10 FREE things to do when visiting Mason City
Whether you’re here visiting some of Mason City’s finest attractions or just seeing a friend, check out 10 insider secrets on FREE things you can do while you here
Located at 2021 4th St. SW – This is one stop-shop you don’t want to miss when visiting town. At the Visitor Center, you will find an array of brochures and free information on local attractions, entertainment and community events. A friendly staff member will greet you at the door and point out all of the must-sees, give you dining recommendations, and share events going on that weekend.
*HINT Make sure when you’re there you pick up a Mason City Travel Guide and look for a FREE souvenir coupon-
The Visitor Information Center is staffed: M-F 8-4:30am. Vestibule at the center is open 24-hours; access to maps, brochures and information i available
East Park is a great stop when visiting Mason City. Visitors can go feed the deer & ducks, play a round of disc golf, eat a picnic lunch, walk the trails and the children will absolutely LOVE playing at Prairie Playground! Prairie Playground is a large wooden maze and the biggest outdoor play area in town – guaranteed to keep the children entertained for hours!
Also found in East Park, the Cannonball 457, located on the east side of Prairie Playground. The Cannonball 457 is a fun stop for any age – take pictures and admire the Cannonball Gardens that surround the historic locomotive. Saturday & Sunday, May – October the Cannonball gates are open from 1pm-5pm for children to play and climb aboard the steam locomotive.
The Cannonball 457 was built in 1912 and is the last remaining Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway steam locomotive. The “Cannonball” has been restored to reflect its appearance in the late 1920’s. Fun Fact: Mason City is home to Iowa Traction Railroad, the only remaining organization that still uses electric locomotives to haul freight in regular service in the United States.
Another fun, photo/history stop is The Music Man Footbridge. The footbridge is named in honor of Meredith Willson, Mason City native and internationally renowned composer of “The Music Man”. Located at 2nd St. SE, the footbridge spans across Willow Creek connecting River Heights Drive and South Connecticut Avenue.
The MacNider Art Museum, located at 303 2nd St. SE (just west of the Music Man Footbridge) houses a permanent collection of American art, an impressive range of ceramics and THE FAMOUS, Bil Baird Marionettes! How cool is that! The best part? The museum is free and open to the public.
Architecture Buff? We’ll you came to the right city! Mason City is home to the largest grouping of Prairie School designed homes on an unified site. Enjoy a leisurely walk or drive as you take in the stunning architecture Mason City has to offer. The tour encompasses 14 blocks and the Historical Tour is an additional 13 blocks beginning at 303 2nd St. SE.
Architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Burley Griffin, William Drummond, Francis Barry Byrne and more. Free architecture maps are available at the Mason City Visitor Information Center.
Rancho Deluxe: The Original Bicycle Garden
Our next stop, is a little bit off the beaten path, but is well worth the visit – 500 2nd St. NE. The Rancho Deluxe, is a place for those who think outside the box and have an appreciation for odd and quirky. This garden is a constant work in progress where each visit is truly a new experience!
Delight in the sights and sounds of downtown Mason City while experiencing the unique sculpture works of artists from all over the country. This outdoor exhibit is displayed year-round with new sculptures being added each spring – so no worries, there will always be something new to see each time you visit!
The self guided tour starts Downtown and loops through the Cultural Crescent which includes historic architecture, art museum, public library and the Music Man Square. Tour map is available at the Visit Mason City Center or download a mobile friendly version.
Nestled atop the limestone bluffs of the Winnebago River is the Lime Creek Nature Center; (located at 3501 Lime Creek RD; HWY. 65 N). The Nature Center features a variety of educational exhibits on wildlife and natural resources in Northern Iowa. An outdoor amphitheater, hands-on nature displays and over nine miles of trails through prairie, forest and wetland habitat provide fun experiences for everyone. FREE Admission
Nothing says it better than a great photo capturing your trip to show everyone back at home. The murals in downtown, Mason City make the perfect backdrop for your vacay pic needs! SO, go have fun and check them out while you’re here! And always remember, when in our city – hashtag, #MasonCityIA
After a day or days visiting Mason City we hope you love our city as much we do. There are many attractions to see, places to eat and things do and Visit Mason City recognize the need to have a few FREE activities in the itinerary to break it up. For more information Mason City please visit: www.visitmasoncityiowa.com