By: Lauren Malloy 

Two little girls holding hands walking on Caroline St. in Downtown Fredericksburg

Sisters taking a stroll on Caroline St.

If you are anything like me, you are trying your best to keep your kids from all the uncertain and sometimes scary things happening. As a mom of  two daughters ages 6 and 4 I feel there is a delicate dance to keeping them aware of their surroundings ( wear masks, wash hands, etc.) as well as aware of who they are as little black girls in this world.

Moving to Fredericksburg, VA in the last 3 days of 2019 were full of promise and adventure.  2020 has unfolded so very unexpectedly for us all, but for my family  being in a new city in a new state away from all that is familiar. I felt that I had to be even more #MOMSTRONG to get my family through it all.

What does all this have to do with Downtown Fredericksburg? Well for starters pre pandemic my husband had an office on Caroline Street, the main vain of Downtown FXBG.  My daughters and I became very familiar with the shops, and even some the amazing staff and owners up and down the street. It was our place to get out and stretch our legs and have some lunch with Daddy. So, getting back to one of our “familiar places” in town was very important to us as we tried to have a sliver of a normal summer. I wanted to share some of our favorite places and things to do in downtown FXBG.

  1. The first place on my list is the Downtown Greens – an Organic Urban Garden in FXBG

This amazing urban garden space holds the mission of community, education and keeping FXBG green. It is not only is comprised of two garden spaces (upper and lower), but, bee keeping, youth programing, community engagement, fresh produce giveaways and so much more. The girls and I have been on Saturday mornings with our gardening gloves to pick weeds, fresh produce and enjoy a garden space. They even have kits that are filled with all the supplies to create a cool activity for kids this summer.

It’s a great place to go to experience nature and show kids where their food comes from. If you have a not so green thumb like me,  you can go and be apart of a garden  that you can’t hurt. I love that anyone  can go and volunteer to dig in the dirt.  Is also a scenic place to go and relax, grab a  blanket and head to the lower garden to read a book and share a lunch with your kids.

Downtown Greens is an amazing space to hang out with your little for free fun that includes learning, exploring and getting a little dirty. I would say that makes for an excellent kids’ day out.

  1. Second up is the Jabberwocky Children’s Books and Toys

“What a fun store” is what my 6-year-old daughter proclaimed as we walked under the arches of the dragon draped entrance. Filled with books, games, toys and “kid stuff” this place is an awesome stop to make on your trip to Downtown FXBG. Located inside of a pretty cool building directly across from a wine store (wink, wink) it’s the first thing you see when you enter the building. Having been a Caroline Street staple for years they are currently celebrating their 35th birthday! The girls and I were able to touch some cool stuff, read a book and pick out a board game to take home for family game night. This store is so special because it is a store dedicated to children- where they can feel free to discover and move about freely.

As we head into an academic year it also makes for a great resource for games, learning tools, books and activities to assist in longer days at home and engaging your littles in learning in ways you both can enjoy.

Jabberwocky is celebrating their birthday all August long with a special treat for patrons! All you have to do is go and play, check out the cool stuff, and when you get to the checkout say, “Happy Birthday” and you will get 20% off your purchase.  Then you will even have some money left over to make a “mommy stop” to the wine store across the hall, just saying’.

  1. Our next stop was Fort Pure Play

I must give a disclaimer- I LOVE THIS PLACE. When I decided to write about the kid friendliest places in downtown FXBG I knew this was going on my list.  The store is gorgeous and for a girl mom the beautiful aesthetic is one of my favorites.  The staff is always so friendly and welcoming, they remember you when you come and go and it really feels like a community of FORT PLAY {ers}, see what I did there.

The concept of this play store is “a place for open-ended pure play, using loose parts and sensory rich materials to engage imagination”. It is home to beautifully constructed toys made to engage your children’s imagination by allowing them to choose what they want them to be. From silk scarves, old fashion cars, sensory tinker toys and their very own branded  Fort Box for themed play on the go. They have thought of EVERYRHING to make play time magical.

Due to COVID restrictions we were only allowed in the very front of the store, which they expertly managed to still make fun and magical. Having placed a  tiny mouse house (think doll house for cute mice) and other fun touchable toys. My girls still managed to whine about leaving even with the small selection available to play with. Make this a must see stop on your visit downtown, it will reignite your imagination too, tell them Laureninbloom sent you!

  1. It was time for a treat ( it was about 98 degrees outside) so we headed across the street to Abner Butterfield Ice Cream Company – aka- Abner B’s

Having a daughter that is dairy intolerant ( I know you mama’s can relate) It is important to have a list of place we can go as a family that she can also enjoy. Its heartbreaking to go to a restaurant and ask if they have any dairy free dessert and they reply no, and you have to explain to your baby that she can’t have anything, or you have to leave as a family and find another place to go, its awful, can you tell I am still triggered?

Anyway- one of the many reasons we love Abner B’s is because they have dairy free options, emphasis on the plural. We can go there and get sorbet, homemade banana ice cream (it’s just bananas), slushies and other treats. The rest of the family can enjoy our traditional ice cream too and they even have a small coffee house set up to get momma her caffeine fix with or without a scoop of ice cream inside. How can you go wrong? Its on my list of kid friendly places because they even saved a little space in the shop for kids, they have their own seating section and that’s pretty cool!

  1. This treat only comes once a week, but its worth the trip because the Fredericksburg Farmers Market is one of the kid friendliest places downtown.

Located at Hurkamp park just a few blocks from Caroline Street this market is loaded with goodies from all over the region. What a better way to start your Saturday then to bring the kids to pick out the fruits and veggies they are going to eat for the week. My girls love seeing all the different produce, they like me, love fresh flowers and there is always a sweet treat for sale as well. We tasted local honey, found beautiful sunflowers (it’s the unofficial flower of summer, right?) and I even got them to try a new vegetable because they picked it out at the market.

For us, being outdoors is the only “free space” there is left in a COVID reality. We allow our girls to go mask less when outside, so it’s nice reprieve for them to not have to wear their masks while in a store. I get to shop produce and try new treats and they get to enjoy the park afterward and hang out by the fountain and LOVE sign at the park, it’s a beautiful way to start a Saturday.

This list is not exhaustive for sure, downtown Fredericksburg is a historical and beautiful place, and sometimes places with those labels are not always welcoming to kids. Children have an innate need to touch everything and talk to everyone and be inquisitive. In our current world these things are no longer encouraged and its been a sad transition to witness.  Going downtown to visit the places listed as well as other shops and boutiques makes for an enjoyable day out for the entire family.  Whether you are new to the area like my family or a native to the area you may be surprised at the new and old happenings. Treat yourself and your kids and take a stroll through downtown FXBG- you will not regret it.

Have fun and share your trip downtown with us by tagging

@Fredparentmagazine

#fxbgkidsabouttown

Cheers,

Lauren Blooming in the Burg