History buffs should retreat to Fredericksburg, Virginia, about one hour south of Tysons Corner. With battlefields and stately, beautifully restored homes, the quaint town on the Rappahannock River brims with Colonial and Civil War history. But you’ll also find a contemporary element, thanks to a fresh crop of restaurants, an award-winning distillery, and an artisanal doughnut shop.
A Sweet Start. If you can hold off on breakfast until arriving in town, the reward will be worth your patience. Sugar Shack’s doughnuts come in traditional flavors but opt instead for something a little more offbeat, like the fresh ginger peach, cucumber melon, or chocolate caramel with sea salt.
Civil War History. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park commemorates four major battles of the civil war. Begin at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center and choose from a guide-lead or self-guided walking tour of the grounds.
Tour Colonial-Era Mansions. Tour some of the town’s most meticulously maintained examples of Georgian architecture. Chatham Manor and Kenmore are positioned on opposite sides of the Rappahannock River and are each steeped in Revolutionary-era history. (The latter was owned by Betty Washington Lewis, George Washington’s sister.)
Bourbon Break. Situated just a few miles down the river, A. Smith Bowman Distillery offers daily tours of its cavernous facility, filled with oak barrels and the heady scent of the complex spirits. Afterward, stay for a taste of the distillery’s award-winning small-batch bourbon.
Caroline Street Stroll. Soak up this charming, historic town with a walk down Caroline Street. Peruse boutiques and antique shops like Blue Shark, which stocks items from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.
Modern American Fare. Across the street from the historic Presbyterian Church of Fredericksburg, Foodie serves farm-to-table, modern American cuisine with a Southern flair. Try the pimento cheese toasts and the popular Fredericksburg.