ABOUT WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA
For the many years that I have lived in Pennsylvania, the most that I have done is drive through West Virginia on my way down south to visit family or been on the outskirts of West Virginia visiting family where we were in West Virginia, but we weren’t really IN West Virginia. So when I got the opportunity to partner with the West Virginia Department of Tourism to go on a family getaway, it was an opportunity that I could not pass by. My husband and I are always wanting to go off grid and show Carter the hidden gems in various cities around the country.
So we rented a car and went on a short five hour scenic drive of winding country roads to Wheeling, West Virginia where we found ourselves in tranquility in the uncrowded, charming mountain town.
Without even listening or looking at the GPS we knew that we had arrived in West Virginia because of the gorgeous scenery that, though we were visiting during the summer, lasts all four seasons of the year. The Mountain State is rich with Appalachian culture and cuisine with historic sites and experiences that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Whether you’re planning on taking a family getaway like ours, going on a romantic staycation, or if you want to gather up a group of friends and head out for an unexpected escape, West Virginia is a destination that you need to put on your list. As you begin planning your trip, I want to provide you with this West Virginia travel guide for Wheeling.
STAY IN WEST VIRGINNIA
There are a variety of places to stay in West Virginia, but one place that we recommend, especially if you’re staying in Wheeling, is Oglebay Resort.
Oglebay Resort is a vast resort that includes room types for all different sizes of groups/families coming to stay. Whether you’re doing a romantic getaway and just want a king-size been in a room for two, or whether the extended family is coming and you need a cabin where all 14 members are staying, Oglebay will have the room perfect for you and your group.
On property, you’ll find a variety of places to dine, have fun, and relax, so even if you have a day where you don’t really want to head out downtown, there will be plenty of options for the entire family.
With dining options such as the Ihlenfeld Dining Room, which serves breakfast and dinner buffet style, and with many options for activities such as the Crispin Center and horseback riding, you may end up realizing that you don’t quite have time to do it all, but don’t worry, you can come back anytime.
During our stay, our family of three had plenty to do and did a lot of exploring. We even got to the point where we called our family and gave them the option to drive down and stay because there was plenty of room in the cabin – which slept 16 and had a dining area, kitchen, and living room with a fireplace.
I highly recommend putting Oglebay Resort on your itinerary to stay, but also for the dining options and activities – which I’m sharing some insight on a few below.
PLACES TO EAT IN WEST VIRGINIA
GLASSWORKS GRILLAt Oglebay, you’ll find Glassworks Grill in the main lodge. Like many places at Oglebay, the restaurant is very family friendly as it has an awesome kid’s menu as well as foods such as gourmet burgers and artisan pizzas to pair along with craft beer and specialty cocktails for the adults. We ate here on our first night in Wheeling and it was a great place to dine to start off our stay. Wait staff is super friendly and the food arrives at your table very fresh and very filling. I got their specialty burger and I will say that it did not disappoint.
SPEIDEL GRILLAlso at Oglebay you’ll find Speidel which houses cabins, a country club gold course, and Speidel Grill which overlooks the 18th hole of the Speidel Golf Club. Whether you’re looking to sit and dine or grab to go, there are a variety of options for the entire family to get a great lunch especially if you’re looking to be in and out and onto the next activity. At Speidel Grill, you’ll want to order their wraps. I got the buffalo chicken wrap and it was a great balance of spice to the chicken and the ranch sauce.
FIGARETTI’SIf you’re looking for homemade Italian cuisine and fine wine then you’ll want to head over to Figaretti’s. This restaurant has the atmosphere of coming over to dine with your family as it is quaint, familiar, and very comforting. With me being someone who is very picky about Italian food, I will say that each bite was beyond delicious. I actually ended up eating some of my husband and son’s food because I wanted to taste absolutely everything. From the antipasto plate to the chicken parmesan and then all the way to dessert, I was in food heaven.
MUGSHOTSFor those who love to head into a coffee shop in the morning for a morning pick-me-up, you’ll want to make sure to head over to Mugshots. Frequented by regulars as well as visitors, this coffee shop is a place you come to make friends with the owner and his staff and try the well-named coffees, teas, and breakfast options. Then sit and spend some time learning about the area and take a picture in front of the Mugshots wall and maybe your picture may be the next mugshot featured on the wall.
LATER ALLIGATORWhile downtown near the Centre Market, head over to Later Alligator. This former saloon specializes in crepes, sandwiches and homemade soups. As soon as you enter, you’ll be welcomed by the aroma of delectable food being whipped up for you to enjoy. Later Alligator opens for lunch and dinner and when you’re looking for comforting food that warms you up on the inside and makes you feel like you’re sitting at home enjoying your favorite soup and sandwich on the couch.
ELLE & JACK’SIn the heart of downtown Wheeling, you’ll find Elle & Jack’s. With a seasonal menu and a sophisticated but relaxing atmosphere, you’ll find delicacies that you won’t be able to find in many other places around Wheeling. The staff is super inviting and, if you’re looking for a cocktail recommendation, they’ll point you in the right direction to get a drink that compliments some of their menu items such as the oysters, burgers, and freshly made plates.
SARAH’S ON MAINAnother amazing place to have breakfast is Sarah’s on Main. Located in downtown Wheeling, you’ll find this delicate coffee shop where you can sit to grab hot breakfast food items and a coffee or get something to go. The ham and cheese croissant was something else and, honestly, I have been telling myself that when we go back that I’ll need to get it again because I’ve been dreaming about it. Additionally, the baked good are also delicious. We got some items to go and the oatmeal cookies have been paired with my tea each morning.
THINGS TO DO IN WEST VIRGINIA
Interact AT OGLEBAY GOOD ZOO
With so many things to do at Oglebay, I have to admit that one place that you won’t want to pass up on is the Oglebay Good Zoo where you can see over 50 species including cheetahs, lemurs, red pandas, tortoises, and barn animals. And to get the most out of your visit to the zoo, you’ll want to schedule a Behind the Scenes Tour where you’ll be guided around by one of the very knowledgeable and friendly zookeepers to learn about the histories of the animals currently staying at the zoo.
While riding around on the golf cart with the zookeeper, you’ll also have the privilege of feeding some of the animals such as the lemurs, interacting directly with some of the other species, seeing the veterinary hospital in action, and also going into areas that are off limits to guests not taking part in the Behind the Scenes tour.
It was a special moment for us to be able to take our son on this tour and see how he was able to directly interact with the animals and get a hands-on learning experience about species that he has only seen in picture books. He had so much fun feeding all of the various animals and being able to pet some of the ones that even my husband and I were getting to interact with for the first time in our lives.
Sip, Sip AT GOOD MANSION WINE
Explore DOWNTOWN WHEELING & CENTRE MARKET
One thing that you have to do when visiting West Virginia is visit Downtown Wheeling and the Centre Market. With so many shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants downtown, you can spend the whole day experiencing the historic area of Wheeling while also interacting with locals and learning more about the West Virginia area.
At the Centre Market, you can shop local businesses and even purchase art from local artists that live in the West Virginia area
Walking through the market, I was able to grab a gift for a family member from the handmade jewelry selection and our son got himself some fresh sweets from one of the shops also found in the market.
Downtown Wheeling is a great place to get acquainted with Wheeling while also being able to find treasures in the various shops located throughout the town.
Get Luxe WITH TABLE 304
With so many scenic views in West Virginia, you’ll want to take part in a luxe picnic by Table 304. Choose a location such as Heritage Port park and the Table 304 staff will set up a picnic outdoors for you and your family to enjoy. Fit with a charcuterie board, full table settings, drinks, and other foods upon request, you can play one of your favorite playlists and enjoy the company of your family while overlooking the mountain towns of West Virginia.
This was a definite highlight on our trip in West Virginia since it gave my husband and I a moment to rest and take in the views while also giving our son the ability to run around in the fresh air while stopping over at the picnic area to grab himself a snack. With everything taken care of from setup to cleanup, you can enjoy the time and have a luxury moment in West Virginia.