Southwestern Pennsylvania‘s Beautiful Nature Getaway
Nature holds and heals us. Just over an hour south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania lies a region rich in in rolling hills, waterfalls, and big sky: the Laurel Highlands.
What follows are photos of this magical area to transport you to calm. I’ve added travel tips and an itinerary as well, should you choose to visit in real life.
What is the Laurel Highlands?
Being Boston-based, I’d never heard of the Laurel Highlands before my friend Jeremy pointed it out earlier this year.
“Hey,” Jeremy the Pittsburgh expert counseled, “You said you’re in Cleveland visiting family this July? If you and your husband want a great getaway destination, southwestern Pennsylvania is gorgeous, and is just three hours south of where you’re staying.”
“Ooo…” replied I, yanking out our calendar to circle a free date. “We’re in!”
A Bucolic Vacation for Couples and Families
When you work multiple jobs and have two young and delightful yet mischievous kids, a couples getaway is a precious, precious entity that cannot be squandered at a sub-par location.
Would Jeremy’s recommendation prove positive, or would I have to pummel my friend for leading us astray? We had just two nights to try out the Laurel Highlands. Would the region deliver?
Truly, a Relaxing Destination
As you’ve likely already surmised from these stunning Laurel Highlands photos, YES, southwestern Pennsylvania delivered relaxation, romance, and beauty… big-time.
There are a handful of regions I’ve visited which, immediately upon entering them, embrace the visitor with waves of calm (truly — you feel them in your heart). Cape Cod is one such area for me, as is southwestern Ireland. Now, I can add the Laurel Highlands to that list.
The moment our car entered the undulating hills, my shoulders unclenched from the constant “on” of parenting, and my breath steadied. My husband and I rolled down the car windows and drank in the nature-cleansed air.
“Now THIS is going to be a VACATION!” I sighed with bliss.
Where to Stay in the Laurel Highlands:
On the recommendation of local Laurel Highlands experts, we stayed at the luxury-rustic gem, Oak Lodge Bed and Breakfast… in our own private log cabin!
Click that link to read the full story about why that bed and breakfast so unique (hint: a hidden 18th century village???), but suffice it to say that it now ranks as one of our favorite hotels of all time.
Fallingwater: Must-See Laurel-Highlands Attraction
Of course, the #1 reason most people visit southwestern Pennsylvania is to see the most famous house in America: Fallingwater. Before coming to the Laurel Highlands, I had definitely heard of Fallingwater, but I didn’t know where in the country it sat. How glorious to learn it’s just a few hours south of my in-laws’ house in Cleveland!
Even better: It’s highly satisfying to be able to report that Fallingwater exceeds all expectations. It is beyond worth the trip, and no photos can do justice to the genius that lies within its walls. What other attractions are must-visit in the Laurel Highlands? Let’s see the list…
What are all these sunset photos?
Glad you asked. On our last night in the Laurel Highlands, I said to my husband, “I think I’ll just leave my big camera in the hotel when we go out for dinner. It’s getting dark anyway. Why would I need to lug it around?”
Colin whipped around. “Lillie!” he gasped, “Every time you say that, there is the most amazing sunset that night, and you spend the whole evening wailing about how you wish you had your camera with you! Remember how that happened during your movie at Folly Beach?”
“Oh right,” I muttered. I guess that’s one reason (among many) that people get married: To have a witness who can snap you out of the silly mistakes you keep making!
Sure enough, Colin was 100% right. The sunset on our last night in the Laurel Highlands was perfection — and it just kept getting better and better, as seen from the four different photos of it in this article: a master class in juxtaposition examples, with the pinks and purples contrasting perfectly with the green of the hills. Thank you, dear spouse, for making sure I had my trusty camera with me to preserve the beauty.
What are YOUR Laurel Highlands Thoughts?
We left the Laurel Highlands (after a hilarious stop at a local farm market for peaches) deeply rested, connected to each other, and happy… already making plans for the next time we would return!
So what about you? Have you been to the Laurel Highlands? What did you do and think, of so? If you haven’t been yet, does it seem like a region you’d like to visit? Do share!
We were guests of the Laurel Highlands, but all rock lust and opinions are my own.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!