Mount Vernon Must-See Self-Guided Tour: Winter 

Winter is the time to view holiday lights, do some holiday shopping, take in a live show at the
First Street Community Center’s Uptown Theatre, or simply pull up a chair in a local cafe and
work on a puzzle or read a good book. Don’t miss the community sledding hill, in fact start there.
It’s a blast! Mount Vernon loves winter guests!

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

10:00 a.m.
Arrive in Uptown Mount Vernon at the West End of 1st Street.

You will begin your day exploring the historic Visitor Center, 311 1st St. NW, Mount Vernon.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but do call ahead for an appointment to be sure you have a guide.

There is free parking in front of the Visitor Center. Your car will be safe there all day.

Enter the Visitor Center and take a few minutes to learn about the history of the building, originally a doctor’s office, built in 1912. Listen to the history of the building via audio tour accessed on your own cell phone, or have the on-duty guide tell you about the Drs. Wolfe who built the building.

A full tour will include a brief history of Mount Vernon.

NOTE: It’s a good idea to call first to get a personal tour.

10:45 a.m.
Continue east down the street and stop at the Community Sledding Hill on Third Avenue North, an actual city street blocked off after each snowstorm to give children and families a safe spot to coast in the snow.

During this time no on-street parking of motor vehicles is permitted on Third Avenue North between First Street and Fourth Street, and area families are invited to use the city street for sledding.

According to City ordinance, sledding is restricted to the following days and times: Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

After a snowstorm, the sledding hill is blocked to all vehicular traffic to allow for safe coasting. Be sure to bring your sled. Or simply stand at the top of the hill and watch others have a good time.

11:30 a.m.
Leave your sled inside your car and wander further East down 1st Street and stop at any one of 33 retail businesses within the 12-block Main Street District.

The Perfect Blend, 224 1st St. SW, offers art, gifts, cards, and of course Scottish shortbread (for sample and sale). Don’t forget to stop into Wren & Purl, upstairs in the same building, specializing in yarn and yarn products.

A bit further down the street is Bauman & Co, 124 1st St. SW, the oldest retail business in town “offering exceptional clothing and service since 1908.”

A tour through this historic building is worth the trip.

Enjoy lunch on your own at any one of seven lunch stops in the Main Street District including the Palisades Café, 117 1st St. SW, which offers “creative food with a local flair.” Enjoy the art installation on the restaurant’s walls and keep an eye on the outdoor weather through the large picture windows on the front façade of the warm and dry restaurant.

1:15 p.m.
After lunch, stroll Main Street and duck into any one of 33 retail and specialty stores on historic 1st Street. Grab an ice cream or fresh-made chocolates from the Sweet Factory, 118 1st St. SW, and continue down the street East toward the First Street Community Center (FSCC), 221 1st St. NE.

2 p.m.
Visit the FSCC throughout the winter months and have access to 15 retail and service businesses housed in this unique historic downtown space, formerly both the City’s High School and later, a Middle School. Here you will find Helios Stitches N Stuff, a local quilt shop selling high-quality fabrics. Also in this building, you will find three antique stores, a thrift store, as well as a “help yourself” lending library.

5 p.m.
Activities for Magical Night, the Thursday after Thanksgiving, begin at 5 p.m. with a lighting ceremony at the First Street Community Center, 221 1st St. NE. On Magical Night, the first Thursday after Thanksgiving, enjoy artwork made by Mount Vernon Community School District art students, a Nutcracker preview, and performances by Music Works Iowa students.

6:15 and 7 p.m.
On Magical Night, continue up-and-down 1st Street all the way to the Live Nativity, which always takes place at Memorial Park, 311 1st St. NW. Stores open late every Thursday for holiday shopping, and Cornell College and both Mount Vernon and Lisbon Community School Districts offer plenty of activities and concerts in the winter months appropriate for families and children.

8 p.m.
Depart for home.