There are entire cities with fewer attractions than those contained within the 1,700-acre grounds of Oglebay Resort & Conference Center. Originally built at the beginning of the 20th century as the summer estate of Cleveland industrialist Earl W. Oglebay, the resort has since been consistently evolving and improving.
In 1937?as a part of federal relief project?a massive outdoor swimming pool was built along with the Crispin Center, a stately building forged from locally mined sandstone; both remain cornerstones of the resort. The post-war era working boom fueled the creation of tennis courts (today, they have both indoor and outdoor options), picnic sites, and nature trails and roads.
With its scenery, space, and splendid infrastructure, Oglebay Resort was an attractive location for the development of a golf course. Two of the world's most famous course architects happened to agree. In the 1970s, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed a championship layout into the landscape; it has gone on to host the LPGA Classic 11 times. Three decades later, Arnold Palmer placed his artistic spin on the soil, creating another 18-hole, championship golf course.
Whether lodging in one of the resort's rustic cottages, a sprawling estate house, or simply booking a room in the Wilson Lodge, guests won't have to go far to find entertainment on the resort grounds. A walk across the lawns?which feature an English garden?leads them to the Good Zoo, home to 50 species of exotic animals including salamanders and tamarin monkeys. Guests hoping to interact with animals can also head to the Oglebay stables, where horses await to play games of chess in which the knight is the only piece.
In the 900,000-acre Monongahela National Forest, amid the bald eagles, deer, herons, and small-mouth bass, lies Blackwater Outdoor Adventures, a family-owned business dedicated to equipping treks into the outdoors that surround it. From their river outpost and general store, staffers dispatch water vessels to traverse the clear waters of the Cheat River, a scenic passageway carved into the rolling hills with plenty of areas for swimming and fishing. Blackwater also operates a 7-acre campsite on the banks of the river, where groups can lessen the edge of the outdoors with hot showers and space to store boats, gear, and inflatable six-bedroom homes.
Since 1972, River Expeditions’ seasoned river guides have organized whitewater-rafting trips down the New River and the Gauley River in southern West Virginia’s scenic Appalachian Mountains. There’s a stretch of water for all ages and skill levels, from those looking for a scenic float to paddlers craving a soaked-to-the-bone thrill ride. In addition to day trips, River Expeditions also offers overnight excursions, which typically include camping on the riverbank, cooking out beneath the stars, and paying off local owls to guard the food at night.
River Expeditions can also arrange horseback riding, ziplining, mountain biking, fishing, and ATV tours.
Though spectral forms and shadowy figures still reside in The Haunted Cottage, its greatest legacy is as the occasional vacation home of assassin John Wilkes Booth. Also known as the Booth House, The Haunted Cottage is home to paranormal researcher Vince Wilson, who helms the haunted abode's ghost tours and maintains the paranormal library and history museum, where guests can spy a vampire skeleton among other supernatural exhibits. All this knowledge pours from Vince's mouth during tours and investigations, which pair breakdowns of the house's 200-year history with actual equipment designed to catch ghosts, from cameras and digital recorders to EMF meters.
The Haunted Cottage also strives to school spirit-seekers with paranormal-research training that cycles through parapsychology topics such as extrasensory perception, hypnosis, and psychic healing.
Rivermen's New River rafting trips guide amateurs and avid aquanauts alike through some of the most scenic whitewater rapids of New River Gorge National River. Reverential rafters can drink up hearty eyefuls of the gorge and its abundant wildlife, weathered bluffs, and recognizable bridge, as seen on the West Virginia state Pog and quarter. The upper river excursion (4–6 hours, $124) traverses canyons on relatively mild waters punctuated by a few easy rapids. Easily navigable by group raft or inflatable duck (a kayak-like vessel that holds 1–2 people), the upper trip makes an enjoyable introduction to whitewater for families, beginner to intermediate rafters, and adolescent Loch Ness monsters. The lower route (4–6 hours, $134) quickens the pulse with more than 25 rapids, as well as tranquil pools and the requisite breathtaking scenery. Both tours will stop to provide lunch.
The sun has risen over Ridgefield Farm & Orchard for more than a century, dusting its orchard's apple trees, its winding cornfield maze, and its acres of pumpkins with warm, nurturing rays. Generations have flocked there from across the country, snipping fresh buds from flower gardens during the summer months or scampering though the pumpkin patch come fall. The advent of autumn also marks the beginning of the farm?s apple-picking season, when dwarf orchard trees grow heavy with juicy gala, empire, and 13 other varieties. After the annual pumpkin-picking and Halloween celebrations have passed, the grounds offer up an abundance of firs and spruces to be used as Christmas trees or stacked up and tied together into one giant Christmas tree. Throughout the year, the onsite country store peddles seasonal produce and housemade jams to boast the bounty of the farm's fields and to keep visitors fueled.