Written By: Zach Champ
Photos Sourced from Business Social Media Pages
Editorial Note: Local laws in the City of Fredericksburg mandate that businesses must serve food in addition to serving alcohol.
Therefore, every bar that is listed below is also a restaurant, with many offering your typical dining experience during daytime business hours.
The focus of this article is primarily on the night-life and adult recreational opportunities these venues cater to!
1. CASTIGLIA'S SKY BAR
Castiglia’s is an Italian-American restaurant ran by a family of the same name with origins in Naples, Italy. They are the proprietors of Fredericksburg’s most popular nightlife destination- the Sky Bar.
The Sky Bar itself is a recently constructed rooftop terrace found above the main Castiglia’s Italian restaurant located on William Street in Downtown Fredericksburg.
Bright and resplendent, Sky Bar is a posh display of covered canopies and comfortable decorative chairs and tables.
Sky Bar represents the growth that downtown Fredericksburg is currently undergoing as a community. The best times to visit Sky Bar are during the Spring and Summer when the outdoor weather is nice and accommodating.
Castiglia’s Sky Bar brings the sleek, sexy, and classy vibe of the Big City to Downtown Fredericksburg. This is where you go if you want to have a good time and impress your date and friends!
Sky Lounge generally features a weekly DJ and EDM events which make it such a vibrant nightlife location.
You can even find our good friend DJ Tony B performing amazing house sets that will add the perfect ambiance to your evening out in town!
READ MORE ABOUT DJ TONY B IN OUR INTERVIEW ARTICLE BELOW!
2. CAPITAL ALE HOUSE
Capital Ale House is a Virginia based franchise with several restaurant locations found across the state.
Capital Ale House is a warm and inviting location, perfect for catching up with old friends, celebrating accomplishments, or relaxing after a long day of work with your colleagues.
The restaurant/bar offers a large menu selection of delicious burgers, sandwiches, and other appetizers.
Capital Ale House's drink menu is diverse and has many options... from draft brews and IPAs, Capital Ale House has an assortment of craft beers from all over Virginia and the DMV.
For those interested in experimenting, Capital Ale House will provide samples so you can taste the different craft beers before ordering your choice.
The food and drink service at Capital Ale House is always consistent and reliable. Another cool hallmark of the Capital Ale House is that when you drink at the bar you are sitting at an ice-top bar that resembles an ice-skating rink and which keeps your drinks cold!
The historic building that Capital Ale House currently resides in faced a little trouble after a powerful rainstorm in the summer of 2015 caused the roof to partially collapse.
Many local residents were concerned about the fate of the building and business, but luckily restoration and repairs barely took a couple of weeks and before long the business was back to normal.
Today while dining inside you would have a difficult time being able to tell that such roof damage occurred!
3. HAPPY ENDINGS
Happy Endings features an intimate and social pub environment that is regularly buzzing with a younger crowd.
This most likely has to do with Happy Endings outdoor patio, which has a relaxing, atmospheric, and a chill neighborhood vibe that allows visitors a chance to enjoy the views of colonial downtown Fredericksburg’s Princess Anne Street.
Personally, it is one of my favorite spots to take dates, meet with friends, and get my drink on!
The bar offers both your standard American beers and liquors with cheap deals such as $3 liquor shots and canned beers.
Happy Endings doesn’t normally do live music events, as the venue isn’t honestly well-suited for large crowds of people. Not to mention that the residential location of the bar restricts loud noises after certain hours.
For those who need some tunes to sing or to dance along with while drinking, the bar owns an old-school jukebox that has a decent catalog of top 40’s hits and rock n’ roll favorites.
In addition, Happy Endings keeps your standard pub entertainment staples such as dartboards; and there are televisions mounted on the wall and above the bar to watch the latest sports game.
Happy Endings were unfortunately mired in controversy during the weeks following their opening debut. This was due to several noise complaints by not so happy residential neighbors. According to the City of Fredericksburg’s local codes and ordinances, the patio which we all enjoy so much is required to be closed by 10 PM upon which visitors must then consume their alcoholic beverages inside. Issues enforcing this policy on busy and popular nights put the business in contention with neighbors.
Luckily though, after much deliberation by the City Council and involved parties, the issue was resolved and the City made it a point to issue special use permits to certain businesses to accommodate for night-life and adult entertainment during certain times of the year.
HAPPY ENDINGS HAD A 'HAPPY ENDING' AFTER ALL!
4. JAY'S DOWNTOWN SPORTS LOUNGE
Jay’s Downtown Sports Lounge, located on William Street, is where you want to be at during big sporting events and games such as the Superbowl, Stanley Cup, World Cup, and during important UFC fights.
During these events there is inevitably a large and dedicated crowd of fans that pack the wide, spanning and spacious bar.
Jay’s has over 45+ large-screen televisions, as well as a state of the art sound system which makes sure that every event is guaranteed to have engaging audio-visual.
If you are feeling the athletic hype and want to challenge your friends to a competition or contest of skill, then there are games available, including pool tables, darts, and everybody’s favorite ping pong!
The only complaint we have about Jay’s is that it can from time to time be a little dark inside the bar and that in the summer it can get sweaty, mostly when it’s packed with a big group of people. Other than that, Jay’s Sports Bar & Lounge is always a party!
5. HARD TIMES CAFE @ FOUR MILE FORK
Hard Times Cafe is a national franchise of restaurant and bar locations.
However, the Hard Times Cafe @ Four Mile Fork is a distinctive, more or less legendary venue that stands out on its own above all its peers.
The reason why is because Hard Times @ Four Mile Fork is known locally and regionally for its live music events including rock and roll, metal, EDM, and more!
Hard Times Cafe @ Four Mile Fork is somehow always able to consistently pull famous and well-known acts to their stage, including talented bands such as Avatar, Powerman 5000, Puddle of Mudd, PoD, and other well-known rock groups.
One of the main attractions of Hard Times besides their music is their menu that offers moderately priced and delicious food. Hard Time’s offers ‘happy hour’ daily specials on Mondays through Saturdays from 11 am to 7:30 pm.
If you are looking for the best Chili in Fredericksburg, this is where it is at!
Hard Times Cafe @ Four Mile Fork offers plenty of table seating, with well over 25 tables, alongside the extended bar.
The menu includes your typical American beers like Bud Light, Budweiser, Yuengling, Michelob, and Corona.
One of the cool features of Hard Times is the pool hall, which contains several billiards tables. In addition to the pool tables, Hard Times @ Four Mile Fork has a few slots and gambling machines available for those who think they are lucky for the evening and capable of winning a free drink or two.
The crowd at Hard Times is an older, conservative, and grittier group. We wouldn’t call it a biker bar per se, but bikers definitely hang out there! Hard Times Cafe is one of the last bastions of “Old Fredericksburg” that won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Hard Times is great if you want to get the enhanced rock n roll atmosphere versus the club or lounge vibe of other bars on this list.
6. VIVIFY BURGER AND LOUNGE
Vivify is a Burger restaurant and lounge that specializes in grass-fed burgers made with farm-fresh produce.
The definition of vivify means “to make something more enlivened or animated”, and when you step into the restaurant you certainly get that feeling.
Vivify features a modern, cool, and casual family-friendly diner on the main floor.
On the second floor, there is a rooftop lounge complete with a bar. Vivify offers craft beers, ciders, and an assortment of drafts.
The rooftop lounge is an awesome spot, in particular during the summer when you want to find a cool spot to spend an afternoon spending time with friends.
Unfortunately, the rooftop bar at Vivify is in some ways kind of overshadowed by Castiglia’s Sky Lounge which is located directly next door and is pretty much always much louder, more popular, and more active.
7. COLONIAL TAVERN, HOME TO THE IRISH BRIGADE
“There are no strangers here, only friends who have yet to meet”
The Colonial Tavern is a distinctive Irish themed pub located adjacent to Lafayette Boulevard, just as you drive into downtown Fredericksburg.
The Colonial Tavern is named in honor of an Irish-American U.S Army regiment that fought bravely and valiantly in the Battle of Fredericksburg during the U.S Civil War.
The Colonial Tavern is prominent because of the fact that they have live music performances pretty much every week throughout the year.
I can’t recall there ever being a time when I have walked by the Tavern while on my way into downtown and didn’t see a talented local or regional band giving an impressive, passionate, and heartfelt performance to an appreciative audience.
The crowd at Colonial Tavern is generally an older demographic featuring what I like to affectionately refer to as your mix of ‘grateful dead’ hippie types, local retirees, and the area's adult country audience.
The biggest event of the year at The Colonial Tavern is St. Patrick's Day!
The Colonial Tavern makes it a point to go all-out each year for this Irish holiday, and if you are looking to have the luckiest and most fantastic St. Paddy’s day experience, without a doubt you need to make the pilgrimage to Colonial Tavern!
8. BROCK'S RIVERSIDE GRILL
Brock’s is a famous and scenic bar located directly along the Rappahannock River.
The iconic outdoor porch/patio with a large deck features plenty of table seating and even a separate bar.
Brock’s dinner menu specializes in steak and seafood entrees. Their bar offers drinks including cocktails, martinis, wine, and beer.
During the summer Brock’s Riverside Grill and Bar hosts local live music acts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Throughout the rest of the year, different events take place such as themed parties for Halloween and Christmas.
Brock’s is highly popular with the local students at the University of Mary Washington, and as a result, you may occasionally find the crowd to resemble the typical demographic of a college fraternity party.
On the most popular nights, you should expect a dress code (typically a collared shirt) to get past security.
Spirits represents the glorified dive bar experience and is an iconic night-life and entertainment establishment in Downtown Fredericksburg.
The Spirits business name is a pun that plays on the wide-spread recognition that they serve hard liquor and have a peculiar history and lore that claims that the building itself is haunted. Yes, you read that right.
In 1822 a large fire occurred that consumed part of Caroline Street, burning several buildings down including the building that once stood where Spirits is today.
The building that would replace it is today characterized by an architectural style that was prevalent throughout the 19th century, particularly in places like Great Britain, giving the establishment a unique ‘European’ aesthetic.
The property has throughout the decades has passed through the hands of several owners until the current owners of Spirits came and opened up shop in 1992.
It should be noted that Spirits is also rumored to have access to the mysterious and legendary underground tunnels of downtown Fredericksburg via the basement.
Check out our article on the Tunnels of Downtown FXBG below!
Whether Spirits is actually haunted or the gateway to mysterious tunnels is not certain, but one thing that is for sure is that you wouldn’t find me sleeping in there at night by myself... Spirits is just a little bit spooky and creepy!
Predictably, the place has a very dusty, old, and dingy appearance. The bathrooms are always dirty, and the furniture is wobbly, worn, and chipped… but once again Spirits is a dive bar.
That doesn’t make it any less appealing to the countless people who have found themselves lined up outside and walking up Spirits characteristic stairway entrance towards the bar.
**Editor's Note: We are talking about the upstairs bar that most locals are familiar with, the restaurant located on the main floor of Spirits is in all fairness a clean and modest eatery with table and booth seating that is perfect for lunch or dinner time service after spending a day out shopping in Downtown Fredericksburg.**
Spirits back porch is a familiar location for many of Fredericksburg’s residents who have spent many a night chain-smoking cigarettes and chatting with friends.
Spirits is coincidentally the only place I've ever seen with a functional cigarette vending machine in its main hallway leading to the restrooms.
10. THE RECREATION CENTER
The Recreation Center is the oldest eatery in downtown Fredericksburg, with an established history and local legacy in the area.
They are famous for their inexpensive food and offering snacks like hot dogs, sodas, ice cream, and candy. The Recreation Center is a family-friendly establishment during the day with music events during the after hours.
The business is known for helping foster and incubates the local metal, punk, and hardcore music scenes in the area.
The Recreation Center offers a great venue for local musicians and bands seeking opportunities to perform live music and grow their audience.
The location offers a stage large enough to accommodate most bands, as well as a decent in-house sound system. There is plenty of floor space for fans and visitors to gather around and enjoy the performance.
Currently, The Recreation Center is under new ownership and management which has stated that its goal is to maintain the legacy of the establishment and to interact with the community with engaging events.
Lately, The Recreation Center has been offering live music shows and open mic stand-up comedy.
You can catch the next open mic comedy performance by following The Recreation Center on social media where they post all event announcements!
You are guaranteed to have a good time!
The only thing The Recreation Center is missing is more retro arcade games like Pac Man, Space Invaders, and pinball! By adding some arcade machines I think the Recreation Center would be considerably more fun and I know several people who would waste countless dollars on a good pinball game!
Have a look and read our article on The Recreation Center!
11. THE FREDERICKSBURG COMEDY ZONE @ CENTRAL STATION
Central Station is a huge building with a few large rooms and a featured bar. It’s a hole in the wall venue that doesn’t receive the best praise from its patrons at times, but which nonetheless is always grabbing the attention of the community.
Central Station is known for hosting many of Fredericksburg’s truly odd, fringe, and one-of-a-kind events from midget wrestling to underground electronic dance raves to comedy performances by famous comedians.
The main reception hall at Central Station has a stage with ample space, including a dance floor that can provide plenty of space for table seating.
Central Station also has a large parking lot which is a hot commodity for real-estate in downtown Fredericksburg, so you can park right at the venue without having to walk far.
Whenever there is a comedy open-mic with Fredericksburg Comedy Zone, the management at Central Station will take their time to set-up and decorate the tables with cloths and provide waitresses to take meals and drink orders from patrons.
The staff is needless to say incredibly friendly and cool.
You can easily show up with your group of friends and get your own private table to enjoy a night of drinks and laughs! What’s better than that?
Do something fun for once in Fredericksburg and go laugh your ass off at the various stand-up comedy and open-mic events that are hosted there every other week!
If you are not in the mood for comedy, but looking for a more competitive activity than you can sign up for the poker league that is hosted at Central Station!
Not only is there a poker league at Central Station but there is also a video-game lounge with futuristic gaming chairs and wide-screen televisions that let you immerse yourself in the latest and hottest console games.
12. ALADIN'S HOOKAH BAR
Aladin's Hookah Bar is a middle-eastern themed restaurant and hookah lounge featuring Mediterranean cuisine.
If you are looking for an ‘exotic’ nightlife experience that isn’t expensive, then Aladin’s is your go-to location!
Don’t get me confused- Aladin’s isn’t as fancy as Sky Lounge or other local restaurants, but it’s the only Hookah Bar in the area.
With the right crowd, you can have an exceptionally good time!
Imagine an amazing Friday night, hanging out with your significant other and friends while socializing over the smoke of flavorful Shisha blends… There is a reason Aladins has remained so popular despite having been in the area for several years!
Aladin’s features a restaurant dining area that will clear the floor space for dancing in the evenings and a private lounge with private booths for smoking hookah.
The best part about Aladin’s is its open dance-floor which is always grooving with a local DJ playing top 40’s, Rap, and party hits!
Aladin’s is one of the few bars in the area where people will show up to get loose on the dance floor.
Aladin’s generally attracts a diverse crowd more so than some of the other locations listed in this article.
You can find young and old people from cultures all over the world enjoying themselves with dancing, smoking, and conversation on a typical Friday night at Aladin's.
I guess it’s the exotic nature of the hookah bar that attracts so many different people from so many ethnic backgrounds.
If you want to understand the demographics of the ‘New Fredericksburg’ then you will find it at Aladin’s!