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Day 6: Chasing Waterfalls and Fly Balls

 

After a hard day at Kennywood, it was time to head off into the Pennsylvania countryside!

 

What's that? DelGrosso's? Idlewild? Dude, have you even read one of my reports? Ain't nobody got time for credit whoring some children's park. Not when there's the coolest house in the whole country just an hour and a half from Pittsburgh. I'm headed for Fallingwater!

 

The tour was incredible. It was a rainy day but they supplied free mandatory umbrellas. This is an old house, and stock parts don't work. Maintenance on this place is enormously labour-intensive and expensive too. Thus the tour isn't cheap; they start at $30. "What? That's as much as a theme park ticket! Why aren't you at a theme park?" Fine, you go credit whore something and come back in a couple days when I'm back at a theme park, ok?

 

Phew, glad we got rid of Coasterboy. As I was saying, this is a kickass house and the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic. There are no photos during the tour. None. They are very particular about that. They do let you take pictures on the grounds after the tour is done, and I have quite a few here. Enjoy!

 

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Back in Pittsburgh, it was time for some lunch at Primanti's and a walk around downtown. I also went to the Fort Pitt museum for some history lessons about this fair town. I kind of expected downtown to be bigger than it was, but it was very small and walkable. The topography of this area leaves very little space for skyscrapers, so they're all extremely tall and huddled together. I loved Point State Park, really beautiful.

 

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And now for the main event, the most beautiful ballpark in America, the legendary, the one and only PNC PARK!!!!!

 

The game was delayed a bit for rain, and once it got started, it was pretty lopsided. I was cheering for the Pirates, mainly because they suck and the Atlanta Braves were a wild card rival for my St. Louis Cardinals. (since then, the Braves have gone on a tear while the Phillies have fallen off, so the Braves will win the NL East; but at the time they were only a couple games apart and it wasn't certain). But as usually happens, the team that's going to the playoffs just murdered the team that stands a decent chance of not losing more games that they win. Oh well, craft beer and a beautiful stadium, can't go wrong with that.

 

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This was a great, low key day in western PA. Next up, the legendary original Carnegie Library!

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One of my Architectural Bucket List Things was to visit Falling Water.

Long time ago. Almost forgotten about it, till all your wonderful photos were posted.

 

How big is the property it sits on? There seems to be so much untouched lush greenery around it.

 

Thanks for all the great outdoor shots. And those of Pittsburgh, too.

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^ It's on 1500 acres. The house is enormous (and there's a guest house too that's the size of a normal house). There are a ton of nature trails and you can go walk in the woods if you want. The tour price includes an all day grounds pass.

 

Great report. I read this on the plane the other day and forgot to comment so... sorry about that.

 

I've still never been to Kennywood (which is insanely ridiculous and stupid) but I think next year will probably be the year that changes.

No worries, I've done that too. You should go, I think you'll like it. It's basically Bizarro World Knoebels where they don't know how to properly run all the awesome things they have.

 

@coasterbill Accept I aint gone ride that new coaster cuz the only football team that i like is saint lewis rams. Stealers suck!!!!!!!!

Lolololol

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I love that Shrimp Heaven shirt that's hilarious, haha. Pittsburgh is an underrated city which many Midwesterners probably avoid because they hate the Steelers and they'll never know what a great place it is. That house is really cool. Reminds me of the secluded house in Ex Machina. I looked and that house is in Norway with mountains added to the view. Close!

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wonderful pics of FallingWater -- wonder why they won't let you take pics inside the house, I know they used to (because I have some from many years ago, and I don't think we broke any rules to take them - nevermind it would have been with a camera the size of a shoebox back then. .so how could you take stealth pics anyways).

 

amazing that the grounds look exactly the same so many years later -- they are doing some great maintenance keeping the outside of the place looking great.

 

seriously, thanks for sharing. . that Frank Lloyd White house is one of my favorite places I've been to (still need to get to House on the Rock tho to see Jordan's design work -- and the Carousel, of course)

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Fallingwater really is a treasure, and they work very hard to maintain it. Anyone who's interested in art, architecture, engineering, or nature will really have a good time out there. It's easy to get to, just a few miles off the turnpike, and there's good signage giving directions, which is appreciated when you lose GPS signal.

 

I imagine the no photography on the tour is partially to keep tours moving, and partially to protect the house and furniture from damage that may be caused by someone not paying attention while selfieing. If your phone has to stay put away, you'll be more aware of your surroundings. This house is 80 years old, and all the furniture was custom designed by a man who died half a century ago. It's literally priceless; it cannot be replaced.

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Cool trip report so far. I did Cincinati/Kings Island in late May/early June along with Kentucky Kingdom and Holiwood Nights at Holiday World and I did Cleveland, Cedar Point, Kennywood/Pittsburgh, Niagara Falls and Toronto/Canada's Wonderland last month. Next time you go to Cincinnati try Camp Washington Chili. It's better than Skyline (I haven't tried Gold Star) and although they just have one location its easy to find on the north-south I-75 fwy just north of the downtown area with its own parking lot. They also serve craft beer in cans and are open 24/6 (closed Sundays). Its not too far from the Cincinati Zoo which is really nice. Also Jungle Jims (either location) is worth checking out, its like the theme park of grocery stores.

 

Your Monday at Kennywood looked just as crowded, if not more crowded than my Saturday at Kennywood. The date I went was August 11 and I didn't arrive there until just before 1PM as I drove there from Cedar Point after checking out of Hotel Breakers. Two of us bought our VIP Coaster & Thrill Unlimited Tours a few days prior online and the other was lucky they still had them at the park for sale. It made our day so much better and we were able to have a pretty relaxed day at Kennywood though I noticed their operations made Six Flags look like Disney. The employees in the games booths totally reminded me of Adventureland, they looked sad and lifeless. Even with the Unlimited Pass, it only included the five open coasters and six of the flat rides so I still had to wait 30 min to ride Garfield's Nightmare (the queue was half filled compared to your picture) and ended up skipping some rides like the water ride in Lost Kennywood (it was hot and humid of course) and the Kangaroo which I almost did. I noticed most of the crowd at night was around Racer and Jack Rabbit (it was a 10:30 park close day) and Thunderbolt and Phantom's Revenge were station waits after 9 PM. Turtle had a long line during the day and it was a walk on at night so I finally tried it then. We ended off the night with five rides in a row on Phanton's Revenge without getting out of our seats (the Coaster Tour reserves two middle rows just for their riders). Our day wasn't truely great until this night ERT. Phantom's Revenge alone is worth a visit to Kennywood and I got nine rides on it throughout the day. Potato Patch was really good after being underwhelmed by it at a different location in the park two years prior. I got my Swedish Fish Rita's Italian Ice and then went to the main Potato Patch and got it with seasoning and gravy. A bit later I got a sausage sandwich from a hut so it was probably the same place you got yours. I really wanted to try Waffles & Dinges but it was closed when I was hungry again at night and the BBQ in the beer garden also looked good, but all was good because we ate at a Primanti's by the waterfront under the bridge after the park.

 

Gas was the only thing I didn't buy at my first Sheetz stop of the trip since I filled up at the Speedway next to Kennywood the night before. I ordered a full breakfast there the day after Kennywood and bought several different sodas and chips to try. Their breakfast bagel sandwich with guacamole and salsa was really good (for a fast food breakfast) as well as their Toasted Marshmallow flavored cold brew coffee and they had cans of Surge and many different flavors of bottled Canada Dry including non-ginger ale flavors so I really liked Sheetz.

 

For Pittsburgh, did you go up the Duquesne Incline? I had a limited time in Pittsburgh after my day at Kennywood since I was driving to Buffalo Niagara and was also stopping at Conneaut Lake Park and Waldameer along the way, so I only went up the Duquesne for the amazing views of the city.

 

I noticed you used trip adviser for finding food options. Do you find it more useful than yelp? We've never been steared wrong with yelp, but it seems like our home runs aren't stacking up quite like they used to.

I like Yelp for restaurants and Trip Advisor for hotels, attractions, and things to do. Yelp lets you filter by distance, most reviewed, and "open now" which is helpful for finding restaurants late at night. I feel more restaurants get reviewed on Yelp but more hotels definitely get reviewed on Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor is good if your figuring out things to do in a city/area your unfimiliar with.

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I hadn't heard of Camp Washington, thanks! I will be back to Cincinnati, since it's pretty close to me, will check it out next time, and Jungle Jim's too.

 

Sheetz is so ridiculous. It's too bad there wasn't a Wawa out that far west, or I would have gone there instead, but Sheetz has some pretty good stuff too, at least for gas station food. Service is much better at Sheetz, imo.

 

I know which Primanti's you're talking about, that's very close to the Burgatory I went to that night. They're all over and sooo good.

 

As for the incline, I won't reveal anything, but you might just want to keep reading.

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I'm glad you liked Pittsburgh. We also enjoyed it. We went the ultra touristy route and took our first segway tour. It ended up being a blast and we packed a lot in, in a few hours.

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Segway tours can be really fun! They're usually done in a very small group, which is easier

to manage around a city. We did it once in Paris and it was wild! We both loved the Segs....and no crashes.

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^Paris has been lovely to visit, in our 50s and 60s by the way.

You'll probably be able to get there in a shorter time period, than we did.

 

And Disney Paris (BOTH parks) will be a - may - ZING by then!

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Great photos of the FLW house as well as downtown Pixburgh (local referral - lol), Andrew.

 

I still haven't made it to Graycliff near Buffalo, but it looks like it might pale in comparison to Fallingwater. Still a huge fan of his architecture, nonetheless and sure it would be spectacular.

 

And of course...Southern Tier for the win!

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  • 3 weeks later...

^ Yeah, thanks for letting me know about the one in Pittsburgh, was very good.

 

Wow, how time goes by. Yinz ready for the next installment?

 

Day 7: A Man, a Plan, a Library

 

No visit to Pittsburgh would be complete without a visit to the original Carnegie Library. Almost every town in America has one--in fact, Springfield calls theirs the Carnegie Branch Library--and it's all because of the profound philanthropic work of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

 

Today, the library is also a really great art museum and natural history museum, and is a really great all day destination. The natural history museum is in the wings of the main library building, while the art museum is (mostly) in an annex out back. I did the art museum first, and it's really great. There's a lot to see, from Renaissance to modern abstract and even film. They present it in a way that educates visitors about the importance of art. You're not just seeing a Monet, you're learning what made Monet great, and what he was saying to his world. The museum teaches you to think like an artist. Kudos to the curators for having that vision and executing on it so well.

 

The natural history museum is similarly spectacular, with several near-complete dinosaur skeletons, in-depth exhibits on Native American and Egyptian life, a huge display of rare gems, and one gigantic room full of columns, frescoes, and other architecture from the classical and Renaissance eras. The museum will take you all day, and it is very much worth it. Stop by next year when yinz come for Steel Curtain.

 

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Carnegie Museum was great.

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Oh this isn't an exhibit. This is the building.

 

After the museum, I made my way to the top of Mt. Washington. I first drove to the top, and I got a real taste of Pittsburgh. I went up a winding switchback road, and around one curve I saw another Jeep at the top (Did I mention I have a Jeep and drove that to Pittsburgh? I don't think I did, probably because it wasn't relevant until now). He rolled down his window and folded his mirror in, so I did the same, and he waved me up. It was a tight fit, but we made it! I appreciate my Jeep now more than ever.

 

The view from the top of the mountain is incredible. It costs $2 to park up there, and there are several lookout platforms for good photos. You can also get a return ticket on the incline railway, so that's what I did. It was so much fun! Super steep, elevatorish more than it is trainish, except that it's very much on rails. The only incline railway I had been on previously was Silver Dollar City's, so this was really cool. It's just part of Pittsburgh's public transit system, and I can see why. If I lived up there, I wouldn't want to drive that either. I didn't want to drive back down frankly, but I had to. Glad I got to experience the real Pittsburgh though. This was way better than experiencing the real Philadelphia.

 

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Great views of the city from up here.

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Incline railway station.

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The view from the bottom.

 

The last thing for the day was the Hofbrauhaus over by Hot Metal Bridge. They had a fantastic dunkel and some really great bierwurst. I love this place so much. Best of all, to my surprise, I discovered it's a chain, and they have one in Cleveland...where I will be driving through tomorrow....

 

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Good German eats and drinks? Yes please!

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Pretzels and mustard, as it should be.

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Having had this same meal in Germany, this is absolutely authentic.

 

That's it for Pittsburgh. Coming up next, the rest of Western PA, including Waldameer and Conneaut Lake Park!

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Yay...been waiting for you to pick this report back up, Andrew!

 

The incline is great and yeaaahhh...that drive up there was interesting.

 

If I get down there, I'd check out Carnegie...that lobby is gorgeous!!!

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Surely is. This is from the age when wealthy men showed off their wealth by building elaborate public buildings. Carnegie did more than anyone to make Pittsburgh what it is, so he went all out on that library. Best of all, it's still a free public library! If you live in Pittsburgh and have a library card, you can totally check things out from it just like any other library.

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Day 8: Streakin' and Flyin'

 

All right, theme park fans, it's time to get back to some parks. I had fun in Pittsburgh, and it was a great way to break up a coaster trip with some more low-key, relaxing activities, but this is in fact a coaster trip and it was time to get back to the coasters.

 

I started my day with breakfast at the Eat 'n' Park near my hotel. It's really great and really cheap! After that, I got back on the Interstate and headed north to a couple of classic parks that have wildly differing quality. It was really interesting to see the stark difference. I get it, if you want to go the lake, why go to Conneaut Lake when you can go to Lake Erie just an hour away? Now that's a lake!

 

Conneaut was a lot of fun for what was there. It won't take you very long to get through it all; I only spent about an hour at the park, and that was with really taking my time. The rides are all classics, and are well taken care of, they're just old. I didn't have any safety concerns here, and there were a lot of families and grandparents with their grandkids, trying to pass on the tradition.

 

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The "Yeah, we know you're only here for one reason" sign

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Hmm...where do I get a wristband?

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This must be the place.

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OMG, these is the cheapest-looking wristband I've ever seen, like cheaper than the ones you get from bars saying you're an adult.

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Devil's Den is so cool. I think this was my favourite ride there. The ending is genuinely surprising and awesome. I won't spoil it, just get your ass to Conneaut Lake Park and bring a really positive attitude with you, and you'll love it.

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They had bumper cars.

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The carousel was really great. They have hand painted images of classic rides that used to be at this park.

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The only other uncovered Musik Express I've ever seen is at the fair.

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Blue Streak was awesome. I rode in the back, and there is a ton of air. It's maybe a bit rough, but nothing like its reputation. Not so rough that's it's not fun.

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Tumble Bug was down. Glad I got to ride Kennywood's.

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They have a small waterpark that appeared to be popular.

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The train basically goes around Blue Streak. You get some good photo opportunities.

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Wait, is that the Toboggan from Lakemont???

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In the back of the park they have this nice entrance fountain...

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...and these nice entrance ticket booths that are empty.

 

With that done, I headed on to Erie. Got a good recommendation for U Pick 6 Drafthouse for lunch. Awesome sandwiches. Waldameer was a fun afternoon. I got the combo wristband and since the waterpark closes early, that was my focus early on, but I made sure to get the essentials in first. I wasn't going to chance a breakdown happening while I was in a fairly standard lazy river.

 

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Waldameer's entrance is fairly utilitarian.

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They have a Skyride!

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Priorities.

 

Comet is a fun coaster. Not super intense, but a total classic and awesome from start to finish. Despite not being able to choose your seat, I got both a front and back row ride that day.

 

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Absolutely worth the trip for this.

 

Ravine Flyer II is of course the reason I was going to Waldameer. It's their premier ride there, and is incredible. The view of the lake is awesome, right up there with Millennium Force and Wildfire, and the rest of the ride is twisty and intense. Love it, and I rode it several times all over the train. Like most coasters with a great view, it's best in the front.

 

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Wacky Shack is a ridiculous dark ride that is so much fun.

 

The line moves slowly for it, but I love Wacky Shack. This is the sort of hilarious, weird, trippy dark ride I love. Kind of a mashup of the ones at Indiana Beach and Moreys. Super great; do not miss this while you're here.

 

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Pirate's Cove is a cool walkthrough maze. Loved this.

 

Pirate's Cove is another must-do attraction. It's a maze in the dark through some twisty passages, with some cool pirate stuff to see here and there. Seems like it's intended to be scary, but it's not very intense. Lots of kids were going through this over and over.

 

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I was the only one in line when I walked up to this, so I asked for the best view of the lake from the drop tower, and the attendant pointed me to the right seat. Beautiful, and the drop is unexpected and awesome like these towers always are.

 

With the essentials done, I headed across for splashy fun. The waterpark is really fun; the new slide, CannonBOWL, is great, as this type often are. Original plans for this trip were for it to be in June, but work schedule pushed it back. This water was freezing, and it was late August. I cannot imagine how awful the water temperature must be earlier in the summer.

 

Back in the ride side now, it was time to reride the two wooden coasters and get to the few other rides I hadn't done yet. I liked the Steel Dragon, pretty smooth and one of the better mice I've ridden. The Music Express had a really long ride cycle, forward and backward. The Disk'o was as great as they always are, and the train was long and relaxing and went all over both parks.

 

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Who's ready for SKYRIDE PHOTOS?!!!

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Waldameer is fantastic. It's small, and I was done in about four hours, even taking my time and doing everything that I wanted to. What is here is consistently good quality, and couple that with free admission and low wristband prices, along with a great lakeside location, and this park is a winner.

 

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The charm of this park is up to 11.

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Well, it won't be soon.... If you weren't so far away...but I'll probably be in this area again at some point.

 

On the way to Sandusky (spoilers!) I stopped in Cleveland for some more Hofbrauhaus! Yep, that's two in two days. I'm a fan of German food, and there are a lot of Germans in my ancestry. It was much, much bigger than the Pittsburgh location, and right in the heart of the theatre district. The previous day I had a hard time choosing between bierwurst and pierogis, so I knew what dinner would be tonight! They had a live polka band here, and it was just so much fun. Highly recommended.

 

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German goodness awaits.

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Look who else is here!

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They had some excellent pierogis.

 

Saving the best for last--always the way to do it--I drove into Sandusky for 2 days at the most fun peninsula on Earth.

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Hey Andrew, been working my way backwards catching up on all your reports. Can't believe I missed this thread until now. This seems like an amazing trip overall, and I'm all the more impressed it's been broken up with awesome tourist destinations such as PNC Park and Fallingwater. Great writeups, great photos! Can't wait to read more.

 

I've never even made it out to Conneaut but man, it looks as if the park has clearly seen better days. I'd still love to visit someday if only to check out Blue Streak. Is that really a Toboggan waiting to be set up all the way back there?

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