Spring Fun in the Fredericksburg Sun

28 Mar
March 28, 2012

Although the past few days have been blustery, the calendar continues to creep toward summer. And this upcoming weekend, the mercury is supposed to settle at a perfectly comfortable 65, which is exactly the weather for a day trip down past the suburbs, to Washington, D.C.’s southern sister, Fredericksburg, VA.

Built on the banks of the roaring Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg is teeming with activities to keep you smiling in the sun.

A great starting point for a journey is north of the town, on the opposite bank of the Rappahannock. Therein lies a history buff’s dream, the Historic Port of Falmouth.

The port was built in 1728 to export Virginia’s primary cash crop, tobacco. By the middle of the century, it was one of the most bustling ports in the area. The preserved port is now an 11-acre park, used mostly for fishing from the shores of the plentiful river. But a great number of the 18th century residences remain, and visitors can wander about and see what life was like in early Colonial times.

Across the river, in the town of Fredericksburg, is the perfect launching point for a stroll: the meandering Rappahannock Canal Path. The path begins near the intersection of Fall Hill Avenue at Normandy Avenue, on the northern outskirts of town. From there it follows the canal that runs west and south of the river. The canal was built in the mid-1800s to help merchants traverse the rocky rapids of this part of the Rappahannock. And in 1986, the town commissioned a path to run parallel to the canal. Now, it’s one of the best spots for an ambling afternoon stroll.

Spring time might be the best season to traverse the path, with flowers in full bloom, including roses and peach blossoms. And since Fredericksburg is nothing like its urban neighbor to the north, expect to see plenty of wildlife.

The path runs about two miles, ending in the middle of the city, at the intersection of Princess Anne Street and Ford Street.

Nine blocks south of the canal path’s end is historic Hurkamp Park. With its brick sidewalks and fountains, this park carries the same calm, quiet feel the rest of the town does. A great deal of the park was built with brick, like benches and walls that mirror the brick sidewalks. And if you are in the park on Saturday, the local farmer’s market sets up shop, from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The market carries produce and meats from farms that are just a stone’s throw from town, making it a place to get some of the freshest food around.

If you’ve spend a whole day wandering through town, out in the sun, you’ll want to end your trip to Fredericksburg at the most popular spot in town. One mile north of the park, a 20-minute walk down scenic Princess Anne Street, lies Carl’s Ice Cream.

In a town teeming with historical sites, Carl’s Ice Cream might be Fredericksburg most famous resident. Since 2005, it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The roadside shop was founded in 1947 as Carl’s Frozen Custard, selling just what its name claimed. It’s only open from February to November and the shortened season leaves its devoted followers craving. Long lines are almost always present outside the shop. Don’t let the length fool you though, the line moves rapidly.

You can order three flavors of frozen custard (custard contains more eggs than regular ice cream). It is spun in its original 1940s machines, a unique sight to see.  The machines still work to perfection, spinning out smooth chocolate, vanilla and strawberry custard. It luscious, creamy and one of the tastiest bites you can find in the entire Washington, D.C. Metro area.

It is a delicious and cool way to finish off an outdoor Fredericksburg day trip.

-David

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