At the delight of thousands of visitors that explore and discover Bedford annually, it is clear that arts and culture abound here. Bedford County boasts the National D-Day Memorial and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, both of which bring tens of thousands annually to explore the historical significance in American and World history. Smith Mountain Lake, the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway and Bedford’s trademark, Peaks of Otter, offer tourists and residents a scenic playground in which to spend countless hours.
Bedford County has an active tourism program and Welcome Center that are positively affecting the economic health of the area. Travelers spend millions of dollars at attractions, accommodations, and businesses; and tourism accounts for thousands of jobs with a combined payroll of over $10 million annually.
Bedford’s Tourism office, located in the Bedford Area Welcome Center, is open daily to showcase the many attractions, activities and events the area offers. Numerous exhibits, including a fire-fighters gallery complete with a 1927 Seagrave Pumper highlight the visitor experience along with other amenities including an orientation theatre, business and community meeting and reception space, internet station and WI-FI access, picnic area, full-service camper hook-ups, Tesla charging station, covered porches with rocking chairs and terrace, motor coach parking and sanitary station, gift shop and coffee café.
The Welcome Center is at the junction of US 460 and Rt. 122 directly below The National D-Day Memorial. Other visitor attractions include Thomas Jefferson’s retreat home Poplar Forest, the majestic Peaks of Otter, Smith Mountain Lake, Centertown Bedford, the Bedford Museum, Historic Avenel, and more.
Bedford has quite an art and agri-tourism scene, so much in fact, that a group of local artist and business owners have partnered with the Artisan Center of Virginia to form The Bedford Artisan Trail with more than 80 trail sites to explore. Also visit Goose Creek Studios to check out an array of local artists works in Bedford and learn about other art stops along the trail that you won’t want to miss.
National D-Day Memorial
Bedford is the site of the National D-Day Memorial which is located at the intersection of US 460 and Rt. 122 near the Bedford Welcome Center. Bedford was chosen because of its distinction as the community that sustained the highest per capita loss of lives during that invasion making it a fitting place for the location of this national memorial honoring the valor, fidelity and sacrifice not only to the first men to hit the beach but all the Allied Forces on D-Day.
For more information call 1-800-351-DDAY or visit www.dday.org.
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest was Thomas Jefferson’s personal retreat. It is one of only two homes he designed and created for his own use. Designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior, today it is an exciting opportunity to “be there at the beginning”— to experience the award-winning rescue, archaeological exploration, and restoration of one of America’s most important national landmarks.
For more information visit PoplarForest.org.
Other cultural attractions include:
The Bower Center for the Arts, a visual and performing arts outlet that provides high quality education, group and individual instruction. 305 N. Bridge St., Bedford VA 24523. (540) 586-4235.
The Little Town Players, a community theatre organization that produces four plays or musicals a year and performs at the National Elks Home, 931 Ashland Ave., Bedford VA 24523.
The Sedalia Center, a private, non-profit educational center offering programs in the arts, ethnic cultures, environmental awareness, health, and inner development. 1108 Sedalia School Rd., Big Island, VA 24526. (434) 299-5080.
The Bedford Wine Trail will help you find the six wineries in Bedford County. Mild winter temperatures, warm summers, fertile soil and the protection of the Blue Ridge Mountains make this Piedmont plateau an exceptional location for excellent grape and fruit harvests used in the production of quality wines.
The Bedford Museum showcases Bedford’s history, including early Native American life through the War Between the States, and further into the 20th Century. It features three floors of exhibits that show the historical significance to the Bedford area.