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Cruise to Central Park for Shopping, Dining, Playing

By Lake Anna Online Staff

When summer on the lake gets too hot to handle, or when you just can't stand another minute of sunning, swimming, skiing, fishing or any of the other more noble yearnings in life, a short 30-minute drive north can lead you to another of America's most popular pursuits - shopping.

Where New York City's Central Park is a green oasis amid a jungle of skyscrapers and concrete, Fredericksburg's Central Park is an neatly-clustered oasis of retail, restaurants and recreation among the historic battlefields and verdant woods of the region. Situated just west of Interstate 95, along State Route 3, this 310-acre development is a retail power center cranking out as much economic wattage as any in Virginia.

On the recreation side, Central Park features the six-acre Funland, a family entertainment center geared to everyone from toddlers to their grandparents.

A mix of inside and outside attractions provide wide-ranging activities. Outside, Dale Earnhardt wannabes can climb aboard go-karts, designed to resemble those of favorite NASCAR drivers. Zipping around the oval track, racers can fantasize - if only for a few minutes -- about taking the checkered flag at Daytona. A short distance away, a Grand Prix go-kart track features tight, twisting turns that challenge drivers to keep their wheels rolling instead of skidding as they jockey for position against their family and friends in the other vehicles.

Other outdoor activities include batting cages, bumper boats and the Rocky River putt-putt golf course.

Inside, kids and adults can strap on a power pack and vest and venture forth into the foggy, surreal world of the laser tag arena. A maze of walls, columns, ramps, barely brightened with eerie colorful lights, offer the competitors cover as they seek to zap their opponents.

A little laser tag tip here for the adults: Pay attention to what team you're on and don't get carried away zapping everyone. The green team zaps the red team and vice versa. There are few things more humbling than to zap a youngster barely four feet tall, who points at his blinking vest and admonishes, "Stop, you dummy, I'm on your team."

Elsewhere, visitors can try flight and roller coaster simulators, climb a pseudo-rock wall, play a variety of arcade games and more. Funland can be a rainy day haven. Call Funland at 1-888-FUN-2FUN, or check them out on the web at www.cpfunland.com .

Another recreation hotspot - well, coolspot, really - is located in one of the newer Central Park sections known as "Uptown."

Open year-round, the Fredericksburg Ice Park is the coolest ticket in town for a sweltering summer day. Ice Park manager Corrado Puglisi says, "If you want to cool off, the rink is the place to be. It's 50 degrees of clear weather. You can't beat that for cooling off on a hot summer day."

The compressors making the ice work overtime on those hottest days so visitors can lace up some skates and take a few turns out on the National Hockey League regulation size skating rink.

The Ice Park, with seating for 500, has youth and adult hockey leagues and publishes monthly schedules of public skating sessions. Lessons for all ages and skill levels, as well as skate rentals in all sizes, are available. Corrado has also developed several promotion packages for youth birthday parties. For more information about the Fredericksburg Ice Park, call 540-786-0809 or surf your way on the Internet to www.icepark.com .

The Uptown section of Central Park is designed to have a distinctive feel and look. The architecture and colors are "art deco" reminiscent of the colors of the Miami Beach of old. The section features a mock city street, walkways, park benches, and extensive landscaping.

Water plays a big role in the landscaping of Central Park. Small ponds exist throughout Central Park and, at times, the number of ducks and Canada Geese lounging amid this beehive of humans playing and purchasing seems to exceed those gracing the coves and creeks of Lake Anna.

Other tenants of the Uptown area include the Shark Club and Pacific Grill, the the Central Park Diner, Uptown CafŽ, Photo Art, Fine Tobacco Store, Ambiance Spa and Salon, and more.

Central Park has a number of the "big box" retail establishments with businesses such as Lowe's, Target, Kohl's, Shoppers Food Warehouse, Best Buy, Sports Authority, and Toys "R" Us among the bigger stores.

Regal Cinemas is part of the scene offering the latest in comfortable theaters with superb acoustics and audio.

On the cerebral side, Central Park boasts one of the largest Borders Books and Music stores to be found anywhere. A cafŽ inside the store lets the visitor sip a cappuccino or other specialty coffee, snack on a pastry while perusing the latest offerings between the book or magazine covers.

Let's do lunch. Or dinner, perhaps?

Restaurants in and around Central Park are numerous and of good variety. The usual cast of fast food operations is clustered along Route 3.

Inside Central Park, though, you can find the funky, friendly ambiance of places such as Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday's and T.G.I. Fridays, or you can trek south of the border to Tia's Mexican CafŽ, where the portions are ample and sauces about as true to the Tex-Mex taste as you'll find north of Dallas.

At the Outback Steakhouse, the smells emanating from the grill and the bustling atmosphere is enough to make anyone hungry for a "bloomin' onion" followed by a generous cut of steak or rack of lamb.

Central Park is expected to eventually have about 2.1 million square feet of commercial, office and retail space, according to the Silver Cos., which is managing the development. Almost directly across the street is the Spotsylvania Mall, with another 1.2 million square feet of stores and shops. Add them together and the area becomes a one of those few places where you can just about find it all in terms of shopping needs and dining options.

The best part is that it's all a short drive from Lake Anna.

Related Directory Listings:

Area History at Lake Anna, Virginia
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Camping at Lake Anna, Virginia
Community Guide at Lake Anna, Virginia
Directions to Lake Anna, Virginia
Events at Lake Anna, Virginia
Fishing at Lake Anna, Virginia
Food & Lodging at Lake Anna, Virginia
Golfing at Lake Anna, Virginia
Lake Living at Lake Anna, Virginia
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Shopping at Lake Anna, Virginia
State Park at Lake Anna, Virginia
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