TOURIST or LOCAL?
Absolute favorite run is on Lee Drive:
Located just off the intersection of Rt. 3 and Rt. 17 Bus (see map) this road runs through the Fredericksburg Battlefield. Shady with some hills, it stretches 4.5 miles in one direction and is a popular spot for runners, walkers, and bikers. Be careful as there are no sidewalks, but the car traffic is minimal and usually made up of tourists adhering to the 25-35 mph speed limit. There are parking lots along the way and at either end of the drive and one major street intersection that make it easy to divide up a run anywhere between a short 4 miler or long 9 miler. I always feel safe as it's usually just populated enough and there is the occasional patrolling park ranger. If you're out for just an easy run, indulge in some of the historical placards along the way!
Insiders tip: If you start at the far end of the drive, run up to the cross street and back; that's around 4 miles with only slight hillage. Alternately, start at the top of the drive right off of Rt. 17, run to the same cross street (there's only one cross street) and back with a pretty steep hill at the end; that'll give you around 5 miles.
Another great place is Pratt Park (see map.) Sandwiched between River Rd and the Falmouth YMCA, this park has a giant loop that runs about a mile. In the middle are playing fields that can get pretty busy with recreational kid's sports. For about half the loop you have the option of a paved path or dirt trail (I prefer the dirt). Surrounding the park are woods and if you're feeling adventurous head out for trail running on the far end of the park and the woods will connect you to the next park over, Brooks Park. I usually head here when I just want to run in circles. For the most part the loop is flat, though there is a slight incline at the far wooded side.
Insiders tip: The main entrance and parking lot is located off of River Drive, but can often get crowded, supposedly there's a fee-collector for non-residents and if it's rained recently, River Dr. gets flooded. Try accessing the park via the YMCA. Turn off of Butler road into the YMCA's parking lot but follow the dirt road past the water park and at the end of the road to the left you'll see a little informal space for parking. There's a break in the fence where you can enter the loop. But don't take a clean car- it will most certainly get dirty from the dust and/or any mud from recent rains.
I would also recommend just running through downtown Fredericksburg. The town is based off a grid system but is pretty small, so don't expect a super long run. It's a safe place so have fun turning where you feel like, finding your way along the Rappahannock River, and admire the beautiful old houses. Or take a look at a map beforehand and create a route that takes you up to Mary Washington University's Battleground Athletic Complex located off of Sunken Drive (and offering a tasty hill to run up) which can add some mileage if you run around the fields. There's also pull-up bars, etc. if you want to through in some strength training.
There are a LOT of races offered by the Fredericksburg Area Running Club (FARC). I'm partial to the July 4th Heritage 5 miler and the Thanksgiving Day 5k Turkey Trot. Both of these take you through downtown Fredericksburg which I always love running through.
Last spring was the Inaugural Marine Corps Half Marathon which was fantastic.
BEST PRE-RUN/RACE RESTAURANT:
My favorite is Castiglia's Italian Restaurant. There's several locations now, but go to the original on William's Street in downtown Fredericksburg. I love the bruschetta and pizza!
BEST POST-RUN/RACE RESTAURANT:
Treat yourself to a tasty soft serve ice cream at famous Carl's Ice Cream located at 2200 Princess Anne St. in downtown Fredericksburg. There's almost always a line, but it's worth the wait. My fave is a simple chocolate sugar cone!
LOCAL RUNNING STORE:
VA Runner in Central Park (a huge shopping complex) is great with a knowledgeable staff who can help solve most running apparel problems.
LOCAL RUNNING CLUB:
Fredericksburg Area Running Club (FARC) sponsors the majority of the races in Fredericksburg. Give them a call for all questions related to running in Fredericksburg.
LOCAL TOURIST ATTRACTIONS:
There's a TON of historical things to see and do. In fact that's about all there is to do. Skip the shopping unless it's for antiques. In that case, and regardless, roam the streets of downtown Fredericksburg. Hit up Washington Avenue (huge Civil War homes!), visit Kenmore, the Rising Sun Tavern, then head to Hyperion for a coffee (cash only!). After your pick-me-up browse the shops on Caroline Street- my favorite is the Griffin Bookstore, then maybe stop into Sammy T's for lunch (great vegetarian and vegan options). Finally head down the Rappahanock River and hang out in Old Mill Park.
Official Website of Fredericksburg, VA
Fredericksburg Tourist Center
Kelly Fenton is a back-of-the-pack runner who has completed 6 marathons and many smaller races over three continents. A current resident of NYC, Kelly composes music for her band the Bottomless Cup Jazz Orchestra and blogs about comic books at Bottomless Cup.
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