Day Trippin’ With Uncle Mike: Wheeling

“Day Trippin with Uncle Mike” is a Pickerington Online series featuring fun trips within a few hours of Violet Township, Ohio. Michael Nicodemus is a biology professor, birder, travel enthusiast & uncle.

September 18, 2021 by Pickerington Online Contributor Dr. Michael Nicodemus

You might only know about it because of that time that Alex P. Keaton drove there from Columbus because the drinking age was 18, but Wheeling has a rich and colorful history. Legend says that the city got its name from the Native American word, “weelunk” meaning “place of the head”. The story goes that the natives displayed the decapitated head of a white settler at the place where a large creek met the Ohio River as a warning to discourage future encroachment.

Victorian Architecture

There are a large number of buildings in the Victorian-style from the 1800s scattered throughout the Wheeling era. There is a beautiful Victorian mansion on Wheeling Island just south of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. Within two blocks of Wheeling Centre Market, there are several blocks of well-kept Victorian homes and a few stray homes that are in some disrepair but still retain some vestiges of their beauty. I saw one almost completely covered with ivy, but still quite lovely.

Wheeling Suspension Bridge

When the Wheeling Suspension Bridge was constructed in 1849, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It may be the oldest suspension bridge still in use. Currently, the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic due to truck damage. From the Wheeling Island side of the bridge, you can get a view of the Jamboree USA mural and the Marsh Wheeling Stogies sign. The river, the radio station, the bridge, and the cigars are all part of the rich history of Wheeling.

Later Alligator

Later Alligator is a newer addition to downtown Wheeling, opening in 2006. It is built in a restored Victorian building. The owners wanted to provide a dining experience that was unique to the area, so they decided to specialize in crepes
They also have an array of sandwiches, salads, and wraps. I like crepes because they make me feel hifalutin’, so I ordered the “Crepes of Wrath”, a crepe filled with sausage, onions, peppers, and two different cheeses. It was quite good as were the sandwiches that my parents ordered.

Centre Market

Centre Market was built in 1853. According to their website: “The upper market house, the oldest in the country, was originally an open air market…Centre Market is a great destination for food, shopping, events, festivals, art, and exploration in the Upper Ohio Valley. All of our businesses are local and owned by members of our community.” It is a vibrant hub for local art and food.

Coleman’s Fish Market

Coleman’s Fish Market has been a local staple and a nationally recognized eatery since 1914. You can purchase an array of fresh seafood or get one of their famous fish sandwiches. I’m not much for fish, but I do enjoy their shrimp and French fries.
Image from Coleman’s website
Image from Coleman’s website

Antiques on the Market

There are several antique shops around Centre Market, but I found Antiques on the Market to be more fun than the others. In my opinion, a good antique shop is a combination of a shop and a museum of oddities. Antiques on the Market has three levels of quirky, kitschy, and odd gifts that should satisfy your interests, whatever they may be.

Artworks Around Town

Artworks Around Town is a shop, a museum, and a cultural movement. They have a store in the Centre Market showcasing and selling local artworks as well as hosting classes for those who want to improve their artistic talent. They are also involved in artistic projects in and around the Wheeling area, like painting the parking meters around Centre Market. We met Greg Siegwart, an incredible artist and teacher, who gave us an impromptu tour and history of Artworks Around Town and generously gave us permission to photograph some of his work for this blog. He paints beautiful portraits of Wheeling as well as a remarkable painting of Edgar Allen Poe.

Paradox Bookstore

Paradox Bookstore became internet famous for a sign displayed outside offering books on the honor system or even for free for those who cannot afford to buy them. It is everything a bookshop should be: somewhat messy, crowded, full of the musty sweet smell of aging books.

Wheeling Artisan Center

The Wheeling Artisan Center is a great place to find local crafts. They have beautiful glass works, yard art, food, and local history exhibits. I personally love the flying pigs and the Mothman yard art. In addition to the downtown shop, they can also be found at Carriage House in Oglebay Park.

Ohio Riverfront Area

The riverfront area has a nice park with historical statuary and lots of good places to rest. Throughout the year, there are a number of concerts on the riverfront area. It gives a great view of historic buildings and bridges and a calm place to enjoy the beauty of the Ohio River.

Jebbia’s Market

Jebbia’s Market is a charming fruit and vegetable store in the heart of south Wheeling. It has a great supply of fresh produce and the feel of a hometown grocer.

Check out Uncle Mike’s previous adventures:
Day Trippin’ – Amish Country
Day Trippin’ – Cinci Part 1
Day Trippin’ – Grandview

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