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Historical Attractions

Historical Sites & Things to Do in Smith Mountain Lake, VA

The lake borders three counties and all are full of history.  Premier Vacation Rentals offers off season tours and more to some of these famous sites. If you are staying with us, let us know if you desire a package and the quantity in your party.

In Bedford County, you can visit “Poplar Forest”, a home that Thomas Jefferson built for himself as a private retreat. Historic “Avenel Plantation” served as the social hub for the area and hosted guests such as Robert E. Lee and Edgar Allen Poe. The Centertown historic district of Bedford includes a historic Meeting House, Courthouse and Museum.

The County seat for Franklin County is in Rocky Mount. There are walking tours of the many historic buildings. Franklin County is also the boyhood home to Jubal Early, a Confederate General.

In Pittsylvania County, visit historic Chatham to see Virginia’s only two street cardiners, the 1853 Greek Revival Courthouse, and to take a walking tour of this 1777 town full of Victorian architecture. Be sure to stop in at the historic Yates Tavern in Gretna on the way.

Bedford County:

Franklin County:

Pittsylvania County:

Smith Mountain Lake Historical Areas


Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson

One well-known Jeffersonian historian firmly believed Thomas Jefferson’s “greatest intellectual energies and original talents were devoted to architecture.” It is for his architecture that Jefferson’s works are listed on the World Heritage List as masterpieces of human creative genius that have universal value to all mankind.

Restoration for this non-profit group is on-going. The home offers many venues and events. Let us know if you want to attend one of these as a special package with your home or as  a surprise for a special event.  This home is special, and as an architect, this particular structure is very important with details that changed window design, solar and more.

Booker T Washington


Administered by the National Park Service, Booker T. Washington National Monument preserves the birthplace and commemorates the life and accomplishments of one of America’s most prominent black heroes. Born a slave on Burroughs farm, Booker T. Washington was freed at age nine and became internationally recognized educator, author, orator and spokesman for his race. A Visitor Center with an audio-visual program, exhibits and book store are located at the Monument. Nature and history trails, park ranger programs and tours, a picnic area and many special events are scheduled throughout the year. Booker T. Washington National Monument is located 4 miles east of the SML Visitor Center. www.nps.gov/bowa/home.htm

D Day Memorial


Located in Bedford, VA, just 19 miles North on State Route 122 from the SML Visitors Center is the National D-Day Memorial. June 6, 1944 marked D-Day; the day that Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy during World War II. On that day thirty-five Bedford soldiers went onto Omaha Beach and twenty-one lost their life. Bedford, a community of 3,200 gave the highest proportional loss for D-Day in the United States. The Memorial includes a museum, gift shop, and plaza memorial area with a triumphal arch, reflecting pool, allied flag displays, story wall and bronze statues honoring the bravery and sacrifice of Allied soldiers provide a fitting tribute to this historical event. This is one attraction you need to visit. The National D-Day Memorial website: www.dday.org

Smith Mountain Lake Dam


One of the most interesting places to visit at the Lake is American Electric Power’s Smith Mountain Lake Dam. At the Visitor Center overlooking the Dam, you’ll enjoy learning how electricity is generated in a pumped storage and hydroelectric project. There are hands-on exhibits and computer models to try, a theatre with audio-visual presentations, and a three-dimensional terrain map, which shows the lake area as if viewed from an altitude of 25,000 feet. Outside the Visitors Center there are overlook areas providing spectacular views of the dam, gorge and lake plus picnic facilities with charcoal grills located near the base of the dam. So make a day of it at this great attraction that created the lake back in 1966. Smith Mountain Lake Dam Visitors Center

Blue Ridge Institute


Recognizes Virginia’s Center for Blue Ridge Folklore, the Institute and Museum are located just 29 miles down 122 south past the SML Visitors Center at Ferrum College. Visit a re-created 1800-style Virginia-German farmstead and see the gallery exhibits of crafts, music and decorative arts. Attend events staged by the Institute including the annual Blue Ridge Draft Horse & Mule Show held the fourth Saturday of July and the annual Folk life Festival on the fourth Saturday in October.

Blue Ridge Institute & Museum

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