Load Up On Charm (And Prime Vintage!) In Fredericksburg

UPDATE: The three-day weekend is about to kick off, but it's not too late for you to get outta town — luckily we've got a guide for that. This story was originally published on January 11.
As D.C.'s food, art, and style scenes continuously evolve, it can be easy to forget its storied past — but here at R29, we love the fact that our capital city has played such a crucial role in American history. And when we discover a town with a similar spirit, our ears perk up. Enter Fredericksburg, Virginia. Once home to George Washington (and the scene of some serious Civil War action), it's a place where patriotic pride and small-town charm are complimentary forces. But it's a college town, too, which means there are plenty of vintage boutiques, coffee shops, and foodie-friendly cafes along the main drags of Caroline and William streets.
When traffic cooperates, it's roughly an hour's drive from the District (though the train is also a super-convenient way to get there), and we consider it a pretty perfect destination, especially if you're in the mood to for a day of Civil War nostalgia and some slow-food eats. So, whether you're a history buff, a vintage lover, or just an avid day-tripper, Fredericksburg gets our vote for the ideal out-of-town adventure.
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Love the idea of thrifting, but wish the secondhand shops were a little more curated? Stop by Forage, where the picking is done for you. You’ll find pre-loved contemporary brands hanging next to genuine relics in a space with a uniquely creative vibe. The shop has some D.C. connections — last year, owners Megan Parry and Alicia Austin Morgan hosted a pop-up shop at Toki Underground, which is a mighty important seal of approval in our eyes.

Forage, 208 William Street, Fredericksburg; 540-656-2865

Photo: Courtesy of Forage
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Kenmore Plantation
It’s not every day you get to chill with the president’s sister, but at the historic Kenmore plantation, it feels like you’re hanging out with Betty Washington — well, sort of. Built by Washington and her husband, the mansion and its plantation grounds open for tours starting in March. The stately home is pretty gorgeous (especially if you look up to take in the amazing decorative ceilings), so even if the history angle doesn’t interest you, the aesthetic component should. If you want to fully immerse yourself in the life of our first president, grab a combo ticket for Kenmore and the nearby Ferry Farm, which is where George Washington spent his boyhood.

Kenmore, 1201 Washington Avenue, Fredericksburg; 540-373-3381

Photo: Courtesy of The George Washington Foundation
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Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
A place with some serious local color, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is a wonderful hodgepodge of vintage goods: clothing, accessories, records, comics, video games, you name it. With decor that can best be described as “tastefully funky" — the walls are painted eye-popping green and most of the floor is covered in a collage of old comics — H&HG is all about the old-school what-nots you didn’t know you were craving.

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, 1009 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg; 540-310-0295

Photo: Courtesy of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
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Want a side of local cool with your melted-leek risotto? Head to Foode, a place where the young, hip residents of Fredericksburg gather. The vibe is chill — part waiter service, part help-yourself — and the food is rustic, and often locally sourced. You’ll start with the pimiento toast if you know what’s good for you (just a measly $1 for warm-and-melty perfection). After that, it’s up to you. Should you go the shrimp-and-grits route, or opt for the fried chicken? Not sure there’s a wrong answer here. Foode also plays home to a teeny-tiny marketplace, which means you can grab some local preserves or quinoa as you stumble out completely and happily sated.

Foode, 1006 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg; 540-479-1370

Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Spicer Photography
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Fredericksburg Battlefield
Want to engage in some history, but don’t want it to take all day? Head to the Fredericksburg Battlefield, where you can walk the paths and get a sense of how a city builds up around a historical site. It might not be the most crazy Civil War experience you can have (take in a reenactment for that), but it is pretty moving — and a nice way to get outside in the winter. When you’re done, head across the street to the itty-bitty Lee’s Headquarters, where you can browse repro flags, authentic bullets, and an entire room of battle scenes done in miniature.

Fredericksburg Battlefield, 1013 Lafayette Boulevard, Fredericksburg; 540-373-6122

Photo: Courtesy of National Park Service
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Into affordable art and local artisans? You’ll want to stop by Ponshop Studio, a combined retail shop/art studio/gallery space stocked to the gills with colorful handmade works — everything from cool ceramics and paintings to jewelry and T-shirts. Owners Scarlett and Gabriel Pons have contributed works to the shop, too, in the form of ceramics and mixed-media pieces, and if you time your visit right, you can attend one of the super hands-on art classes.

Ponshop, 712 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg; 540-656-2215

Photo: Courtesy of Ponshop