Creativity rules in the southern Illinois town of Mt. Vernon. While you’ll want to stroll the historic downtown along Ninth Street with lights twinkling overhead, plan plenty of time for the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, an 85-acre estate that includes the Mitchell Museum and the Goldman-Kuenz Sculpture Park.

Things to Do

Immerse yourself in art through the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts' changing gallery exhibitions and performances that include chamber music, concerts, programs and educational opportunities.

Cedarhurst Center For the Arts
Paul Nordmann

Call ahead for a tour of the Greek Revival 1857 Appellate Courthouse, a working courthouse where Honest Abe once tried a case.

Appellate Courthouse
Courtesy of Appellate Courthouse

Search for treasures at Market Days, now an indoor (new in 2019) and outdoor flea market and vendor fair held the first Saturday of every month between May and September.

King City Books promises good books, good coffee and good people in a warm and inviting space that highlights local authors.

Outdoor adventures—fishing, water sports, horseback riding, hiking—abound at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area, a 3,300-acre state park bordering picture-perfect Rend Lake near Benton.

Search the stacks of vinyl at Main Street Records for your next best find. George Harrison is said to have bought his 1962 Rickenbacker guitar from Fenton’s Music store, which used to occupy this space.

Main Street Records
Courtesy of Main Street Records

Where to Eat

Double-seasoned and charred ribs satisfy alongside Texas brisket at A Fine Swine BBQ and Pizza.

A Fine Swine BBQ and Pizza
Paul Nordmann

The wet-aged 14-ounce New York strip complemented with creamed spinach stands out at Rare Chop House.

Zesty barbecue served by the basket or on nachos, plus ice-cold beers, star at The Frosty Mug Bar and Grill.

Nachos at The Frosty Mug Bar and Grill
Courtesy of The Frosty Mug Bar and Grill

Fluffy, three-egg omelets and malted waffles topped with syrup make The Waffle Company a breakfast must.

Bugsy’s Chicago Dog dresses up its Vienna Beef hot dogs with relish, sport peppers, onion, tomato, mustard and cucumber. It also serves Chicago faves, including Italian beef sandwiches.

Where to Stay

Set in an elegant 1920s Colonial home, the five-star Sidwell Friends Bed and Breakfast holds court among Mt. Vernon’s stately homes and towering trees, just a couple of blocks from the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.

Sidwell Friends Bed and Breakfast
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