Mount Vernon Must-See Self-Guided Tour: Fall

Fall is the most beautiful season in Uptown Mount Vernon. Homecoming parades, football games, fall festivals, Halloween, and arguably one of our best shopping days of the year, Shop Small Saturday.

Drive into town from any direction and view the fall colors along Highway 1, Highway 30, or Old Mount Vernon Road. Photograph the fall colors, enjoy fresh chili during Chili Cook-off or take in a Cornell College or high school football game. Mount Vernon loves autumn guests!

Bringing a bus load? Contact the CDG Director for a step-on guide or personal docent.

10 a.m.
Start your tour on the Cornell College campus, 600 1st St. SW.

Park on First Street below the campus and wander through campus and get up close and personal with the many trees. Be sure to visit Cole Library in the middle of campus and be on the lookout for art exhibits throughout both the Cole Library and McWethy Hall’s Luce Gallery.

11 a.m.
Head east on 1st Street and stop at any one of 33 retail businesses along First Street as you make your way through the Main Street District.

Ink Expression, 114 1st St. SW, is a full-scale tattoo shop, that also sells comic books, movie props and assorted jewelry and other gifts.

If you are in Mount Vernon during one of two fall Shop Small Days, stop into Shop Small HQ (changes every year, just follow the signs) and sign up at the fishbowl to win a $25 gift certificate good at any business in Mount Vernon or Lisbon. Leave us your cell phone number with the attendant at the fishbowl, and if your number is pulled out of the Fishbowl on Shop Small Saturday, you will be called on your cell phone and told that you have 10 minutes to return to the fishbowl to claim your $25 gift certificate. If you have left town, your prize will be added to the next hour’s winner.

11:30 a.m.
Now it’s time to shop. Start at Right Frame of Mind, 105 1st St. NW, and begin your shopping experience. Right Frame of Mind will have plenty to peruse while you wait for your cell phone to ring: garden décor, home decorations, cards, wall art, jewelry, linens, soaps and lotions and pillows by Czech Feather & Down.

12:30 p.m.
Lunch on festival day is a great time to check out the Plantiful Pantry, 100 1st St. SE. This restaurant’s slogan says it all “We will make you fall in love with eating plants.” Dine in or carry out. Stay close and keep your cell phone on – you never know when you might get a call from Shop Small HQ and win.

1:30 p.m.
Take a nice walk after lunch through Cornell College campus, 600 1st St. SW, and stop briefly at an original 1910 Lincoln Highway wooden bridge, now used as a pedestrian bridge on the west side of Cornell College. This is a one-of-a-kind experience where you get to walk across the historic bridge and wait for a passing train. Here you get to wave at the engineer from the top of the bridge and feel the bridge shake as the train passes underneath.

4 p.m.
Return to Uptown and continue enjoying whatever festival or event is taking place. If you are in Uptown during Chili Cook-off, the event will be starting right about now. Purchase tickets to taste up to 20 different
types of chili made by teams throughout eastern Iowa. If interested take part in the bags tournament, or simply check out Yock’s Landing, 102 1st St. SE.

Raise a glass of cold brew with townies, watch a football game or simply strike up a conversation with a local. Check out Yock’s outdoor deck while there and get to know some of the locals. In town other than festival
days, other stops on that side of town to consider are CAUSETEAM, 108 1st St. SE, a fundraising organization that combines crowd-funding and product fundraising with custom-designed merchandise; or The Green Door (in the old Middle School, 221 1st St. NE). that offers resale or new vintage products, casual men’s and women’s formal clothing, jewelry and more.

5 p.m.
Finish your day at The Local/Glyn Mawr Winery, 221 1st St. NE. This venue offers a tasting room for Glyn Mawr’s wine products and local beers. The venue is available to rent or stop in to one of the regular public events such as bingo, trivia, live music, and the occasional food truck. Call or google to see what’s happening and be sure to give yourself enough time to explore the complete renovation of both floors.

7 p.m.
Depart for home.