On the rolling hillsides of Wheeling, West Virginia, the white pillars of the Mansion Museum stand majestically over the manicured lawns and landscaped gardens of the Oglebay Institute. Originally built in 1846 as an eight-bedroom farmhouse, the mansion entered the Oglebay family in 1900, and was willed to the city 30 years later to serve as a facility for education and recreation. Today it features a rotation of exhibits and programs, which share fine art, glassware, and environmental education with more than 100,000 people annually.
Tucked next to the Mansion, the glass museum has collected some 3,000 pieces of Wheeling glass, cut lead crystal, and Victorian art glass. The Sweeney Punch Bowl, a 5-foot, 225-pound piece of cut lead crystal, is the jewel of the collection, epitomizing the aesthetic splendor and unwieldy nature of most Victorian-era flasks. The Schrader Environmental Education Center imparts visitors with an appreciation for the natural world with interactive trail tours, campfires, and astronomy events; and the Stifle Fine Arts Center's ever-changing visual-arts exhibits display work from local and national artists.
The friendly tool experts at Direct Tools Factory Outlet help customers negotiate the store's huge inventory of new, reconditioned, and factory-blemished hardware from brands such as Ryobi, Homelite, and Milwaukee. Items are priced at reduced rates of up to 75%, allowing budget-conscious customers to stockpile hardware for home-improvement projects or backyard tool hills. Impress a time-traveling early hominid with a Dirt Devil Scorpion 7-amp hand vacuum ($29.99) or a factory-blemished Ryobi One+ lithium-Ion compact drill ($127.99). Spice up dinner parties with a portable table saw ($139), powered during a total blackout by a 5,000-watt Homelite generator ($499). Each product carries a warranty of at least one year, even the reconditioned items, which are only awarded warranty ribbons after undergoing a grueling routine of pushups and burpees.
Visitors to the Parisian-style bridal boutique are beckoned inside a romantic interior ornamented with glittering chandeliers and vintage-style furniture. Stunning bridal gowns and bridal accessories such as shoes, gloves, and jewelry dot the store’s three floors, capped by an upstairs VIP room with a crystal-draped ceiling and comfortable couches. A large selection of gowns also covers bridal-party members, with bridesmaid dresses by Jordan Fashions and Badgley Mischka, mother-of-the-bride dresses, flower-girl gear, and tuxedos.
The store also stocks a selection of standout homecoming and prom dresses, as well as plus-size designs. Walk-ins are welcome, and customers can look forward to one-on-one consultations with Carrie Ann’s fashion specialists. Brides-to-be can also look into the store’s event-coordinating services to help streamline nuptial events.
A still figure stands silently behind a few thin trees. When he sees someone emerging from a long, metal tube several yards away, he takes aim with his marker, squeezes the trigger, and watches a blot of brightly colored paint materialize on his friend's shoulder. Such friend-turned-foe scenarios play out daily at Urban Assault, a paintball facility whose outdoor battlefields in Cecil and indoor arenas in McDonald attract players from all around the area. In the outdoor arenas, the surrounding wooded landscape adds variety of terrain and barricade possibilities, letting staffers add touches such as metal crawl tubes and other strategic bits of architecture that paintballers have come to depend on for cover. The competitors engage in open play on five such outdoor fields—each with unique features—as well as in the company's two indoor spaces that total some 30,000 square feet. Indoors, paintball contests go from sparsely adorned to almost disco-like as players stalk their enemies while traipsing across catwalks and navigating a demanding maze of fog machines, black lights, and adrenaline-boosting music inside one of the fields. The brains behind Urban Assault also offer special rates to large groups, military veterans, and members of the CIA's finger-painting brigade.
The crafty instructors at Bead It! oversee the symbiosis of string and bead with an array of bead- and jewelry-making classes. The Beginning Bead class familiarizes budding jewelers with the fundamental bead varieties, tool operations, and the age-old sport of spotting beads on the floor ($20). More experienced beadsters can conga-line into the Swarovski Crystal Clusters class to create crystallized bracelets and earrings ($20), or try out the Texturing and Stamping Basics course, in which students embed and accentuate jewels with personalized designs, patterns, and mini etchings of famous cereal-box characters ($35).