After a failed Christmas tree hunt earlier this month, our family decided to lift our spirits with a visit to downtown Mount Vernon — a place we’ve driven through countless times but never had time to stop and explore.
We left wishing we’d done it much sooner.
Dressed in holiday style, the central Ohio town is full of unique shops and venues that reminded my husband and I of the importance of supporting small businesses and showed our kids the value in making purchases from people, not just a computer screen.
It’s one of those increasingly rare places where life slows down a little; where you stop for a minute and have a conversation with the owners as you check out or get the story behind a particular item.
We ducked out of the cold and into the quaint Fern Hollow, where each girl picked a handmade craft out of the $.50 bin; my husband found a piece of pottery for his mom, and I enjoyed looking at the variety of vintage items on display.
Our girls enjoyed perusing the Christmas display in the center of town and learning a bit of its history.
Our favorite stop was Paragraphs bookstore, which we found to be a warm place — not just in the temperature sense, but in atmosphere. The kid-friendly shop offered a vast selection of literature both we and our little ones could have spent hours perusing, and the owner was pleased to help with whatever we needed, in addition to chatting about other stops in Mount Vernon.
For dinner, we stepped into the past at Southside Diner, just beating the dinner rush as locals strolled in to order homestyle fare and I enjoyed a strawberry milkshake that could have served as an entree.
Our day was a success for many reasons: Not just because we’d scored a great meal and some Christmas gifts, but because we’d truly experienced a slice of small-town Ohio — and that was a refreshing feeling.