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8 Fun Things to do in Mount Vernon, Ohio

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.
The Dog Fountain at South Main Plaza in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The Dog Fountain in South Main Plaza

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.

The Dog Fountain, a fun thing to do in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The Dog Fountain in Mount Vernon, Ohio

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.

A boy petting a cat statue at the Dog Fountain in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
A cat statue on the Dog Fountain

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 Civil War Soldiers Monument in Public Square in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The Civil War Monument in Mt. Vernon Public Square

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.

A fountain in the Mount Vernon Public Square in Knox County, Ohio.
Public Square in Mount Vernon

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!

Cute store in downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio

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

Handmade goods for sale at Dancing Bee Market and Studio in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Good for sale inside Dancing Bee Market and Studio

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
  • Website
  • Plan to spend 30 minutes here
The outside facade of Paragraphs Bookstore in downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Paragraphs Bookstore in downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio

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!

Inside Paragraphs Bookstore in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Inside Paragraphs Bookstore

5. Get Your Coffee at Happy Bean

  • Address: 221 S Main St, Mt Vernon, OH 43050
  • Website
  • Plan to spend 15-30 minutes here
Inside interior of Happy Bean Coffee Shop in downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Inside Happy Bean in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio

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!

Iced Latte at Happy Bean, a coffee shop in downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Ice Latte at Happy Bean

6. Have Lunch at North Main Cafe

  • Address: 108 N Main St, Mt Vernon, OH 43050
  • Website
  • Plan to spend around 1 hour here
The patio at North Main Cafe, a restaurant in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Patio at North Main Cafe in Mt. Vernon

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.

Taco Salad at North Main Cafe in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Salad at North Main Cafe in Mt. Vernon, Ohio

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
  • Website
  • 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!

SPI Spot Indoor play area for kids in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Play area at SPI Spot in Mount Vernon, Ohio

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!

Science activities for kids to do in Mt. Vernon, Ohio at SPI Spot.
Science experiments at SPI Spot

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.

An indoor play area and climbing wall at SPI Spot, a kid's science museum in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Climbing Wall at SPI Spot in Mt. Vernon, Ohio

In a large play area, Kids can climb through the Wandering Bridge, climb into a tree house and build with Big Blue Blocks.

A boy playing with the Big Blue Blocks at SPI Spot, a fun thing to do with kids in downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
The Big Blue Blocks at SPI Spot

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
  • Website
  • Plan to spend 1-2 hours here
Boys in front of the River of Glass at Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
The River of Glass at Ariel-Foundation Park

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!

A boy running around the Rastin Observation Tower in Ariel Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Rastin Observation Tower at Ariel-Foundation Park in Mt. Vernon

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

Two boys at Coxey Building Ruins at Ariel-Foundation Park outside of downtown Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Coxey Building Ruins at Ariel-Foundation Park

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!

Ariel-Foundation Park ruins of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Factory in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
A pile of glass at Ariel-Foundation Park

You can also drive over to The Lakes for lakeside views (and public restrooms)!

The River of Glass at Ariel-Foundation Park in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The River of Glass at Ariel-Foundation Park

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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8 Fun Things to do in Mount Vernon, Ohio!