Desiring to get away from the stress and the hustle and bustle of city life? Consider a visit to small-town America in historic Bedford, Pennsylvania. Sheltered between lush green forests, horse and cattle pastures, and the Allegheny Mountains, Bedford is a hidden gem, just waiting to be discovered.
I love this town because it has a small-town feel, quaint shops, friendly people, a captivating touch of history, and fascinating events on weekends throughout the year.
A critical frontier military post, a Bedford hotel served as the headquarters for George Washington and his army while putting down the Whiskey Rebellion.
Bedford is also famous for its medicinal springs. People came from all around to enjoy what were believed to be healing springs. A spa and hotel were built in 1804, and people came from great distances, flocking to the hotel in search of a cure for various ailments.
The Bedford Springs Hotel continued to make history by being the first place in America to have an Olympic-size pool.
The Bedford Springs became the “summer White House” of President James Buchanan, and while he was there in 1858, the first trans-Atlantic cable message was sent from Queen Victoria to his room.
Located about halfway between Harrisburg (102 miles away) and Pittsburgh (107 miles away), Bedford is a town in rural central Pennsylvania that serves as the county seat. If you have ever traveled across the state on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, you have passed by this historic town.
The best way to get to Bedford is by car. The Lincoln Highway, known as Route 30, Route 220, and the Turnpike, will take you to Bedford. You will need a car for transportation since there is little chance of an Uber or taxi in the area. But there is much to do and see in the area when you visit.
Take A Walking Tour Of Downtown Bedford
Young and old alike will enjoy this free guided walking tour of Historic Bedford provided by the Visitors Bureau. Tours start at 3:30 p.m. and conclude at 5 on Fridays in the summer and fall. Bedford County history is presented in a fun way and it is an easy walk on flat sidewalk. They also have self-guided and video walking tours available.
Visit The Coffee Pot
This one-of-a-kind coffee pot-shaped building, which was originally a diner, was built in 1927. A landmark in Bedford, the building was moved to the Bedford County Fairgrounds in 2003.
Step Back In History At Old Bedford Village
Focusing on America’s history, Old Bedford Village brings the past into the present with its living history village. You will find a vibrant variety of entertainment and educational activities available. Take in a military reenactment, peruse the exhibits, do some colonial crafts, or participate in a murder mystery evening, festival, or old-fashioned Christmas celebration. Allow several hours for your Old Bedford Village visit.
Take A Covered Bridge Tour
The covered bridge tour is a self-driving excursion that involves visiting 14 covered bridges in the county. All are set in picturesque scenery and great for photos. The bridges were built by craftsmen almost entirely by hand 100+ years ago. They have stood the test of time, travel, and weather and are still beautiful. I would allow at least a half a day to visit all the bridges. You can find more information about the covered bridge tour here.
Enjoy A Heritage Segway Tour
Enjoy the beautiful Allegheny Mountains and a little adventure by taking a Segway tour. Never tried a Segway? No problem. The tour begins with a short training session, after which you’re guided along the Heritage Trail for a 75-minute ride as you learn about the area’s history. This tour has limited availability and weight restrictions. You must wear appropriate footwear.
Visit A Spa
The Springs Eternal Spa at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort offers treatments inspired by the resort’s natural mineral springs. Enjoy a Bedford Bath, a beauty treatment, or a soothing massage. Reservations are required and they suggest making them six to eight weeks in advance.
Bring Your Bike And Ride The Rails-To-Trails
Ride through a scenic former railroad right-of-way along the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. The Huntingdon and Broad Top Rail Trail is open to hikers and bikers and offers 10.6 miles of trail between Tatesville at the south end and Riddlesburg to the north.
Learn more about rails-to-trails, and the 10 best rails-trails in America, here.
Go For A Hike
There are many places for hiking available in Bedford County. If you are staying at the Springs, you can explore their beautiful property on one of many trails. Everything from a leisurely walk to a challenging fitness hike on their 25 miles of hiking trails.
Trout is plentiful in Bedford County. There are many places to put in a line and fish the day away. Fishing equipment is available for rent at the Tally Ho Sport Shop. You must have a Pennsylvania fishing license.
Pay Your Respects At The Flight 93 National Memorial
Just 30 miles west of Bedford, the Flight 93 National Memorial commemorates the unforgettable day in our nation’s history when passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 stopped an intended attack on the U.S. capital. Allow half a day for this activity.
Enjoy Festivals And Events
Bedford is known for its Fall Foliage Festival, held the first two weekends in October. It’s an almost 60-year-old tradition that brings craftsmen, vendors, artists, and culture together for two weekends of celebration.
They also host other exciting events throughout the year such as a Chocolate Walk and a Chili and Soup Tour, so be sure to check the calendar as you plan!
Eating And Drinking In Bedford
You will find a variety of restaurants, wineries, and a brewery in Bedford. And a new distillery will be arriving in Bedford soon. The town has everything from small eclectic eateries to farm-to-table dining. Here are just a few of the places you might want to visit during your time in Bedford.
At Bad Boyz Bistro on South Juliana Street, the Blackbeard’s Salmon is to die for.
I highly recommend everything on Jean Bonnet Tavern and Restaurant’s menu, especially the seasonal specials.
The Golden Eagle Inn has unique menu items you won’t find anywhere else in Bedford. I recommend the pork belly seasoned with bacon powder and the peanut butter miso demi-glace served with roasted grapes.
Briar Valley Winery offers excellent evening entertainment along with wine to sip.
Olde Bedford Brewing Company crafts its beers with spring water and hops often grown in the mountains of Bedford County.
Dalesmen Distillery is opening soon.
The best places to shop in Bedford are the quaint shops in the downtown area. You can find unique, one-of-a-kind items you won’t want to miss lining the streets of Bedford. Here are a few of my favorites:
This gourmet food store is one of my favorite shops in Bedford. The Peppercorn Market is a specialty food tasting venue featuring olive oil, balsamic vinegar, jams, honey, and other items. Most items come in small sizes that are easy for travel plus larger sizes for everyday use. You can sample them and pick what you enjoy. I visit Peppercorn Market on South Juliana Street every time I’m in Bedford.
Backstage Alpaca Shop
You will find a variety of products made from alpaca in this store. Fiber once reserved for Incan royalty is woven into fabric that is beautiful, long-lasting, and eco-friendly. You will find everything from socks to coats at the Backstage Alpaca Shop, also located on Juliana Street.
Founders Crossing Artisan And Antique Merchant
Step back in time when you enter this gift shop. You will find jewelry, furniture, bath and body creams, unique antique collectibles, artistic decor, and so much more. Founders Crossing has treasures old and new, housed in over 20,000 square feet of shopping space located on Juliana Street.
With over 140+ loose teas and accessories, the Everything Tea shop is a favorite of visitors. You can even schedule a tea party if you wish. You will find Everything Tea on West Pitt Street.
Oak Spring Winery
A wine bar with a great selection of wonderful wines is located on West Pitt Street. Oak Spring Winery sells wine by the glass and by the bottle.
These are just a few of the many unique shops lining the streets of Bedford.
Places To Stay In Bedford
Enjoy a stay in a grand old house built in 1875 with carved staircases and a wraparound porch at The Chancellor’s House Bed and Breakfast. Staying here, you are within walking distance of downtown Bedford.
The Fairfield Inn and Suites is located a few miles from downtown Bedford and is an economical option.
For a memorable stay, I recommend the historic Omni Bedford Springs Resort. You can embrace the richness of the resort’s past while enjoying incredible natural views. Luxurious accommodations, a spa, a golf course, five restaurants, and a variety of amenities await you at this world-class resort. Several of the activities I’ve recommended originate at the resort.
The Rock Spring Lodge is Bedford’s most exclusive rental property. Downtown Bedford is just eight blocks away. At this destination, you will find four suites complete with private baths and 10 acres of the great outdoors to explore.
Whether coming to Historic Bedford for a weekend, an exciting festival, or just an evening stop as you travel through the state, you will find many exciting and unique things to do and see. One visit to this slice of small-town America, and you will want to come back again and again. Looking for more Pennsylvania fun? Consider the sweetest trip: a perfect weekend in Hershey, PA.