Mount Vernon, Ohio is just around 1 hour from Columbus has a super cute downtown, a really unique park and the coolest Dog Fountain around!
If you’re looking for a super fun day trip from Columbus, Ohio, look no further than Mt. Vernon, Ohio! The downtown area is so cute and easy to walk around! There lots of things to do in downtown Mount Vernon that will appeal to families with kids of all different ages!
If you want to spend time in just the downtown area, most of the things listed here in this blog post will be walkable from one point to the next! I am also including a visit to Ariel-Foundation Park which would require driving away from downtown Mt. Vernon, but is definitely worth a visit!
Check out these fun things do in Mount Vernon, Ohio:
1. Visit the Dog Fountain in South Main Plaza
- Address: 22 E. Gambier St., Mt. Vernon, OH 43050
- Plan to spend 15-30 minutes here.
You can’t visit downtown Mt. Vernon without paying a visit to the Dog Fountain! It’s adorable! It’s lots of fun for all ages! Mount Vernon Nazarene University (who owns the square) has a handy map of the fountain listing each dog breed.
Make sure to look for non-dog statues, too! There are birds, a horse, a cat and an apple! You definitely want to plan a stop at South Main Plaza to see this whimsical addition to downtown which was installed in 2019.
The artist, Jeff Ritchie, who painted the dogs is from Mansfield, Ohio and had previously painted animals on carousels. The Dog Fountain is a must-see attraction in Mt. Vernon!
2. Explore Downtown Mount Vernon
- Address: Public Square, the heart of downtown Mt. Vernon is where High Street meets Main Street.
- Plan to spend around an hour walking around downtown
The Public Square in downtown Mt. Vernon is home to a nice park which includes a Civil War Soldiers Monument in the middle, a fountain and the Veterans Walk of Honor. Shops and restaurants surround the Public Square.
Walking south on S. Main St. from the plaza will take you past more stores and restaurants and to the most of the attractions featured in this blog post!
Tips for visiting downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio:
- Parking can be found on the street or in public lots. Most of the parking I saw was 3 hour parking.
- The Public Square and The Dog Fountain are on opposite ends of downtown, so plan your stops accordingly!
3. Shop at Dancing Bee Market & Studio
- Address: 3 N. Main St., Mt. Vernon, OH 43050
- Facebook Page
Dancing Bee Market and Studio was a fun stop on our day in Mt. Vernon! The shop features local makers and artists. It’s a great stop for a gift (for someone else or yourself! 😉 )
4. Shop at Paragraph’s Bookstore
- Address: 229 S. Main St., Mt. Vernon, OH 43050
- Plan to spend 30 minutes here
Paragraphs Bookstore is just a hop skip and a jump (if that) from the Dog Fountain in downtown Mount Vernon! This adorable bookstore sells books for all ages, plus a great selection of gift items. There are a couple of cozy chairs for taking a break and spending some time reading!
5. Get Your Coffee at Happy Bean
- Address: 221 S Main St, Mt Vernon, OH 43050
- Plan to spend 15-30 minutes here
You know I’m always going to scope out the local coffee shop! Happy Bean was, as the name implies, a happy place with lots of space for sitting! They have lots of coffee options and cute non-food items for sale, too!
6. Have Lunch at North Main Cafe
- Address: 108 N Main St, Mt Vernon, OH 43050
- Plan to spend around 1 hour here
North Main Cafe is a good spot for lunch! They have a modern farmhouse vibe inside and a great patio outside. They also sell breakfast and coffee if you’re looking for an early meal or a caffeine fix!
During the weekdays they are open for dinner, too. At the time of writing they are closed on Monday and close at 2:00 on Tuesday, so double check for up to date hours before visiting.
Just a note that North Main Cafe is north of Public Square, not south, so plan your walking path accordingly!
7. Play at SPI Spot (Science Play-Space Initiative)
- Address: 400 S. Main St., Mt. Vernon, Ohio 43050
- Plan to spend around 2 hours here
The SPI Spot is such a gem! If you have young kids, it’s worth a trip to Mt. Vernon just to play and learn at the SPI Spot! It’s probably one of the best things to do with kids in Mt. Vernon, Ohio! Plus, admission is only $4 per person, so the price beats almost any other (non-free) indoor play area you might find!
The mission of SPI Spot is: “Our mission is to enhance the Knox County community by bringing people of all ages together to explore science and technology through play.” And I believe that mission is fulfilled within this cool space! We visited with three generations of our family and spent a couple of hours exploring and playing!
There is so much for kids to do at SPI Spot. They have science experiments, a soft play area, a climbing wall, and lots of hands-on-activities!
The play space is divided into areas with different themes like a veterinary station, an Enchanted Forest for toddlers, a room full of hands-on activities, a Reading Nook and interactive science stations.
In a large play area, Kids can climb through the Wandering Bridge, climb into a tree house and build with Big Blue Blocks.
Look for the SPI Spot inside the Wright Center, part of Kenyon College. You will enter through the back of the building. (Look for the SPI Spot sign on the door!) There is a small parking lot in the back with free parking.
Tips for Visiting SPI Spot:
- As of October 7, 2022, SPI Spot is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
- Admission is just $4 per person.
- Admission is 50% off with a membership to COSI or The Works
- Admission is free with your membership to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland
- Appointments are highly recommended. Walk-ins are accepted as space allows.
8. Explore Ariel Foundation Park
- Address: 10 Pittsburgh Ave., Mt. Vernon, OH 43050
- Plan to spend 1-2 hours here
Ariel-Foundation Park is not in downtown Mt. Vernon. It’s the only thing on this list you can’t walk to from the Public Square! The park is actually just around a mile southwest from downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio, so it’s not very far at all!
Ariel-Foundation Park is built on the grounds of the former Pittsburgh Plate Glass factory and features ruins and remains of the glass factory!
Things that are left behind and incorporated into the park include elevator towers, structures of former brick buildings and a giant smokestack! You can climb the Rastin Observation Tower (pictured above)! I’ll be honest, I only made it about halfway until a fear of heights kicked in! LOL
Highlights to look for at Ariel-Foundation Park that your kids might enjoy is the Tree of Life Labyrinth, the River of Glass, the Coxey Building Ruins (pictured above) and the Rastin Observation Tower!
You can also drive over to The Lakes for lakeside views (and public restrooms)!
Tips for visiting Ariel-Foundation Park:
- The park is open April 1 through November 15 though some areas may be open to pedestrians year round.
- Daily hours of operation are 7:00 AM – 11:00 PM
- The only public restrooms we found open when we visited on a weekday morning were at The Lakes area
- It is possible to drive to different areas of the park but there are also paths to walk or bike.
Sample One Day Itinerary in Mount Vernon, Ohio:
- 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM – Explore Ariel-Foundation Park
- 11:45 AM-12:45 AM – Eat lunch at North Main Cafe or another local restaurant
- 1:00 PM-1:45 PM – Shop downtown Mt. Vernon with a stop for coffee at Happy Bean
- 1:45 PM-2:00 PM – Stop for photos at The Dog Fountain
- 2:00 PM-4:00 PM – Play at SPI Spot
- (Or flip flop your visits to Ariel-Foundation Park and SPI Spot depending on your time constraints!)
*SPI Spot is only open (as of October 7, 2022) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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