Your first stop in town
should be the Visitors
Center at the pier; you can walk out
on the pier for a good view of the town's
old historic waterfront district and Strand
Gade, or Strand Street. This waterfront
shopping area is noted for its arcaded buildings
and interesting historical structures. The
town, in the midst of restoration under
a government "Main Street" program,
is constantly evolving and improving.
Frederiksted's architecture is different
from Christiansted's because the town was
partially burned in 1878, during the Fireburn
uprising. When it was rebuilt, many structures
were adorned with the gingerbread trim characteristic
of late Victorian architecture. A fine example
is the Victoria House, at the corner of
Strand and Market streets.
Frederik, constructed between 1752 and
1760 and located at the north end of town,
is an excellent example of Danish military
architecture. The small fort, painted a
striking brick red, houses a local history
museum and is often used for community events.
In 1776 it was the first foreign fort to
salute the new United States; and here in
July 1848, Governor-General Peter von Scholten
signed the proclamation that emancipated
the slaves in the Danish West Indies.
Among Frederiksted's most outstanding churches
is St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church
, a cultural landmark that celebrated
its 150th anniversary in 1996. The church's
Gothic Revival style features walls made
from cut-limestone blocks and yellow bricks.
The beautiful interior woodwork created
by Frederiksted's craftsmen gives the church
a distinctive look.
Frederiksted, like Christiansted, has its
share of special events that keep the town
jumping. Harbour Night is held every other
Wednesday when cruise ships call. You'll
find yourself dancing in the streets to
live music and shopping to your heart's
content-stores and street vendors welcome
shoppers all evening long.
West End: Beaches, museums and more Two
miles east of Frederiksted on St. Croix's
oldest thoroughfare, Queen Mary Highway
(also known as Centerline Road), is the
Estate Whim Plantation Museum. Guided tours
of this National Historic Site explain the
workings of an 18th-century sugarcane plantation
and provide an interesting introduction
to the island's history and landscape. Amid
shady thibet, mahogany and 150-year-old
tamarind trees stand a windmill, a chimney
and a sugar factory.
The stately European-influenced great house
has been fully restored by the St. Croix
Landmarks Society and has imported and Crucian
antiques on display.
Just up the road is the St. George Village
Botanical Garden, a lush, peaceful oasis
with more than 1,000 species of tropical
flora. Built amid sugar-mill ruins, the
garden is among St. Croix's most photogenic
sights. A self-guided walking tour takes
you through the forest, where philodendron,
ginger plants, lobster claws and orchids
flourish. Near the end of the walking tour
is the cactus garden, an exotic array of
Backtrack down Queen Mary Highway to Route
64 and the Cruzan Rum Distillery, the manufacturer
of one the finest rums in the world. Rum
has been made at this same location, once
known as Estate Diamond, for 300 years,
with only a brief interruption during Prohibition.
A major export, the rum is both shipped
in bulk to U.S. distilleries and bottled
locally under the Cruzan Rum label. Guided
tours of the distillery explaining the libation's
role in Crucian history depart every morning
and afternoon, Monday through Friday, and
include a complimentary rum drink.
To the north of Frederiksted, the dramatic
coastline along Route 63 provides several
shady stretches ideal for a quiet picnic
near the sea. These beaches offer the best
swimming on the west side, particularly
the one opposite the Sprat Hall Plantation,
a charming great house that is now an elegant
inn. If you're in the mood for a livelier
time, stop at some of the beachside restaurants
on Route 63.
You will pass two roads off of Route 63
that take you through what is often referred
to as St. Croix's "rain forest,"
more accurately a moist tropical forest.
Heading north from Frederiksted, Route 76-Mahogany
Road, also known as Rainforest Road-is the
first you will come upon. This route, a
tunnel of cool green, winds through a mass
of mango, papaya and other fruit trees;
thick vines help create a semi-canopy overhead.
Just north of Route 76 you'll find the Carl
and Marie Lawaetz Museum at Little La Grange,
one of the more intriguing museums to open
on the West End. This turn-of-the-century
Danish West Indies home and gardens provide
a fascinating glimpse into plantation life
after the era of sugarcane farming had ended.
Creque (pronounced "creaky") Dam
Road (Route 58), by Sprat Hall Plantation,
is the other route through the rain forest;
it's recommended for four-wheel-drive vehicles.
This rugged road also takes you into the
heart of the moist forest. Creque Dam itself
is a 45-foot-high structure ringed by towering
kapok and sandbox trees covered with Spanish
moss. Creque Dam Road then connects with
Scenic Road (Route 78) on the north side
of the island.