is you walk up to the counter, place your order, pay, and then they bring you your food once you're settled into the seat. It skips the premise of 'fine dining' and tipping for the promise of enjoying yourself. I can dig that. I ordered the slaw dogs which were BEYOND delicious. Me and Lydia also got the grapefruit mimosas which were so tasty - especially with the sugar rim. All-in-all you get amazing food without the fuss and you feel like you're right at home. They serve lunch/dinner and weekend "Brunchy Stuff" so be sure to check the menu ahead of time.
  • Mercantile: Owned by the same restauranteurs as Foode, Mercantile is another great option if you're looking for a place to eat. It was opened back in May 2015 and has similarities to its sister restaurant. However, Mercantile promises to be more spacious, offers full service, and has a tighter food focus. The restaurant offers breakfast and lunch with a focus on local ingredients. You can find anything from a skillet pancake with pan-fried apples, griddle pork chop, and calabrian pepper maple syrup to the bluebird with creamy grits, beef brisket, summer tomato sauce, and a poached egg. Hungry yet?
  • Carl's Ice Cream: After eating a great meal the obvious thing to do is eat more. Carl's is a Fred staple and has been around since 1947. The small storefront offers a limited menu but always seems to have a line wrapped around the block. I got the vanilla flavor in a sugar cone, which offered up a very creamy consistency. There's no frills with this spot but it's one of those places that brings you back to childhood. P.S. make sure you bring some change - they only accept cash!
  • Hyperion Espresso: While waiting for our table at Foode we popped into Hyperion for a boost of energy. The storefront seems to be one of those places that stands as the poster child for the small city (see the header photo above for reference). Small families, friends, and businessmen alike all seemed to populate the space. We got cappuccinos that were seriously smooth and the perfect size to gossip while sipping.
  • Sugar Shack Donuts: This is a spot we didn't make it to but is on my list for next time. Lets just say it's been rated one of the "Top 10 Tastiest Donuts in America" by USA Today. This is just one of seven locations (with two to come) and each location is locally owned and sourced. They roll and hand cut each donut in small batches throughout the day to provide the freshest possible donut. With 20 flavors on rotation, you'll find anything from the classic Vanilla Sprinkles to Sea Salt Caramel to the Girl Scount inspired Tastes Like a Samoa. Add a cup of joe (or a honey lavender latte; which they also serve) and you're set for a great day - or a good sugar high!



When it comes to stores Fredericksburg is all about finding new in the old. The streets are lined with small consignment shops, antique stores, and one-of-a-kind stops. Most businesses are locally owned - as it seems everything is around here - and hold potential of finding hidden gems. You have to be willing to dig a bit but can find some amazing scores among the shelves. Here's where we stopped:
  • R & R Antiques: Large antique store selling anything from jewelry to clothing to household items to memorabilia
  • Monkee's: Modern boutique store carrying brands such as Tory Burch, Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, S'well, Vineyard Vines, and more
  • Forage: Fun and curated collection of wearable women's consignment
  • Cose Bella: Unique boutique featuring women's clothing, shoes, and accessories from Europe


Virginia is for Lovers - and history nerds. It's where George Washington roamed as a kid and where five Civil War battles occurred. There are a ton of spaces to wander around in the area and it's fun enough just to see the classic exteriors of the residential areas. I loved how majority of the houses featured a pop of color for their front door. 

If you have some time to get out of the downtown area you can find places like the Historic Kenmore Plantation (pictured below), the Mary Washington monument, and the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. The plantation offer tours so be sure to check their site for hours!

If you're looking to stroll a bit off the pre-planned tour bath - and burn off some extra calories - you can stroll around the University of Mary Washington campus or along the Rappahannock river. The University features some gorgeous neoclassic, Georgian, and Jeffersonian architecture that seems straight out of a storybook.


Have you ever traveled to Fredericksburg? If so, what are some of your favorite places? I've created an easy map below to bring with you. Each section (Where to Eat, Where to Shop, and What to See) are listed in correlated colors so you can easily access them.

     

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