The family that plays together...
Whether you’re out with your kids, grandkids or on a multi-generational outing, the Fredericksburg, VA, area is packed with family-friendly activities that will appeal to all ages.
Take U.S. 17 into Falmouth. Drive through this historic town to George Washington’s Boyhood Home at Ferry Farm. The kids can run around a bit at this preserved landscape (don’t miss the walk down to the Rappahannock River) and you can all contemplate what it must have been like for young George growing up here. In the summer you’ll be able to see a live archaeological dig in progress, and visit the construction site where Ferry Farm is building a replica of George’s boyhood home.
Leave Ferry Farm and cross the Rappahannock River into downtown Fredericksburg, where Washington spent a lot of time as a young man. While you’ve still got your car, stop for an afternoon snack at Carl’s Frozen Custard, a soft-serve ice cream stand that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been featured on Food Network and PBS (open mid-February through mid-November).
Check in to a room or two at the Courtyard Fredericksburg Historic District. You’ll be nestled in the heart of the historic district, but still have all the family-friendly amenities to make your trip comfortable, including a pool and workout room.
Once you’ve stowed your car for the night, you won’t need it to find plenty of family-friendly dining options, including Benny Vitali’s pizza, Castiglia’s Italian restaurant and Sammy T’s, where you can reward clean-platers with a visit to the self-serve yogurt shop in back.
The next morning, stroll down to Eileen’s Bakery and Café for breakfast items to please any palate. Then walk back over to the Visitor Center at 706 Caroline St. and pick up a copy of the Kids’ Walking Tour, a self-guided tour that will give you a kids’-eye view of some of downtown’s most historic sites. To explore an even wider area of the historic downtown, hop on one of the popular tours offered by Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg or Olde Towne Carriage.
After your walk, visit Pots and Palettes on Sophia Street, where you and your young travel companions can have some hands-on fun creating a memento of your travels together. Other options for young artists are the wide variety of classes taught at Ponshop, Water Street Studio and LibertyTown Arts Workshop, all downtown.
For lunch, head up to the Eagle Village complex and grab a table at Home Team Grill, which has a great kids’ menu and very friendly service for parties with young children. From here, head across the shopping center to the Children’s Museum of Richmond’s Fredericksburg branch, where kids eight and under can enjoy some needed free play as they prepare for the rest of the day. If your kids are older, walk to the left out of Home Team Grill and cross the pedestrian bridge over U.S. 1 to stroll through the campus of the University of Mary Washington. After all, it’s never too early to start thinking about higher education.
For late-afternoon play, head to Splitsville, behind the Spotsylvania Towne Centre. Engage in a little friendly competition with bowling in their luxury lanes. When it’s time for dinner, the restaurant here serves everything from burgers to sushi, and the nearby Towne Centre has popular options such as Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and Bravo! Cucina Italiana.
The next morning, opt for a platter of pancakes at 2400 Diner or Mason-Dixon Café. If it’s a Saturday and you’ve got a train fanatic in your group, be sure to check out the Rappahannock Railroad Museum, where you can see old rail cars and sometimes take a ride on a maintenance cab.
The whole family can participate in a round of mini-golf on Wilderness Presidential Resorts’ Civil War-themed 18-hole course.
To get the full story on all there is to do in Spotsylvania, plan a stop at the Spotsylvania County Visitor Center, located in the Southpoint shopping and dining district.
Then it’s out to Spotsylvania Courthouse. While you’re here, explore this historic area on foot with this web-based walking tour of Spotyslvania Courthouse. Stop for lunch at Butternut & Blue Bistro before driving out to Lake Anna State Park. You can participate in ranger programs, learn about gold panning, check out equipment for geocaching or just hike the trails and enjoy the beach and playground.
Need more outdoors adventure in your family retreat? Check out our Outdoor Lovers Itinerary.
From the park, take a leisurely drive along some of Spotsylvania’s scenic country roads to Miller Farms Market, a family-owned former dairy farm that is now open for pick-your-own berries, pumpkins and play during the appropriate season. Find seasonal and local treats in the market (closed on Sundays).
Did you know?
The first opportunity for secondary education for African-American children in Spotsylvania County came in 1914 at the Snell Training School under the leadership of principal John J. Wright. The story of how education evolved and eventually integrated in the county is told today at the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum, housed on the site of that original training school. Learn about the efforts of Spotsylvania residents to provide better and equal education for all county children. This is a great opportunity to help older children connect with history, and to appreciate the right to go to school every day. Dig deeper into African American history in Spotsylvania with the county’s web-based African-American Heritage Tour.
Have an extra day?
Consider a matinee at Riverside Dinner Theater’s Children’s Theater, or spend the day learning about nature at Motts Run Reservoir. Or play the day away at Central Park Fun Land, which has everything from mini-golf to go-karts to arcade games.