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Bedford County

Having a blast in Pennsylvania’s green playground

Located in south central Pennsylvania, rural Bedford County is a natural playground with green forests, scenic mountaintops, lakes and rivers, plus a whole host of family-friendly pastimes.

Bedford County has a signature claim to fame, as it contains 14 century-old wooden covered bridges within its boundaries. If you're charmed by the history and design elements of handcrafted covered wooden bridges, Bedford is the perfect destination for you.

Just six minutes from Bedford, the Coral Caverns thrill adventurous guests with naturally occurring cave formations. Most notable is a lofty fossil-imbedded wall dubbed the "coral reef," where sea coral plus other ocean-dwelling creatures were buried and fossilized more than 400 million years ago. During that long-ago era, parts of Pennsylvania were still submerged by the Great Inland Sea.

If you like spending leisurely time in wine country, you're in luck. Four welcoming wineries are within one hour or less of Bedford County. Briar Valley Winery specializes in vinifera wine production, and the Helixville Winery uses grapes grown exclusively in Pennsylvania. Oak Springs Winery is located 45 minutes north and Glades Pike Winery is 65 minutes west of Bedford.

Three Bedford-area state parks provide great options for a full spectrum of outdoor activities. Blue Knob State Park's "Big Mountain Park" has a swimming pool and a winning system of all-season trails for hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. Shawnee State Park's "Small Lake Park" features swimming off a sandy beach, lake fishing for bass, pike and walleye, non-powered or electric-powered boating, and an easygoing lake shore trail that's appropriate for hikers, bikers and cross-country skiers. Warriors Path State Park is another good spot for hikers and kayakers who want to paddle on the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River.

Raystown Lake (Pennsylvania's largest man-made lake) is ideal for all kinds of water sports, especially fishing. The current Raystown record weight for striped bass exceeds a whopping 53 pounds! The county's coldwater fisheries are promising spots for fly-fishing.

Here's good news for downhill skiers... Pennsylvania's tallest ski-friendly mountain is at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort in northwest Bedford County. Situated in the upper Allegheny Mountains, Blue Knob has 34 trails and 3 lifts for skiers, snow-boarding and tubing facilities. Other ski areas may be found at Whitetail Mountain Resort and Seven Springs.

The state of golf is alive and well in Bedford County. The 18-hole Omni Bedford Springs Resort Golf Course overlooks the splendid Allegheny Mountains and Cumberland Valley. Thanks to a recent renovation project, the Omni course is now restored to its original classic layout. Blue Knob All Seasons Resort treats golfers to mountaintop views and leafy hardwood forests. Several other local courses help round out the swinging potential of Bedford County.

Who's ready for racing? Bedford County is within easy driving proximity of three lively auto speedways that feature weekend races from spring through early autumn. Maryland's Hagerstown Speedway, Bedford Speedway and Allegheny County Speedway (The Rock) all sport dirt tracks and spirited racing action.

Two family-friendly amusement parks-Del Grosso's (in Tipton) and Lakemont Park (in Altoona) are close to Bedford. Both feature water parks and a wide variety of rides that please young children.

Bedford's recommended "Critter Tour" is a progressive driving excursion that holds appeal for animal-loving kids of all ages. At the Fish Hatchery (15 minutes northwest of Bedford), you can view trout swimming in giant tanks and pools. The Bison Corral (12 miles west) is a working farm where hulking bison roam in fields on both sides of the road. At Acorn Acres Deer Farm (8 miles northwest of Bedford), you're sure to encounter deer, emu and pygmy goats.

In remembrance of courageous passengers who perished in a field on September 11, 2001, the Flight 93 Memorial (30 minutes west of Bedford) is a visitors' tribute created at the plane's crash site. The Flight 93 Memorial Chapel stands a few miles away on Stutzman Road.

All aboard! On Western Maryland Scenic Railroad (35 minutes south of Bedford), you can take a seasonal, three-hour train ride on a vintage steam or diesel-powered locomotive. Alternately, the East Broad Top Railroad (50 minutes north of Breezewood) offers weekend outings on a steam-powered train. The Allegheny Portage Railroad Historic Site (45 minutes northwest of Bedford) is the National Park Service's (NPS) nod to the old Pennsylvania Mainline Canal system. The canal opened in 1834, providing a direct route between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and reducing travel time between the two cities from 13 days to 5 days. The NPS site's exhibits include Train Engine House #6 and the restored original Lemon House Tavern. In a similar vein, the C&O Canal National Historic Park (30 minutes south of Bedford) tells stories about transporting coal and lumber and constructing the Chesapeake & Ohio canal. Altoona's Railroaders Memorial Museum (40 minutes north of Bedford) celebrates the people responsible for constructing and running the old railroads with movies and interactive displays related to the railroad's major impact on the Industrial Revolution. Your tickets to the railroaders museum include admission to nearby Horseshoe Curve, a National Historic Landmark where determined railway engineers carved out and constructed a horseshoe-shaped layout of train tracks through the mountains.

Explore Bedford County Indoors
You can experience a chapter of living history at Old Bedford Village (one mile north of Bedford). Character actors in period costumes interact in the historic homes, shops and workplaces of the replicated village. And special events at the site include reenactments of the French-Indian and Civil Wars.

In addition to Old Bedford Village, the county boasts an impressive number of museums that cater to a wide range of interests. The Fort Bedford Museum (downtown) commemorates the circa 1758 fort's strategic role during the French-Indian War. The fort protected a critical British supply road that eventually helped Brits overcome the French presence at Fort Duquesne.

At Heritage Discovery Center, three popular attractions-America: Through Immigrant Eyes, Johnstown Children's Museum and the Iron & Steel Gallery-are bundled together for maximum historical value. Johnstown Flood Museum recalls the disastrous 1889 flood that claimed more than 2,000 lives and tens of thousands of homes. On a more chipper note, Swigart's Auto Museum showcases antique cars including a Packard, two rare Tuckers and Herbie the Love Bug. The most specifically focused museum in town possesses a descriptive name-the National Museum of the American Coverlet. Likewise, the Coal Miner's Museum and Windber Coal Heritage Center salute the role of coal in the advancement of area commerce.

For More Information:
Bedford County Visitors Bureau
800-765-3331
www.visitbedfordcounty.com

Pennsylvania Tourism
800-847-4872
www.visitpa.com