1. Ariel Foundation Park
Ariel-Foundation Park is a great place to relax, spend time with friends, and enjoy the fresh air and quiet. The 140-foot Rastin observation tower is the most unique feature giving visitors the highest vantage point of Mount Vernon. While exploring, check out the art pieces made from the historical glass factory, the brick ruins from the same factory and the winding walkway known as the Tree of Life Labyrinth.
2. Kokosing Gap Trail
The Trail runs along the East side of campus, and is perfect for running, longboarding, biking or walking. It winds past picnic and recreational areas including the Rotary Park Playground, an old locomotive and caboose built in the early 1900s, and the butterfly garden at the Brown Family Environment Center.
3. The Dairy
Who doesn’t love something sweet? The Dairy is on the East side of Mount Vernon, and has wonderful ice cream with generous portions that won’t break your wallet.There are over 60 flavors to choose from along with appetizers and entrees to make it a meal. Guests have the choice to eat inside or hang out at the picnic tables on the deck.
4. Hiawatha Park
This park is great for playing volleyball and hanging out with friends. It’s about 10 minutes from campus, and located near Buffalo Wild Wings. The park also has tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, and football fields. It offers community events year-round, such as yoga and walking clubs to get involved in.
5. Paragraphs Bookstore
Looking for the next great read? Paragraphs has you covered! The bookstore, on Main Street in Mount Vernon, is located downtown near the Buchwald Center. With a friendly staff and a great selection of books, Paragraphs is ready to help you find the perfect read. The chairs in the store invite visitors to enjoy their favorite story in comfort with a coffee from MVNU’s favorite coffee shop.
6. Happy Bean
Just a couple doors down from Paragraphs is Happy Bean. The coffee shop opened last spring and is located inside MVNU’s Hunter Hall. The prices on coffee concoctions and pastries are reasonable, and the staff is always friendly. The environment of Happy Bean is great for students who want to study, work on homework, or catch up with friends. While there, stop in at the Buchwald Center and check out the art gallery showcasing work from students and local artists.
7. First Friday
This community event happens in downtown Mount Vernon on the first Friday of the months May through October. On those Fridays, the streets are shut down to cars while people are free to roam around from 6 to 10 p.m. Mount Vernon’s First Friday has live music, food, a harvest market, balloon sculptor, car show and petting zoo.
8. Antique Shops
Love antiques? So does Mount Vernon! Take an afternoon to explore the various antique shops in Mount Vernon. There are shelves stacked with records, walls lined with furniture and art sprinkled throughout it all. The friendly owners are willing to help you find a great deal throughout the several floors willed with wonders and hidden treasures.
Colonial City Lanes, only a few minutes from campus, is a great way to hang out with friends. With 24 lanes, pizza, beverages and lively music this activity creates the perfect weekend fun. The reasonable prices make it a frequent stop for MVNU students. Take Cougar Drive out past the soccer fields and turn left on Mount Vernon Avenue.
10. See an event at the Memorial Theatre
The Memorial Theatre is located right off the square in downtown Mount Vernon. It’s a great place to catch a musical performance or theatrical play. The Community Concert Association of Knox County hosts a variety of concerts and entertainment throughout the year, and Mount Vernon Arts uses the Memorial for many of its theatre performances. “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” opens there on Sept. 23. The theatre is also used for other community programs such as dance recitals by The Spotlight dance studio.