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How to Spend One Day in Bedford County, Tennessee

The pastoral countryside of Bedford County, Tennessee incorporates the towns of Shelbyville, Wartrace and Bell Buckle. It's also home to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, which takes places over two weeks every August. Headed to Bedford County? Here's how to spend a day in Shelbyville and beyond (though we recommend staying longer!).

Photo: Odinn Media


If you find yourself in the area with just one day in Bedford County, you'll want to start in Shelbyville before continuing on down the scenic road to Wartrace and Bell Buckle.

Photo: Odinn Media

Breakfast on the square

Start your morning with breakfast on the Shelbyville square at Pope’s Café where sausage biscuits, ham and cheese omelette, and French toast will boost your energy for a day of exploration. The menu also features Southern staples, such as fried catfish, chicken and pork tenderloin, with fixings including green beans, baked apples, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, fried okra and white beans.

Photo: Odinn Media

Explore downtown Shelbyville

Shelbyville’s downtown brims with shopping and dining experiences. Designed in 1810, the square revolves around the historic courthouse. An innovation for its time, planners used the design of Shelbyville’s square as a model to develop other town squares across the country, with the plan becoming the most frequently used plan for county seats in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Iowa.

The area recently underwent a revitalization project. Stroll the newly updated sidewalks while appreciating the historic buildings. The shopping scene boasts stores for equestrian attire and children’s clothing, fashionable boutiques, gift shops and antique stores. In addition to an abundance of boutiques, many eateries welcome visitors, with Legends Steakhouse and Bocelli’s Pizza and Pasta Shoppe among the most popular.

See a movie and enjoy arts

Shelbyville has a movie theater, The Capri. The history of the Art Deco building goes back to the 1940s. Lovers of the arts will discover a gallery, museum and gift shop at the Fly Arts Center. The center displays paintings, drawings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and photography from local artists.

Visit Uncle Nearest Distillery

Get a literal taste of distilling history by venturing over to Uncle Nearest. The distillery invites you to experience history as well as enjoy award-winning whiskey, inspired by the first known African American master distiller in the United States, Nearest Green. Plan your tour of the distillery and grab lunch. Barrel House II now serves customers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Photo: Odinn Media


Wartrace, the next destination on your one day in Bedford County, reminds visitors of times before hectic traffic and digital devices. Fifteen minutes down the road from Shelbyville, Wartrace comprises a small row of historic buildings and the Tennessee Walking Horse National Museum.

Photo: Odinn Media

Walking Horse Museum

Known as the cradle of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Wartrace is home to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Museum. The museum showcases artifacts, documents and photographs preserving the heritage of the Tennessee Walking Horse. The museum sits downtown, where most shops are located.

Shop antiques, gifts, apparel

Downtown Wartrace shopping features gift shops and antique stores, housed in the red, yellow and white buildings lined up downtown. The historic buildings add to the character of the railroad town. Wartrace has about 140 structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places. If you’re getting hungry, the Iron Horse serves pizza for lunch.

Enjoy community events

You may happen to be in Wartrace during one of its various events, so do your research in advance. The town hosts a July 4th celebration, Halloween in the Park, movie nights, a town-wide yard sale, and MusicFest, with live music, food trucks and games.

Bell Buckle

Winding roads in between green hills, adorned with farm homes and cattle, will take you from Wartrace to Bell Buckle, a 10-minute trip. Bell Buckle is home to Daffodil Day and Best of Butts BBQ Cook-Off in March, Bell Buckle RC Cola-MoonPie Festival in June and Webb School Art and Craft Show in October, as well as many other events.

Browse the shops

With its antique stores, Bell Buckle draws pickers from all over the country. Shop antiques, as well as souvenirs, gifts, home decor, clothing and accessories. Some of the stores offer sweet treats, including a variety of fudge. Make sure you try a fried pie made by Mama Phillips and ice cream at Bluebird Antiques and Ice Cream Parlor.

Photo: Odinn Media

Bell Buckle Cafe provides the perfect ending to your one day in Bedford County, with a Southern style hospitality and taste that's famous for miles around. The cafe serves chicken pot pie, country fried steak, smoked chops, BBQ pork among dozens of options on the extensive menu. Don't miss out on the MoonPie sundae or the oatmeal cake drizzled with caramel.

Photo: Odinn Media

With so much history, shopping experiences, food and friendliness, you’ll discover one day in Bedford County is too short of a time to explore the area and hopefully start planning your trip back.


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