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Jeani's Top 5 ~ "Other" Things to do in Fredericksburg, VA

Updated on July 25, 2012


As school came to an end and summer grew closer, my family and I started looking for possible trip ideas for our annual vacation. Several suggestions were made and after exploring the options, and available timeshare units, we came upon a small town located between Washington, DC and Richmond, VA. Fredericksburg, VA is a nice size town that holds a wealth of historical information and secrets. While technically located in the "south" during the Civil War, it exchanged hands 7 times being occupied by both the Confederate and Union Armies. Just minutes from the Chancellorsville Battlefield where the second bloodiest battle of the war was fought, and where General Stonewall Jackson lost his arm Fredericksburg is a must for any Civil War buff.

Traveling with three or four generations like we often do, we have learned to be mindful of everyone's interests. While my father could spend the entire week exploring and learning about the Civil War, the rest of us (my mother, sister, and 10 year old daughter) were hoping for a little more variety, and thanks to the Fredericksburg Visitor Center... did we ever find it here!

Here are my top 5 "other" things to do in Fredericksburg, VA.

A book of ghost stories I picked up that included many of the stories told on our ghost tour.
A book of ghost stories I picked up that included many of the stories told on our ghost tour.
Cemetery at St. George's Episcopal Church
Cemetery at St. George's Episcopal Church

My sister's favorite way to "learn" about a city is by doing a ghost tour. This tradition started when she was in England on an exchange program in college and has carried thru into her adulthood. She introduced my parents to this experience when she returned to England with them three years ago, and was very excited to introduce my daughter and I to ghost tours during this trip.

I was nervous at first, my daughter is a sensitive soul and I didn't want her scared. After calling and talking with the group that lead the tour we decided this was definitely a family-friendly tour. The 90 minute tour took us thru the streets of Fredericksburg, pointing out several local historical attractions and sharing the paranormal experiences each held. A future hub, Jeani's Top 5 ~ Ghost Stories of Fredericksburg, will go into detail of these stories

As a newbie to the ghost tour experience, I have to admit I LOVED it! We did our tour the first night we were in town which I would highly recommend. It was a great way to meet other people visiting the area, a fun way to learn of local attractions and a unique way for the town to share its history with us!

Pinkadilly Tea at Smythe's Cottage
Pinkadilly Tea at Smythe's Cottage
"Queen Elizabeth" High Tea for 3 generations
"Queen Elizabeth" High Tea for 3 generations

For Christmas this year my family exchanged "gift certificates" for future activities we wanted to do with each other, again a future hub will further explain. My sister's gift certificate was for High Tea so imagine her delight in being able to join two of her favorite things, High Tea and ghosts into a single event.

Mary Smythe is said to haunt this quaint cottage that she hanged herself in after being accused of being both a Union sympathizer and madame by her husband when he returned from war. It is said that if you mention her in this way while visiting you may have a candle mysteriously blown out or a sugar container thrown against a wall. This, along with the bright pink sign had my daughter begging for more.

We were not disappointed! Upon entering the cottage you are engulfed in pink walls, lace table clothes, tea cup decor, and more. They had hats that we could try on and use during our stay and staff that went out of their way to make the experience fun and exciting. While we didn't get to experience tea with a ghost like my daughter hoped, we did come away with a great memory and a unique idea for a end of the summer party for my daughter and her friends.

My sister and daughter doing an interactive display that provided 3 different points of view for several different events that have happened over time
My sister and daughter doing an interactive display that provided 3 different points of view for several different events that have happened over time
Since no ghosts were appearing for us on our visit, my daughter and i took advantage of the museums "theater" section to create some Civil War Era women for our pictures
Since no ghosts were appearing for us on our visit, my daughter and i took advantage of the museums "theater" section to create some Civil War Era women for our pictures

Museums are nothing new for our family, in fact they are a favorite attraction on most of our trips. What made this museum interesting and somewhat unique for me, especially in a Civil War town, was that the displays were done from the point of view of the citizens of the town. It was explained when we entered that there was a lot of information and museums dedicated to the "military" aspect of the Civil War, but very little from the side of the common citizen of the day.

The displays throughout the museum told of experiences from the voices of slaves, women and children of the time. While the Civil War was included, there were also displays for World War I, World War II, Civil Rights Movement and much more. There were many interactive displays that provided audio descriptions, huts you could crawl into, a bank vault you could explore and a "theater" section that allowed you to experience first hand the dress of the era.

Located on the side of Sammy T's Light Food and Ale is a fun little yogurt shop
Located on the side of Sammy T's Light Food and Ale is a fun little yogurt shop
Our creations for the day
Our creations for the day

Found completely by accident, but visited the next two time on purpose Sammy T's was a family favorite. With heat indexes over 105 during our visit we were excited to find this cool way to end our days. Providing 10 flavors and over 40 toppings to chose from this self-serve yogurt stop is a must! Ample seating both inside in the air conditioning, or outside under the shade of the yawning to sit and enjoy your creation.

We never did make it to the restaurant side of things as we were doing picnic lunches to save money, yep another future hub, we had no reservations about splurging for a treat. Not available anywhere else, so a must have while your in town!

My mom and daughter ready for the start of our carriage ride
My mom and daughter ready for the start of our carriage ride

Again noticed by my daughter on our first day while visiting the Visitor's Center, the horse drawn carriage ride thru town was an immediate want. We almost missed this great opportunity though because when we returned a few days later, we found the temperatures too high for the horses. We were lucky though and on our last day we were able to go on this fascinating tour.

Joined by two guides, one driving and the other riding along in the carriage you are driven thru the streets of Fredericksburg. They do a nice job of pointing out local attractions, but also taking your lead on what your interests might be. Quickly realizing my family were geeks for "little known facts" our guide shared things such as George Washington and his mother not always seeing eye to eye on things and a love story gone bad for a visiting plantation owners daughter and her less than ideal suitor.

While this was how we finished our trip, it would have been an ideal activity to do at the beginning to get a sampling of attractions and decide what you want to go back to and learn more about.

While definitely known for its Civil War history, Fredericksburg has so much more to offer. Hopefully I have given the non-Civil War enthusiast a few ideas of things you can enjoy while visiting the beautiful town of Fredericksburg, VA.


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    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 

      6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Sounds like a great place to visit. I enjoy visiting old cities and historic places but, other than as side trip to Mt. Vernon while visiting friends in D.C. a number of years ago, I haven't had the opportunity to visit other places in Virginia. However, I will definitely include Frdricksburg on any future trip to that ares.

      Great Hub and congrats on your Hub Nuggets nomination

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      6 years ago from Western Australia

      Enjoyed the trip, great hub and congrat on your nomination:)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Congrats on your nomination! Great idea for an article. I love all of your suggestions. If the pictures are large enough to allow for it, I would make them bigger. Those pictures are tiny and will add a lot more if we can see them better. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      very wonderful place Jeani, great choice.. i find it very interesting. like it! blessed :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from sunny Florida

      I love Fredricksburg. Glad you discovered these other spots to enjoy with your family. And congrats on HN nomination.

    • Jeani Nugent profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeanine Elizabeth 

      6 years ago from Cumberland, Wisconsin

      I often live vicariously thru my friends also. Glad you enjoyed the trip and thanks for letting me know about the exciting :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I enjoyed this trip and doing all these activities. ...okay I am living vicariously hehehhe

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! Please read and vote this way


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