The Fredericksburg Visitor Center, 706 Caroline St. (at Charlotte St.), Fredericksburg, VA 22401 (tel. 800/678-4748 or 540/373-1776; fax 540/372-5687; www.visitfred.com), offers free maps, many restaurant menus, and walking tour brochures following the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg and of the downtown Historic District. It also shows a 14-minute video that will get you oriented, and it sells a block ticket to the major sites. The center is open Memorial Day to Labor Day daily from 9am to 7pm; the rest of the year, hours are 9am to 5pm. It's closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
On the southwestern edge of town, the Spotsylvania County Visitor Center, 4704 Southpointe Pkwy., Fredericksburg, VA 22407 (tel. 800/654-4118 or 540/891-6670; www.spotsylvania.org), specializes in attractions south of town. It's in the Southpoint Shopping Center on U.S. 1 at Exit 126 off I-95 and is open daily from 9am to 5pm. The county also has a visitor center in the historic district of Spotsylvania, near the battlefields (tel. 540/507-7996).
There also is a Virginia Welcome Center at Mile 130 on southbound I-95.
By Car -- On a good traffic day, Fredericksburg is about an hour from Richmond or Alexandria via I-95. To reach the Historic District from I-95, take Exit 130A and follow Va. 3 east. Bear left on William Street (Va. 3 Business).
There are no parking meters in Fredericksburg but many on-street spaces are limited to 2 hours. The public parking lots on Sophia Street are unlimited.
By Plane -- The nearest airports are Ronald Reagan Washington National, Washington Dulles International, and Richmond International.
By Train -- Fredericksburg's Amtrak station (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) is at Lafayette Boulevard and Princess Anne Street, on the southern edge of the Historic District, 3 blocks from the Fredericksburg Visitor Center.
Virginia Railway Express (tel. 800/743-3873 or 703/497-7777; www.vre.org) operates six early-morning commuter trains from Fredericksburg's Amtrak station to Union Station in Washington, D.C., from Monday through Friday. One return train departs Washington at 12:55pm, with five more beginning at 3:35pm. Frankly, they are more useful for a day trip into D.C. than for getting to Fredericksburg. Check the website for schedules and fares.
The best ways to see the historic district are on foot or by a trolley or horse-drawn carriage tour, but Ride Fred (tel. 540/372-1222; www.ridefred.com) provides public bus service around the area from Monday through Friday (through Sat when classes are in session at the University of Mary Washington). Most useful is the Downtown Loop (Rte. F5), which passes the Amtrak Station and the university. Fares are 50¢ per person.
Money-Saving Passes -- The Fredericksburg Visitor Center sells a Fredericksburg Timeless Pass, which includes admission to Belmont, Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, Kenmore, Mary Washington House, Rising Sun Tavern, and George Washington's Ferry Farm. It does not expire and costs $32 for adults, $10 for students 6 to 18. Or you can opt for a 1-day pass for $16 adults, $5 for students. Those are substantial savings off individual admissions.
Note: The admission prices given in the reviewed attractions are to the individual properties without a block ticket. Most of the block-ticket attractions are closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and December 24, 25, and 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.