Plan a Laurel Highlands getaway with our guide to 15 fantastic things to do near Fallingwater in southwest Pennsylvania. Pack your visit with adventure, sprinkle it with art and history, load it with luxury, or combine all of the above. Fallingwater is just a three-hour drive from Washington DC, and the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece is surrounded by beautiful nature and interesting history.
If you’re looking for romance, build your Laurel Highlands getaway around the incredible luxury of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. If family fun is your priority, head to Seven Springs Mountain Resort for winter skiing and summer fun on the mountain. Food is an important part of any trip, and there are plenty of dining options near Fallingwater, from the very casual to the most refined.
Lodging and some meals and experiences on our visits to Laurel Highlands were hosted by the Laurel Highlands Visitor Bureau, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, and Seven Springs Mountain Resort. As always, all opinions are our own.
Fantastic Places to Visit on a Laurel Highlands Getaway
Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic masterpiece, Fallingwater, is a must-see for architecture lovers. Fallingwater house is built over a waterfall in Bear Run. The home beautifully expresses Wright’s commitment to integrating his homes with the natural landscape. , .
Most visitors take the hour-long Guided House Tour, but other in-depth and specialty tours are available. Reserve tickets online and allow time to wander the grounds. Architecture lovers can make Fallingwater the core of a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired road trip to Laurel Highlands.
Nearby, Kentuck Knob tours explore a less famous but equally lovely Wright melding of art, architecture, and nature. Wright was 86 and a famous, busy man when he designed Kentuck Knob. He visited the site when the foundation was laid, but worked from photographs and topo maps for the initial design. After your tour, follow the path to stunning views of the Laurel Highlands. If time allows, return to the Visitor Center on the Woodland Walk and have lunch in the cafe.
Ohiopyle State Park is the place to go for natural beauty and outdoor adventures on a Laurel Highlands getaway. The Youghiogheny River offers natural water slides, whitewater boating, and lovely waterfalls for fun in and on the water. If you’d rather keep dry, there are picnic areas, hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, fishing, a zip line, and other outdoor activities to enjoy.
Here is a must-stop in Ohiopyle State Park for waterfall-lovers. Cucumber Falls plunges dramatically from a cliff into a tree-lined pool. The waterfall is very easy to reach via a steep stairway, and there is free parking at the top. The stairs stop at a jumble of rocks below the falls; use care if you decide to climb down to the stream. Even though water levels were very low when we visited, the waterfall was a beautiful photo stop.
Another favorite photo spot in Ohiopyle State Park is Baughman Rock Overlook. This easy-to-reach rock outcropping offers a stunning view across the Youghiogheny River Gorge. Park at the Baughman Trail lot and follow the short dirt trail up to the rocks and this fantastic view.
Bike a section of the Great Allegheny Passage, aka the GAP trail, from the quirky town of Ohiopyle, located within the state park. This 150-mile trail is a favorite for serious cyclists, but a short ride on the trail is perfect for family fun. Rent a bike in Ohiopyle and head west over the award-winning Ohiopyle Low Bridge, then continue on to the Ohiopyle High Bridge. You’ll enjoy an easy ride and great views of the Yough from both bridges.
A slightly longer alternative is an 11-mile bike ride (or hike) on the GAP Trail from Ohiopyle to Confluence. The wide, dirt trail is level so you can relax and enjoy scenic views of the Yough River throughout your ride. Here are a few more pictures from this beautiful ride:
Want to get some exercise without too much strain? Bike the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP Bike Trail) between the quaint…
Another area of natural beauty perfect and outdoor fun is Laurel Hill State Park. The park offers hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, and more. We recommend the 1.2-mile Hemlock Trail. After a short steep climb, this trail meanders through the woods to a stand of ancient Hemlock trees, one of the few areas to escape logging in the late 1800s. The loop hike returns along a pretty stream.
When you’re ready for a break from all that outdoor adventure, you can visit a few stops on the Laurel Highlands Pour Tour. The tour highlights local craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the region. We enjoyed sampling the beer, wine, and spirits at several locations on the tour including Four Seasons Brewing, Helltown Brewing, Greendance Winery, and Tall Pines Distillery. Be sure to pick up a Pour Tour Passport and collect stickers at participating stops. Those stickers can earn you some fun collectibles.
Get close to the nature of a different kind with Nemacolin Wildlife Academy. The 90-minute Safari Tour offers an up-close look at the resort’s wildlife, and a chance to feed the resident lions, tigers, sheep, bighorn cattle, and more. While you’re safely separated at feeding time, this is likely the closest you will ever stand to a lion or Bengal tiger. Nursery tours visit the resort’s smaller and younger animals. You can also check out the wildlife habitats on your own. Be sure to visit Lightning, a rare white buffalo considered sacred by some Native Americans, and his companion, Thunder.
From November to Spring, Seven Springs Mountain is a snow-lovers dream, offering skiing, tubing, snowshoeing and snowmobile tours, sleigh and wagon rides, and more winter fun. There are 33 slopes and trails, seven terrain parks, and a Snowsports School for beginners. When warm weather arrives, trails open to mountain bikers, and an alpine slide offers thrills for all ages.
At Fort Necessity, one of the first skirmishes of the French and Indian War helped spark the drive for American independence. It was also the place where George Washington gained recognition and began his rise as a military leader and American patriot. Today, a Visitor Center and reconstructed fort tell the story of that battle and the history of travel on the historic National Road. Rangers offer free guided tours when available, and there’s a fun playground for the kids.
Northeast in Shanksville, the Flight 93 National Memorial honors the 40 crew and passengers who perished while thwarting a terrorist attack on 9/11/2001. Here, visitors can explore an interpretive Visitor Center, Memorial Grove, natural areas, and Memorial Walkway. In addition, the Tower of Voices is a 93-foot tall tower that contains 40 chimes representing the voices of the crew and passengers. The walkway follows the edge of the crash site, the final resting place of passengers and crew, to the Wall of Names honoring the dead.
Where to Stay Near Fallingwater in Laurel Highlands PA
Stay at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for Luxury and Family Fun
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is a bit of an odd-ball among luxury resorts but in a good way. Rooms, service, and public spaces all meet the luxurious standard needed for special occasions and weekend escapes. But there is a lot for families to love, including fun and unique experiences like the Wildlife Academy. Nemacolin surrounds guests with the rolling hills and woodlands that make a Laurel Highlands getaway so special. Guests enjoy a perfect combination of pampering and nature that sparks energy and fun by day, and deep, relaxing sleep at night.
Stay at Seven Springs Mountain Resort for Outdoor Family Fun
As noted above, Seven Springs Mountain Resort is a year-round destination for outdoor fun. Stay in a comfortable suite in the main lodge, or rent a townhome or cottage where your family can spread out. Several on-site restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, and a lovely spa offer plenty of reasons to stay on site.
Read traveler reviews and check availability now.
Stay at Polymath Park for Frank Lloyd Wright Immersion
For a truly unique experience, stay overnight in a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece at Polymath Park. There are very few places where you can rent a Wright home for the night, and Polymath Park offers two of them, along with two more houses designed by Wright’s apprentice. If your Fallingwater tour left you craving a seat on Wright-designed furniture, this is your chance to make that wish come true.
Plan your stay with our complete guide to Polymath Park.
Where to Eat in Laurel Highlands PA
Bittersweet Cafe is a cute breakfast, lunch, and pastry shop in Farmington, just half a mile from Route 40. The farm-to-table menu features tasty sandwiches, salads, and treats. If the weather is good, enjoy your meal at one of the outdoor tables, or order to go for a picnic at Ohiopyle State Park.
Falls Market Restaurant and General Store, near the river in downtown Ohiopyle, serves juicy hamburgers and sandwiches in a casual, country store setting. Ohiopyle House Cafe is another good bet for casual dining in town, with seating inside and on a big, open porch.
Out of the Fire Cafe is a favorite lunch and dinner stop for fresh, seasonal New American cuisine. Dine indoors or on the patio with a lovely view of the ridge.
Stone House Restaurant offers refined dining in a historic setting in Farmington. The tavern has been welcoming travelers on the National Road (now Route 40) since 1822. Enjoy a quiet table in the main dining room or a booth by the livelier tavern bar. The tavern is also a great stop for craft beer.
Sample the wines at Greendance Winery in Mount Pleasant, then enjoy a sandwich from Cafe Persimmon right next door. Top it all off with a delicious slice of pie from Sand Hill Berries, made with their own local fruit.
Stop at Kentuck Knob Cafe for a treat after your house tour. Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kentuck Knob for the Hagan family, owners of Hagan Ice Cream. That yummy ice cream is still sold today in the lovely cafe at the Visitor Center, along with snacks and hot dogs.
Luxury Dining in Laurel Highlands PA
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Dining at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort comes in a range of options, but if your budget allows, choose luxury. Inside the AAA Five-Diamond Falling Rock hotel is Aqueous. The restaurant occupies one end of the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired building, with sweeping views from a wall of glass. The emphasis is on dry-aged steaks, which are expertly aged and cut in-house. It’s also a perfect location for a sunset cocktail on the terrace.
Back in Chateau Lafayette, Lautrec takes fine dining to an even higher level. The restaurant is one of only 29 in the world to earn both the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond ratings. The elegant, French-inspired interior is a fitting backdrop to beautifully prepared local and seasonal cuisine. Build your dining experience from the prix-fixe menu or try the tasting menu and leave the choices to Chef Kristin Butterworth.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Helen’s offers upscale dining in an intimate and rustic setting at Seven Springs Resort. The menu offers elegant and delicious dishes that leverage locally-sourced ingredients. Our Seared Sea Scallops with white truffle bean puree were outstanding. Wine lovers will appreciate the extensive collection, which has earned a Wine Spectator Award of Distinction.
Even if you are not spending the night at Polymath Park, you can enjoy a refined dinner at Treetops Restaurant. The restaurant’s Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design is a perfect match to the natural setting. Dine inside or on the porch surrounded by trees. We highly recommend the Seafood Ardor, a medley of scallops, crab, and shrimp. Treetops also serves lunch, and tour plus meal combinations.
Getting to Laurel Highlands from Northern Virginia
Driving to Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania is actually part of the fun, as long as you avoid rush hour. Just a three hour drive from the Washington DC region, the road west is scenic in many areas. Allow extra time to make stops along the way and enjoy the views.
Depending on your starting point, GPS will offer a few options for the drive west. We like the route that follows Routes 70 and 68, but it’s fun to head home on one of the alternates if time allows.
The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is full of information and tips to help you plan your visit. Whether you are headed for family fun, a romantic escape, or an adults outing, we wish you safe and happy travels on your Laurel Highlands getaway.
This article was published in 2017 and updated in 2018 and 2019.