Like many people, we’re staying closer to home these days. We recently took a day trip to Laurel Highlands, in lieu of a baby moon that was postponed one too many times. While it wasn’t the relaxing getaway we originally planned, it was an awesome mix of outdoors, history and good food. (All things we look for when traveling!) We centered our day around visiting Fallingwater. It’s easily one of the best day trips from Pittsburgh and worth traveling much further for. Plus, there are so many great things to do in Ohiopyle and the surrounding area, including more of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in PA.
Our Laurel Highlands day trip itinerary includes a visit to Fallingwater, lunch at Bittersweet Cafe, Fort Necessity and Kentuck Knob. Keep reading for more!
When people think of the best things to do in Western PA, Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright is often one of the first things that comes to mind. This architectural masterpiece was recently made a UNESCO World Heritage site. With just one visit, it’s easy to see why it received a designation so rare in the US. Not only is it perfect for day trips from Pittsburgh, but it’s a popular destination for people all over the world. This unique house pulls directly from its natural surroundings, which is typical of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design style. It’s amazing to see the property in person, both up close and from a distance.
Currently, Fallingwater house tours are are focused on an outdoor only experience. The natural surroundings of Fallingwater are so beautiful, however, that it’s worth touring even without going inside. We opted for a private exterior tour, which lasted about an hour. It takes you through the property surrounding Fallingwater, around the house itself and to a few different vantage points to view the Fallingwater cascades. The tour guides at Fallingwater are also super knowledgeable. We walked away with a lot more information about the design of the home, the property, and the history behind the Kaufmann family who lived there.
More Information on Visiting Fallingwater
In addition to the main home, Fallingwater has an impressive visitor’s center that includes a cafe and Fallingwater gift shop. The Fallingwater museum store sells a wide variety of gifts, art and activities for all ages. The cafe serves a number of drinks and takeaway food. Although you can’t currently dine inside the cafe, there are picnic tables onsite.
Fallingwater tickets are timed and must be purchased online in advance. Currently, self-guided exterior tickets are $18 per person and private, guided exterior tours are $28 per person. (Children under 6 are able to join an exterior tour at no charge.)
While tours of the home’s interior are not currently available, they will be again in the future. Interior tours include a guided house tour for ages 6+ and an in-depth tour for ages 9+. Face masks are currently required, and there several other measures in place for social distancing and cleanliness.
For more information on Fallingwater hours, tickets and donating to Friends of Fallingwater, check out the website below.
- Fallingwater Address: 1491 Mill Run Road, Mill Run, PA 15464
- Website: www.fallingwater.org
With its close proximity to Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob is definitely worth the visit when planning things to do in Laurel Highlands. This Usonian style house was once the home of the Hagan family, who own Hagan ice cream. While not as lavish as Fallingwater, it has similar elements of pulling its design from nature. (For example, the stone used for the house was found right on property.) Kentuck Knob is also uniquely designed in a hexagonal shape. Hexagons appear in several features throughout the house, from the front entrance to the roof over the back deck.
The area surrounding the Kentuck Knob house is just as unique as the home itself. The property includes over 30 unique sculptures commissioned by a variety of artists. In addition to the sculpture walk that makes up the Woodland Trail, there’s an amazing scenic overlook on property. We could have stayed there taking in the views all day!
More Information on Visiting Kentuck Knob
Kentuck Knob tours include several options. If you want to see the interior of the home, there’s an in-depth house tour or a quick walk through house tour. You can also get a pass to walk the beautiful grounds and skip the indoor house tour with the Woodland Walk option. Children must be at least 6 to tour the house, but children under 6 can tour the outside for free.
Note: Currently, masks are required throughout the property. Temperature checks are also taken if you opt for a house tour. For more information on Kentuck Knob tickets and tours, check out the website below.
- Kentuck Knob Address: 723 Kentuck Road, Chalk Hill, PA 15421
- Website: https://kentuckknob.com
Additional Frank Lloyd Wright Houses in PA
In addition to Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, Polymath Park is located in Acme, PA. (About 25 miles north of Fallingwater.) While we haven’t visited Polymath Park yet, it’s definitely on our bucket list of things to do in Laurel Highlands.
This unique property contains four Frank Lloyd Wright houses in one location. You can do an interior and exterior tour of three of the houses: the Mäntylä, Blum and Balter houses. Tours can also be paired with a wine tasting or lunch or dinner in the Treetop restaurant onsite. If you’ve been dreaming of staying overnight at a Frank Lloyd Wright house, the Duncan house at Polymath Park is available for overnight visits.
The town of Ligonier is also close by and is great for day trips or weekend getaways in Pennsylvania. You can find more information here: Family Weekend Getaway in Ligonier, PA.
Fort Necessity National Battlefield
In addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright PA houses, Fort Necessity is nearby if you’re looking for more things to do in Ohiopyle and Farmington area. The battle of Fort Necessity was at the start of the French and Indian War in 1754. It’s been preserved into a park and is now operated by the U.S. National Park Service. The grounds are huge, and there are several paths that take you to some of the highlights of the battle of Fort Necessity. They include Great Meadow, where the French & Indian War started, General Braddock’s grave, and Jumonville Glen.
There’s also a large Visitor’s Center at Fort Necessity. It includes a variety of exhibits highlighting life in the 1700s, as well as the National Road. The exhibits offer educational activities for all ages, There’s also a bookshop with several gifts and souvenirs. The Washington Tavern, a former stagecoach stop along the National Road, is also an onsite museum at Fort Necessity. Be sure to check hours before going, as it was closed during our visit.
During a typical summer at Fort Necessity, there are also a variety of tours, weapons demonstrations and more onsite. Walking shoes are recommended, given the For more information on visiting Fort Necessity, reference the website below.
- Fort Necessity Location: 1 Washington Parkway, Farmington, PA 15437
- Fort Necessity Website: https://www.nps.gov/fone/index.htm
We were looking for an outdoor lunch spot to take a break between Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Bittersweet Cafe fit the bill, and we loved it so much that it’s now one of our favorite restaurants in Laurel Highlands. It’s an adorable cafe with great outdoor seating in a garden setting. Everything we ate there was amazing, and I highly recommend the cuban or the salmon sandwich. Bittersweet Cafe also offers several yummy baked goods and specialty iced teas and coffees.
If you’re looking for restaurants near Ohiopyle, there’s also a small Bittersweet Cafe in Ohiopyle. It’s located right by the Falls and has picnic tables for eating outdoors.
- Bittersweet Cafe Address: 205 Farmington-Ohiopyle Road, Farmington, PA 15437
- Bittersweet Cafe Website: https://www.bittersweetfresh.com
More Outdoor Things to Do in Ohiopyle Area
If you’re looking for more things to do near Fallingwater and Laurel Highlands, there are so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
White water rafting in Ohiopyle is one of the most popular things to do in the Youghiogheny River area. On a prior trip, we went through Wilderness Voyageurs for Ohiopyle whitewater rafting and had the best time. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for more adventure on your trip to Laurel Highlands, PA!
The Fallingwater property is also located at Bear Run Nature Reserve. This Western PA nature reserve is made up of over 5,000 acres and is perfect for hiking in Ohiopyle area. It includes a variety of plant and wildlife, plus several streams, hiking trails and more.
You can also go biking or hiking at one of several Ohiopyle hiking trails found at Ohiopyle State Park.
Looking for more ideas on weekend getaways and day trips near Pittsburgh? Check out this post: 25 Weekend Trips from Pittsburgh, PA.
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