Bedford, Virginia, nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, is an outdoorsman’s paradise! But it’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains treasures aren’t the only reason to visit. Bedford also has an incredibly deep-rooted military history that will make your your heart beat red, white and blue!
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Bedford, Virginia is one of those places every American should visit at least once in their lifetime.
Bedford has a gut-wrenching history that will etch a deep sense of gratitude for our World War II Veterans, Fallen and their families.
But, it’s also a fantastic vacation destination for solos, couples and families alike. There’s a ton of history, culture, and nature to enjoy in Bedford, Virginia.
So, whether you’re road tripping in your automobile, RV or motorcycle, this is one of the coolest travel destinations you’ll experience on the east coast of the United States.
And guess what? All of these reasons to go are either free or inexpensive!
So, grab your keys, jump in the driver’s seat and LET’S GO!
10 FREE or Cheap Things to Do in Bedford Virginia
Where is Bedford, Virginia?
Looking at a map, Bedford County itself is about 115 miles west of Richmond, Virginia and about 180 miles southwest of Washington D.C. The Blue Ridge Mountains lie quietly to the west while the James River flows to the northeast and Smith Mountain Lake to Bedford County’s south.
More precisely, the Town of Bedford is in the west-central area of Virginia known as the Piedmont Plateau, midway between the cities of Roanoke to the west and Lynchburg to the east.
In the heart of Bedford County’s 800 square miles, the Town of Bedford takes center stage.
Bedford’s rural charm and scenic beauty will lure you in. We recommend spending at least a few days, even up to a few weeks, to explore the nature and experience the town’s history and tragedies of the World War II.
Bedford Area Welcome Center
|ADDRESS: 816 Burks Hill Road Bedford, VA 24523|
The Bedford Area Welcome Center is a great starting point to get local, regional and State of Virginia information, maps and tourism brochures. And, there is a quaint gift shop to pick up souvenirs.
Their amenities include free WiFi, public restrooms, electric car charging station, vending machines and a pet rest area. They also have a couple spots for smaller RVs.
Worth noting, inside the welcome center, there’s an exhibit showcasing the history of the Bedford Fire Department.
Lastly, don’t leave the visitor center without watching the videos in their onsite theater. One of which highlights the National D-Day Memorial, just a stone’s throw up from the Bedford Welcome Center.
National D-Day Memorial
|ADDRESS: 3 Overlord Circle Bedford, VA 24523|
ADMISSION: WWII veterans & Active Military – FREE; Adult – $12 at Memorial/$10 online; Veteran (not WWII) – $10 at Memorial/$8 online; Student Ages 6 – 18 or older with college ID – $8 at Memorial/$6 online; Under 6 – FREE.
We could write a book on this amazing place but we’ll leave that to all of you to create your own because this place is truly an experience destination.
The National D-Day Memorial pays tribute to and honors the Allied forces that fought in the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944 during World War II.
Visitors can expect both an educational experience as well as an emotional one,
As you walk the Memorial grounds, you’ll no doubt, leave with a precise understanding of, not only the horrific sacrifices and loss, but also the magnitude of the largest amphibious landing the world has ever seen.
The Memorial has inscribed the names of 4,413 Allied Soldiers who died in the invasion.
You’ll enjoy strolling amidst the meticulously groomed English Garden while learning about great leaders such as Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
You’ll then step up to the emblematic Victory Plaza with true-to-life static display of D-Day’s heroism and human tragedy.
Just a short history lesson:
On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft supported the invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in France.
The D-Day cost was high with more than 9,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded as the march across Europe to defeat Hitler began.
More about the D-Day Invasion of World War II, check out these books:
Bedford Boys Tribute Center
|ADDRESS: 102 North Bridge Street, Bedford, Virginia 24523|
ADMISSION: General Admission $6; Seniors, Veterans, Active Military $5; Students $3; Children under 12 Free.
The reason why Bedford Virginia has such significance is their community suffered the highest per capita D-Day losses in the Nation.
On June 6th, 1944, the town of Bedford, lost 19 of their own. Hence, why they are called the Bedford Boys.
So, it’s only fitting that the town of Bedford honor those heroic men by curating a place to honor them at the Bedford Boys Tribute Center.
The tour is absolutely worth the visit! An informative guide will tell you how each of the Bedford Boys lived, their touching stories and lead you around to their incredible collection of memoirs of each of the Fallen as well as those who came home wounded.
While you’re there, you can enjoy coffee, tea, lemonade, soda, water and pastries (cost of course) in their era resemblance diner that also has a great collection of period artifacts.
Read more about the Bedford Boys in this book:
Historic Centertown Bedford
|ADDRESS: Downtown Bedford, Virginia|
Bedford has that distinctive charm of small town, America. It is an elegant place that is worth visiting, full of cultural Victorian era architecture and historic landmarks.
Bedford is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in the United States and rightfully so. Originally established in 1782 as the town of Liberty, Bedford became known for their tobacco, corn, wool and rubber industries.
Most of the buildings downtown were built in the 1880’s. However, in 1884, a fire paralyzed the town.
Today, the entire historic district of Bedford, Virginia is chalked full of interesting places to visit. While enjoying the sights of the beautiful Peaks of Otter, you can explore some Centertown of Bedford.
With over thirty shops, restaurants, galleries, and historic sites within a five block area, historic Bedford is a great place to just stretch your legs and enjoy your tour of the town.
Step back in history through the Bedford National Historic District. Check out the local City and County Museum, antique shops, or their Farmer’s Market.
Antique Shopping in Bedford
Stepping into an antique store is like entering into a discombobulated time warp.
Not that we have any interest or even room in our RV to have any antiques, antique shopping is a great way to step back in time, get a few good laughs and rekindle childhood memories. They are like muddled museums chocked full of things and stuff from every era.
And, antique shopping is a great time sucker as it’s so easy to lose track of time pawing through trunks, trinkets, and treasures of the the past.
So, if antique shopping is your thing, Bedford is your place as the town has quite an array of antique shops peppered throughout the town.
You can find everything from antiques and vintage wares, clothing, collectibles, original furniture, reclaimed furniture, home decor, toys, primitive items, art pieces, glassware, silverware, etc.
These antique stores are located in Bedford, Virginia
- Needful Things Antiques Mall – 115 N Bridge St
- Dirt Road Treasures – 550-A Grove Street
- Liberty Antique Mall – 703 Indistrial Ave
- Yellow Wood Vintiques – 513 Blue Ridge Ave
- Adams Clocks & Repair – 103 E Main St
- Bell Treasures – 208 N Bridge Street
- Bluebird Estate Jewelry – 201 N Bridge Street
- Euro Barn – 210 North Bridge Street Suite C
- N Bridge Antiques & Books – 205 N Bridge St
And fret not, if only one of your party is interested in antique browsing or shopping, the others can go explore something else in Bedford (listed in this article, of course!).
Bedford Museum & Genealogical Library
|ADDRESS: FREE – 201 East Main Street Bedford, VA 24523 Donations are deeply appreciated.|
ADMISSION: FREE – Donations are deeply appreciated
Also in Centertown Bedford, the Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library stands present. The Bedford museum tells the story of the town as you travel the floors and rooms of the museum.
While small, the Bedford Museum has an interesting collection . There are sections in the museum that showcases Native American history and military relics. You’ll also want to see the train exhibit.
But if you’re into Genealogy, the Genealogical Library has great information and references.
The Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library’s mission is to develop and maintain files for genealogical and historical research.
As well, the staff and volunteers carefully collect, preserve, and interpret objects of historical significance to the Town of Bedford and Bedford County, Virginia. They also offer Genealogy classes.
For those who enjoy local and regional history, this is a great way to spend an hour or two on a rainy or cold day. and is easily worth an hour or so to peruse.
Claytor Nature Study Center
|ADDRESS: 1844 Woods Rd, Bedford, VA 24523|
Though you may have a bit of trouble finding the Clayton Nature Study Center, it’s worth the drive. Be aware, you will end up driving on a dirt road. You have to cross over the river and head up the hill to the old farmhouse.
Once you get there, you can walk or relax in solitude amongst the trees and streams.
There are a little over seven miles of easy hiking trails, birdwatching or nature walking along the river, across boardwalks, pasture, woods, and through some wetlands.
The mountain views are incredible. If geocaching is a favorite, there are five geocaches on the property.
Be aware, they do not allow horses, ATVs, or bikes on the trails. Dogs are welcome, but must remain on leash at all times.
For the kids, there’s a natural playground that gives kids a chance to burn off some energy while playing in a tunnel and doing some fossil digging.
You can also see the Cloverlea Farmhouse and Memorial Gardens. Plus, there’s an Educational Center, Lodge, Picnic Pavilion, the Belk Observatory (Free, but tickets required) natural play area and even camping sights.
Oh, and did I mention that you can camp there too The Claytor Nature Center has a small campground only a short walk through the woods from the Education Building.
There are several private campsites, each with tent pad, picnic table, and fire pit with grill. There are two bathrooms and one shower available on the lower level of the education building accessible at night.
If you’re not camping, you can check out other lodging types.
Falling Creek Park
|ADDRESS: 1257 County Farm Rd, Bedford, VA 24523|
Want a place to let the kids run around and be kids? Falling Creek Park is the place where you can enjoy everything under the sun! It’s centrally located within the County very near the town of Bedford.
You’ll find lots of outdoor activities at the park; a 36 hole disc golf course, extensive running and bicycle trails, a bmx course, skateboard park, children’s playground, and a paved trail with workout fitness stations.
There’s picnic shelters and ample space to spread your picnic blanket out to enjoy lunch while overlooking the mountain views.
Check out the Falling Creek Park Mountain Bike Trails for more information.
Bedford Virginia Farms and Wineries
There are a two farms and wineries open to the public in Bedford, Virginia.
ADDRESS: 6817 Wheats Valley Rd. Bedford, VA 24523
Located in the foothills of Peaks of Otter Mountains, this peach and apple orchard is open year round. Their peaches ripen from June through mid September and apples ripen August through November. You can find many jams, jellies, and honey in the Orchard store.
Gross Orchards also has a great event venue! So, if you’re in the area, put this in your trip planning itinerary.
- Apple Blossom Festival – 2nd Sat. in April
- Peach Festival – 4th Sat. in July
- Apple Harvest Festival -3rd Sat. in October
- Apple Valley 5K- 1st Sat. in November
- Wagon Rides available Monday-Friday by appointment
ADDRESS: 1218 Elmos Rd, Bedford, VA 24523
Sitting in the shadows of the Peaks of Otter Mountains, you’ll find family-owned Johnson’s Orchards and Peaks of Otter Winery.
Their specialties are fruit wines like their Apple Pie and Kiss the Devil. They do have a few vineyard wines. Check out their Touriga Nacional wine.
But it’s not just the wine at Johnson’s Orchards that is so appealing. It’s a great place to bring the littles! Depending on time of year, you and your family can pick apples, visit the farm animals and enjoy their apple cider donuts.
And, if you’re traveling in the area in July, you’ll want to visit during their annual wine festival. Be aware though, it may be hot, so dress accordingly.
Peaks of Otter
The Peaks of Otter are three mountain peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, overlooking the town of Bedford, Virginia, which lies nine miles to the southeast along State Route 43. These peaks are Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill.
Only 10 miles from the town of Bedford is the Peaks of Otter National Recreation Area.
Opened in the 1880s as a guest retreat area, now modern tourists can stay the night at historic Peaks of Otter Lodge.
Guests can explore the visitor center, visit Johnson Farm, or hike one of their six trails. And, if you want to continue, the National Scenic Trails within 8 miles of the center.
Your family can explore Polly Wood’s Ordinary which served as the area’s first lodging starting in the 1830s.
And, the kids can help work the garden, play games and enjoy the scenery from a porch rocking chair at Johnson Farm; a living history farm.
If you’re bringing your RV, motocamping or tent camping, you can book one of their 144 seasonal campsites at the Peaks of Otter Campground.
That’s a Wrap!
So, whether you stay an hour, a weekend, or even up to a month, Bedford, Virginia is a relaxing scenic place to take in the cool air and incredible views that have drawn visitors for hundreds of years.
You need to experience Bedford on your own terms. We hope by reading this, it will entice you to place this high on your own U.S. travel bucket list.
But let’s not forget the original intent of me sharing this article; the Bedford Boys and the heroes who gave all and some on June 6, 1944. It is because of them that we’re free to explore and enjoy such beautiful places like Bedford, Virginia.
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