As a Knox County native (born and raised!) I know firsthand how hard it can be to find things to do in this rural area. However, the years I’ve spent struggling to think of ways to entertain myself while living in a small town will now help you fight off boredom in central Ohio. I promise you, the area has more to offer than just cornfields!
Honey Run Waterfall
That’s right. Knox County has a waterfall, and it is gorgeous. This spot is a local favorite, and I highly recommend you visit here at least once. You can climb some rocks near the side of the waterfall to view it from the top, or you can simply admire it from afar. The area even has some trails to explore, though they are fairly short. Honey Run is the perfect place to sightsee with your friends, meet up with that special someone, or enjoy some time to yourself. You can read more about the location at the Knox County Parks website.
Heart of Ohio Trail
Already explored the Kokosing Gap Trail at Kenyon? Want to bike in a new location? Then challenge yourself by biking all the way from Gambier to Centerburg on the Heart of Ohio Trail! It’s a lovely, paved scenic trail that I use frequently during the summer. It’s even more beautiful during the fall. Simply follow the Gap Trail into Mount Vernon, ride a couple miles through town, and then pick up your path along the Heart of Ohio Trail and travel all the way to Centerburg—my beloved hometown. Fun fact: Centerburg is the geographical heart of Ohio. Since you live so close, how can you pass up the opportunity to impress all your friends by telling them you’ve been to the heart of Ohio? That definitely gives you bragging rights.
To learn more about this mysterious path I’m sending you on, check out all these amazing reviews of the trail!
After you’ve biked all the way from Kenyon to Centerburg, I think we can both agree you deserve to treat yo self. During your middle of the workout break (don’t forget you have to bike back to Kenyon), stop by Kristi’s Bakery and try some of the delicious desserts or breakfast foods sold there. Kristi’s even sells fruit smoothies for the more health-conscious among us. The one down side: the bakery closes at noon Monday-Saturday, so you’ll have to wake up somewhat early if you want to bike (or drive) to the shop.
Full disclosure: Kristi is my mom, so I may be biased. Keep in mind, though, I have eaten at this bakery since it opened when I was six, and I still love it. That should say something about the quality of these baked goods. If you don’t take my word for it, the link to her Facebook page above features reviews as well.
Ah, bowling. A go-to activity when you want to plan a party in the area or when you can’t think of anything else to do. Don’t get me wrong, I think bowling is fun! It’s just not something I want to do every weekend. Anyway, the really great thing about bowling in Knox County is that it’s fairly cheap entertainment. You can drive into Mount Vernon to Colonial City Lanes or head over to Fredericktown’s Trio Lanes for some slightly cheaper prices. They may not be the best-looking bowling alleys, but you’ll still have a good time!
Pacemakers Dragway Park
Personally, I haven’t been here, but I am well aware that many people in Knox County love races. If you share that passion or if you want to experience something new, you may find what you’re looking for at Pacemakers. The season seems to be coming to an end, so visit the website to find out more about race dates and times!
Ariel Foundation Park
This park is the newest Knox County attraction, and you NEED to go here. It just opened July 4, 2015! Located on land in Mount Vernon where a local glass factory once stood the park is integrated with remnants of the factory buildings. You can climb the old smokestack, which has been converted into a viewing tower with a spiral staircase, and see out over the entire area. Extending over 250 acres, the park has plenty of land for you to explore and even offers lakes where visitors can fish. One of my favorite features, however, is the River of Glass, pictured above. If you do make a trip here, make sure to wear sunscreen and bring water if it is a sunny day because the area has very little shade currently, and it’s easy to become overheated.
By now, most Kenyon students have heard about and dined at Fiesta Mexicana, Mount Vernon’s wonderful Mexican restaurant. If this is the first time you’re hearing about the place, then you definitely need to skip dinner at Peirce, drive off campus, and go to Fiesta. Just expect to bring a to-go box back with you because Fiesta’s portion sizes are HUGE at dinnertime. For those of you who are already familiar with the restaurant, here are some tips from a local: when the waiter brings you chips and salsa, ask for queso as well. It costs a few dollars extra, but the queso is amazing. Additionally, I usually prefer to eat there at lunchtime because the portions are smaller, and the prices are cheaper. If you want leftovers, though, then by all means, stop there for dinner!
Velvet Ice Cream Factory
Technically, this is in Licking County, but that’s right next to Knox. If you’re a lover of the ice cream sold at the bookstore, you can take a trip to the factory and see where they make that tasty ice cream! Velvet gives free tours, and the factory also features a little ice cream shop where you can purchase a variety of frozen treats.
The best advice I can offer you for how to entertain yourself while living in Knox County is to enjoy the little things. Instead of driving all the way to Columbus when you want to venture out of the Kenyon Bubble, take the time to explore Knox County. We don’t have much night life besides the orchestra of crickets, and we don’t have large shopping malls or fancy restaurants. But we still have new experiences to offer Kenyon students, and you should take advantage of your time here as much as possible. I’ve come to love Knox County, and I hope that by sharing these special places with you, you’ll eventually find that you love some things about Knox County, too.
All images credited to Melissa Layton.