The Laurel Highlands region is home to four houses that were designed by architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright. The most well-known house, Fallingwater, is a bucket list item for many and lives up to the hype. Fallingwater is inscribed as one of 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the U.S. and is listed along attractions including the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.
First things first: if you're interested in touring Fallingwater, advance ticket purchase is necessary. To keep tours organized and optimal, you must call ahead at 724-329-8501 or go online to reserve your spot. Tours run from March 9 through December 31, 2019 except Wednesdays and Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
A few quick tips:
- Please keep in mind that pets are not allowed on the grounds or at the visitors center, but service animals are welcome to join you on your tour.
- Make sure you snag a photo or selfie at the infamous spot! You know the one. Just follow the arrows on the signage that point toward "View."
- Children must be 6 years old to go on the guided house tour and must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.
- Help the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy keep Fallingwater beautiful and clean. Please take your trash with you.
- Fallingwater is a pleasure to see and visit any time of the year. The surrounding landscape is everchanging and is breathtaking with summer's green leaves, falls colorful foliage and snow-covered trees in the winter.
- Purses, backpacks and other oversized items are not allowed in the house to prevent anything from being bumped into and knocked over. Small handbags are acceptable.
- Dress for the weather and always bring a light jacket. Not only can western Pennsylvania weather can change in a matter of minutes, it's usually about 10 degrees colder on the mountain.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. There is a quarter-mile walk from the visitors center to the house, and there a lot of exploring to do on the grounds after your tour!
- Complimentary umbrellas are provided in the event of rain.
- Adult groups of 20 or more and student groups of 10 or more receive a discounted group rate.
If you don't know which tour to take, here is a quick run down of the most common tours and a list of specialty tours:
Guided House Tours
On this hour-long tour, you will be led by a knowledgeable, friendly Fallingwater tour guide. This option is most common for first-time visitors. You will walk through all of the main rooms in the house, step out onto the terraces and get to take a look the guest house. Along the way, you will learn about the history about both small and big details of the house. Please note that you cannot take photos inside the house on this tour to make things move smoothly and on time. At the end of your tour, you are free to roam to the "iconic spot" to get a picture of the famous view. Guided house tours are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays.
This in-depth tour is very similar to the guided house tour, but is two-hours long instead of one. During the in-depth tour your guide will share extensive details about the history architectural design of the house that will help you to better understand the harmony of the landscape and house. Another bonus is that you are allowed to take photos inside the house on this tour!
Fallingwater also offers a variety of tours including sunset tours, children's tours or brunch tours, which features a tour by a senior Fallingwater guide followed by a relaxing brunch on the covered terrace. Some specialty tours allow visitors to see exclusive parts of the home, like the kitchen and servant quarters. Get the unique chance to explore the serene Bear Run Nature Reserve on a 90-minute landscape hike. New in 2019, Fallingwater is now offering the Kaufmann Collection Tour, which highlights the family's impressive collection of art, rugs and other household items. If you've toured the house before, and just want to explore the beautiful grounds around the home, you can purchase a grounds pass at the front gate. If this is your plan, make sure you call ahead of time to make sure they haven't already given out the maximum amount of grounds passes for the day.
The Day of Your Fallingwater Tour
Once you've picked your preferred tour and time and purchased your ticket, make sure you arrive about a half hour before your tour time. Not because there will be traffic or you'll get lost, but because there is so much to do before your tour. After parking in the lot, walk to the visitors center and check in at the desk in the center and take note of your group number.
While you're waiting to hear your group number to be called over the loudspeaker, explore the visitors center. Fun fact: The building of the visitors center was overseen by Edgar Kaufmann jr.'s life partner Paul Mayén. It was the Kaufmanns' intentions to let the public enjoy the house, so what you see and experience at Fallingwater today was influenced by the family.
The Fallingwater Cafe serves breakfast items, coffee, snacks and drinks all day, but from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., they serve delicious, healthy lunch entrees including wraps, salads and sandwiches that are all made in-house with locally-sourced ingredients.
Take a stroll through the Speyer Gallery, a small room that hosts an interesting rotating exhibit. Be sure to browse the Museum Store for a unique Fallingwater or Frank Lloyd Wright souvenir as well as other knickknacks. Lastly, take advantage of the restrooms located at the visitors center before your tour starts. There are no public restrooms in Fallingwater. Once your group number is called, you will gather on the ramp leading to the house and you're off!
Keep in mind that three other Frank Lloyd Wright houses are located near Fallingwater and are worth the detour. Polymath Park is an architectural park that is home to Frank Lloyd Wright's Mantyla and Duncan House, is only 23 miles away and Frank Lloyd Wright's Kentuck Knob is less than seven miles down the road from Fallingwater. Even though they were all designed by Wright, they all have unique features and different origin stories. Why tour only one when you can leave the region after seeing all four!?