Mount Vernon Must-See Self-Guided Tour: Summer

Summer is the busiest time for Uptown Mount Vernon, a town that specializes in festivals. There are always lots of activities this time of year including festivals, concerts in the park, community-wide garage sales, parades and our two largest summer festivals, Lincoln Highway Nitty Gritty Antiques Show on July 4, and a few days later, Heritage Days.

Stop in during the summer and find out why Mount Vernon loves summer guests!

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

10 a.m.
Arrive in Uptown Mount Vernon at the East end of 1st Street and start your day at the First Street Community Center, 221 1st St. NE. Start by exploring this refurbished school and learn about its second life as a business incubator space.

Visit its 15 retail businesses including antique stores, a thrift store, a Working bakery, dance center, community theater, music academy, and various art studios. While there be sure to visit Schoolhouse Antiques, filled with an eclectic collection of antiques and several framed prints, or Room 222, with its large collection of vintage items including antique furniture.

While there, peek into the First Street Community Center Uptown Theatre, a space built with the love, donations, and the hard work of several dedicated community members and donors. There is always an upcoming concert, play, exhibit or other community event.

11 a.m.
Head west on 1st Street and stop at any one of several retail businesses such as Polly Ann’s Vintage Market, 103 A Ave. SE, Mount Vernon’s largest antique store.

Or, wander across the street and visit Iron Leaf Press, 113 1st St. SE, a one-of-a-kind stationery store with several vintage printing presses. Here they sell pens, pencils, small gifts, cards and stationery.

Remember, July 4 is a big day in Mount Vernon and all stores are open. And as July 4 is when Mount Vernon celebrates all things vintage with the Nitty Gritty Antiques Festival, make sure to stop also at Vintage 1891, 113 1st St. NW. This space features two floors of antiques, collectibles, gifts, primitives and repurposed items.

12:30 p.m.
Lunch in the summer time is a great time to check out the outdoor dining in Uptown and a great place to enjoy a meal outdoors is Big’s BBQ Brewpub, 124 2nd Ave. NW. This restaurant and brewhouse is inside an old Victorian home in Uptown, which also offers outdoor seating at a side yard set up with tents and tables. Big’s serves Iowa-style BBQ plus home-brewed craft beer. A great place to take a break from Antiquing.

2 p.m.
Take a nice walk after lunch through Cornell College campus, 600 1st St. SW, and end up 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 onto and across the historic bridge and wait for a passing train. Here you wait for the train, 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 here on the 4th of July, take a moment to visit antique dealers who are just closing down at this time, make that final offer before items are packed up and shipped away.

5 p.m.
As your day begins to close, consider trying some wood-fired pizza at the Lincoln Wine Bar, 125 1st St. NW. Here you and your mates can enjoy wood-fired pizza, wine and beer in an intimate setting as you wind down and share stories of your visit to Mount Vernon.

7 p.m.
The summer music series, Tuneful Tuesdays, starts setting up in Memorial Park, 311 1st St. NW, about 7 p.m. Here you can listen to a large group of local musicians as they offer old-fashioned concerts in a picturesque park. Bring your own lawnchair to set up on the grass, and help yourself to the complimentary popcorn and water offered by Mount Vernon Bank & Trust and the Mount Vernon Community Development Group (CDG), respectively. Or, find a local baseball game at one of the local diamonds, or a summer theater or concert event at one of our summer venues.

9 p.m.
Depart for home