Our history inspires local tourism.
Bedford County was formed in 1754 and named for the Fourth Duke of Bedford, a British government official. In 1782, the Town of Liberty (now called Bedford) was established. Originally an agrarian-based economy, Bedford’s industrial development began in 1880, and since that time, industrial growth has been consistent and often fostered by the involvement of local citizens. In the early 1980’s, the city undertook renovation of its historic downtown district and became one of Virginia’s first Main Street communities.
Bedford County has an active tourism program and a 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 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.