Laurel Highlands Visitor’s Bureau
Fall in the Laurel Highlands
by Karen Fetter
When the leaves change to colors of red, orange, and yellow, and the air becomes cool, you know the fall season has arrived. There is no better place to enjoy autumn than the Laurel Highlands, and no better guide than the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (LHVB). For everything from festivals and scenic drives to events and historic tours, the LHVB can help you make the most of your fall days.
Julie Donovan, director of marketing and public relations for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, says that there is so much the Laurel Highlands has to offer at this time of year. Even for those on a limited budget, there are a variety of fun things to do at little or no cost.
One activity that has grown in popularity is biking on the Great Allegheny Passage. This rail-trail connects Washington, D.C. to a spot just east of Pittsburgh. Cyclists of all ages and abilities follow the trail over any length they choose. Along the bike trail are a variety of accommodations ranging from hostels to popular bed and breakfasts. In addition, there are eateries and shops located all along the trail. For more information on a wonderful biking adventure this fall, visit www.gaptrail.org or call 1-888-282-BIKE.
Another way to enjoy our fall scenery is to take a drive along the historic Lincoln Highway, named in honor of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor is a roadside museum that stretches from Irwin to Gettysburg with exhibits, hand-painted murals on the sides of barns and buildings, vintage gas pumps, and roadside giants to mark the path of the first transcontinental road in the United States! Roadside signs and markers help lead the way. So avoid the turnpike and take a peaceful drive along the winding path of the Lincoln Highway and enjoy the fall foliage. Visit www.lhhc.org for more information.
If you are not thinkin Lincoln, one great fall excursion is a visit to Frank Lloyd Wrights Fallingwater one of the most celebrated examples of American architecture. The landscape of the Laurel Highlands is what inspired Wright to design this retreat over a waterfall. Advanced tickets or reservations are necessary for admission. Visit www.fallingwater.org for more information.
Not far from Fallingwater is another architectural masterpiece called Kentuck Knob. This is a private home-museum owned by Lord Peter Palumbo of London, England. It is framed by mountain vistas and decorated with sculptures by famous contemporary artists. This location is open all year long for tours. For more information visit www.kentuckknob.com.
Part of any fall drive in the Laurel Highlands must include a visit to Ligonier, PA. This area is one of the best places in Westmoreland County to enjoy the beauty of autumn. Ligonier, a New Englandesque town, is filled with specialty shops and tree-lined streets. It has a yearly festival Fort Ligonier Days- that takes place the second full weekend of October and attracts over 150 crafters. The yearly event boasts food booths, a parade, and a French and Indian War reenactment at the Fort Ligonier museum. (This year marks the 50th anniversary of Fort Ligonier, where special events are planned for the weekend.)
This time of year, the town of Ligonier also holds a Scarecrow contest where community members participate in a decorating competition and scarecrows and are put on display throughout the town. And lastly, Ligonier has a weekly Farmers Market on Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to Noon that is sure to please everyone. From homemade crafts and food to fresh produce and flowers, its a great way to enjoy locally grown harvests.
Close by you will also find Idlewild, a family-oriented amusement park that takes on a Halloween twist for the month of October with their Hallowboo theme. Children are encouraged to bring their costumes so they can trick or treat through Storybook Forest, take part in a hay maze, see costume characters, and ride themed attractions. Pumpkins, cornstalks, and Halloween decorations make your outdoor experience one that you will cherish every year.
Another way to enjoy the fall in the Laurel Highlands is by stopping at the Sand Hill Berry Farm in Mount Pleasant. In addition to the farm and bakery, there is the winery known as Greendance. You can enjoy wine in the peaceful and serene environment of the farm. There is no better way to relax.
So whether you want to be active, take a drive, or have fun at a festival, there are dozens of ways to enjoy fall in the Laurel Highlands. The LHVB has it all organized for you in its yearly Visitors Guide. To learn more about all the events that take place this fall in the Laurel Highlands, visit www.laurelhighlands.org or call 724-238-5661 to receive a free copy of the visitors guide that lists all outdoor activities, accommodations, the arts, and historic destinations.
The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau