Mount Vernon, Iowa, could best be described as urban fringe, where the best of the big city comes to a small town venue with art festivals, popular local restaurants and cafés, and quirky boutiques. If you like chocolate, sidewalk chalk, art, chili, or magical nights—all of which have their own festivals in Mount Vernon—you only have to walk a few blocks to our uptown business district to check it out. On the way, if it’s wintertime, you can zoom down Pres Hill, a city street closed for sledding.

Culture, coolness, & rolling hills

Mount Vernon earned a mention in the Fodor's Travel article "5 Midwestern Small Towns to Visit Now," as well as one of 10 spots in "America's Coolest Small Towns" list published by Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine.

Mount Vernon lies in the midst of Iowa's Cultural Corridor. In May, Mount Vernon's main street becomes a palette for inspired art during the annual Chalk the Walk festival, and in September, artists from all over the area convene for the Lincoln Highway Arts Festival. Meanwhile, the farmers' market and community theatres thrive.

Need more nature?

And if you think Iowa is flat as a pancake, think again. Mount Vernon is part of the rolling landscape that made Grant Wood famous. Just five miles away, you can climb or hike the limestone bluffs of beautiful Palisades-Kepler State Park, and a short drive in any direction will lead you through gorgeous landscapes and hidden treasures. Or take a walk on the bottom of an ocean floor—what used to be an ocean floor—at the Devonian Fossil Gorge.

Lake MacBride and the Coralville Reservoir offer water and woodland opportunities just 10 miles away. Not too far from Cedar Rapids, you can walk the trails at Indian Creek Nature Center, attend the Maple Syrup Festival, or the Honey Festival.

Need more arts, entertainment, or sports?

Iowa City, thriving home of the University of Iowa located 20 miles south, offers many opportunities, ranging from concerts, readings at bookstores, and writing festivals to excellent food and Big 10 sporting events.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second largest city, is even closer and is full of many additional cultural outlets, including Theatre Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and Orchestra Iowa. You can also shop in the Czech Village or in the NewBo district, which is filled with local artisanal goods and hosts events year-round. Tour the Czech and Slovak Museum, the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, the African American Museum of Iowa, or Brucemore, an historic estate that hosts events as well as tours.

Need more shopping?

Coralville's Coral Ridge Mall is one of the largest in the Midwest, and Cedar Rapids boasts many additional options. If you're in the mood for a short road trip, you can shop at Tanger Outlet Mall, a central location for many brand-name stores. 

Need a big city outing?

Chicago is just four hours east. Minneapolis, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Kansas City are all within five hours.

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