The Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site is run by the National Parks Service and preserves the home of the famous Nobel Prize winning playwright. At this secluded home in the town of Danville, he wrote some of his most famous plays and lived a life away from the hustle and bustle of New York City. While you can hike the grounds without a tour, if you want to enter the house and courtyard, you have to book a tour. Here is all the information from my tour of Tao House.
Just a few ingredients
- Tour Information can be found here
- Cost: Free when I went
- Tours were at 10 AM and 2 PM
- The entire experience took about an hour and a half
- You have to shuttle to the site from downtown Danville as there is no parking
- This information is from my visit in 2022 and it may change as pandemic restrictions continue to get lifted.
Booking the Tour
In order to book a tour, you have to email through the site or call the phone number on the NPS website and leave a message. Here is the site for all the information. I called and left a message and got a call back later that day to book my spot. On the phone, they provide the meeting address for the tour.
Since there is no parking at the house, you have to take a shuttle from downtown Danville to get to the site. The shuttle was about 10 minutes and it was easy to access with a large parking lot right near where it picks up.
After arriving at Tao House, we were greeted by a ranger and given some history and an overview of Eugene and his wife’s time in California.
The ranger then opened the gate for us and walked us through the courtyard to the house. He was great, providing a good amount of information quickly and then letting us explore the house while he waited and answered additional questions if we had them.
The house was self-guided, and we were given a booklet with lots of information that told us about what we were looking at as we wandered through the two-story house.
While many of the rooms are pretty bare, the booklet helped to explain what you were looking at.
The highlight of the tour is being able to go upstairs. Here you can see both Eugene’s and his wife’s separate bedrooms, as well as his office.
The office was located at the end of the house and supposedly he told the servants that no one was to disturb him when he was writing, even if the house was on fire.
The office was furnished and had two desks and loads of books on the wall, it was by far the best room in the house. This is where he wrote The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, two of his most famous plays.
Downstairs you can see the living room, complete with old photos of them using it.
You can also see the kitchen, which has a cookbook that one of their servants used when they cooked dinner for the couple.
After exploring the inside, you can also walk outside to see the grave of their dog, which was a beloved member of the family.
I recommend walking around outside if you have the time as the views out across the valley and over to Mt Diablo are stunning and worth seeing on their own.
After about an hour and 15 minutes we were loaded back in the shuttle and taken back to where we parked. Even though I didn’t know much about Eugene O’Neill prior to coming, it was still a magnificent tour and I really enjoyed exploring the property. Check it out if you are interested and let me know what you think in the comments.