TRAVEL: Laurel Highlands: The picture of autumn beauty


POSTER_16BOctober 1, 2013
Lauren Staehle
News Writer

Autumn presents a unique opportunity to enjoy the wonders of Mother Nature, and the region of Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania is your one-stop shop for all that fall has to offer. Laurel Highlands consists of multiple counties in Western Pennsylvania and is known for its vast array of outdoor activities and scenic views. The ideal weather and flourishing vegetation of autumn means great conditions for hiking, biking, fishing, horse-back riding, or just about any other activity that can be done outdoors.

Historical landmarks are scattered over the region, including battle sites and museums, and each small town is rich with its own unique slice of history. This region also draws visitors to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater,located in MillLaurel Highlands 1 Run, Pennsylvania, which is continuously named one of the world’s top landmarks. Whether you’re the outdoorsy type, or someone who would rather enjoy a spa treatment and fantastic views, Laurel Highlands is the picture of a perfect autumn getaway.

To fully immerse yourself in the mountain lifestyle, while maintaining a sense of luxury, splurge for a stay in one of the several resorts in Laurel Highlands. The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania stands out in particular for its elegant accommodations and equally impressive outdoor facilities and activities. The resort features an adventure center where you can enjoy everything from mountain biking to paintball to ropes courses.  The 8,400 square foot gymnasium is a unique amenity you may not find at any other resort. There is even an animal park on the property, where you can enjoy an interactive experience and entertaining show.

Laurel Highlands 3The resort also boasts an award-winning restaurant and spa for rejuvenating and refueling after a busy day. A stay at this gorgeous resort starts at $339 per night and has a guarantee that you will leave with lasting memories. For something more affordable and slightly less elaborate, The Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, Maryland offers cozy cabin lodging on 700 acres of state forest. Space for hiking, canoeing, kayaking and horseback riding is abundant and accessible as soon as you step outside your cabin. Prices start around $190 per night, and with a number of cabin styles to choose from, you can customize your ideal getaway.

Many of the resorts and hotels in the area have great restaurants right on their property, but if you want to venture out for a luscious meal and a taste of the local scene, head to Green Gables Restaurant in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania. This restaurant is upscale but Laurel Highlands 4far from stuffy, and like many of the surrounding establishments, it sits on beautiful grounds. The menu, which includes rabbit bolognase and a slow braised lamb shank, is rustic and hearty, but each dish has a unique twist that highlights the creativity of a gourmet chef. Riverside dining is another experience worth investigating if you’re in the area, and the River’s Edge Café in Confluence, Pennsylvania offers diners a seat overlooking the Youghiogheny River. The River’s Edge, located inside a house built in the 1890s, has a casual atmosphere and a diverse menu of fresh seafood, pastas and the restaurant’s famous roast chicken. A meal on the wrap-around porch with a view of the river and gardens is certainly a tranquil way to take in the Laurel Highlands.

 The region is rich in culture and artistic expression, and with such a large variety of sites and museums, there will hardly be time to see it all. At the top of your list should Laurel Highlands 5be Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. One of the artist’s most famous works, Fallingwater is breathtaking, especially in autumn, but make sure you plan ahead and order tickets early. There are a variety of tour options:  from the basic tour to an in-depth tour to a sunset tour with hors d’oeurves on the home’s terrace. If Fallingwater inspires you to investigate more of the art scene, stop by the ArtWorks museum in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, which showcases a diverse mix of art from local and regional artists. Brownsville, Pennsylvania is also home to award-winning artist Frank Melega’s museum. The Nemacolin Castle, also in Brownsville, is a great way to take in the area’s history, while enjoying ornate architecture.  If you’re brave enough, you can sign up for one of the castle’s frightening ghost tours. 

Laurel Highlands is an ideal vacation spot for the whole family, with entertainment Laurel Highlands 6options so vast you will definitely have a packed schedule the entire trip. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the natural wonder of Laurel Caverns in Farmington, Pennsylvania. There are miles of cave to wander through, including sections that have not yet been developed, but that are open to those feeling adventurous. There is also a more traditional guided tour, as well as an opportunity to go sifting for gemstones. Laurel Highlands also has amazing forests and wooded properties, so for a unique tour of the treetops, take a canopy tour or a trip on the zipline. There are multiple ziplines and ropes courses in the area, but head to the Seven Springs Mountain Resort for a truly unique experience.

The canopy tours offered at the resort basically consist of a series of ziplines, but are led by a tour guide who will make sure you take in the beautiful surroundings in between screams. The benefit of being at a resort is that you can easily go on to a wonderful restaurant or a serene spa when you are finished with the thrilling experience. Laurel Highlands is not only about the outdoors though; shopping is also abundant. Antiques are one of the area’s specialties and with places like Cottage Pine Antiques, which features over 40 dealers, you will have thousands of treasures to search through. Farmers markets are another great way to explore the region, and with so many farms nearby, you can find the freshest, tastiest offerings of the season.

 Autumn is truly the ideal time for a getaway, be it romantic, family-centered, or a girls weekend out. The weather is mild and comfortable, the colors are bursting, and you certainly won’t have to struggle with enormous crowds. So, take in all fall has to offer by heading to the mountains, where the air is fresh, the food is good and the fun is plentiful.


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