Explore Warrenton landmarks and learn about history while having fun with this popular reality game
Story and photos by Katie Fuster
Pokémon GO has been one of the hottest games released in the last year. The free-to-play game uses your smartphone’s GPS to turn walking around the block into an engaging, augmented reality scavenger hunt for fictional creatures called Pokémon. Move your character around Pokémon GO’s game map by walking around in the real world. Using the camera on your smartphone, the game makes it look as though Pokémon actually pop up in your path.
Health professionals praise the game’s fitness-minded makeup—it rewards players for the kilometers they walk by giving out in-game goodies and loot. These help you achieve the game’s goal of collecting as many Pokémon as you can, then battling it out with other users’ Pokémon at gyms (more on this later).
Already popular with the younger set because of Pokémon’s enormous media franchise of comic books, TV shows, movies, and even trading cards, Pokémon GO is a great way to get your whole family outside and on the move, exploring new areas as you “try to catch ‘em all.”
You’ll run into plenty of Pokémon in your neighborhood. But to pick up more unusual creatures and stock up on the Pokéballs you’ll need to catch them, head to Pokémon GO hotspots—called PokéStops—like historic sites, statues, monuments, malls, art installations, and parks.
Warrenton’s Historic District is chock full of such landmarks. The following route will take you on a 1.5 mile walking loop with PokéStops at some of downtown Warrenton’s most recognizable landmarks.
Warrenton Civil War Mural
25 South 4th Street
There’s plenty of parking at the municipal lot behind “The Mural Building” at 25 South 4th Street, making this a great place to begin your Pokémon GO adventure. Your first PokéStops will be in front of one of Warrenton’s most-photographed sites: the mural depicting the area’s Civil War history.
Likely find: Poké Balls. You’ll use these red and white spheres to catch wild Pokémon. To do this, tap any Pokémon you see on the map, then flick a Poké Ball at the critter. As you catch Pokémon, they’ll be added to an index of game characters called the Pokédex. There are currently over 200 different types of Pokémon out there, just waiting to be caught.
Next steps: After you’ve collected all the Pokémon that appear at this spot on the map, head west on East Lee Street, then hook a right onto South 3rd Street to reach your next PokéStop. PokéStops are marked by blue box icons on your game map. When you walk close enough to collect items from a stop, a blue medallion will appear over it. Spin the medallion to collect Poké Balls, eggs that will hatch into Pokémon, and more.
Mount Zion Baptist Church
33 South 3rd Street
Likely find: There are 18 types of Pokémon, from bugs to ghosts to fairies. This is a good spot to find grass-type Pokémon such as the small green Chikorita.
Next steps: Hoof it back to East Lee Street and continue west two blocks to Culpeper Street.
39 Culpeper Street
Likely find: Nidoran, an ornery poison-type Pokémon. You can tell Nidoran apart by their color: the males are blue while the females are purple.
Next steps: Walk south on Culpeper Street until you reach Saint James’ Episcopal Church.
Saint James’ Episcopal Church
73 Culpeper Street
Likely find: Every stop from now on should reward you with Poké Balls, eggs, or other important Poké-items, as well as chance encounters with Pokémon. At this PokéStop, you’re liable to meet Staryu, a sea star-shaped water-type Pokémon.
Next steps: Retrace your steps up Culpeper Street, heading north until you reach Hotel Street.
The Warren Green Hotel
10 Hotel Street
Likely find: Sandshrew, a ground-type Pokémon that resembles a mouse crossed with an armadillo.
Next steps: From Hotel Street, walk east to Ashby Street, then head north until you reach the Fauquier Historical Society.
Fauquier Historical Society
10 Ashby Street
Likely find: Natu, a small green Pokémon bird with psychic powers
Next steps: Walk to the grassy area near where Ashby Street becomes the Courthouse Square.
Gulf War Honor and Remembrance Plaque
Likely find: Grass-type Pokémon like Hoppip, an adorable whirlybird
Next steps: Walk west to Diagonal Street, then north to Winchester Street.
Warrenton Bible Fellowship
46 Winchester Street
Likely find: Flying-type Pokémon like Spearow and Pidgie
Next steps: Head east on Winchester Street.
First Baptist Church
39 Alexandria Pike
Likely find: Eevee, a little brown furball that can later be evolved into more powerful Pokémon like Vaporeon and Jolteon
Next steps: Head north on Alexandria Pike, then hop onto the sidewalk that runs along Horner Street.
Eva J. Walker Memorial Park Plaque
Intersection of Horner Street and North 3rd Street
Likely find: Just like in the real world, parks tend to have bugs. At the Memorial Park Plaque, look for bug-type Pokémon like the spidery Spinarak or the fat green Caterpie.
Next steps: Just east, near the corner of Horner and North 4th Street, is the Warrenton Water Tower.
Warrenton Water Tower
Likely find: Poison-type Pokémon like Ekans, a purple cobra
Next steps: Walk south along North 3rd Street until you reach Warrenton Post Office
Warrenton Post Office
53 Main Street
Likely find: Steel-type Pokémon like the armored Skarmory bird
Next steps: Walk east on Main Street’s red brick sidewalk until you reach Warrenton Presbyterian Church.
Warrenton Presbyterian Church
91 Main Street
Likely find: Pokémon eggs. During the game’s tutorial, you’ll learn how to hatch Pokémon eggs by popping them into incubators, then hoofing it for a certain number of kilometers. The more kilometers you have to walk, the rarer the Pokémon you’ll hatch for your efforts.
Next steps: Trek one block east.
Warrenton Baptist Church
123 Main Street
Likely finds: Ponyta, a fire-type Pokémon that resembles a horse with a flaming mane and tail.
Next steps: Two blocks east this time.
Brentmoor Historical Marker
Intersection of Main Street and North Calhoun Street
Likely finds: Water-type Pokémon like the Poliwag, which you can later evolve into the aptly-named Politoed.
Next steps: Walk north on Calhoun Street to the Warrenton Visitor Center, then head to the memorial brick walkway between the Center and Brentmoor, the Spilman-Mosby House.
Memorial Brick Walkway at the Warrenton Visitor Center
33 North Calhoun Street
Likely finds: Fairy-type Pokémon like the chubby pink Cleffa, Clefairy, or Jigglytuff.
Next steps: Another few yards east will take you to Brentmoor itself.
Brentmoor (the Spilman-Mosby House)
173 Main Street
Likely find: A chance to gain experience points and level up by pitting your Pokémon against other players’ creatures at a Pokémon GO gym.
Brentmoor, like the Warrenton Courthouse and the Alexandria Pike entrance to Eva Walker Park, is a Pokémon GO gym. Players visit gyms to earn experience points. You can gain experience in friendly battles with members of your team, or by challenging competing Pokémon team players to rival battles. The winner of a rival battle will then take control of the gym for his or her team.
You’ll pick six of your Pokémon to take into battle at the gym. There are only three moves in a battle: tap your opponent’s Pokémon to quickly attack it, swipe your finger across the screen to dodge an attack, or hold down on the screen and then release to perform your Pokémon’s special attack move. Happily, your Pokémon can’t die in battle. Your defeated Pokémon will only “faint,” at which point another of your Pokémon will automatically take its place. If all six of your Pokémon have fainted, you lose the battle. You can revive your collapsed Pokémon with special items from your Poké Stops such as potions and revive diamonds.
Next steps: Head back to Main Street. Trek west, toward Downtown Warrenton, until you reach South 5th Street. If that’s enough Pokémon Go for one day, walk south on South 5th Street until you reach the municipal parking lot. If not, you’ll notice that nearby Pokéstops have turned blue. This happens when at least five minutes have passed since your last visit, and it means you can revisit the stop and flick the spinner to collect additional items.
The beauty of a Pokémon Go adventure in downtown Warrenton is not just the fun and the health benefits of the game. It’s also the opportunity to see some of the town’s rich history on foot. Each stop is a chance to learn a little more about this area, with stops at buildings that date back to Thomas Jefferson’s presidency (such as St. James’ Episcopal Church and Courthouse Square’s Old Jail building); the decade leading up to the Civil War (such as Brentmoor and Warrenton Presbyterian); the Reconstruction period, which witnessed the building of some of the town’s first predominantly African-American churches (such as First Baptist Church and Mount Zion) as well as the Warren Green Hotel; the WWI era (the U.S. Post Office); and the post-WWII economic boom (Warrenton water tower). And if you want to learn more about any of the stops you visit, you can always pop in to visit the Fauquier Historical Society—they’re thrilled the game is stimulating children’s interest in the community’s past and are happy to tell you more about the unique history of this slice of Warrenton’s historic district.
How to Get Pokémon GO
Download the free app from iTunes (for Apple devices) or Google Play (for Android devices). Follow the prompts to create your own account, then listen and learn as Pokémon character Professor Willow introduces you to the game and walks you through catching your first Pokémon.
Katie Fuster lives in Warrenton with her husband, two children, three pets, and 144 Pokémon.