Fredericksburg, Virginia

Go here: Fredericksburg, the boyhood home of George Washington, is neatly laid out in a rectangular grid of one-way, tree-shaded streets. The map provided by the Visitor Center points out the conveniently grouped historic sights and estimates walking time. However, it's difficult to take an uninterrupted stroll through Fredericksburg, for there are too many distractions. Antiques shops, modern galleries, venerable old houses turned into B&Bs; all compete for your attention with museums and historic churches.

Stay here: Richard Johnston Inn, 711 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, Va., 22401, 877-557-0770. The inn is an 18th-century building designed by John Taylow, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Doubles range from $130 to $210 per night.

Eat here: Goolrick's Pharmacy, 901 Caroline St., 540-373-9878. Said to be the oldest continuously operating drugstore soda fountain in the country, it offers real malted milks from hand-dipped ice cream, and lunch counter sandwiches. Malts are $3.75, sandwiches about $3. Breakfast and lunch only. Closed Sunday. For dinner, try Claiborne's Restaurant, 200 Lafayette Blvd., 540-371-7080. The restaurant offers hearty cooking in an old railroad depot. Open for lunch and dinner daily and Sunday brunch. Dinner entrees from about $17.

Don't miss this: Anything and everything to do with George Washington. Visitors can choose from Ferry Farm (268 Kings Highway, Falmouth, Va., 22405; 540-370-0732), where he grew up and possibly chopped down a few cherry trees; Kenmore Plantation (1201 Washington Ave., Fredericksburg, Va., 22401), the Georgian-style home of his sister and her husband; or Mary Washington House (1200 Charles St., Fredericksburg, Va., 22401), the house he purchased for his mother and where she spent her last years.

The annual luminaria, featuring thousands of candles, takes place each May at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. The event includes a historical walking tour of 15,300 candles - one for each soldier buried in the cemetery on Marye's Heights.

Get there: By car, Fredericksburg is about 100 miles south of Baltimore on Interstate 95 (use exit 133A). That's about a two-hour drive, but rush hour south of Washington can add an hour to the trip.

For more information, contact the Fredericksburg Visitor Center: 540-373-1776.

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