Road Trips from Pittsburgh: Northern Panhandle
The Northern Panhandle Region encompasses one of two panhandles in the state (fun fact: West Virginia is the only state out of the entire 50 states of the country to have two panhandles!) and is home to some of the best-preserved historical communities in West Virginia. Rich in history, cultural diversity, and known for its bridges (the Wheeling Suspension Bridge is a stunning landmark that was once the largest suspension bridge in the world from 1849 to 1851), this region captures the perfect mixture of serene rural beauty and an upbeat and bustling city atmosphere.
Located just an hour outside of Pittsburgh, Wheeling (founded in 1769 and known as the “Friendly City”) is a must-visit destination on any trip to this region. By the end of the 19th Century, this city earned itself the title of being the richest city per capita in America through an active industrial economy and a large working population. Wheeling was also once home to the State Capitol between 1863 and 1870 before it was moved to Charleston where it remains today.
If you’re looking to learn all there is to know about West Virginia, the West Virginia Independence Hall is the perfect place to visit. Considered by many to be the birthplace of the state, this National Historic Landmark is a museum dedicated to preserving the rich and exciting history of West Virginia. The grand architecture of the interior portion of the building is authentically preserved to give you the most genuine experience possible, and free tours of the museum are offered daily.
The Oglebay Resort is a place that offers fun and relaxation for people of all ages. A 1,700-acre year-round resort, Oglebay features a 270-room lodge, 54 cottages, 4 golf courses (2 of which are championship courses), along with specialty shops, ample dining options, a spa, indoor pool, fitness center, gardens, and museums.
Didn’t think Oglebay could get any more extravagant? This resort even has its very own zoo! The Good Zoo at Oglebayis home to 50 different species of animals, 20 of which are considered endangered. Take the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the animal kingdom’s most unique species like red pandas, snow leopards, two-toed sloths, bobcats, cheetahs and more.
Grab something to eat at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and enjoy some delicious, all-American cuisine made entirely from scratch in a lack-back and cozy atmosphere.
Start the day in Moundsville, a rapidly growing city that is rich in heritage a part of the Wheeling metropolitan area. Home to the largest conical burial mound in North America, this city gets its name from 2,000-year-old ancient Adena Indian burial mounds.
While in the area, visit the West Virginia State Penitentiary. With its beautiful gothic-style architecture and hauntingly violent history, this place is easily the most popular tourist attraction in the area. One of the roughest prisons in the entire country, the penitentiary housed some of America’s most notorious criminals and was known for its frequent riots, murders, and electrocutions. The prison offers both day and evening tours and is closed from November 1st to April 1st each year.
Another must-see location is The Palace of Gold. Considered to be “America’s Taj Mahal”, this stunning palace was built between 1973 and 1980 to serve as a place of residence for the leader of the Krishna community, Swami (known as “Srila” to his followers) Prabhupada. Upon his death in 1977, the palace now serves as a shrine dedicated to the life and legacy of Prabhupada and is open to the public for tours.
Be sure to stop by Grand Vue Park, a go-to place for adventurous fun and top-notch lodging. Whether ziplining through the valley, relaxing at the pool, or taking a hike along the peaceful trails, this park has something for everyone to enjoy. Other activities include mountain biking, swimming, geocaching, scenic overlook viewing, bird watching, golfing, and a playground. As beautiful as it is exciting, Grand Vue Park overlooks the stunning Ohio Valley, making it the perfect getaway for anyone looking for the perfect mixture of aesthetic beauty and outdoor entertainment. Prices for the park may vary, and special rates for the park are offered frequently, so be sure to check out the park’s website prior to making your reservation ahead of your arrival.
While at the park, grab a bite to eat at Vue Bar and Grill and enjoy a great meal alongside a great view of the beautiful Mountain State. With wraps, salads, steaks, and unique selections that can only be found here, Vue Bar and Grill has something to satisfy every palate.
Immerse yourself in rich Appalachian culture and history while you explore Almost Heaven’s Northern Panhandle.
This post was last updated on February 25, 2022