Review: House on the Rock

Following our Spring Green, WI review, we had to dedicate a whole post to House on the Rock. This is one of the most eclectic and eccentric places you can visit in the U.S. Guidebooks will recommend you spend at least three hours, but we’re telling you right now that it’ll take longer than that! To fully appreciate all it has to offer, you’ll need to invest in two days, or really pace yourself.  We spent about four hours seeing the sites before our minds where full and our feet tired. We would have been back for a second day if we had the time.

COVID-19 Procedures: House on the Rock now requires you to wear a mask, which is probably a good thing with the some of the tight spaces you may encounter. Some of the more hands on machines have been cordoned off for the time being as well. Directional arrows are on the floors and some hallways and viewing areas have been blocked off. Keep in mind that if you choose to continue on instead of exit at the Carousel Room that you’ll have to finish the whole museum before returning to the exit. That’s at least another hour of viewing time, even if you are walking at a brisk pace.

So, what is House on the Rock?  In my mind, it’s a magical, mystical place where each room transports you into a nostalgic past scene. I told Brad nothing about my previous experiences there in order to get to see his reactions. (Which was a little hard to do while wearing a COVID mask.)  It’s just a tour of a house, right?

If it was just a house, it would still be worth the visit.  Alex Jordan, Jr. built most of the place with his own two hands into the side of Deer Shelter Rock on a bluff.   When people began to ask to see inside, he started to charge admission and House on the Rock was born. 

The house has seating and kitchen appliances built into the stone, with fireplaces and stained glass everywhere. The piece de resistance is the Infinity Room that hangs out over the side of the cliff giving the viewer an opportunity to stare down into the forest and also into eternity.

That alone was not enough for this artistic, eclectic recluse. Jordan then built his version of Main Street, U.S.A. in an old mill house.  Inside each shop window is a collection of the items or instruments used by a barber, dentist, blacksmith, apothecary, etc. from that time period. 

Past Main Street, you’ll find yourself staring down the mouth of a giant whale, checking out unique automobiles and reading old Burma-Shave signs until you reach the mid-point food court. We highly recommend planning a break to grab a decent piece of pizza or some ice cream. Once you’re recharged, you’ll be ready for the music rooms. This is where you’ll need at least $5 to turn into tokens that play some of the largest music boxes you’ve ever seen. Be sure to remember your $1 bills or be prepared to ask for change while getting food. Also, don’t worry if you have tokens leftover. The gift shop will gladly exchange them towards the purchase of an item.

Some of these “music boxes” have their own dedicated room and are composed of pneumatics that engage full-size instruments to join in the performance.  Hear The Mikado, Blue Danube or Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy played out by a full orchestra with no humans involved!

Carillon on Main Street, U.S.A.

Past the music rooms you’ll find airplanes, kegs, doll collections, organs, dueling pistols and more. My favorite though, is the Carousel Room. This is the world’s largest carousel with 269 animals – and none of them a horse. Pause for a moment to listen to the carillon and notice the actual carousel horses lining the walls and angels hanging from the ceiling.

Stepping outside of the museum after seeing all the collections is a breath of fresh air. Take a moment to process your thoughts by walking through the well maintained Japanese Gardens before heading back to the entrance gate.

House on the Rock does offer some different experiences year round. If you are planning a trip during the off season, you can catch the museum on The Dark Side in October, or see the house filled with 6,000 Santas during the holiday season. Just be sure to check their website for dates and times with each of these experiences.

Have you been to House on the Rock? What was your favorite or most memorable collection?

2 thoughts on “Review: House on the Rock

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