Located on the Ohio River in the northern panhandle that juts up between Ohio and Pennsylvania about 130 mi/210 km northeast of Charleston, Wheeling, West Virginia was first settled in the 1760s.
With the completion of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge over the Ohio in 1849, Wheeling became an important east-to-west transportation port and manufacturing center. Wheeling has honored this history with a 13-mi/21-km riverfront Heritage Trail and the Heritage Port, where summer concerts are presented.
By far, the most popular attraction in Wheeling is Oglebay Park, an enormous (1,500-acre/607-hectare) city park that has its own lodge and cabins, an entertainment complex (dancing, DJs, live bands), a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, tennis courts, swimming pools, horseback riding, sled hills, a museum and a zoo with a science discovery area for kids.
At Christmas, visitors flock from near and wide to take a driving tour through Oglebay's Christmas lights display, which spreads throughout the entire park. Along with New York's Central Park and Detroit's Belle Isle, Oglebay is one of the must-see municipal parks in the nation.
Wheeling is also home to Jamboree USA (at Capitol Music Hall), the country-music stage show that presents concerts by major country stars. While you're in town, visit Independence Hall (site of the convention that ratified West Virginia's declaration of independence from Virginia) and Centre Market Square (a restored historic district housing shops and restaurants). If you have time, take the Victorian Wheeling Homes Tour, which is conducted by costumed guides.
In the very northern tip of the northern Panhandle, less than an hour from Wheeling, the Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in Chester offers more than just horse racing. There's shopping, spa services, golf, restaurants and slot machines.
Moundsville, on the other hand, offers a more gruesome atmosphere with the Delf Norona Museum, which details the features of an Adena burial mound. Visitors to Moundsville can also tour the former West Virginia Penitentiary, where they can, if they wish, spend the night.
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