The Blue Ridge Mountains make Bedford a favorite destination for groups! Enjoy scenic rural beauty and charm, take part in amazing experiences at our historical attractions, learn about the famed “Bedford Boys”, and walk in the footsteps of our nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson. Allow extra time to savor some local cuisine, award-winning craft beer, and wine!
Dedicated on June 6, 2001, the National D-Day Memorial was constructed in honor of those U.S. and Allied soldiers who died on D-Day, June 6, 1944. That day marked the beginning of the Allied invasion of France in World War II. Proportionally, Bedford suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses, which is why the monument is in Bedford. Guided group tours are available with advance reservation.
Two-hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson retired from public life and began to spend time at his private retreat, Poplar Forest, located in Bedford County. Built in a grove of poplar trees, the octagonal house, one of Jefferson’s finest architectural designs, offers great insight into the private side of this extraordinary Founding Father. In 2018, Poplar Forest was named one of the 10 best attractions in Virginia by the readers of USA Today. Group tours are available with advance reservation.
Explore Historic Downtown Bedford with shops featuring antiques, art, jewelry, gifts, boutique clothing, collectibles, and more. Restaurants and cafes offer American and international cuisine. The Town’s first craft brewery, Beale’s, opened in 2017. Downtown is also home to the Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library, as well as the new Bedford Boys Tribute Center, which honors the men that Bedford lost on Omaha Beach on D-Day (groups are welcome with advance reservation). The Bower Center for the Arts hosts art exhibits, classes and workshops, and many special events throughout the year. Several resident artists have studios there. Gallery admission is free.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive”, winds its way 469 miles through mountain meadows and past seemingly endless vistas, with the legendary Peaks of Otter as one of the most famous and spectacular stops along the Parkway. The Peaks of Otter Lodge is a short 10-15 minute drive from Historic Downtown Bedford and is the only hotel located along the Parkway in Virginia. The Lodge and Restaurant are open April-November and offers seasonal buffets, a gift store, bar and lounge, and special event space. There are trails for walking and hiking, and picnic areas also available. Group friendly.
Smith Mountain Lake (SML), the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge”, makes up the southern border of Bedford. SML is the ideal place for a getaway, and also features the Smith Mountain Lake State Park. It covers 580 miles of shoreline, offers four breathtaking seasons of color, and is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. SML offers world-class fishing, boating, dining, and plenty of outdoor recreation. Book a cruise on the famous Virginia Dare paddlewheel boat, offering lunch, dinner and sightseeing cruises.
Start every visit to Bedford at the Bedford Area Welcome Center. Offering plenty of parking, free WiFi, clean restrooms, picnic area, and a gift store featuring unique and local items. A 1927 Seagrave fire truck is on display in the Fireman’s Gallery. The Welcome Center is also home to Bedford’s first set of LOVE letters, a great souvenir photo opportunity for your group’s visit to Destination Bedford!
Group friendly restaurants in the Bedford area include Liberty Station, Clam Diggers/Venue 109, Bella Italia, Beale’s, and the Peaks of Otter. Many of our local smaller restaurants offer catering and/or boxed lunches for off-site events. The Bedford Area Welcome Center and National D-Day Memorial both offer an indoor/outdoor facility for eating (advance notice required) and there are local parks with picnic pavilions.