Romans 1:20 says, “For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” If you find joy in visiting “the things that have been made,” you might want to visit this gem in the West Virginia hills.
Seeking the Gem
Over the Christmas holidays, I was once again reminded of the great blessing it is to live in the tri-state area where Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania collide in an interesting combination of industry and nature and that offers adventures for any age. It has become our family tradition to visit one of the gems of this area, Oglebay Park, every New Year’s Eve. Although this is a New Year’s event for us, Oglebay Park offers an impressive array of activities for every season.
About the park itself, Oglebay is a “self-supporting public municipal park, the only one of its kind, located on the outskirts of Wheeling, West Virginia, on over 2,000 acres of rolling hills. Until the early 1920s, the land was known as Waddington Farms, owned by the Oglebay family. Then in 1926, Earl W. Oglebay (of Oglebay, Norton, and Company) deeded the estate to the city of Wheeling “for the express purpose of public recreation.The park has been open to the public since 1928 when its governing body, the Wheeling Park Commission, began operations.”
The Waddington Farms mansion (Mansion Museum) and the greenhouse remain in use today. Other buildings (such as the Carriage House) have been rebuilt in the style of the original structures. The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Festival of Lights
The purpose for which we visit during the Christmas holidays is for the Festival of Lights. This is a drive-through experience that takes place nightly from dusk to midnight, including holidays, from early November to early January. There is a requested donation of $30 per car, which is good for the season. Miles and miles of lights, some delightfully animated, entertain visitors with holiday displays of toy soldiers, animals, children’s tales and themes from traditional Christmas carols. Modern displays such as dinosaurs, carnival rides, and tennis players also appear.
After the driving tour, one should always pull over and walk to the glass shop, the gift shop, the larger-than-life-sized nativity scene, and the giant Christmas tree (which plays Christmas songs in a most contemporary way).
Oglebay is known for its slopes, so skiing and snowboarding are popular activities during the winter months. Rustic Wilson Lodge provides warm and inviting rooms, dining, and a place to watch the sunset after outdoor activities. Actually, that happens all year round!
Activities available all year in this gem in the West Virginia hills:
- Crispin Center Outdoor Pool & Fountains of Fun
- Oglebay Good Zoo & Train Ride
- Aerial Challenge Course
- Rock Climbing Wall
- Miniature Golf
- Par 3 Golf
- Fishing at Schenk Lake
- Pedal Boating, Aqua Cycles & Kayaks at Schenk Lake
- Oglebay Trolley
- Tennis Court Rentals & Pickle Ball
- Bike Rentals
- Mansion Museum Admission
- Schrader Environmental Center Nature Programs
- Children’s playground
- Fountain Show on Schenk Lake
- Hiking trails
Of course, golf is a thing in this gem in the West Virginia hills, and there are choices
Arnold Palmer Signature Course
“Recently voted #1 golf layout in the entire country and #2 best golf course in the state of West Virginia by Golfer’s Choice (2023), this par 71 championship layout has six par-three holes, seven par-four holes and five par-five holes. It ranges in distance from 6,800 yards from the championship tees to 4,200 yards from the forward tees and is designed to accommodate golfers on all skill levels.
“Also voted as one of the Top 25 U.S. Golf Courses and Top 25 Best Value Golf Courses by the 2023 Golfer’s Choice, this course takes advantage of the existing terrain, strategically placed bunkers, attractive mounding and generous greens.”
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Designed Course
“Challenge your game on this spectacular course designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The multiple tee placements allow the course to play from 7,000 yards (championship tees) to 5,515 yards (forward tees). Home to the West Virginia LPGA Classic for 11 years, this course is sure to provoke conversation as well as settle some bets!”
Crispin Golf Course
18-Hole Regulation Course & 9-hole Par 3 Course with Driving Range:
This 5,670 yard, very playable course is open year-round offering just enough challenge to please players of all ability levels, including seasoned and beginners. A favorite for regional golf tournaments and outings for over 50 years, the Crispin course is situated in the very heart of Oglebay, in Wheeling, West Virginia. Offering ever-changing views of the resort and surrounding hills, superior guest service, and affordable rates, you’ll be sure to have a fun and enjoyable experience every time you play at Crispin.
The Good Zoo
This is another place that has become a tradition in my family. My grandchildren expect to visit the Good Zoo, particularly in the summer.
The Good Zoo houses 68 species of animals, domestic and wild. Twenty of the species are endangered. On a given day one might see several families of lemurs, monkeys, a snow leopard, red pandas, an albino crocodile, various reptiles, zebras, emus, wolves, goats, parrots, kangaroos, and many more. The red pandas are very popular.
“Animal encounters” provide a chance to get “up close and personal” with a turtle, a snake, a possum, an armadillo, and other animals. These sessions must be booked in advance, and are educational and fun for children and adults.
Restaurants and Lodging
Ihlenfeld Dining Room in Wilson Lodge overlooks the park and is a lovely choice for up-scale dining. The Hickman Bar and Grill and the Glassworks Grill are also excellent choices. Crispin Cafe, Lakeview Cantina, Speidel Grill, and Route 88 Burgers and Brew are more casual venues for a quick bite. For a “light and relaxing outdoor dining experience overlooking the Terrace Gardens where many of the ingredients for the fresh, seasonal menu are grown,” there is the Garden Bistro. Its unique menu features regionally sourced produce, free range chicken and eggs, grass fed beef, and handcrafted bread. Gluten free and vegetarian cuisine are also available.
Wilson Lodge has 258 lovely, comfortable hotel-type rooms. Cottages can also be rented. There are camping areas, as well.
Beauty in the West Virginia Hills:
If you are a lover of music, the amphitheater near the Mansion Museum offers outdoor concerts from June through Labor Day. Schenk Lake also has its “Dancing Waters” program that is best enjoyed while sitting on a blanket on the grassy hillside above the lake.
Manicured flower gardens grace many areas of the park, and wildflowers also appear in abundance. The walking trails are hugged by nature itself. West Virginia can honestly claim its title “Almost Heaven.”
Finding the Gem
There are so many wonderful things to see and do at Oglebay Park. Filling up a day or a week is not difficult to do. Living close, we make frequent trips. However, for those living farther away, I recommend looking into this lovely and entertaining gem in the West Virginia hills, not far from Wheeling. Make your plans and stop by. It is always a joy to visit a place where the glory of God is displayed in so many ways.
Psalm 104:10-14 says “[God] sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth.”
God bless you in all your travels!