If you're a diehard AdventureGunn fan, (and I know there are many of you out there :D) you will know that we started our van trip in August 2017. After 29 days of traveling throughout New England, you will also know that we got rear-ended in our van, and then had to spend another 29 days sitting and waiting (more like crying and whining) for Comet the Amazing-Travel-Toaster to be fixed so we could get back on the road. After the repairs were done (Monday October 9, 2017), we bolted out of New Jersey like a bat out of hell, knowing that our original intention to travel west via the northernmost states of the US would be severely threatened by the looming cold weather season.
Our first stop was to State College, PA to visit my brother and his Gaggle-of-Girls, aka: fiancé, 3 daughters under the age of 8, and spirited Australian Shepard. For some unknown reason, I have a total of zero photos from this portion of the trip, and to add insult to injury, our trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water was also part of my mysterious photo-losing-fiasco.
Alas, I have not a single picture to prove I was there, other than the few snaps Humz took on his phone, so I’ll have to live with those forever, or else go back for another visit.
It’s one of my greatest failures that I went to a place that’s on every architect’s bucket list and somehow managed to lose all of my pics. But at least I’ll have the memories of scoring tickets a day before going, then being extremely late, calling the ticket phone line in a panic that we would miss our tour time, only to be reassured it would not be a problem as long as we got there before the last tour of the day, not noticing that we missed an exit and were extremely off course, and then almost not making it for the last tour of the day. SHEER ANGER AND PANIC! Between the missed exit, the rolling western Pennsylvania hills, and the shear slowness of driving an RV instead of a Ferrari that can speed through said hills, we pulled up about 10 minutes before the last tour. Phewwwwwww!
When vanlifers say they get in fights with their significant others, this was one of those days for us. I was enraged with Humz that we did not share the same rigor (more like desperation) to get to this tour on time. We later talked about this and decided that we had to make sure that we communicated our priorities better about things which are an absolute must-see and when arriving to things “on-time” means an hour early, 15 minutes before, on-time, or around the right time/lenient. Since every single thing we do on this trip is new to us, sometimes it is hard to judge how long things take since we’re not familiar with road conditions, traffic, geography of the location, weather patterns, etc. Sometimes a necessary stop for gas or propane can put us an hour off course, and if I see an awesome road-side attraction you better believe I am stopping for it. I know that last one is my fault, but that was not the case this time; it was simply poor-planning on our part, missing an exit, and windy roads which did not allow us to travel at top-Ferrari-speed. Luckily we did make it for the last tour, and after a brief cool-down period in the gift shop we were ready to experience the magical Falling Water.
Quick Tips for NOT Failing Falling Water:
Book your tickets as early in advance as possible through their website, as popular times/days do sell out. Do not just show up, especially during July, August, and October, their most popular times to visit. You cannot access the house without a tour ticket. Tours run daily from 10am - 4pm but are closed on Wednesdays. If you can’t get a tour ticket, grounds-only tickets are available for $10 at the gate, but you must call Visitor's Services at 724-329-8501 for availability.
We did the Guided House Tour (ie: the cheapest option) and it was $30 per person. This tour does not allow photography inside the house, but you can take pictures of the exterior and famous waterfall view for as long as you want afterward. Since we were the last tour of the day we had the grounds all to ourselves before they officially closed for the day, which I highly recommend doing. Tour time is about 1 hour but may start late, so make sure to take that into account. Budget a minimum of 2 hours on the grounds if you do this tour.
Children under 6 are not permitted on any of the tours, but there is a family room for the caregiver who gets to stay with the kiddies. There are also special children’s tours on select days. Call for availability.
The tours that do allow interior photography are the In-Depth Tour ($80 pp), Brunch Tour ($140 pp) and Sunset Tour ($130 pp.) If you have a spare $1,200, you and 3 friends can have the Focus Tour all to yourselves. Kids under 9 are not permitted on any of the specialty tours.
Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. The tours start in the visitor center and then you have a 5-minute (about a ¼ mile) outdoor walk to the house. There is also a wooded path around the house to get to the famous waterfall view, which you do not want to miss.
Leashed dogs are allowed in the parking area only. Limited shaded parking is available. Service dogs are of course allowed everywhere.
Only small bags (less than 10”x10”x3”) are permitted inside the house. No backpacks or tripods are permitted since you’ll sometimes be in tight quarters in certain areas of the house.
No drones, sadly
If you miss out on Falling Water or want more Frank Lloyd Wright fun, get tickets for Duncan House at Polymath Park which is only 23 miles away from Falling Water.
See www.fallingwater.org for more info and in-depth FAQs not covered above.