By Stephen Milligan
For tour groups interested in architecture, art, history, and nature, there’s no better place than Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin estate in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. Taliesin Preservation, which oversees the property, has made the group tour process easy for you and enjoyable for your clients. Various tours are offered and can be customized to fit a range of interests.
The structures that make up Taliesin represent a remarkable period of over fifty years in Wright’s life as an architect—though construction was begun and the buildings in use by the early 1900s, Wright continued to modify and improve the estate, located in Spring Green, until his 1959 death. Available for group tours are Wright’s personal residence and the Hillside Studio & Theater, The buildings can be toured separately, together, or as part of a larger estate tour.
No matter which tour your clients choose, the booking processes and requirements are practically identical.
The group tours are designed for fifteen or more people and can be arranged only through advance reservations. After you make the reservations, you’ll receive a tentative reservation form and contract, which you’ll have to complete and return before the reservation is confirmed. No later than three weeks prior to the scheduled tour, you’ll need to submit a non-refundable 20% deposit (the balance will be due upon arrival).
Any changes to your group between one and five people can be made up to a week before the tour with a 90% payment guarantee applied to your final count. Adding more than five people to your group is possible but not guaranteed. Also, if any members of your group have special accessibility needs or requirements, you’ll need to provide details at least three weeks in advance.
Tours are conducted even in inclement weather, so participants should dress appropriately, including comfortable walking shoes. You’ll check-in at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center, where all tours begin. It’s best to arrive at least twenty minutes before your scheduled tour to allow time for restroom visits and browsing in the gift shop before embarking on your professionally guided tour.
Beyond these booking guidelines, each tour has specific policies you’ll need to be aware of.
Once you’ve checked in at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center, you’ll be greeted by your tour guide, and you’ll proceed to the home aboard the Taliesin shuttle bus. Be sure to prepare your clients for the physical demands of the tour: There is a great deal of stair climbing, standing, and walking involved. There will be one occasion to sit during the second half of the tour. Unfortunately, there is no accommodation for anyone to stay behind or turn back.
The Hillside Studio & Theater tours are exclusive to groups and are available seven days a week between May and October and usually take one hour to complete. Any group of fifteen or more participants will receive the group rate of $25 per person. The K-12 student rate is $5.
Once you’ve checked in at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center, you’ll be greeted by your tour guide, who will board your coach and give an overview of the site during the three-minute drive to the site. Be sure to prepare your clients for the physical demands of the tour: Stair climbing (some stairs with no handrails), standing, and walking are involved.
These site-specific policies and procedures are in place to protect the historic sites and to ensure that your clients have a safe and enjoyable experience. Safety is even more important today, as we grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Rest assured that the Taliesin properties follow the most current health and safety protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, mask-wearing, and social distancing. See our COVID-19 page for the most current requirements.
Feedback from past group tour participants not only helps the Taliesin Preservation staff fine-tune the tours, but it can also provide some insight into how your clients might feel after their experience.
Educators find the group tours a gratifying learning experience for their students, saying, “We’ve been there with students before and really enjoyed it!” Some have made a visit to Taliesin an ongoing tradition: “We bring students every four years to your area and always do the Hillside Tour when we do.”
Taliesin’s professional tour guides have also earned enthusiastic reviews for their work with groups: “We had a very nice experience there with a fantastic tour guide and service that seemed very personalized and special,” one participant said. Others were impressed by the “…well conducted and informative” tours, saying “…you do a first-rate job of interpretation.”
How many people do I need for a group tour? A minimum of fifteen and a maximum of 120. Special arrangements can be made for groups over 120—contact our tour staff.
Which tours are available for groups? One-hour and two-hour house tours; One-hour Hillside Studio & Theater tour; Four-hour estate tour (for groups of 15-30 people); A combination of either of the house tours and the Hillside Studio & Theater tour
How much time does a group tour take? A group tour can take as little as one hour or as much as four hours. Make sure to leave time for a restroom break before the tour and shopping in our gift shop afterward!
What if I have fewer than fifteen people but still want a private group tour? If you have six people or fewer, please set up a private tour. Between six and fifteen people, you can still set up a private group tour, but you must still pay for the full fifteen tickets for the tour. Otherwise, we are able to set up a tour for your group and open the remaining spaces to the public to buy tickets.
How much does it cost? Group tours are priced at a $5.00 discount per person off of the regular price of the tour.
Do you have lunch available? Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cafe operations have been scaled back. Group lunches cannot be accommodated at this time but hopefully will continue in the future.
Are there places nearby that we could have lunch? Yes! In Spring Green, the Riverside Resort is able to accommodate large groups for lunch. The Old Feed Mill in nearby Mazomanie, Wisconsin, is another option.
What are your health and safety procedures regarding the coronavirus pandemic? Our staff follows the most up-to-date CDC guidelines on cleaning, mask-wearing, and social distancing.
What if my group has a special interest? Can you customize the tour? Our knowledgeable staff is always happy to discuss customizing your tour experience to better fit your group’s interests.
Do we need to put down a deposit? Yes—a non-refundable 20% deposit is due three weeks before the tour date, and the remaining balance is due when you arrive on site.
What else can we see or do in the area? There is shopping and dining in Spring Green. American Players Theatre is just two miles down the road from Taliesin. The Cave of the Mounds is about thirty minutes away. Artist studios and the Circus World Museum can be found in Baraboo, about thirty minutes north. About an hour southwest, you’ll find the National Brewery Museum and brewery in Potosi. America’s Little Switzerland and the New Glarus Brewing Company are about an hour southeast in New Glarus. Theme parks and resorts in the Wisconsin Dells are about an hour away as well.