One of my family’s Christmas traditions always involves a trip to a drive through holiday light display. These displays usually spread over several acres, and are a good activity for families or couples who want an inexpensive but festive holiday activity.
There are two major light displays near Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The first is located in Wheeling, West Virginia at Oglebay Park. To get there, drivers would need to travel south on Route 60 south, which becomes 22/30 East, and then travel on Interstates 79 and 70 to get to Wheeling. Once you arrive in Wheeling, take the Oglebay Park exit. My family often stops to eat at either the Perkins or Bob Evans, both of which are right off the exit. After we have eaten, we take the winding road up the hill to Oglebay Park. The light displays start as soon as you get to the top of the hill, before you arrive at the park. Before we reach the payment booths, we always stop at the Good Zoo building. The building houses one of the park’s gift shops, a snack bar, an indoor laser light show, the zoo, a large model train display, and an outdoor light display set to music. There is an admission fee to see the laser show, zoo, outdoor lights, and model trains. The zoo hosts mainly small animals, insects, some fish, and amphibians. The model train display is quite large, and includes a working paddle boat, as well as town scenes, country scenes, and scenes depicting the rich mining legacy of West Virginia. Although one can tour the lights without stopping at the building, it definitely improves the visit. The drive through tour starts further on into the park, and there is a separate per car charge. My family’s favorite light displays are the 12 Days of Christmas, the Poinsetta Candles, and the large American flag. Along the route there is also a Christmas shop which is open late, and furhter along yet is a gift shop which sells ornamental glassware and another which sells garden items. The creche display is located at the last set of gift shops. My favorite light display has to be the hyacinth Christmas lights around the creche. There is also a mansion onsite which is open during the day.
The other major light display near Beaver County is Hartwood Acres, which is located off the Butler exit of the Pennsylvania turnpike. Hartwood Acres is the site of a former private home and estate. The mansion, which is done in the style of an English country house, is open for candlelight tours if you have a reservation. The light display is set up on the former estate’s grounds. Like Oglebay Park, the admission fee is per carload and season passes are available. I took a group of students through last year on a bus tour, and everyone throughly enjoyed the trip. The light displays include a group of Christmas bears in various poses as well as other holiday themes. There are plenty of places to eat along Route 8 after you get off the turnpike.
Both light displays are impressive, and make for a pleasant night out. The costs are fairly similar, so it all depends on how much time you have to spend and how far you want to drive. We try and go to both.