Bedford: Small Town at the edge of the Blue Ridge

by Mary and Bill Burnham

Downtown Bedford

The self-proclaimed "Best Little Town in the World" has a pedestrian-friendly downtown lined with more than 200 historic buildings.

Bridge Street has half a dozen antique shops, furniture and jewelry stores. Main Street has an impressive complex of courthouse buildings, monuments to both the Confederate and World War II dead, and the Bedford City/County Museum. Located in the Masonic Building, the imposing brick structure was called "the handsomest building in town" when built in 1895.

National D-Day Memorial, Overlord Arch

Set atop a hill overlooking the city is the 44-foot-tall granite Overlord Arch at the National D-Day Memorial, opened in 2000 to honor those who served in the invasion of France on June 6, 1944, known as D-Day.

A moving, realistic experience awaits those who pass through the arch to give visitors a sense of what it was actually like in the battle.

There's a boat with an open ramp onto a beach with figures of soldiers struggling and helping each other. There's the sound of gunfire and splashing water as if bullets are hitting around them.

Bedford Wine Trail

Bedford Wine Trail

Where Smith Mountain Lake meets the Blue Ridge foothills, five wineries have sunk roots in fertile Piedmont soil. Traditional European varietals fare well in these mild winter climates. So too do "fruit of the farm" wines, boutique wines that recall fragrant apple and peach orchards, and in an enterprising twist, even chili peppers.

Several wineries remain working farms, with cows, horses, goats, and pot-bellied pigs. Download the trail map and have your 'passport' stamped as you visit the wineries, then return it to the Bedford Welcome Center for a surprise gift.

Click to read about hiking at the nearby Peaks of Otter.

For more on visiting Bedford, go to

Bedford is one of the many towns included in the Burnhams' upcoming book Backroads of Virginia.