Oglebay is among the nation’s top city parks

As evidence of springtime is beginning to surface, it is a perfect time to do summer planning and consider a Mountain State Mini (a three-day Wild, Wonderful West Virginia vacation) location that embraces fun activities for the entire family. A less than three-hour journey, we go on past Morgantown on I-79N to Washington, Pa. and onto 70W to Wheeling which will get us to the renowned Oglebay Park, known for being one of America’s top city parks.

In l928, the Earl W. Oglebay Estate gave to the city of Wheeling l,650 acres for park development. Today, we find there a recreational complex that boasts a 4-star 18-hole golf course, ponds, a zoo, walking trails, gardens, a train, tennis and basketball courts and large group housing. A glass museum, old mansion and antique shop also await visitors.

Guests are welcomed at Wilson Lodge (800-624-6988) where 200 rustic-styled rooms provide a woodsy ambiance. Second only to the rooms as a feature is its restaurant that has full-size buffet breakfasts with chefs preparing fresh waffles and omelets, and Friday night seafood smorgasbords that equal any beach experience. A smaller grille is open during the day for a quick sandwich, salad or beverage.

Summer days at Oglebay are usually hot and sunny and invite sunbathing by the pool. But unlike many tanning destinations, a cool breeze is usually present and makes this a uniquely comfortable experience. A rainy forecast is no problem as the lovely, large indoor pool is always an option.

Children will especially enjoy Oglebay’s 65-acre “Children’s Zoo.” Eighty animal species will take their eye as they chug along on a train that transports them around animal housing. Imagine their delight.

Older visitors will enjoy strolling through many garden areas that add color to the landscape, and they may want to spend some time at the interesting planetarium. Ponds with swimming swans, or catches for those who like to fish, can also monopolize energies.

Only a short drive will get one to shopping galore starting at Cabela’s Sport Shop, known world-wide for its outdoor equipment and clothing. Hundreds of taxidermized animals are on display, including full-body mounts of an African elephant and a moose. Bridges will allow for walking over live trout swimming in water pools throughout the store.

Of particular interest to Randolph County residents would be the third largest typical gun kill deer mount shot by Joseph Volitis in Randolph County, with a l80 1/2 inch count. It is on display with other state record mounts as part of the West Virginia Big Buck Contest.

Cabela’s is part of a large mall area that has stores as far as the eye can see. Likewise, downtown Wheeling is available for touring and some wonderful Italian food is offered on almost every corner.

If you tap your toes to country music, the Wheeling Jamboree (888-718-4253) is alive and well celebrating its 80th Anniversary with regularly scheduled shows. If you plan your trip correctly, you may even catch the Wheeling Symphony under the stars at Oglebay. Contact www.ticketmaster.com/Wheeling-Symphony-Orchestra-tickets to check schedules and make reservations.

Harriett Beecher Stowe once wrote, “In all ranks of life the human heart yearns for the beautiful and the beautiful things that God makes are His gift to all alike.” A visit to Oglebay Park will acquaint you with the beautiful and satisfy a wish for a nearby respite with unimaginable opportunities for rest and fun with the entire family smiling and vowing a quick return.