Knox County Offers Great Getaway
Nice Getaway for a Day or a Week
By Giles Kennedy
Family and Travel Columnist
All throughout the year, Knox County has many attractions and festivals to appeal to the family and those young at heart.
Let’s work our way up State Route 3. The mother road of the state of Ohio connecting Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland.
In southwest Knox County, the humble hamlet of Centerburg still has a small town charm, in spite of an influx of former Columbus folk moving here.
The recently finished Heart of Ohio Trail starts in Centerburg, winding its way towards Mount Vernon; along the former Pennsylvania/Conrail railroad right of way.
Excellent for hiking and biking, the trail is kept up by volunteers in the area.
The “HOOT” Trail as it is locally called also made a milestone in April 2014. It connected with its bigger brother, the Kokosing Gap Trail in Mount Vernon.
Choices for dining offer a Subway; a few local staples, Pizza Burg, Intown Restaurant, and the dairy-diner stylings of Twist N Shake.
Instead of a 4th of July weekend, the weekend before Centerburg hosts the Heart of Ohio USA Days Weekend. It winds up with a fireworks display not to be missed. The fireworks cascading off the town’s water tower is a sight to see.
The weekend after Labor Day has the largest event in Centerburg.
The Old Time Farming Festival hosts examples of 19th and early 20th century farming equipment, steam and antique tractors, and many other local crafts.
Heading north to Mount Vernon, the county’s seat of government; many gems and hidden treasures await.
Mount Vernon is a foodie’s paradise. If you want local source food, Amish made cheeses, and many other treats; head over to the southeast side of town. Right off State Route 13 is Lanning’s Foods.
I; as a child, remember my grandmother and her head cook at her nursing home she owned, have fond memories offloading the Lanning’s truck to supply her kitchen.
Today and every day since 1969, Lanning’s supplies many of the area’s kitchens, cafes, and restaurants with fresh meats, fish, produce and cheese.
To walk into the main store is a bit of a throw back to markets of days gone by. In the spring, summer, or fall; stop in to pack a picnic lunch. Need fuel for hiking/biking the Kokosing Gap Trail? Right?
Not interested in a picnic lunch? Not a problem.
Several local eateries downtown are available. Stein Brewery, Flappers Bar and Grill, The Joint Cafe (a retro diner/restaurant) and Amato’s Wood Fired Pizza are just a few.
Many other nationally known and local owned restaurants line Coshocton Avenue.
The Historic Woodward Opera House, Riverside and Memorial Parks, The Knox County Historical Society, and much more to see in this history filled city.
More info can be found at the Mount Vernon/Knox County Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor’s Guide.
Believe or not; there are many lodging and camping options available as well. Look to the guide as well as their website for updates.
Got work off lunch? The Kokosing Gap Trail is perfect.
As previously mentioned, the Heart of Ohio Trail and Kokosing Gap Trail has a new trailhead. The recently renovated Pennsylvania Railroad Station hosted the city’s and county’s park board. It also has a visitor’s center and restroom facilities for passing bikers and hikers.
Nearby Ariel Foundation Park has play and picnic areas for the kids as well as a connection to the “Gap Trail”.
Although daylight hours are mainly the operations for Ariel Foundation Park, the Kokosing Gap Trail is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
Onward to other points in the county.
East of Mount Vernon is the college town of Gambier. On top of the Gap’s trail shelter; a locomotive, flat car, and caboose are nearby the trail.
Various concerts and art events are held throughout the year at Kenyon College. This college has been here shortly after the birth of Ohio itself.
All events can be found on their website; also link provided for the historic Kenyon Inn and Restaurant…
Headed north on State Route 13 from Mount Vernon; we take a small detour to Fredericktown.
Their mascot is a Cardinal called a “Freddie”, their annual festival revolves around tomatoes (the state vegetable) and Knox Lake is a nearby State Fishing and Hunting Preserve.
More info on Fredericktown can be accessed via the area’s visitor’s website.
East of Gambier and Fredericktown is the Apple Valley/Kokosing Valley region.
On US Route 36, the small village of Millwood has an excellent canoe livery. Kokosing Valley Canoe and Campground has entertained many families throughout the years.
North of Millwood along US Route 62 is Danville.
It is the northern trailhead of the Kokosing Gap Trail; connecting with the Mohican Valley Trail. On top of hikers and bikers, the Mohican Valley Trail rolls into Holmes County. It also allows horse riders on the Mohican; so if a horse back tour of Amish Country is your wish…..Danville is an excellent place to start.
Head south out of the Danville/Millwood area to follow US Route 62.
Small farms, bed and breakfasts, and many rural attractions line this scenic road.
As you trail south, you come to the small town of Martinsburg. Martinsburg Dairy Isle south of the intersections of 62 and State Route 541 is a favorite.
Hungry for more ice cream and treats? Head West of US 62 to Utica.
Utica is shared by both Knox and Licking Counties.
It has been home to Velvet Ice Cream since the 1930’s. Their present home, with Ye Olde Mill, picnic grounds and park has been open since 1960.
The plant tours, restaurant and gift shop is open from May to October every year. It host many events on the grounds.
I was born and raised in Knox County. I am always blessed to visit the many areas of the county. You can always find something new every time you visit.