PART 2 to our Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highland Adventure picks up where the first article leaves off…
EXCERPT from PART 1: Laurel Highland’s Adventure & History. “In the great meadows just beyond Scenery Hill is where The French and Indian War held its opening acts in 1754 at Fort Necessity, which for American History buffs is a required pilgrimage. One weekend here, and you’ll discover the Laurel Highlands is more than just outdoorsy adventures with a rich history. If you consider yourself a culture or food hound, stay tuned for our next post which looks at the iconic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and a five-star resort, which puts the Laurel Highlands at the on cultural and culinary map.”
Culture & Cuisine in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands
A quick detour off the National Road (Route 40) from the 18th century Fort Necessity Battlefield lands you back in the twentieth century at one of America’s most iconic private homes, Fallingwater. The Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece was built in 1937 for Pittsburgh retail mogul, J. Edgar Kauffman as a woodsy weekend retreat … but this isn’t your average “cabin”! Fallingwater is a powerful and evocative place. A study in the sublime. A home that set the precedent for the type of architecture that we take for granted in the twenty-first century. Fallingwater’s modernity and innovation is overwhelming for the 1930s, especially given its relevance yet today. The house is built directly into the bedrock and utilizes many natural elements within the home, but is most famous for cantilevered balconies overhanging a photogenic waterfall called Bear Run. The Kauffman family expressed their joy in living with the water, and Wright made sure they did. The house hovers over the water, with staircases leading directly to the creek they so loved. The best place to view the home is actually from across the falls. Having been named to National Geographic’s ‘Top 50 Must-see Places in America’, Fallingwater is a destination in its own right only an hour south of Pittsburgh and an easy jaunt off of Route 40. Highly informative, guided tours allow visitors to intimately experience the home’s architectural details and learn about the Wright’s organic architectural philosophy and how he impacted the course of residential living. Book tickets online or call ahead to make reservations, especially during summer peak season
Practically neighboring Fallingwater is another Frank Lloyd Wright home. Kentuck Knob is a prime example of later Wrightian architecture known as Usonian – an idealized, smaller home more accessible and affordable by regular folk. Unlike Fallingwater, which is tucked into a wooded ravine, the battleship-like house boasts beautiful vistas of the highlands from its perched position high on a hill. The mid-century home was built in 1954 for the Hagen ice cream family and is open for private guided tours most of the year, but reservations are required. Completing the Laurel Highland’s trifecta of Frank Lloyd Wright homes is the Duncan House, located closer to the PA turnpike in Acme, PA. The Duncan House was rescued from Chicago and rebuilt in a planned neighborhood (Polymath Park) with several other homes designed by Wright apprentices, such as Peter Berndtston and John Rattenbury. The Duncan House is open for lodging, as are the others.
WORLD CLASS RESORT
Ten miles from Wright’s architectural masterpiece is the world-class, five-star Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Sprawling over 3,000 acres, Nemacolin has a little something for everyone, including an acclaimed spa and holistic center; ski lodge, full-service activities center (complete with zipline, off-roading, & archery); a private zoo; private fly-fishing lakes; equine center; and two championship golf courses- one being a traditional links course. Anyone fortunate enough to pilot a plane can bypass Route 40 altogether to make a grand entrance on the resort’s private landing strip, but those of us resigned to wheels, can start the visit off right with valet service. And service truly is what Nemacolin is all about. This is obvious in the mile-long list of spa treatments and family-friendly, year-round activities available, as well as the wonderful dining option throughout the resort.
Among my favorite things to do is just wander through the lobbies of the connected hotels, checking out out the eclectic art collection (one of my favorite pieces is the shirt Elvis wore in the movie Blue Hawaiian) popping in here and there for a glass of wine. Then again, laying by one of the pools isn’t so bad either… or shooting a game of pool in the Tavern, or enjoying whisky and good puff in the Cigar Lounge. The combination of activity and relaxation is endless. Nemacolin boasts 14 restaurants and bars, which includes the AAA Four-Diamond steakhouse, Aqueous, a cigar bar, sports bar, pub, ‘50’s style diner, and Lady Luck Casino. Not to mention, the largest wine cellar in Pennsylvania. Ever wonder what 21,000 bottles of wine looks like? Well, you can schedule a private tour of the cellar and see for yourself.
Nemacolin’s Forbes and AAA Five-Diamond restaurant, Lautrec serves whimsical, European-inspired modern cuisine. The local ingredient-driven, fixed price menu can be tweaked for vegetarians and vegans, while perfectly paired with wine. Lautrec’s ambiance, service, and five star food makes for a special and memorable dining experience. Another dining option worth note, is Autumn, a certified green-restaurant that nods heavily toward sustainable seafood and farm-to-table options. Nemacolin’s accommodations range from traditional rooms in the French-inspired Chateau Lafayette and the English-style Lodge, to private townhouses, to posh boutique rooms in the Forbes and AAA Five Diamond, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Falling Rock Hotel. Whether you stay at Falling Rock or not, make time to have cocktails on the patio overlooking the golf course, by the inifiniti pool bar (in season) or in the mid-century-inspired lobby bar. The food is great and it’s a cozy option in the winter, especially when the fireplace is ablaze. A nice perk is that guests can park their cars and let the Nemacolin shuttle zips you between the hotels, restaurants, and casino at no charge.
Nemacolin is famed for its butler service. If ever you wanted a personal attendant to draw your curtains, lay out your clothes, deliver breakfast in bed, and organize your day, look no further. An even greater frivolity is being handed a ‘bath menu’ from which your butler will draw a custom-scented bath at a specified temperature any time of day. It is an extraordinary experience to enter your suite to the aroma of lavender and hibiscus; the bathroom strewn with flower petals and tea candles. Towels and champagne glasses artfully arranged. “Jeeves” will even pour a little bubbly, if you insist. All you have to do is hop in and simmer! Here’s to the good life in the Laurel Highlands, where national treasures, stunning scenery and luxurious accommodations abound.