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.
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum thrusts visitors into the midst of Pennsylvania's Trolley Era, conjuring bygone methods of travel with exhibits, rides, and a full roster of antique trolleys, including a horse-drawn streetcar from the 1870s. Hourly tours shepherd guests and members on their exploration of the museum's collection, starting with a video introduction before a scenic, four-mile ride fills the air with the sounds of century-oldf trolleys. Inside the visitor-education center, pictorial exhibits breathe life into storied eras, and stops inside the restoration shop illuminate how volunteer craftsmen restore vintage trolleys. Trolley fans can also add to their own memorabilia collections with souvenirs from the store, or borrow the museum spaces for birthday parties and rentals.
Established in 1832, J.J. Gillespie Gallery furnishes its walls with a wide range of art from American and international artists. In an attached workshop, a master framer meticulously preserves keepsakes inside custom wood or metal frames. The gallery also hosts an onsite art expert, who can appraise oil-based works or clean and restore them to their former luster.
Rising six floors above the historic Strip District, the Senator John Heinz History Center's handsome, redbrick exterior houses 275,000 square feet of exhibits and materials devoted to Western Pennsylvania. Long-term exhibits include From Slavery to Freedom, which traces the quest for equality from the antislavery movement to the modern struggles for Civil Rights, using indenture, manumission, and freedom papers from the Allegheny County recorder of deeds as starting points. Pittsburgh: A History of Innovation highlights the land's original inhabitants, the journey of Lewis and Clark, and the modern superhighways, whereas the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum delves into the history and lore of local athletics, from the Steelers’ Immaculate Reception to Bill Mazeroski's title-clinching home run in game seven of the 1960 World Series. The museum also hosts nationally renowned traveling exhibits; its current offering is 1968: The Year That Rocked America which explores this decade-defining year using evocative objects, multimedia displays, and more than 100 artifacts related to 1968’s seminal moments.
Perched in the Steel City's Cultural District downtown and staffed by passionate volunteers, the nonprofit ToonSeum pays homage to the art of the cartoon with rotating exhibits, kids' classes, and hands-on entertainment for all ages. Exhibitions have ranged from collections of original work to special displays honoring artists such as Pennsylvania native, Keith Haring. Contributing to the museum's ongoing educational mission, local cartoonists often donate their own time to teach fun-filled workshops or share the bleak realities of living with a talking cat.
Though having only recently celebrated its second birthday, the August Wilson Center commands a striking architectural confidence. Its two-story steel-and-glass sail juts into the night sky with the bravado of a toddler who just lassoed his first neighborhood cat. Within the steal and glass, a 486-seat theater hosts plays, dance performances, and lectures while multiple exhibition galleries display art and cultural treasures for the community. The center draws on the legacy and culture of African Americans from Western Pennsylvania, infusing each curation with a celebration of rich history.