1,700-acre estate makes a great getaway from central Ohio

One of the main attractions of Oglebay Resort, two hours east of Columbus in Wheeling, W. Va., is the former summer estate of the late industrialist Earl W. Oglebay. The yellow mansion with stately white pillars in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is a museum that’s a tribute to Oglebay and the history of the property.

But what my family found more delightful than the 1846-built home during a recent visit, is the surrounding explorable landscape, so thoughtfully cared for and manicured, making the 1,700-acre estate a great getaway from central Ohio.

Oglebay willed his property to the people of Wheeling upon his death in 1926 as long as they “shall operate it for public recreation.” Visitors can tour the mansion, a glass museum, and wander along a red brick path through a garden that dates back a century.

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My husband, Mike, and I, held our wedding reception at Oglebay in April 2005, and like so many others were photographed among more than 50,000 tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. We return most every year in the spring, but decided this year to visit with our children in June.

Now, taking a 7-year-old and 5-year-old through an old building with historical artifacts and keeping their attention would be an exercise in futility. Fortunately, the resort offers an enticing variety of activities that are fun in the summer such as golfing, fishing, boating, swimming and horseback riding. There’s also a quaint zoo that’s a pleasure to explore.

We stayed two nights at the Wilson Lodge – most of its 271 rooms were remodeled in 2008. Each morning we ate a hearty buffet breakfast at the Ihlenfeld Dining Room, which overlooks Schenk Lake and the encircling countryside, where friendly deer roam. Mike enjoyed a round of golf with friends. Oglebay offers courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

My children and I explored the pool at the Crispin Center, where little has changed since opening in the late 1930s. Built of locally-quarried sandstone, it’s elegant alongside the sky-blue pool. It’s one of the loveliest pools I’ve ever seen. I half expected to see ladies appear in modest swimsuits and caps, then jump off the platform in the center. I found the water too cold, but my kids didn’t seem to mind as they overtook the large kiddie pool.

We also explored the 36-acre Good Zoo. Opened in 1977 in a wooded area, it contains African wild dogs, meerkats, kangaroos, lorikeets, and recently added a dinosaur exhibit, with animatronic creatures. The lorikeets were particularly friendly if you entice them with nectar that the zoo sells for $1 a cup.

Wintertime it’s a poplar site for the Winter Festival of Lights, a six-mile drive showcasing millions of twinkling lights on more than 300 hilly acres.

Oglebay is located at 465 Lodge Dr., Wheeling, W. Va. Offers a variety of package rates. We stayed two nights via the Bed & Breakfast Package, starting at $151 per night, which includes lodge accommodations, buffet breakfast and use of the outdoor pool.

For more information, visit www.oglebay-resort.com.

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