Updated: Jul 24, 2019
I recently had the pleasure of traveling to the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania with some of my #fansoffrederick colleagues for a weekend of fun filled with great food, hiking, relaxation and an unforgettable visit to The Frank Lloyd Wright Falling Water House. Laurel highlands located about an hour east of Pittsburg and 2.5 hours from my hometown of Frederick Maryland is a great spot for a weekend getaway from anywhere in the DC/Baltimore metro Area.
The weekend commenced with a cold beer and plate of Nachos from the The Bavarian Lounge at Seven Springs Mountain Resort while I waited for everyone to arrive. Friday evening we walked over to Helen’s for a fine dining, farm to table dinner where the chef prepared us an unbelievable 4 course menu. The dinner menu was crafted with locally sourced ingredients including Sana View Farms Chilled Heirloom Tomato Soup, Pletchers Watermelon Salad, Laurel Hill Trout Farm Jamison Farm Lamb Laurel Highlands Surf & Turf, and Moo Echo Dairy Farm Ice Cream Flight. I’ve never had a dining experience quite like that before, and I would consider it one of the best I’ve had.
Saturday morning we packed up the car and headed to the lovely town of Ligonier for some shopping at Ligonier Country Market where the motto is make it, bake it, grow it. We arrived to find dozens of local farmers and artists selling everything from meats and fresh produce, to hot sauces, honeys and hand crafted items. I love to grill and smoke foods so I focused on things I could bring home and incorporate into my cooking. I scored 3 lbs. of Honey (1 habanero, 1 smoked, and 1 garlic) from Huckle Bee Farms and three rubs (Cajun, Blackened and Basic blend) from Natures Life Spices. I have to confess I have been putting that Habanero Honey on just about everything (even biscuits & gravy and pepperoni pizza) It’s that good!
After the Country Market we drove a short distance over to Fort Ligonier, a British Fortification from the French and Indian War of 1758. This is a fascinating tour and a must do if you visit Laurel Highlands. The tour will take you through the fort’s museum where there are Wartime relics and mock up scenes on display. Then you can tour the actual fort and see where they slept, cooked, ate and worked. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable about the operations of the fort and gave us real sense for what happened during this fort’s short operational history. As you walk around you can’t actually believe what you're hearing and what these people accomplished in very difficult terrain with so little. It’s very humbling!
The fort is located within the city limits of Ligonier so we took a short stroll through the cozy and quaint downtown area for more shopping and sightseeing before heading out to dinner at the stunning Oak Lodge in Stahlstown. The 1868 era Farmhouse transformed into a luxury wedding venue/spa/restaurant is nestled in a rustic setting and the perfect spot for your wedding, spa day or afternoon out to lunch.
We arrived around 2PM and surprisingly there was a bit of a line, I thought to myself it’s pretty busy for a new restaurant. Then I tried the food and found out why… If you haven’t heard about Oak lodge Café it’s only a matter of time before you start to hear the buzz. I tried the Field Fries (Waffle Fries with a sweet corn Pico, micro greens and Herb Lime Cream) and the Bangarang Shrimp Tacos… both were bursting with layers flavors. The manager described it as a “party in your mouth” and he wasn’t kidding, I’d give both 10 out of 10.
Saving the best for last, on Sunday we drove 19 miles southwest to the Frank Lloyd Wright Falling Water House for a guided tour and lunch. Before this trip was planned I had no idea who Frank Lloyd Wright was and had never heard of Falling Waters. Now I will never forget it! What an extraordinary human being with an extraordinary vision that was way ahead of his time. You will be awe struck when you first lay your eyes on Falling Water as you walk down the paved path that leads you to the front of the building. That feeling of awe will continue as you tour the house leaving one question in your mind. How on earth did they build this house in 1936? When you walk through the house it actually feels like something that would’ve been built and furnished in the 1970’s. On the tour you will learn the fascinating story of Falling Water, its designer Frank Lloyd Wright and its only residents the Kaufman Family. Plan a visit any time of year for a different point of view as they are open during all seasons. I’m planning my next visit for the Fall Foliage.
Before this trip I’d also never heard of Laurel Highlands Pennsylvania and now I can’t wait to go back as there is just too much to see in two days. Whether you’re into exploring the great outdoors, dining and shopping, or relaxing at the spa you’re going to find what you’re looking for in The Laurel Highlands. Be sure to check out the Visit Laurel Highlands Things To Do Page before you plan your trip and feel free to reach out to Visit Laurel Highlands with any questions you may have. I guarantee they will have a more than helpful answer to assure you have a good time.
Full gallery from the weekend.