Looking for things to do in the Laurel Highlands in the fall? This seemingly remote mountainous region of Southwest Pennsylvania has some of the state’s most beautiful outdoor attractions. All of them can be visited year-round but the region is especially captivating in the fall.
On my recent hosted stay, I had the chance to experience a lot of fall fun in the Laurel Highlands and I thought I’d share my favorite adventures.
THINGS TO DO IN THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS IN THE FALL
AUTUMNFEST AT SEVEN SPRINGS RESORT
Fall fun in the Laurel Highlands kicks off with the annual Autumnfest celebration at Seven Springs. The event takes place over four weekends in October, each with a different theme.
It’s one of Pennsylvania’s most popular festivals and I loved it so much that I wrote an entire post about it.
TAKE A SHORT HIKE TO CUCUMBER FALLS
Ohiopyle State Park is full of outdoor adventure, but Cucumber Falls is one of my favorite spots. The massive rock wall over which the 30-foot waterfall plunges is visually countered by soft, lush green forest and the contrast is absolutely stunning.
The water volume of Cucumber Falls was fairly low when I visited due to drought, but my Pennsylvania friends told me it usually spills over a much wider section of the ledge.
No matter what… it’s beautiful, and the hike from the parking lot is just a few tenths of a mile.
If you clamber over the rocks, you can walk behind the waterfall and seek out different photo angles, but be sure to wear shoes with good traction. The wet rocks and logs can be wobbly and slippery.
One of the logs I stepped on turned over as I was climbing, and it uncovered a pretty orange salamander. He posed briefly before scrambling for a new hiding place.
TAKE IN THE VIEW AT BAUGHMAN ROCK OVERLOOK
It’s a beautiful scene looking deep into the vast valley of the Youghiogheny River Gorge 1700 feet below.
From the parking lot on Sugarloaf Road, it’s a brief walk to the overlook but you’ll need to scale some sloped rocks to get to the viewpoint so it may not be accessible for everyone.
WALK THE ‘YOUGH’.
Take a leisurely stroll across the pedestrian bridge in Ohiopyle for a sweeping view of the Lower Youghiogheny River.
For the adventurous, there are a number of whitewater rafting outfitters that will take you out on the rapids for a thrilling ride.
START SIPPIN’ ON THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS POUR TOUR.
Fall fun in the Laurel Highlands doesn’t end when you come indoors. Get your Pour Tour passport and start sippin’ at any of the 31 breweries, cideries, meaderies, distilleries and wineries included on the trail.
Collect stamps or digitally check-in as you visit each location to earn your way to collecting Pour Tour merch! You have until 2021 to complete your passport so there’s no reason to sip and run from one to the next.
I visited two stops (so far) on the Pour Tour: Four Seasons Brewing and Greendance Winery.
Four Seasons Brewing Company
With a beer for every season and over a dozen on tap at any given time, there’s something for everyone at this cozy brewery in Latrobe.
But if you’re not into beer, no problem. Kick back with mead, wine or soda. There’s also a limited menu of snack options and food trucks often visit on weekends.
It’s a cozy comfortable place to gather with friends and I really enjoyed hanging out there. See what’s on tap!
I don’t know what’s more wonderful – the wine or the cuisine at Greendance Winery, but we started with a complimentary wine tasting so I’ll talk about the wine first.
I prefer dry wines so they helped me hone in on those for my tasting and I found several I really enjoyed.
A big surprise for me was how much I liked their chardonnay. I usually find them too oaky for my taste, but theirs was fabulous!
But my absolute favorite was the Marquette, an estate wine, and a bottle of it went home with me. I wish I’d bought more than one!
After our wine tasting, we put our dinner orders in at The Cabin and our dessert orders in at Cafe Persimmon.
Guess what came first? Dessert! I had a fresh raspberry pie with a scoop of Oregon Blackberry Cheesecake ice cream, which was to die for.
All of their fruit pies are made from fresh berries straight from their sister farm – Sand Hill Berries and believe me, these confections are worth a trip on their own.
For dinner, I ordered a tomato mozzarella sandwich and it was magnifique.
Everything at Greendance Winery really impressed me, including the grounds.
We took a little stroll through the property to see the wedding venues, gardens, vineyards and countryside.
The old wagon wheel trail is still visible on the hillside. Look for it if you wander outside.
I even saw my first pawpaw tree. I have no idea what the fruit tastes like, but I’m going to have to try one now.
Have you ever had pawpaw fruit?
Whether you visit Greendance Winery for the wine, the food or the atmosphere, it’s well worth a trip. (And you can get a Pour Tour sticker in your passport.)
TOUR FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S FALLINGWATER
Fallingwater, now a UNESCO Heritage Site, is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most renowned works and if you enjoy his creations, visiting Fallingwater needs to be at the top of your list of things to do in the Laurel Highlands.
Fallingwater perfectly exemplifies Wright’s desire to harmonize art and nature through architecture. The home was built cantilevered over the waterfalls – uniting indoors and out in a cohesive, symbiotic way.
Everything inside the estate remains exactly as it was when it was built as a weekend home for the Kauffmann’s, owners of a Pittsburgh department store.
To tour Fallingwater, advance tickets must be purchased. I took the guided house tour (about one hour) but specialty tours are also available for a more in-depth look.
Same day grounds passes can be purchased at the gate but are first come, first serve so call ahead for availability.
Following the tour, guests are invited to walk the exterior grounds. Be sure to take the trail leading to the iconic and much-photographed view below.
If you’re hungry, grab a bite at the Fallingwater Cafe. The menu is quite inventive. I ordered a cheddar and scallions tartine – delicious!
BARBECUE THURSDAYS AT OUT OF THE FIRE CAFE
Before I even talk about the barbecue, order a bowl of the roasted mushroom soup. I’m not a mushroom person at all, but Out of the Fire Cafe is known for this soup so I had to try it.
Omg, it was divine. Absolutely divine. GET IT.
We also ordered the Korean deviled eggs and a charcuterie board for appetizers.
And now I’ll talk barbecue. It’s only available on Thursdays in October and lawd, is it ever good.
I ordered the backyard barbecue platter with mesquite-smoked pulled pork and brisket. The smoky flavor was perfect and the meat was fall-apart tender. Even the sides were phenomenal.
After reading this list of things to do in Laurel Highlands in the fall, you’re probably planning a trip for next year already. May I join you?
Connect with Laurel Highlands Visitor Bureau for more information and a visitor guide.
Comments & Reviews
melissa chapman says
I love the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and Falling Water is his most characteristic work. Pennsylvania is not too far from me so someday i have to try this resort for food and to take in the natural beauty.
What a gorgeous escape from reality!! I have NEVER been to PA if you can believe it… But you’re making me want to!
Pam Wattenbarger says
Now I want to take a trip to the Laurel Highlands. The leaves are beautiful and that food looks delicious.
What a beautiful place. I’ve driven through Pennsylvania, but I’ve never stopped to check it out. I see I’ve been missing so much. Will definitely take the time next time.
Denay DeGuzman says
What an AMAZING adventure!!! My husband and I are planning a trip to the East Coast, so I’m so excited to have this information along with gorgeous images. Thank you so much for putting the Laurel Highlands on my radar!
Amber Myers says
This is such a gorgeous area. I need to get here for sure. And the food? Yes please. Everything looks incredible.
I’m a go any place that looks this beautiful! I would love to explore it over and over and over again. What a beautiful place to explore!
Terri Steffes says
I have this house on my must see list. I am a big fan of FLW and I hope to see this one soon. I didn’t know about the festival, maybe I can work it in.
Brianne Tursi Manz says
I have never heard of the Laurel Highlands before! Now I want to take the family there some day! There is a lot of fun stuff to do there and the foods look amazing.
Laurel Highlands looks like so much fun! I love a good aventure and the great outdoors. This is just my type of getaway.
Sarah Bailey says
I have to admit I’ve not heard of Laurel Highlands before but they look absolutely incredible. What an amazing place to go and explore in autumn it just looks so beautiful, nothing like being out in nature.
Wow, these photos are so beautiful! I have never been here before, but now I would love to. Just to be able to see all that beautiful nature has would be amazing. Even the food looks delicious.
I’ve never heard of the area, but you had me at waterfalls and Frank Lloyd Wright! Looks beautiful with plenty to do in the area.
This sounds and looks like a great place to go for some fun. However, I would have freaked out when seeing the salamander, though.
Kita Bryant says
That looks like a great way to enjoy the fall weather. I love going hiking during this time of year.
This looks like such an amazing place to visit. I would love to visit one day with my family.
mya kroeplin says
oh wow that looks amazing. that’s not too far from a friends place. i’ll have to tell her about it.
Monica Y says
What a fun nice place to visit, need to add it to my travel plans with the family, it would be an amazing vacation
Alissa A Apel says
I’d like that salamander spotting! I love the Frank Lloyd Wright building. So neat-O.