The House on the Rock Ultimate Experience
On a return road trip home from Chicago we saw a billboard for House on the Rock and made an impromptu decision to stop for a tour. The House on the Rock is not something that can properly be described. You really must see it to believe it. Part house, part museum, we recommend the Ultimate Experience Tour to take it all in.
House on the Rock Ultimate Experience:
Cost is $29.95 per adult and plan to explore for at least 3 hours.
Just warming up with: Section 1 – Asian Garden, the Alex Jordan Center and Sculpture Pavilion, the Gate House and the Original House and Infinity Room.
Keep going, there is more to see with: Section 2 – Mill House, Streets of Yesterday, Heritage of the Sea, Tribute to Nostalgia, Music of Yesterday, Spirit of Aviation and the worlds largest carousel
You’re not done yet: Section 3 – Carousel, Organ Room, Inspiration Point, Doll House Room, Circus Room
Alex Jordan: The myth, the man, the legend.
To quote the man behind The House on the Rock, Alex Jordan, “one thing just sort of led to another”. That is a good way to describe what we saw at House on the Rock. Alex Jordan was a man with lots of money and loved to collect things. The House on the Rock became a collection of his collections. If he wanted it he had to have it. One might call him a hoarder or you could call him a curator of his whims. Imagine being able to financially go after all of the things you like to collect.
Alex Jordan has been described as “a shadowy figure as reclusive as the late multi-millionaire Howard Hughes” He never sought personal publicity, rather just lived the life he wanted to live.
A fascinating fact is that Jordan never intended for House on the Rock to be a museum, rather a collection of his favorite things that would entertain his house guests. He did come to realize he had a real oddity on his hands that he could charge people to see. He did just that. Jordan sold the House on The Rock a year before his death in 1989, age 75 to the current owners, The Donaldson Family. The Donaldson’s turned The House on the Rock into a museum that would be open to the public.
The House on the Rock started as a Japanese-style home built on a rock, hence, House on the Rock. A few years following the construction of House on the Rock, construction began to include the addition of 21 rooms with absolutely bizarre exhibits. The term rooms should be clarified. All of what you’re about to see await you in these buildings.
Just some of the Exhibits you’ll see at House on the Rock
You’re going to see lots of photos in this post. The photo opportunities at House on the Rock are endless. Here are some of the things we saw but are not pictured:
- Over 200 dollhouses all scaled and crafted to include the tiniest details. Oh, there is also a 60-foot cannon and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to be seen here.
- Armour collection from King Arthur to the Samurai to the Hannibal crossing the Alps. Much of it made specifically for Alex to display at House on the Rock.
- Weapons exhibit with hundreds of diverse pieces.
- Crown Jewel Collection- replicas of the Tower of London’s Crown jewels- again, hundreds of pieces
- Container Gardens- the largest collection in the Midwest with over 275 varieties of flowers- most of which cannot be found in the Midwest.
- The Mill House- fragile glassware, suits of armor, immense fire pit with cauldrons of hearth plus ladies & gentlemen’s lounges.
- Tribute to Nostalgia- there are so many cars on display here.
- ‘Massive 7-Up collection
The Infinity Room at House on the Rock
The Infinity Room at House on the Rock was the 14th room of the house. Built on a 60-foot chunk of rock and is an unsupported length of 218 feet and soaring 156 feet above the valley floor with a stunning panoramic view of the Wyoming Valley The Infinity Room features 3,264 windows as walls. It was a little breezy the day we visited so we felt it at the tip of the Infinity Room.
The Asian Garden
The Streets of Yesteryear
This life-size recreation of a 19th-century village allows you to peak into the windows of a barbershop, carriage house, grandmas cottage, a woodcarver’s shop and much much more. The detail is felt everywhere. You actually walk down the brick road and peer into the windows of room after room and collection after collection. It’s truly fascinating.
Vase collection in the women’s bathroom. The vase display is backlit offering a beautiful view of yet another collection.
Just one of the hundreds of model boats
The Heritage of the Sea Room
This enormous room is 4 winding floors that are lined with more collections. A ramped walkway along the perimeter of the room allows visitors the chance to look at hundreds and hundreds of more collection pieces and models. The big showpieces in this room are the massive sea monster and whale in a nasty fight shown below and a giant model of the Titanic & iceberg. This room has over 200 totally detailed model ships & vessels
[bctt tweet=”The sea creature in the House on the Rock is longer than the Statue of Liberty is tall.” username=”diningduster”]
Spirit of Aviation
This is pretty much like entering the 1950’s. This room has model airplanes with wings that span up to 8 feet. Once again, stuff is hanging from everywhere. You may need to take a pain reliever at this point because you’re looking up, down and all around.
Tribute to Nostalgia
The Organ Room at House on the Rock
Check out the video of the Organ Room from our Instagram Feed. Turn your volume on!
The Worlds Largest Carousel is in the House on the Rock
The carousel is both impressive and massive. It’s the worlds largest carousel and doesn’t have a single horse on it. Notice the dolls and mannequins everywhere in the picture below. There are 269 beasts on this and hundreds of topless angels but not one single horse. Oh, and if you’re getting tired on the tour at this point, you need to toughen up because there is still about an hour to go before you come out the other side!
There are over 20,000 lights on the carousel and 182 chandeliers. This monstrosity weighs 36 tons and was built & assembled at House on the Rock. It took 10 years to plan and see to completion. It’s loud and it’s bright!
Oh, and if you’re getting tired on the tour at this point, you need to toughen up because there is still about an hour to go before you come out the other side!
Music of Yesteryear at House on The Rock
The odd thing about this room is it’s full of music. Most of the collection is animated and playing an instrument. It’s insane and the kind of thing that nightmares are made of. Freaked Kelly out to no end.
It’s the worlds largest collection of animated & automated music machines. There are towering pipe organs and orchestras that were popular in the 19th Century of Europe. There is a 29-foot tall Franz Josef and the famous Mikado with animated Oriental figures.
In the first two photos if you look closely you can see the walking area. Again, the room spans over multiple floors and you walk the perimeter and sometimes over, through, above, below. Everywhere you look there is a new way to walk. A mannequin below or above. Very, very trippy. There is no other way to say it.
This property is so large that there is even a restaurant called Inspiration Point to grab a bit to eat and sit down to relax and reflect on everything you just saw. You’ll get views of the Infinity Room and House on the Rock
That concludes the tour. Once you exit the building you have more views of the expansive property. This waterfall is part of the Japanese Garden with a 14-foot quadruple waterfall and Koi pond.
Upon exiting, you get to see the Infinity Room from below. Look how it balances on the rock, hence, House on the Rock.
This concludes the House on the Rock Tour.
That concludes our 3-ish hour impromptu tour of House on the Rock. This is an experience you simply must see for yourself. It is not something that can adequately be described or shown with a few pictures. If you think that something you saw was really weird, just know that it’s about to get even weirder when you look in another direction.
One can only imagine the thoughts that Alex Jordan had running through his mind at any given time. Jordan took every collection 100 steps further than one might find necessary. Why collect one of something when you could collect 100 of that same thing? The house is best described as organized chaos. One cannot possibly take in everything there is to see with just one visit.
Here are a couple of Pro Tips if you plan to visit the House on the Rock
- Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking for around 3 hours. Varied surfaces and outdoor areas.
- Visit the bathroom before you go. There are only a few opportunities to go when you’re on the tour.
- If you get hungry, there is a restaurant where you can take a break and enjoy a meal or snack.
- House on the Rock is open year-round. Each season will offer a different experience.
- You may bring your camera but not a tripod or drone.
- If you’re easily over-stimulated the music room is going to drive you absolutely nuts.
- Plan to attend when you’re not in a hurry to get back on the road.
Tell us, have you been to House on the Rock?
Here’s a couple of pictures to pin. You’re going to want to add this to your future road trip!