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A Weekend Getaway to Mount Vernon, Ohio

When it comes to weekend getaways from Cleveland, there really are so many options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a lakeside adventure, a city break, time out in nature, or something in between. Ohio really has it all.

I recently had the chance to spend time in the little city of Mount Vernon, and think it would make a great overnight getaway suitable for the whole family.

Note: This trip was a paid partnership with Ohio. Find It Here. and The Mount Vernon Inn. But, as with all partnerships I agree to, all opinions and recommendations here are my own!

If you’re looking for a fun overnight getaway that mixes some history in with a cute city center and some unique outdoor spots, here’s a quick guide for visiting Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon, Ohio from afar
Mount Vernon from Ariel-Foundation Park
Mount Vernon mural
Mural in Mount Vernon

Where is Mount Vernon?

Mount Vernon, Ohio, is located about halfway between Mansfield and Columbus, less than a 2-hour drive from Cleveland. The city is located in Knox County, and has a population of around 17,000 people.

And yes, the city was indeed named for the Virginia estate of George Washington.

Where to stay in Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon Inn
The Mount Vernon Inn

My trip to Mount Vernon was partially hosted by The Mount Vernon Inn, which is a family-owned 15-room inn not far from the center of town. The inn is equal parts cozy and tranquil, with a variety of rooms and suites to choose from.

Each stay at the Mount Vernon Inn comes complete with a hot, cooked-to-order breakfast each morning, as well as a complimentary drink from the bar in the evening.

And by far the best part of staying here (after the warm hospitality) is the inn’s gorgeous courtyard garden. It’s a perfect spot to sip a glass of wine, or just relax after a day of exploring.

Mount Vernon Inn gardens
Courtyard garden at the Mount Vernon Inn
Wine at Mount Vernon Inn
Enjoying an evening glass of wine in the garden

5 things to do in Mount Vernon

Here are the top things to do on a weekend trip to Mount Vernon, Ohio.

1. Ariel-Foundation Park

By far the most unique thing to do in Mount Vernon is to spend some time at Ariel-Foundation Park. This large park covers 250 acres and features walking trails, lakes, terraces, a museum, and more.

Ariel-Foundation Park view from above
Ariel-Foundation Park

The park sits on land that used to be home to a PPG Glass Company factory. The factory closed down in the 1970s, and quickly fell into disrepair. The whole area became a big brownfield dotted with crumbling buildings.

The city eventually wanted to demolish everything, but in the early 2010s a plan was hatched to turn the space into a public park instead. The Ariel Corporation and the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County worked together from 2012-2015 to transform those 250 acres into one of the most unique parks I’ve ever visited.

Amanda at Ariel-Foundation Park
Amanda in some of the factory ruins

They repurposed some of the factory ruins into community event spaces. They took some of the factory rubble and refuse and turned it into modern art. They added cement walkways, a labyrinth, earthen terraces, and even an observation deck around one of the old smoke stacks.

Glass river at Ariel-Foundation Park
River of Glass art installation
Ariel-Foundation Park observation tower
Rastin Observation Tower

And it’s all completely free to visit!

This is definitely a place you need to spend some time. Bring a picnic lunch or dinner to enjoy alongside one of the beautiful lakes.

2. Explore the historic district

The downtown area of Mount Vernon is simply adorable; there’s no other way to describe it. And it’s historic, too. In fact, the Downtown Mount Vernon Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. This district (concentrated around Public Square and South Main Street) boasts an eclectic mix of architectural styles, with many buildings dating back to the mid-1800s.

Downtown Mount Vernon
Downtown Mount Vernon

The most notable historic building is probably the Woodward Opera House, which is the oldest opera theater of its kind in the United States.

As you’re wandering around downtown, keep an eye out for the brown historical markers, too – there are several of them that commemorate important people and events from the city’s past.

Mount Vernon historic marker
See how many historical markers you can find!

And if you’re visiting Mount Vernon with kids, you definitely won’t want to miss the Fountain of Dogs on South Main Plaza. It’s not historical in any way (in fact, it was only installed in 2019), but it sure will put a smile on your face.

Dog fountain in Mount Vernon
The very fun Fountain of Dogs

3. Shop and eat local

Mount Vernon, like most small towns in Ohio, has a variety of locally-owned shops and businesses. As you’re exploring the downtown historic district, be sure to allow some time to pop into some local shops.

Some spots you may want to visit include:

  • Paragraphs Bookstore
  • Almost Famous Sweets And Sodas
  • The Makery (yarn store)
  • Woolson Co (for antiques)
  • Kudos Art Co-op
  • Schnormeier Gallery
  • The Scent Life Candle Bar (make your own candle!)
Bookstore in Mount Vernon
Paragraphs Bookstore

And there’s plenty of local food to enjoy, too! Places I’d recommend include:

  • Happy Bean Coffee Shop
  • Satiated (a food truck with an outdoor seating area)
  • Stein Brewing Company (for lunch or dinner)
  • The Alcove (for a fancier meal)
Food at Stein Brewery in Mount Vernon
Delicious hot chicken sandwich at Stein Brewing

4. Hit the trail(s)

If you’re into cycling or just walking, Mount Vernon is a great spot, as it’s the terminus for two notable trails:

Kokosing Gap Trail – The Kokosing Gap Trail is a 14-mile-long paved trail between Mount Vernon and Danville built along a former railroad line. The trail crosses the Kokosing River twice using old railroad bridges.

Heart of Ohio Trail – This is a 15.7-mile-long paved trail between Mount Vernon and Centerburg.

You can actually get on both of these trails at Ariel-Foundation Park.

5. Visit a waterfall

Honey Run Waterfall
Honey Run Waterfall

People from outside of Ohio often don’t know just how many great waterfalls we have! If you want to visit a nice waterfall during your time in Mount Vernon, you can make the short drive to Honey Run Park, where a trail through the forest leads to Honey Run Waterfall.

Here the Honey Run stream cascades 25 feet down a sandstone cliff, making for a great spot to splash around or take photos. Following the trail further will take you past more cliffs and eventually to the Kokosing River.

Kokosing River in Ohio
Hike to the Kokosing River

This is a great little hike suitable for the whole family, and is a great way to round out your visit to Mount Vernon.


Who wants to plan an overnight getaway to Mount Vernon?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kate

    OMG that Fountain of Dogs could not be cuter! My mom & I are visiting Mount Vernon next month, & I can’t wait to explore the area.

    1. Amanda

      That’s so fun! You’ll definitely have to check out the fountain (and all the other cool things in Mount Vernon!).

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