Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Bedford, VA

  • Published 2022/07/29

Bedford, Virginia, is a treat to every outdoor and history enthusiast.

The town of Bedford lies in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

It’s not only nature’s riches that draw visitors to the area.

The town once went by the name Liberty in honor of the colonists’ triumph over the British at Yorktown.

This little town still remembers and shares the tale of the terrible loss it suffered during World War II.

Today, Bedford is an excellent vacation spot for singles, couples, and families with its rich history, culture, and environment.

So, grab your keys, load up the vehicle, and get ready to go on an unforgettable journey.

Here are the best things to do in Bedford, VA.

Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes at National D-Day Memorial

Daytime view of National D-Day Memorial

The Old Major /

Bedford, Virginia, has built a memorial for the brave soldiers who lost their lives on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

This memorial is the National D-Day Memorial.

The complex at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Virginia has a 44-foot-tall archway.

The arch features the Allies’ 12 flags and the codename “overlord,” referring to the mission.

Statue at National D-Day Memorial

The Old Major /

You’ll find displays depicting the battle’s planning, as well as its execution, around the arch.

During the D-Day invasion, 23 Bedford Boys lost their lives in action.

For this reason, the National D-Day Memorial encourages visitors to visit the monument for tours, activities, and instructional programs.

Memorial wall at National D-Day Memorial

Paul Giglia /

Start Your Journey at Bedford Area Welcome Center

You may find information, maps, and tourist brochures about Bedford and the surrounding area at Bedford Area Welcome Center.

There is also a charming gift store where visitors may purchase souvenirs.

In addition to the free WiFi and public facilities, the facility has a vending machine, an electric vehicle charging station, and a pet rest area.

There are also a few places available for smaller RVs in the campground.

It’s worth mentioning that you can read about the Bedford Fire Department’s history at the welcome center.

Finally, don’t leave the tourist center without checking the on-site theater’s videos.

You can also spot the National D-Day Memorial, only a short walk from the Bedford Area Welcome Center, on one of these maps.

Explore Claytor Nature Center

The Claytor Nature Center is worth the journey, even if you can’t locate it immediately.

You’re going to wind up on a dirt road, so you must prepare for the trip.

Cross the river and climb the hill to get to the vintage farmhouse.

Once you’ve arrived, you’re free to explore or unwind amid the trees and streams.

Go birdwatching and nature hiking along the river via boardwalks, pastures, woodlands, and some marshes.

There are five geocaches on the site if you’d like to try a new hobby.

However, the center does not allow horses, ATVs, or bicycles on the routes.

There’s a natural playground for the kids, where they may play in a tunnel and dig for fossils while having a good time.

There is also a place to camp.

Claytor Nature Center’s campsite is a short walk from its Education Building.

Likewise, you can use the tent pads, picnic tables, and a fire pit at each private campsite.

Visit the William M. Burwell House

The William M. Burwell House also goes by the name Historic Avenel.

Built in the 1830s, this brick plantation house incorporates elements from the Federal and Greek revival styles.

The house also features a traditional, down-home appearance.

The Avenel Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, now manages the national historic residence.

Thomas Jefferson’s personal assistant William M. Burwell once lived in the house.

Today, the house has become a hub for Bedford’s social, political, and artistic activities.

To preserve its historical value, the Avenel Foundation bought the William M. Burwell in 1985.

Discover the Town’s History at Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library

Exterior of Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library

Truck writer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library lie in the town’s center.

Throughout the museum’s many levels and rooms, you may learn about the history of Bedford and its people.

The Bedford Museum’s collection, despite its tiny size, is fascinating.

The museum has areas devoted to Native American history and military artifacts.

Visit the train display as well.

A good place for anyone interested in genealogy is the Genealogical Library, which contains valuable resources.

The Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library’s primary goal is to collect and preserve records for genealogical and historical study.

Staff and volunteers also work diligently to acquire, conserve, and explain artifacts of historical value.

These items connect to Bedford and the surrounding area in Vail County.

Likewise, you can take genealogy classes at the museum.

It is an excellent way to pass some time on a chilly or wet day if you’re interested in local or regional history.

The time spent reading it is well worth the trip.

Stroll along Bedford Main Street

Bedford has the unique spirit of a quaint American community.

Main Street is a great place to relive the past.

Charming Victorian architecture and historical sites abound in this well-kept city.

Bedford Main Street is part of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in the United States.

Bedford originally went by the name Liberty upon its establishment in 1782.

It has become well-known for its tobacco, maize, wool, and rubber manufacturing businesses.

The majority of downtown buildings date back to the 1880s.

On the other hand, in 1884, a devastating fire burned the town.

Visitors should find various sights and activities in Bedford’s historic area.

Within a five-block radius, old Bedford has over 30 shops, galleries, restaurants, and historical landmarks to enjoy.

Visit Johnson’s Orchard

You will find Johnson’s Orchard on the original apple orchard hill in Virginia’s Peaks of Otter.

It is a family-owned and -run farm nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In addition to the winery and apple orchard, this 200-acre estate has a picnic shelter and a statue of 15-foot Johnny Appleseed.

It also has various hiking paths that provide views of the surrounding Virginia countryside.

You can also try the on-site retail sales of Johnson’s Orchard’s 25 varietals of wine.

Johnson’s Orchard is also open for weddings, gatherings, and overnight retreats.

A local tale says that Thomas Jefferson Beale buried $20 million worth of gold in Johnson’s Orchard in the 1800s.

It’s supposedly the rumored location of the fabled Beale Treasure.

Tour the Big Otter Mill

Daytime view of the Big Otter Mill

LeeG7144, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Big Otter Mill, also known as the Forbes Mill, has become a part of Bedford’s history and culture since 1785.

The ownership of this mill dates back to Revolutionary War soldier Joseph Hardy Sr.

He constructed the structure for grist and sawmills in the early 1800s.

Julius O. Kirby owned the land.

Later on, his family ultimately donated it to the county.

Today, the Big Otter Mill Foundation owns the property.

The foundation intends to preserve Big Otter as a functional mill.

You can visit the Big Otter Mill via appointment, offering a variety of events for local businesses.

Have a Picnic at Falling Creek Park

Visit Falling Creek Part if you’re looking for a location where the kids can run around and play.

You could try every amenity you could want at Falling Creek Park.

You’ll never run out of things to do while visiting the park.

It has a 36-hole disc golf course and an extensive jogging and biking trail system with bike and skateboard parks.

Bring your kids to a children’s playground and fitness stations along the way.

Enjoy your lunch while taking in the beautiful mountain scenery from the comfort of a picnic shelter.

Drop by Falling Creek Park on your trip to Bedford.

Admire the View of Cloverlea Farmhouse and Memorial Gardens

Cloverlea Farmhouse dates back to the 1780s features the most breathtaking vistas of the Peaks of Otter.

Lynchburg University now owns, maintains, and manages the farmhouse and surrounding area.

The home is one of Virginia’s most popular locations for weddings.

On the other hand, day-trippers may visit the grounds during regular business hours.

You may tour the farmhouse, trek the 7.5 miles of hiking trails, and take in the spectacular view from the reflecting pool behind the home.

Take Cloverlea Lane for the shortest route.

This alternate path takes five minutes more than the other but is far less challenging.

Why don’t you tie the knot at Cloverlea Farmhouse and Memorial Gardens?

Appreciate Local Art at Bower Center for the Arts

Since its inception in 2006, the Bower Center for the Arts has served as an educational and entertainment venue in Bedford.

The art school bought the St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1847.

The center rebuilt studios, art galleries, and classrooms in 2005.

It offers one-day courses to the public daily, although mostly on weekdays.

Take up a new hobby: learning to play an instrument, creating ceramics, or studying the visual arts.

If you have time, tour the galleries or visit one of the resident artists’ studios.

Bring a Date to Peaks of Otter Winery

Chili pepper wine in Peaks of Otter Winery

Ser Amantio di Nicolao, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The family-owned Peaks of Otter Winery lies in the shadow of the Peaks of Otter Mountains.

A couple of its fruity wines include Apple Pie and Kiss the Devil.

Also, try their signature Touriga Nacional.

You might also want to stop by during their annual wine festival in July.

Wear appropriate clothing, though, since it might get hot.

Grab a Bite at Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant

People have flocked to the Peaks of Otter area for about 8,000 years.

In 1766, Thomas Wood came into the area, bringing with him the first settlers from Pennsylvania.

As early as 1834, a Wood Family descendant constructed the pioneering lodge for tourists.

The lodge would give them access to three of the region’s most spectacular peaks.

Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant is one of the best places to stay in the Bedford Area.

The place continues this legacy of gracious service.

More than 300 miles of a network of hiking paths have made it one of America’s favorite drives.

The Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant has also become a popular destination for hikers.

Enjoy Cheesecake at Liberty Station

Liberty Station in Bedford, Virginia, is a repurposed historic train station.

Founded in the 1880s, the train station served passengers until 1971.

That year, the town demolished the station to make way for a shopping mall.

Located in Bedford’s historic Centertown, the Liberty Station restaurant opened in 2001.

Moreover, the National Register of Historic Places list has added the station to the record.

Likewise, Liberty Station is home to Harry’s famous cheesecake.

Since 1985, this much-loved dessert has become a best-seller.

Try the Oreo, Amaretto, Raspberry, and Chocolate Swirl varieties.

Liberty Station is open for lunch and supper every day of the week.

Try Local Beer at Beale’s Brewery

You can find a massive treasure map in a mural on the tall wall at Beale’s Brewery.

The brewery is also in a refurbished rubber factory over the railway in downtown Bedford.

Dave McCormack, a co-owner of Trapezium Brewing Co., called it Beale’s Brewery in honor of the local pirate legend and his treasure.

Keep the 30-barrel system running throughout the day, and you’ll enjoy the best craft beer.

Typical choices include lagers, stouts, IPAs, and ales.

You can also try the samples, four-pack, six-pack, beer by the glass, and crawlers.

At Beale’s, you’ll find more than just beer and treasure.

Every day, a pit master marinates and smokes the meat.

Enjoy a feast with the juicy barbecue, chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, and burgers on the menu.

However, the most pleasing thing on the menu at Beale’s Brewery is the nachos.

Final Thoughts

Visit this quaint, historic town at least once in your life.

The fresh air, breathtaking vistas, and the activities in Bedford, Virginia, have kept people coming back for more than a century.

On the east coast of the U.S., this is one of the best locations you can visit by car, RV, or motorbike.

You might find more things to do in Bedford, VA, after you arrive.

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