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3.7
36 votes

The House On The Rock - Resort | Attraction | Inn

400 Springs Drive, Spring Green, Wisconsin 53588 USA

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The House On The Rock - Resort | Attraction | Inn

$$
$$$$
Reasonable
Open Now
Fri 9a-6a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
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“The ultimate offbeat attraction & lodging!”

Like many others, I first heard of the House on The Rock in reading Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel American Gods. In the book, the house serves as the setting for a conference of the gods, a portal into another reality. When reading the novel, it is impossible to guess that the bizarre carnival-like setting Gaiman describes; with a giant indoor carousel and room full of automated musical instruments, is actually a real place; but it is: a tourist attraction in rural Wisconsin, about an hour west of Madison in Iowa County.

The House on the Rock is one of those places whose truth is even stranger than fiction, as Neil Gaiman said on his blog: “I had to tone down my description of it and leave things out in the book in order to make it believable.” The House on the Rock is a very real, if surreal place, the product of one man’s imagination: Alex Jordan.

So what is it exactly? It started out as a house, but has become a tourist attraction, a museum-like collection of antiques, oddities and replicas and a hotel. But how did it get this way? What drove Jordan to create this over-the-top attraction?

In researching for this article I found that the truth about the House on the Rock was hard to find; legend and history seemed to overlap, and most accounts seemed heavily informed by the authors opinion of the divisive and strange man who built the house.

One creation myth for the house tells that Jordan, an architect, showed plans for a building he designed to his idol, Frank Lloyd Wright, hoping for his approval. Instead he said: “I wouldn’t hire you to design a cheese crate or a chicken coop. You’re not capable”.  Jordan, furious, swore to build a house on a rocky outcropping in Iowa County, Wisconsin, intending to either mock or upstage Wright (depending on the version of the story).

Unfortunately this story is merely a fable, and has been widely discounted. It makes for a great creation story however, as the resulting house’s eclectic and haphazard design would surely have displeased Wright, even as the long, cantilevered infinity room Jordan built out over the valley bellow seems to pay him homage. While the original house does seem to refer to Wright’s low ceilinged, masculine, restrained aesthetic, the majority of the ‘house’ is a maze of tacky rooms and macabre exhibition halls that take hours to navigate, including, but not limited to: the World’s largest indoor carousel, a room full of musical instruments that play automatically, a three story bookshelf of rare books, a 200 foot model of a whale fighting a squid, a collection of “Tiffany” glass works, a reconstruction of a 20th century town, Japanese gardens, extensive antique doll collections, and toilets filled with taxidermied  animals.

Instead of Wright’s restraint, the house is a monument to disorganization, mania, and hoarding. Visiting the museum feels like a visit to the inside of Alex Jordan’s sprawling, eclectic mind. The collections inside are often dusty, badly lit, haphazardly organized, and unlabeled, giving it a truly creepy atmosphere. Some items are real antiques, but many are fantasies or elaborate replicas. It is impossible to tell what is real in the dimly lit interior, which adds to the dream-like feel. Yelp reviewers describe the house as “a bit scary” and ‘claustrophobic”. One went so far as to call it an “evil Disneyland”, while another declared it “the tackiest place in America (and that’s saying a lot)”.

To me, The House on the Rock is a fascinating place, and roadside America at it’s best: kooky, perplexing, engrossing and truly unique. It’s the kind of place that has to be seen to believed. Aside from the bizarre appeal of the house, there is a particular pleasure of finding something strange in an even stranger place: who would expect to find this attraction on a rocky cliff in rural Wisconsin? On second thought, where else could it belong? For me, the House reminds me of the best thing about traveling a country as humungous, diverse, idiosyncratic and tacky as America; there is really truly, always something to discover, even in the middle of nowhere. -Roadtrippers

There are three sides to this amazing story. Three is a magic number when you make a trip to the unforgettable House on the Rock. Three unique destinations – the Attraction, the Inn and the Resort – all offer their own trio of sights, sounds and sensations. These three unique locations will relax, amaze and astound you time and time and time again.

Visionary architecture, eclectic collections and incredible stories await you at the House on the Rock Attraction, Alex Jordan’s imaginary, awe-inspiring man-made retreat.

Swimming pools, relaxing rooms and family fun await your stay at The Inn, a perfect complement to a day touring at The Attraction.

The Attraction….visionary architecture, eclectic collections, incredible stories. For over 60 years, the House on the Rock has been a majestic work in progress. It began in 1945, when a man named Alex Jordan had a towering goal: to build a man-made retreat as awe-inspiring as the view from the rock upon which the house would eventually be built. From that spark of imagination, the House on the Rock has evolved to include displays and collections of the exotic, the unusual and the amazing that can be viewed as three separate tours.

This building also plays a large role in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods

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Reviewed by
amyelyse

  • 1 Review
  • 6 Helpful
October 9, 2013

If you love odd collection museums, you NEED to come here, They offer guided tours, but I say come at opening, wear comfy shoes and plan to spend the day, at least. Also bring money for tokens, you'll want to make the mechanical displays go. Seriously plan to spend the WHOLE day here, it's that much stuff, actually I could probably find two days worth of stuff to explore pretty easily. Overnight accommodations nearby include the Don Q inn. With themed rooms and an underground walkway to a cellar dining room. I highly recommend it. There's a lot of kitsch on this trip, but if kitsch is your thing, it's the best kitsch going.

6 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
nancyfickas

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
February 23, 2013

I love House on the Rock. Our family visited for the first time over 20 years ago and we still talk about our experience all the time and remind our kids how cool this place was. Our sons Andrew and Chris still remember visiting this very strange place with all the exciting things to view. This is an extraordinary place to visit. The collection of antiques is amazing and just a magical place to visit. It is like a magical mystery tour. You just don't know what is going to come next on the tour.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
ljanelle

  • 8 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
September 25, 2014
Rated 5.0

We went this summer on a trip to the Dells and our whole family thought it was great! I really recommend staying at the hotel because then your admission is paid for with the cost of the hotel. You can easily spend an entire day here and when you're done, the hotel has a great pool with a huge area for kids to play on, as well as an outdoor pool. My big suggestion is to NOT eat at the bar in the hotel. Instead, take advantage of the menus that they put out at the counter every day.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
dreamwriter90

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
October 9, 2013

I absolutely loved this house! My mom, Gram, and sister all visited it and my sister absolutely hated it (Mom was "meh" about it and Gram loved it). My mom was nice enough to take me later, and I LOVED it! My mom had a lot more fun the second time as well. It's just so magical. Weather can be an issue though, it can be really stuffy in parts of the house as circulation isn't the best everywhere. So worth it though! I can't wait to take my husband now!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
ehemeyer

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
August 14, 2015
Rated 5.0

One of my very favorite places! Visited it for second time several days ago. The first time I arrived late. Was only permitted to purchase the pass for 2 sections. Defiantly make time! That visit inspired me to read the biography of Alex Jordan. The degree of vision, enginuity and craftsmanship is profound. It's my understanding that in the early days at least, it was primarily Jordan and one other person. Astounding in itself. The music rooms are unbelievable! Make sure to bring cash for tokens so you can play them all.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
walkers111

  • 2 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
May 26, 2015

We had our 2 year old with us and he was a little creeped out by the whole thing. The ambiance is very dark. If you like the bizarre, take the time and go. If bizarre is not your thing, skip it.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
tspoolst

  • 4 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
September 8, 2014
Rated 5.0

This was marked as a hotel, but honestly who comes here for just the hotel. My wife and I came here for the uber cool collection! Didn't even look at the hotel.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
tspoolst

  • 4 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
September 8, 2014
Rated 5.0

The whale room as awesome!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
st4boys

  • Road Warrior
  • 10 Reviews
  • 7 Helpful
July 29, 2014

Are you kidding me $25 per person to view someone's collections! A total waste of our time

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
karin.eckblad

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
April 3, 2014

This place is amazing. I've been there a few times, once for an American Gods weekend, and this place is nothing short of magical

1 person found this review helpful

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The House On The Rock - Resort | Attraction | Inn

400 Springs Drive
Spring Green, Wisconsin
53588 USA

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Hours

Open now until 6:00 am
  • Sun - Sat: 9:00 am - 6:00 am

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  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • No Wifi
  • Private Parking
  • Free Parking
  • Haunted
  • Check-In
    • 3pm
  • Check-Out
    • 11am

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