Welcome to the National D-Day Memorial. This memorial was created in 2001 to honor the soldiers who died in what is considered the most pivotal battle in WW2. On June 6, 1944, US troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and helped lead the way for an Allied Armed Forces victory.
Bedford County was chosen as the spot for the D-Day Memorial due to the large portion of soldiers from Bedford who fought in D-Day. At the time, Bedford’s population was only 3,000 so proportionally, Bedford suffered the largest loss of life per capita.
The Memorial gives veterans and visitors alike a solemn monument to gain insight and pay tribute to the events that shaped our world today.
Take a right up on West Main Street.
We need to turn left on Burks Hill Road, but first, the Bedford Area Welcome Center is on your right, so if you want to feel welcome, then pop in for a visit! Inside you can get all sorts of information about this beautiful area including a calendar of events! Looking for live music? Festivals? Exhibits or even a fun trivia night? Grab a calendar and plan your stay.
Before we turn left on Bedford Avenue, coming up on your right we will pass Bridge Street Cafe, Bedford’s cutest coffee shop. This cafe has a relaxed atmosphere, where you’ll often find hours slip while you drink a warm cappuccino. They always have freshly baked pastries and treats on display but if you’re looking for something more filling, their chicken salad on an everything bagel is a must have.
While you’re here make sure to stop by the Fuzzy Alpaca in the same building. You'll find plenty of Alpaca fleece items here including scarves, blankets, gloves and even yarn for all the knitters out there. There's plenty of unique items here, making it perfect for all your gift-giving needs.
Did you know that sheep's wool contains an oil called lanolin that can cause allergies? Alpaca’s wool is not oily at all, so Alpaca fleece may be a great alternative for those with sensitive skin.
We are gonna turn right on Avenel Avenue, but if you were to continue down Bedford Avenue, you’d find Liberty Station on your left. Located in Bedford’s old railroad station, this station used to be the hub of the town. In the 1920s, it was so busy with mail, freight and passengers, the station actually required 24-hour service. Passenger service was eventually discontinued in 1971 and finally transformed into the Liberty station we know today in 2010.
Liberty station is known as being home to Harry’s famous cheesecakes which have been a staple in Bedford since the 1980s. These cheesecakes have won many awards to back its local legacy including Best Dessert in the WSLS/News.
On your left you will see the historic Avenel house. Avenel was originally a plantation built in 1838 by William M. Burwell. The house was eventually purchased by the Avenel foundation. Many distinguished guests have enjoyed this home including Robert E. Lee and Edgar Allen Poe.
For those who like the paranormal, it's often said Mary Frances Burwell haunts the Avenel House, often referred to as the “Lady in White.” She is often seen on the porch, and legend has it, she was waiting for her husband to return from the Civil war but he never did.
The house is often used as a wedding venue but also offers tours and events for the public.
So, sometimes during a stretch of driving, I like to pop in with some random information for you. Are you ready? Ok. You have likely noticed that Bedford is not a big, bustling city. The population is only somewhere around 6,500. But residents and vacationers sure love their ice cream, and Bedford has not 5, not 6, but 7 awesome ice cream shops! Let me see if I can remember them all. There’s Rookie’s, Monkee Joes, Cowlicks, Southern Creamery, Magic Ice Cream, Captain Scoops, and Freckle’s. Got it? Good.
Coming up we will be crossing over the Little Otter River. This River is 7.7 miles long and you’ll often find largemouth bass hanging out in the more shallow parts of the river. A Lot of the river is on private property, so just make sure if you fish, you aren't standing in someone's backyard.
Here's a fun fact about Bedford, did you know Bedford has a friendship treaty with Ivybridge, England? That takes friends across the pond to a whole new level!
On your right you should see Bedford Country Club. The clubhouse was originally an abandoned pole-barn but was renovated and repurposed in 1949. Now the country club hosts a wide variety of amenities including a golf course, social hall and Olympic-sized pool. They even offer a convenient snack bar as well as a full-service kitchen, perfect for any event.
The Golf course consists of 9 holes with various elevation changes, offering a challenge to even the best players. So, soak up the sun either by the pool or by hitting a few rounds.
Continue straight on Peaks Road.
On your right is Mountain Fruit and Produce which is your one stop shop for all things fresh! Enjoy fresh produce picked just off the vine or freshly canned jams. All of their baked goods are homemade, but their pies are truly where they shine. Nothing like some Fresh Apple pie in the summer with some homemade vanilla ice cream on top!
Down Cloverlea Lane to the right is Cloverlea Farmhouse. The original Cloverlea Farmhouse was built around the 1780s, right next to one of Virginia’s largest White Ash Trees.
This farmhouse offers some of the best views of Peaks of Otter and the Blue Ridge Mountains, making this a premier wedding destination in the area. Right next to the farmhouse are the Memorial Gardens planted in honor of Virginia Claytor, the Wife of A. Boyd Claytor III and original owner of the land before it was donated to the University of Lynchburg.
Continue straight on Peaks Road and then take a left onto Kelso Mills Road.
See the green sign on your right that says Big Otter River/Roanoke River Watershed? Well I’m here to explain to you what a watershed is, in case you don’t know. So, a watershed is an area of land that drains into a lake, river, wetland or other waterway. When it rains, that water hits the ground and then either flows toward some waterway or travels underground to the waterway. By the way, no matter where you happen to be in Virginia, you are part of one of nine major waterways. Facts.
Now enjoy the country drive for a bit until our next stop.
Just look at those rolling hills! They must be art-inspiring. Oh wait, they are. Did you know Bedford is often considered the art mecca of the Blue Ridge Mountains?
You can see this ring true with multiple art galleries and studios located downtown as well as the Bower Center for the arts. The Bower center hosts many events throughout the year including artist talks and exhibits as well as public art classes.
If you want to see some of the great art Bedford has to offer, checkout ElectriCoArt. ElectriCoArt is a unique blend of an art gallery, artist market and bistro. You’ll find a little bit of everything here, from contemporary art to upcycled goods. There's something here for everyone to enjoy. You might even walk away with a piece for yourself.
With the beautiful landscape around us, it's easy to see how artists come to Bedford to seek inspiration.
Continue straight down Kelso Mills Road and take a right at Sheep Creek Road.
On your left we will pass Peaks of Otter Winery. The winery started in a humble dirt cellar under the original pack house, built in 1941 by Elmo Johnson. Soon, the winery outgrew its humble 180 sq feet beginnings and by 2003, had added over 3,000 feet in expansions and renovations.
Peak of Otter Winery sits on Johnson Orchard, which is a 6-generation family farm.
This Winery is a huge supporter of the D- Day memorial by offering D-Day Dollars, which, when you redeem them, you receive a $1 discount which Peaks of Otter donates to the D-Day Memorial.
Peaks of Otter Winery and Johnson Orchard often host events throughout the year including the annual Blossom to Bottle 5k, The Horse and Hound Wine Festival and my personal favorite the Charity Dog Walk.
Continue straight on Sheep Creek Road. Make sure to take in the beautiful scenery on our way up to Sharp Top Mountain. We will be driving right by one of America’s most scenic highways, Blue Ridge Parkway.
We are headed now to the last stop on our tour. It is one of the most scenic spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sharp Top Mountain. Just enjoy the drive. You will get there soon.
Sharp Top Mountain is definitely a strenuous hike but the views make it worth it. At the summit, you can see a 360-degree view of Peaks of Otter and the beautiful surrounding landscape.
For those who would rather take a more relaxing route, hang at Buzzard roost spur instead of going all the way to the summit.
That concludes our UCPlaces tour of Bedford County. Feel free to head back and enjoy any of the many attractions listed. I hope you had a lot of fun exploring, because I had a lot of fun showing you around! If you want to see more of the surrounding area, check out Dawn’s tour of Smith Mountain Lake here. If you want to know more about the Bedford area and are interested in finding your next dream home, contact Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a call at 540-882-4119.
Thank you for taking this tour with UCPlaces!