Visit the following pages/organizations to learn more about lodging, restaurants, shopping, and upcoming events during your stay in Knox County:

 Knox Co. CVB  Main Street Mount Vernon Knox Co. Chamber of Commerce

Below are just some of the many ways you and your family can enjoy our community:

Downtown Mount VernonDOWNTOWN

Undergoing revitalization for the last decade, downtown Mount Vernon offers an ideal blend of historic charm and modern convenience. From the perfect cup of coffee to the perfect book at an award-winning independent retailer to the perfect beer from a local brewer, you’ll find a dynamic and diverse array of business and eateries. Our colleges have also embraced the downtown; all three have educational and residential facilities in the area.


Knox County is known for its vibrant arts and crafts community, as well as a variety of cultural events and activities all year long. Two historic theaters, a music and arts festival in August, and First Fridays bring entertainment to folks of all ages and backgrounds. Shops like The Makery, Kudos, and Down Home Leather showcase the work of local artisans at their finest. Stop by the Schnormeier Gallery downtown or the Gund Gallery just down the road in Gambier for regular exhibits from local and national artists.


Head to SPI downtown, where kids can engage their imaginations, explore science exhibits, climb the walls (literally!), and have a blast. In the summer, the Hiawatha Pool & Water Park provides an awesome place to dive in and cool off. Brown Family Environmental Center in Gambier offers a 500-acre nature preserve with more than 9 miles of trails. Free fishing days at Ariel-Foundation Park are another fun way to explore the outdoors. The newly opened Harmony Playground at Memorial Park allows children of all abilities to play freely.


You’re in the right place! The Kokosing Gap Trail and the Heart of Ohio Trail are part of the larger Ohio to Erie Trail that runs from Cleveland to Cincinnati. Bike, run, walk, or skate your way through beautiful rural Knox County and visit unique destinations like Rastin Tower and the Bridge of Dreams. Ariel-Foundation Park, Apple Valley Lake, Knox Lake, and others offer opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and boating. Visit Tree Frog Canopy Tours in Glenmont to zipline at more than 50 miles per hour, travel over sky bridges, and rappel for an amazing outdoor adventure.

The Alcove RestaurantFOODIES

We hope you’re hungry because Knox County will fill you up. Start with a hearty breakfast at Southside Diner, North Main Café, or experience lighter fare at Happy Bean. Taste the tantalizing international flavors of family-run eateries. Grab a sub on the go, a woodfired pizza, or a famous calzone with dine-in or take-out options. Enjoy fine dining in the century-old Alcove Restaurant. Thirsty? Try a variety of award-winning flavors and seasonal favorites Stein Brewing Co., conveniently located in The Woodward building, or Happy Street Bru-Werks. Delight in one of Mount Vernon’s crave-worthy food trucks found throughout town in seasonable weather. Got a sweet tooth? Half Baked Café & Catering, Whit’s Frozen Custard, and Round Hill Dairy will fit the bill. Not to mention the numerous options available outside of Mount Vernon!

The Handicap accessible entrance to the Woodward Complex is located at the 107 S. Main Street Entrance of the building.  Patrons can use the passenger elevator to gain entrance to floors 2 through 4 from the First Floor Prominade as well as the basement.

Entering the Opera House

The Main Entrance to the Opera House (located on the third floor) has a wheelchair lift for patrons that require it. There is also a wheelchair lift and ramps for stage hands and performers located on the third floor.

The Black Box and Recital Hall

Both of these spaces are handicap accessible and do not require any special lifts to gain entrance.

tpmThe Woodward Opera House once hosted the finest entertainers of its day, including stage legends Minnie Maddern Fiske and Frank Currier, comic monologist Bob Burdette, and minstrel man Dan Emmett. Then-Senator William McKinley spoke on its stage two years prior to his 1896 presidential nomination. Theatrical and vaudeville companies, touring lecturers, and others appeared there an average of three evenings a week from the 1850s into the early 20th century. The auditorium also served as a military drill hall, party center, roller-skating parlor, basketball court, and indoor horseshoe pitch at various times throughout its history. Later owners closed off the upper floors as the Woodward became less popular than the ground level motion picture houses that popped up throughout Knox County. They decided it was better to maintain spaces that provided a steady income, such as offices and retail venues. While still structurally sound, by 1998 the buildings were in disrepair caused by water leakage, a lack of heat in winter, and the simple fact of having stood unused for decades.

Once the Woodward project is complete, the theater will be restored to its former elegance, and will be completely handicap accessible.  It is the Woodward Development Corporations vision that it will become an evening destination for visitors from across Knox County and well beyond. The Woodward’s presence will benefit not only the city’s arts and cultural agencies, but also the local restaurants, lounges, hotels, and retail businesses.  Many theater patrons will likely make a night or weekend out of their excursion, and will shop and eat before and/or after performances.

The Woodward Opera House's 500-seat auditorium will permit the booking of professional touring companies and entertainers of national reputation and will make Mount Vernon a true destination for fans of the performing arts.  Two smaller meeting/performance rooms will provide additional space for rehearsals, smaller performances, and conferences.

The basement, ground level, and non-theater spaces on the second floor will be utilized for additional downtown to retail, offices, and dining. The Woodward Development Corporation projects that the rental income from these leasable spaces will fund the majority of the complex's maintenance in perpetuity. In addition, it will provide support for the local cultural and performing arts groups who will provide much of the programming.

Your generous gift toward this goal will ensure that further generations experience culture, entertainment, and learning opportunities in what will again be recognized as a Knox County and national landmark.

The Woodward Arts Complex contains over 26,865 square feet of leasable space. It is expected that the rental income from these spaces will be enough to maintain the Woodward building and its operations in perpetuity.

The Woodward Opera House Theater

The Woodward Opera House Theater and Arts Complex features a fully operational and fully equipped 500 seat theater, two recital and multipurpose rooms of 1000 sf each, and all of the necessary theater equipment, dressing rooms, and theater operations space necessary for a first class arts operation. Conference, meeting, and banquet room space are a natural result of the construction of the facility, all available for the full utilization in the community.

The Arts Center for Knox County

The overall arts operations of the facility are managed by Knox Partnership for Arts & Culture (KPAC). The offices for KPAC are located in the non-profit office center on the second floor of the Woodward Annex building. The KPAC Board of Trustees will be responsible for scheduling all of the resident arts groups in the various parts of the facility, establishing and initiating a complete and an exciting arts programming experience for the community, and planning for the long term arts development for the county.

Non-Profit Office Center

A portion of the second floor is being reserved as a space for not-for-profit (nfp) entities to cluster and share expenses. This will not only be a financial benefit to the nfps, but will also bring the groups together to correlate their collective efforts in the social and economic development of Mount Vernon and Knox County.

A Place to Enhance the Education of our Children

The facility will host numerous educational programs and events aimed at edifying and educating the school age youth in our community. The primary thrust of these events will be managed by the KPAC, in cooperation with all of the area schools and arts organizations.

The Vernon P Johnson Art Gallery

The 4th floor Promenade is now known as the Vernon P. Johnson Art Gallery and features arts works from the artist. Johnson was an accomplished watercolor artist who studied under influential artists of the popular “Cleveland School” in the late 1930s and after serving in World War II, became a graphic design innovator in the burgeoning consumer packaging industry. He had a particular vision for small town America, which he illustrated in his paintings of Knox County.

Destination for Tours in History, Arts, and Culture

The Woodward Opera House is America’s oldest authentic 19th century theater. It is the Historic Epicenter of Mount Vernon and Knox County, a place where all historic tours may begin for the community. There is only one other theater in the United States that is older, the Walnut Theater in Philadelphia. However, nothing original remains on the interior of the Walnut Theater. This makes the Woodward one of the most historic theaters in the country, and the most “authentic” of its kind. It has already become a destination in its own right.

Arts Endowment

The preservation of the Woodward building and the accompanying theater will be a social and economic benefit to the community. In addition, both the Woodward Development Corporation (the facility owner) and Knox Partnership for Arts & Culture are both not-for-profit foundations [IRS designation 501 (c)(3)]. As the project reaches maturity, any funds not needed for the operation, maintenance, and preservation of the facility will be used for the promotion and development of the art in Mount Vernon and Knox County. This combination creates a physical and cultural endowment to assure the preservation not only of the Woodward, but the arts in our community.

Page 1 of 2