If you're hoping for bustling, big city life, then you'll need to look elsewhere. Mount Vernon is chock-full of small-town charm. The uptown shopping district features great, locally-owned restaurants and boutiques, including the nationally renowned Lincoln Café. For the most part, the students and community members coexist peacefully. There is the occasional complaint about drunken college students being disruptive. However, many Mount Vernonites take advantage of the sporting events, concerts, and other entertainment that Cornell brings to the community.
Entertainment in Mount Vernon itself is kind of slim pickings. There is a single-screen movie theater that shows a different movie each week, and a bowling alley and three local bars offer some nighttime fun. The Palisades-Kepler State Park is located just a five-minute drive from campus and is perfect for students who are more outdoorsy, with hiking trails and access to the Cedar River. If you’re looking for more mainstream stores or restaurants or larger entertainment venues, Cedar Rapids is only a 20-minute drive to the west and Iowa City only 35 minutes south. There are four other schools located in Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Corridor: Mount Mercy College, Coe College, Kirkwood Community College, and the University of Iowa, the largest college in the state. Though there isn’t a ton of interaction between the schools, Cornell students do sometimes take advantage of programs or speakers at the University of Iowa.