Fredericksburg, VA City Guide

Photos by Heather and Michael Fonteneau

This week’s Fredericksburg City Guide comes from Heather and Mickael Fonteneau of Atelier Fonteneau. After meeting and living in New York, Heather convinced Mickael that living in the Virginia countryside would be just like moving back to life in the French countryside . . . sort of. That’s when the couple stumbled upon Fredericksburg and set up a workshop where they design and build custom furnishings, architectural woodwork, kitchens and residential and commercial spaces with their team (their benches can be seen in the Sneak Peek of Susan and William Brinson’s New York loft space).

Today they share their now-home of Fredericksburg, VA, in this amazing guide! Thank you, Heather and Mickael, for taking us on a tour of your beautiful city. — Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump . . .

Equidistant from Washington, D.C., and Richmond, VA, Fredericksburg is perhaps best known for the University of Mary Washington and its civil war landmarks, battlefields and the many places where George Washington slept, but it’s much more than that. It’s also a sweet piece of small-town America with a fast-growing art, food and design scene at its historic downtown core. There is a strong sense of ownership and entrepreneurship downtown, where the majority of shops and restaurants are owned and operated by members of the community. Everyone seems to know everyone, and if they don’t, they soon will. Fredericksburg is a hospitable city that loves a party, so be sure to check out the calendar for events celebrating everything, including Greek heritage, Oktoberfest, dog parades, Bastille Day (a personal favorite!), home and garden tours and the list goes on. That plus the abundance of awesome colonial American, Victorian and early 20th-century architecture are great reasons to add the ‘burg to your list of places to check out in Virginia.

Be sure to check out this Fredericksburg Google Map with all the below listings.



Carl’s Ice Cream is affectionately known as “Carl’s” and is a Fredericksburg institution that oozes delicious soft-serve. This place definitely has its own cult following that will brave crazy long lines and inclement weather. Carl’s has been owned and operated by the same family since 1947 and still operates out of a 1940s frozen custard walk-up. There are four flavors available (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and pineapple), as well as sundaes, shakes, malts and frozen slushes. In warm weather or at the end or beginning of the season, be prepared to wait in a line that wraps around the block and down the street, but once you see the electric lights of the Carl’s sign calling, there’s no going back. Closed between the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the Friday of Presidents Day Weekend. 2200 Princess Anne Street. 540.368.0000

Goolrick’s Pharmacy is one of America’s longest continuously running pharmacies that still offer traditional sandwiches, malted milks, milkshakes and cherry Cokes from a Norman Rockwell-era lunch counter. A mix of regulars and tourists mingle here over egg salad, BLTs, potato chips and macaroni salad, as well as other nostalgic sides. The menu is simple, and the seating is limited, but if you see a stool, steal it. 901 Caroline Street. 540.373-9878

Don’t miss the Fredericksburg Area Museum located on the corner of Princess Anne and William Streets. It’s a small museum showing both permanent collections and changing feature exhibitions that highlight the ‘burg’s history in art, architecture, economy and community, among other topics. Make sure you take time to pass through the museum shop, which can also be accessed independent of the museum. 1001 Princess Anne Street. 540.371-3037

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the tours available in Fredericksburg. There is a tour for almost anything, including the Kenmore Plantation and Ferry Farm; the Mary Washington House; a trolley tour, an architecture tour; a ghost tour and riverboat lunch, brunch or dinner tour. That said, some tours and events are offered on a regular basis, while others are offered seasonally. It’s best to check with the Fredericksburg Visitor’s Center. 706 Caroline Street. 540. 373.1776


Let me start by saying that we L-O-V-E love Foodē. Foodē (say it like foodie) serves up an ever-changing menu of fresh, regional, seasonal food that makes you feel as though everything is right in the world. Owners and BFFs Joy Crump and Beth Black and their staff have created a go-to for happy, amazing food without the fuss. Find your way through the wrought iron gate, down their beautifully decorated alleyway lined with outdoor seating, and into the small dining room. Be forewarned: The set-up is a bit unconventional. Come inside, grab a menu, order at the counter and find a place to sit — the food will be on its way. Because Foodē doesn’t offer traditional table-side service (although I’ve never wanted for anything), they don’t ask for tips. They just ask that you have a great meal, make yourself at home and stay a while. And you will. Come for (weekend) brunch, lunch and dinner. Love. 1006 C / D Caroline Street. 540.479.1370

Bistro Bethem is owned by husband-wife team Blake and Aby Bethem and was one of the first places we loved (and still love) in Fredericksburg. The Bethems focus on spinning local farm-fresh produce into comfortable fine dining. Their cozy space houses artwork from local artists, a 300-year-old pine bar with some of the most interesting handcrafted drinks in town, periodic live music and a warm and knowledgeable staff. Keep an eye out for their upcoming burger restaurant and rooftop bar. Reservations recommended. Closed Monday. 309 William Street. 540.371.9999

Sammy T’s has been a Fredericksburg mainstay since opening in 1981. Housed in a former auction house, Sammy T’s menu serves up diverse daily specials and a vegetarian (and vegan!) friendly menu. Its friendly staff, rotating local art collection and timeworn interior let you know you that have found the neighborhood joint. 801 Caroline Street. 540.371-2008

Up early? Make your way over to Eileen’s Bakery and Café for the cases full of freshly baked breads, pastries, confections and an array of breakfast sandwiches and small plates. On the far end of Caroline Street’s retail row, Eileen’s is located in a small renovated church building with a garden patio in the back. The George’s Mess is a local favorite and no-fail choice for breakfast. If you linger long enough, lunch starts at 11 a.m. with seasonal homemade salads and sandwiches. Closed Monday. 1115 Caroline Street. 540.372-4030

While it’s a few blocks up from most of the downtown action, if you make the (albeit short) trek, you will find a couple of the nicest guys and some of the best, baddest sandwiches in town at Jake & Mike’s. In addition to their long, very worthwhile sandwich menu, Jake & Mike’s is open for Sunday brunch and dinner on Tuesday through Sunday with a range of specials and unpretentious simple dishes. Sit down, relax and dig into their famous Russian Reuben or BLT or po’boy . . . 806 William Street. 540.370-4590

La Petite Auberge has remained the place to go for regulars for over 25 years with their menu of traditional French and local dishes. This place feels storied, like a bit of an institution, and has certainly stuck to its old school roots. The service is fab, as is the food, and I tend to cozy up to their bric-a-brac-laced bar for a laid-back dinner. The kitchen was recently handed down from father to son, and I think it will be interesting to see what the new generation of La Petite brings. Closed Sunday. 311 William Street. 540.371-2727

Castiglia’s is Mickael’s go-to corner joint for wood-fired pizza in a warm, homey, leisurely environment with casual outdoor seating. The Castiglia family’s Italian eatery has been a mainstay for years and is soon expanding, with a wine bar and rooftop expansion. 324 William Street. 540.373.6650

Bist du hungrig?!? If you are hungry, welcome to The Bavarian Chef. This restaurant is an extension of a family-owned German restaurant by the same name located in Madison, Virginia, that offers up traditional Bavarian lunch and dinner as well as additional options for those who aren’t sure whether they should schnitzel or spätzle. The Bavarian chef takes up the interior of a retired railroad station (right next to the Amtrak), and when you come, you should (1) make a reservation and (2) come hungry. You will be fed well. You will wish that you wore your elastic pants. You will see a dirndl or two. Closed Monday. 200 Lafayette Boulevard. 540.656-2101

Soup & Taco is a tiny slice of a lunch or quick dinner spot. In addition to having soup and tacos, they have a simple, straightforward menu of traditional fresh Mexican and Tex-Mex plates. Seating is limited. Closed Monday. 813 Caroline Street. 540.899-0969


Fredericksburg’s Capital Alehouse is a sister location in a small local group of alehouses throughout Virginia. For those who just want a good, cold beer, this is the place to park it. The alehouse serves over 55 beers on tap and over 300 by the bottle on a winding iced bar top. 917 Caroline Street. 540.371.2337

If you’ve been in Fredericksburg for more than ten minutes, you’ve most likely seen Hyperion Espresso perched on the corner of William and Princess Anne Streets. Yes, it’s a coffee house. A very good one, in fact. But it’s also where people congregate, spilling outside and monopolizing the outdoor tables and chairs for as long as they please.  Aside from a sweet spot to have a non-alcoholic drink, they also offer light breakfast and snack options. 301 William Street. 540.373.4882

Kybecca wine bar is a popular stop for wines by the glass or bottle and cocktails. Outfitted with an Enomatic machine, featured wines are available in pours of various sizes, which are great if you want to try different types of wine without committing to a bottle (or a full glass). 400 William Street. 540.373.3338


Whittingham is a treasure trove of interesting home accessories ranging from quirky boxes and objects to dishes and serverware to art, mirrors, linens, glassware and the list goes on. This store has great seasonal home accessories, as well, and a constantly changing, often hilarious storefront window. Next door at the Kitchen at Whittingham, you will want for nothing in the way of specialty ingredients, cook and bake ware, and interesting quirky hooks and accessories. The Kitchen at Whittingham hosts regular cooking classes taught by local chefs on Thursdays and Sundays. This is my go-to place for interesting and affordable gifts. 1021 Caroline Street. 540.374.0443

While the ‘burg has several antique stores, none of them, in my opinion, are as well curated as Beck’s antiques. Wandering into Beck’s is like stumbling into the attic of a family member who collected only cool and interesting things. While the prices vary, the quality of the furniture, china, crystal, jewelry and textiles is unmistakable. Once you make it to the back of the store, you will find a solid collection of old books ranging from American history to art and architecture. 708 Caroline Street. 540.371.1766

R&R Antiques is one of the largest antique shops in Fredericksburg, with 40-plus vendors. I like this place because it’s a hodgepodge of items that you can get lost searching through. If you do take your time and look through the odds and ends, you can get very good deals on items that might easily be overlooked by others. Recent finds include 19th-century apothecary jars, crystal and marble lamps for under $100 and interesting floral prints. The back of the store has a sizeable collection of vintage accessories, clothes, shoes and furs. 1001 Caroline Street

PA Dutch Food & Candy is a great little store that sells just about every kind of imported and iconic candy imaginable. Every time I come to this store, I try something new and interesting, and it never gets old. Its sister store, PA Dutch Tea & Spice Company, is located next door. The shelves are lined with boxes housing different sized pouches of spices and loose teas, all with samples available for sniffing. They also have a nice selection of tea pots, infusers and accessories. 1013 Caroline Street. 540.656.240

Libertytown Arts Workshop is a working art space and gallery tucked away on Liberty Street that houses the works of several skilled craftspeople and artists. Pieces range from pottery to photography and are for sale in the gallery, and group classes are taught in the workshop. The workshop hosts a variety of events, as well, so be sure to check their calendar. My personal favorite is potter Neal Reed916 Liberty Street. 540.371.7255

I recently wandered into Savvy Chic and immediately found a handful of pieces that I wanted to take home with me and could actually afford to do so. The shop features a mix of funky refinished pieces, accessories and architectural elements from varying periods and styles. 619 Caroline Street. 540.368.5440.

The ladies behind Beaucoup Vintage and Madeline Ruth have teamed up for their new joint venture, Forage. The recently opened shop sells a really well-edited selection of consignment and vintage clothes and accessories. 208 William Street. 540.656.286

Emporio is another newer home store that offers upcycled and repurposed furniture, art and accessories that lean toward the glamorous and gilded. Recent finds include large demijohn bottles, painted bamboo screens and folksy paintings. 703 Caroline Street. 540.373.0619

Fredericksburg has an abundance of art galleries that are worth checking out. I especially like Art First Gallery, which has represented local artists for 20 years with a variety of abstract, landscape, portrait and mixed media. Attached to Art First is Brushstrokes Gallery, also featuring local artists. 824 Caroline Street. 540.368.0560

The recently relocated DuJardin has an interesting mix of home accessories with an emphasis on European design. I come here to check out seasonal items, gifts and the small garden area in the back of the store. Recent finds include European egg ornaments painted with little owls. Cute! 822 Caroline Street. 540.374-1001

PonShop is a gallery and retail space with a little bit of everything. Owners Scarlett and Gabriel Pons’ space is a good place to go for mixed media art, ceramics, paintings, clothing and handmade objects from local and regional artists, including their own art. The shop also teaches classes on art, from ceramics to street graphics. 712 Caroline Street. 540.656-221

Unleash your inner prepster! Lydia’s Monogrammed Gifts and Accessories is a mecca for all things monogrammed (and I’m a sucker for a monogram). The front of the store features gifts including travel bags, home accessories, adorable baby toys and linens, and the back of the store houses specialty stationery. I like to come here for easy gift shopping. Closed Sunday. 417 William Street. 540.373.7023

If you’re like me, books are really important to your personal space. I like to troll Read All Over BookstoreRiverby Books and Griffin Bookshop and Coffee Bar for used art, architecture and cookbooks, as well as classics with beautiful loungy spaces to waste away the day. 307 William Street, 540.656.2911; 805 Caroline Street, 540.373.6148; and 723 Caroline Street, 540.899.8041


Located in the historic district but a few blocks removed from the restaurants and bars (and partying college kids) is the charming Kenmore Inn. The Kenmore Inn is a traditional bed & breakfast with nine rooms each named and decorated for a historic figure connected to Fredericksburg. There’s also a cozy bar and restaurant that spills out into a semi-private brick courtyard with views of a really amazing residential area. 1200 Princess Anne Street. 540.371.7622

Built in the 18th century, the Richard Johnston Inn has been around the block, so to speak. In its previous life, the inn was home to Richard Johnston, one of Fredericksburg’s 19th-century mayors, and it has since been transformed into an award-winning inn. Closer to the action on Caroline Street, the Richard Johnston Inn is known for hosting special events and parties. The inn has an additional “I wish that was my house” property available, the Caroline House, located a few blocks away. 711 Caroline Street. 540.899.7606


Though not part of a designated neighborhood, these spots are worth checking out while visiting the ‘burg.

Belmont, Gari Melcher’s Home and Studio, is a crush-worthy country estate that I highly recommend taking the time to see. Previously the home and studio to prominent 18th- and 19th-century painter Gari Melchers and the love of his life, Corinne, the estate now serves as a museum, gallery space and lush garden space open to the public (except Wednesdays). Belmont holds periodic events, so be sure to check the calendar. 224 Washington Street, Falmouth, VA 22405. 540.654-1015

Another great little hideaway is A. Smith Bowman Distillery, located right outside of the historic downtown core.  Tour the distillery Monday through Friday to learn the history and process of one of Virginia’s pioneers in making hand-crafted spirits, and then hit up the gift shop for their small-batch whiskey, gin, rum and vodka. 1 Bowman Drive. 540.373.4555

Around the corner from A. Smith Bowman Distillery is Blue & Gray Brewing Company brewpub, which houses Fredericksburg’s own brewery. Tours and free samples are available on Saturdays and at varying times throughout the week for brewpub guests. 3300 Dill Smith Drive. 540.371.7799

When the weather’s nice, especially in the fall, and you’re feeling one with nature, head to Virginia Outdoor Center to take advantage of the Rappahannock River. VOC offers kayaking and canoeing trips that cut through the ‘burg, as well as lazy days of tubing. 3219 Fall Hill Avenue. 540.371.5085



Famous Locals

  • Philanthropist and author Doris Buffet (resident)
  • Actor Judge Reinhold (raised here)
  • Actor Danny McBride (raised here)
  • Artists: Neal Reed, Barbara Taylor Hall, Patricia Thalman
  1. Xris says:

    Yeah, FXBG!! Just moved back here after years of growing up around the area, and now – as an adult – I have a MUCH more appreciation for the city and all it offers. Especially when you’re living downtown within walking distance to everything – that kind of makes it better :)

    Thx for showing off our town!

  2. Pembersih says:

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

    1. Jan Walters says:

      You should add Anne Brooks Brauer , writer and painter!


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