Top Things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia Anytime of the Year

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Interested in spending a weekend in Wheeling, West Virginia? Read on to learn about the top things to do in the Wheeling!

We love exploring West Virginia. West Virginia is full of small towns with an interesting history, outdoor activities, and things to do. Wheeling, WV is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Wheeling exhibits how a once booming city with more millionaires per capita has become a city of the “Rust Belt.” Even though today Wheeling has been transformed, there are still plenty of fun and exciting things to do in Wheeling, many of which preserve the history of the city.

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway or trip from Pittsburgh or Morgantown, consider visiting Wheeling! Here is your weekend guide to everything you need to know about visiting Wheeling. We’ve included a list of the top things to do in Wheeling, where to eat in Wheeling, and where to stay in Wheeling!

Wheeling West Virginia
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Fun Things to Do in Wheeling West Virginia

Free things to do in Wheeling

Wheeling Visitor’s Center

Start your visit by stopping at the Wheeling Vistors Center in downtown Wheeling. Here, you can learn about Wheeling’s history and get some information about what you want to do at Wheeling.

During the 19th century, it was a major transportation hub in West Virginia for the National Railroad, the B&O Railroad, the shipping industry on the Ohio River, and the glass industry. Today, Wheeling retains its historical charm! The museum inside the Wheeling Visitor’s Center will give you an overview of its history!

Explore Wheeling Island and Drive Across the Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Bridge- National Historic Site

Wheeling has its own island on the Ohio River! To get to the island, cross the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge. This bridge was completed in 1849 and was a part of the National Road. As of 2022, the bridge is closed to vehicles, but you can walk across it! On the island, drive around and look at the beautiful, Victorian homes.

Try Your Luck at the Wheeling Island Casino

The Wheeling Racetrack and Casino are located on the Island as well. At the casino, you can try your luck at table games and slots while enjoying the buffet. You can even make it an overnight try by staying at the hotel!

See the Remains of the Milam Roller Rink

Before the Casino was on the island, the WV State Fairgrounds were located there! Unfortunately on New Year’s Eve of 2019, the historic Milam Roller Rink, pictured below, burned to the ground. This historic Roller Rink was built in 1924 and entertained locals for years before being closed down and used for storage by the Casino. Even though it burned down, we still include it on our list because it’s an interesting piece of Wheeling’s history.

Visit West Virginia Independence Hall

National Historic Site

West Virginia Independence Hall is considered the birthplace of West Virginia. During the Civil War, this building formerly known as the Wheeling Customs House was a place for political discussions and constitutional conventions that led to the beginning of West Virginia. West Virginia Independence Hall is a really nice museum that features Wheeling’s industrial history, stories from Wheeling’s time as the West Virginia Captial, a reconstruction of the courtroom, and Civil War artifacts.

Get a Panoramic View of Wheeling from the Mount Wood Overlook

If you want to get a panoramic view of Wheeling, take a trip up to the Mount Wood Overlook. This overlook is interesting because you get your view from standing upon the remnants of an unfinished castle-like building. Now covered with graffiti, this “castle” was once under construction by a prominent doctor in Wheeling; however, drug charges sent him to jail and left the property abandoned. Today, the Mount Wood Castle is a unique place to explore and see a great view of Wheeling from above!

See the Mingo Native American Statue,

After visiting Mount Wood Overlook and Castle, take note of the Native American Statue at the weird intersection where you turned to drive up to the cemetery and castle. This statue honors the indigenous Mingo people who inhabited the Ohio Valley prior to colonization.

Walk Along the Heritage Port Waterfront

Since Wheeling is along the Ohio River, it has a nice waterfront that you can walk along. In addition to walking along the waterfront, Wheeling has an interesting neighborhood of Victorian houses, so you can do your own free walking tour in the North Wheeling Historic District.

Annual Events in Wheeling

The Wheeling Heritage Port and downtown host a number of annual events including:

  • Wheeling Wine Festival
  • Wheeling Beer Festival
  • Heritage Museum Bluesfest
  • Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival
  • The Grecian Festival
  • Pride Festival
  • and more!
Wheeling West Virginia Waterfront

Self-Guided Wheeling Walking Tours

If you stop at the Wheeling Visitor’s Center, you can grab a copy of one of Wheeling’s self-guided tours. These walking tours will take you past some of Wheeling’s most interesting pieces of history and architecture! Learn about Wheeling’s historic Victorian Homes, the National Road, and historic places!

Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum

This nostalgic museum in Wheeling exhibits toys and trains from a number of generations. The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum, displays trains, dolls, board games, actions figures, and more! You can also see the Caboose they have on display!

Admission: Free- to $12 depending on age

Visit and Dine at the Wheeling Centre Market

National Historic Site

The Wheeling Centre Market is a hub for local small businesses. Here you can shop, eat, and explore what the locals of Wheeling have to offer! The 1853 Center Wheeling Market building was designed as an open market in the neo-classical style In 1900, the wooden enclosure was built y to house the Center Wheeling Fish Market. 

See a Show at the Victoria Vaudeville Theatre

The Victoria Vaudeville Theater is known for being the old live theater in West Virginia that dates back to 1904. Today you can see shows that feature blues, gospel, rock, and country music acts. The theater itself is decorated in Victorian Beaux-Arts designs.

Capitol Theater

The Capitol Theatre is Wheeling’s second theater that hosts a variety of shows and performances throughout the years!

Watch a Wheeling Nailers Hockey Game

Wheeling is home to a minor league hockey team! If you’re in the mood for sports, go see a hockey game! The Wheeling Nailers are the minor league team affiliate for the Pittsburgh Penguins!

Things to do at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center

Visiting Oglebay Resort and Oglebay Park is one of our favorite things to do in Wheeling. The Oglebay name is well-known throughout West Virginia because of its contributions to Wheeling and the state of West Virginia. Earl Oglebay was an industrialist and took great interest in scientific agricultural research. The Oglebay family left their Waddington Farm estate, which is now Oglebay Resort, to the city of Wheeling to be used by the people as recreational land. Today, the Oglebay resort is home to a zoo, golf course, winter sports, museums, and plenty of summer activities! Read on to learn more about the best things to do at the Oglebay Park and Resort!

Festival of Lights

When we visited Wheeling, it was during the winter, which was great because Oglebay’s Festival of Lights show was going on! The Festival of Lights is one of the best things to do in Wheeling during Christmas! This winter attraction attracts people from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

The Festival of Lights is a drive-through Christmas light show that is over 3 miles long! During your drive, you can listen to Christmas tunes and enjoy the light show! It is stunning and one of the best we have ever been to!

Oglebay Summer Activity Wristband

If you’re looking to get away during the summer, consider booking one of Oglebay’s summer resort packages. These packages include your overnight stay, an amazing buffet breakfast, and an activity pass. The summer activity wristband gets you admission to the outdoor pool at the Crispin Center, the Par III golf course, paddle boating, fishing, tennis, mini-golf, and admission to the museums and zoo. If you don’t get the pass, you’ll have to pay for each of these activities on their own. So getting the $ 19-a-day pass per person is totally worth it, especially if it’s included in your overnight package. During our summer weekend getaway to Oglebay, we calculated that we saved 50% for two people by getting the activity pass!

During our weekend getaway to Oglebay, we visited the zoo twice, mini golfed twice, went to the pool, visited both museums, and paddle boated. Our total package for a two-night stay cost $380 and included the buffet breakfast (at face value cost $18 per person per day!) and two activity passes ($19/day/person). We personally felt this was a very good value considering if we paid for each activity individually it would have cost $138 total, while the wristbands valued $76 for our two days. And we didn’t even get to do everything like fishing, the Par III course, or tennis. The only caveat of the pass is that equipment is not included such as golf clubs, tennis racquets, or fishing poles and bait. You can either rent these items or bring your own!

Hilltop Gardens at Oglebay

Simply walking around the Oglebay property was wonderful! At the Hilltop at Oglebay, you can visit the arboretum and gardens. There is also a greenhouse where you can buy plants during the summer months! So take a walk around the gardens and enjoy the panoramic views of the Oglebay property.

Oglebay Mansion

National Historic Site

If you want to see how the Oglebay family lived, you can tour their Edwardian-style Mansion on the property. The home also has artifacts of American furniture, china, silver, glass, toys, and textiles.

Hours: Daily 10 a.m. ‐ 5 p.m.

Adults: $7 per person for one museum / $10 per person for both museums (Glass and Mansion)
Children 12 and under: Free

Oglebay Institute Glass Museum

In addition to being a hub for transportation, Wheeling was at the heart of the glass industry. At Oglebay, you can tour the glass museum that features the largest piece of cut lead crystal ever made, the Sweeney Punch Bowl. This Victorian piece stands five feet tall and weighs 225 pounds. You can experience over 3,000 examples of Wheeling glass made from 1829-1939. There is also a glass artist on site so you can see how glass is made!

Sweeney Punch Bowl Wheeling
Sweeney Punch Bowl

Hours: Daily 10 a.m. ‐ 5 p.m.

Adults: $7 per person for one museum / $10 per person for both museums (Glass and Mansion)
Children 12 and under: Free

Oglebay Good Zoo

If you’re visiting Wheeling in the summer with children, visiting the Oglebay Good Zoo is a great option! The zoo is fairly small, with about 50 species of animals but is beautifully nestled in the woods. You can see a range of animals and birds including some that are rare such as a snow leopard. The Good Zoo is part of the species survival program, which actively works on repopulating endangered and threatened species.

Schenk Lake Activities

At Schenk Lake, you can fish, rent boats, and mini-golf! During our summer weekend getaway to Wheeling, we enjoyed the mini golf and paddleboats. There is also an adventure challenge ropes course for kids!

Oglebar Schrader Environmental Education Center and Hiking Trails

Oglebay Resort is home to a small nature center that offers summer programs, summer camps, guided hikes, and small museum space. Here you can learn about local plants and animals and enjoy the outdoors! Outside the Nature Center, you can stroll through the pollinator garden or walk on the treetop bridge to see the forest below. You can also access the hiking trails from the Nature Center.

Crispin Center Activities

At the Crispin Center at Oglebay Resort, you can enjoy the outdoor pool, play some tennis, or golf with the family on the Par 3 course! This activity space is great for anyone looking to spend some time outside during at a stay at Oglebay.

Where To Stay in Wheeling: Oglebay Resort Review

During our many trips to Oglebay, we got the package at Oglebay Resort that included breakfast, a pass to the light show, and the room, which was a great deal! We also got a similar package during the summer that included the activity pass. During both of our visits, our room was one of the Chalets, which was nice because it was separated from the main building and had the historic, ski lodge charm. These rooms are labeled as “value” rooms, so to some people, they might be a little outdated or “run down” as Trip Advisor reviewers like to say. But the rooms are clean and comfortable and we personally enjoyed the rustic charm.

Packages at Oglebay allow you to pick where in the resort you would like to stay, such as in the Chalet, Kline Wing, West Wing, Spa Wing, and Byrd Extension. Each option has a different price range and decor.

Hotels in Wheeling West Virginia

Restaurants in Wheeling: The Best Places to Eat in Wheeling

Ye Old Alpha

Ye Old Alpha in Wheeling is known for its meat-centered dishes and peanut butter hamburger. Yes, you read that right. Peanut butter on a hamburger! They’re also known for their blackened tomato sandwich, which is *chef kiss.* Going to Ye Olde Alpha has been a staple for us during every trip to Wheeling. They have an incredibly diverse menu and, honestly, everything we have tried has been amazing to date!

Update June 2020

As of January 2020, the Ye Olde Alpha was forced to close due to structural issues. So the restaurant owner took his Ye Olde Alpha menu to his other restaurant location: the Wild West. Locals and tourists alike love the Alpha, so the menu is here to stay at the West!

DiCarlo’s Pizza

When people think of pizza styles, most people probably think of Chicago, New York, or Napoli right? Well, the Ohio Valley has its own pizza style, which features a crunchy crust and cold cheese on top. As strange as it might sound, it is an amazing way to serve pizza! DiCarlo’s Pizza originated in Steubenville Ohio and has been serving up Ohio Valley Pizza since 1945! Today, you can get the original DiCarlo’s Pizza at local chain locations around Ohio and West Virginia.

Avenue Eats

Avenue Eats’ claim to fame is their gourmet hamburgers, which have been voted some of the best in the United States! This small restaurant located in Wheeling serves up some of the best food you can find in the city.

UPDATE- as of 2020, Avenue Eats is closed

How to Get to Wheeling West Virginia

Wheeling is located in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia along the Ohio River, so it’s easily accessible by driving or flying from both Pennsylvania and Ohio!

Driving to Wheeling, West Virginia: Getting to Wheeling is quite easy via driving from Pittsburgh or Morgantown. Wheeling is located about an hour west of Pittsburgh and an hour and a half northwest of Morgantown. And 2.5 hours east of Columbus Ohio

Closest Airports to Wheeling: Pittsburgh and Columbus International Airports

Things to Do Near Wheeling

Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold

Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold is certainly a unique stop if you’re looking for things to do near Wheeling. This Palace and campus were founded by the Hare Krishna. At its peak, over 1000 Krishnas lived here, but today only about 200 remain. Today, you can walk the grounds and see a number of sculptures and tour the Palace!

West Virginia State Penitentiary

If you have time to explore things to do near Wheeling, definitely take a trip to Moundsville and tour the West Virginia State Penitentiary. The WV State Penitentiary was once one of the most dangerous and toughest prisons in the country and housed some incredibly dangerous and problematic people. We won’t spoil the stories that you’ll get on the tour, but the prison is very haunted and has some dark tales within its walls!

The Penitentiary was closed in 1995 due to its conditions. It is now open and preserved for tours.

Moundsville Grave Creek Burial Mound

Moundsville gets its name from the Grave Creek Burial Mound, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an archaeological complex that contains the largest of the Adena Burial mounds, which was constructed between 250 and 150 B.C! No wonder the West Virginia State Penitentiary is haunted right? It’s located literally across the street from the mound!

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