Dear Fred,

My wife and I live in Lewiston, Maine, with our two elementary-school-age kids. We’re biting the bullet this year and using the kids’ spring break to make a road trip down to that place in Florida where big-eared mice run around posing in photographs with strangers. Gotta do it sometime, right? Anyway, we plan to break up the trip with a stop in Fredericksburg. This is not a short drive, and the more refreshment we can get out of this little pit stop, the less likely it is that I’ll wanna clock that giant plush mouse once we see him down in Florida. Any suggestions?




Dear Marvin,

My, that is an ambitious road trip. When you stop over for the night, you’re going to want to leave the interstate completely behind. I would suggest pulling right up to the Courtyard Fredericksburg Historic District, letting the valet park your car and forgetting about how many Goldfish are spilled in the back seat until you get going the next day. You won’t need wheels during your stay in downtown Fredericksburg. If you’re looking for a bed & breakfast experience, the Schooler House, 1890 Caroline House, Kenmore Inn, Chez Soi and Richard Johnston Inn are choices that will still put you within easy walking distance of restaurants and shops.

kids_walking_tour_icon.pngOnce you’re checked in, stretch your legs with a walk around the historic district. The kids might enjoy this Children’s Walking Tour of some of the city’s best-known attractions. If you need what I like to call “leverage” to help handle those backseat occupants on your first leg of the journey, dangle a chance to select a book at Jabberwocky Children’s Books and Toys or a cone at Wally’s Ice Homemade Ice Cream to ensure good behavior.

If everyone needs a little refreshment before dinner, head over to Capital Ale House. You and your wife can sample some great beers from Virginia and beyond, and the kids can get frosty root beers. Take them all the way to the back of the restaurant, where you’ll find leather couches and board games to give you something other than Punch-Bug to fulfill your competitive needs.

When you’re ready for dinner, you’ll have a full complement of independent and chef-owned restaurants to choose from. With kids, try Vivify, a new “burger lounge” on William Street that serves artisan burgers, fries, shakes and other goodies from a modern-feeling space that includes a roof-top deck. Kids’ meals here come with a side of homemade applesauce. If you taste this, be warned—you will want to swipe it off your kid’s plate. It’s that good. Castiglia’s Italian Restaurant is another family favorite. Their brick-oven pizzas will satisfy gourmet tastes, but their prices will leave enough green in your wallet to survive that place you’re heading to in Florida.

A serious road trip calls for serious morning coffee. Downtown has you covered. 25 30 Espresso and Hyperion Espresso both open early enough to get you on the road at a reasonable hour, and offer the chance for a peaceful pre-drive stroll from your hotel or B&B. At Eileen’s Bakery and Café, you can grab coffee, breakfast and even a hand-made sandwich or pastry for the road.

I’m so confident that Fredericksburg will meet your needs for rest and relaxation that I bet you’ll choose to stop here again on your way back home. When that chance rolls around, you might want to take the opportunity to check out some of the many attractions in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties. For help planning that stay, you’ll find everything you need on

Happy trails!


Last Updated:
December 14, 2018