UNIQUELY MASON CITY:
NO OTHER PLACE BUT HERE
Your guide to experiences that can only be found in Mason City, Iowa!
1. An Architectural Hotbed: Mason City is home to the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel in the world, as well as Wright’s first Prairie-style house in Iowa! Learn more about these and other architectural gems on a walking tour of the Rock Crest-Rock Glen Historic District – the world’s largest unified site of Prairie-style architecture!
2. Step back in time and experience Hollywood History come to life at The Music Man Square and Willson Boyhood Home, which celebrate the life and accomplishments of Mason City native, Meredith Willson – composer of The Music Man.
3. Perhaps one of Mason City’s most revered treasures is the collection of more than 500 marionettes and puppets created by America’s premier puppet master (and Mason City native), Bil Baird. Some of the most recognized marionettes in the world including The Lonely Goatherd which was featured in the Academy Award-winning film The Sound of Music can be seen at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum.
4. For breakfast or lunch, pop into the Suzie Q Cafe… One of fewer than 20 surviving “Valentine” style diners in the United States. This quaint little diner car was brought to Mason City in 1948. Enjoy classics such as a burger, fries, and a malt, or try the Famous Spic-N-Span Tenderloin!
5. In 1910, the first Colby, a 5-passenger touring car, took to Mason City’s streets. It performed to all expectations and was fast enough to earn a speeding ticket for its test driver, and went on to finish third in the 1911 Indianapolis Speedway Race. Sadly, a competitive auto market put the company out of business in 1914, after only 900 cars were manufactured. One of the last remaining Colby cars has been carefully restored and can be seen at Mason City’s Kinney Pioneer Museum.
6. For dinner, enjoy a mouth-watering, Greek-style steak (with a side of savory spaghetti) at the Northwestern Steakhouse – recently named the “Most Iconic Restaurant in the State of Iowa” by thrillist.com. A Mason City tradition, this steakhouse has been family-owned since 1920.
7. Another Mason City tradition – Birdsall’s Ice Cream – has been serving refreshing hand-made ice cream since the 1930’s. Local favorites include the hot fudge sundae, hot fudge marshmallow malts, and everyone’s summertime favorite – peach!
8. If you’re looking for great, locally crafted beer, look no further than Downtown Mason City; home to fine establishments – Mason City Brewing & Fat Hill Brewing! Try a flight from each and sample all the local brews. Enjoy your favorite by the pint, or take a taste of Mason City home with you in a growler.
9. Mason City is home to one of only two remaining electric freight railways in America – the Iowa Traction Railway! The line is still active today, interchanging over 1,300 carloads a year with CP Rail, UP and I&CE. Visitors to the area can see the fleet of old but well maintained Baldwin locomotives in action as they run back and forth with strings of hoppers and other freight cars. Traction fans and train enthusiasts will find the operation most interesting. With most of the line running alongside the road, there is plenty of opportunity to take photos or capture video. NOTE: IATR is not a museum or tourist attraction. It is a working railroad. Be courteous. Respect the equipment & observe safety precautions.
10. While you’re in the area, be sure to take the short drive to Clear Lake and visit the Surf Ballroom – the last concert site of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. For those interested in paying tribute to these rock-n-roll legends, driving directions to the crash site and memorial are available.