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5 Fun Things to Do in Mason City, Iowa

5 Fun Things to Do in Mason City, Iowa

Are you looking for a fun and unique travel destination in the Midwest? Look no further than Mason City, Iowa! This charming city has one-of-a-kind attractions, a world-famous hotel, steaks to die for, and much more. Here are five fun things to do in Mason City you will want to take advantage of.


1. Visit Music Man Square

Music Man Square is an indoor museum celebrating the life and work of Mason City’s own Meredith Willson, the creator of the famous musical “The Music Man.” The museum has a replica of the 1912 streetscape from the musical and many of Willson’s personal items and awards. Admission is $10 per adult.

You can also tour Willson’s boyhood home, which is located on the property. It’s one of the best childhood home tours I’ve ever seen. You can even see the piano that Willson learned to play as a child.


Before visiting Music Man Square, I had yet to learn who Meredith Willson was. But I quickly realized he was an award-winning conductor, playwright, author, and accomplished artist. In addition to “The Music Man” (a Warner Brothers motion picture starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones), he also wrote the musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and the popular Christmas song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”


As you explore Mason City, watch for references to “The Music Man.” There’s a footbridge from the movie downtown and 76 trombone statues scattered throughout the city.

Fun Facts: In 1987, US President Ronald Reagan posthumously presented Meredith Willson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on display at the museum. He was the first person to win a Grammy award for Best Original Cast Album (Broadway or TV). 


2. Stay at the Historic Park Inn Hotel

The Historic Park Inn Hotel is a true gem in Mason City. It’s the last remaining hotel in the world, and it was designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Staying here is an experience unlike any other, especially if you score room 300, the corner suite with a heated bathroom floor, stunning window views, and jaw-dropping special touches. 


Historic Park Inn has 27 rooms, each with stunning architecture and unique design details, a cozy bar, and a tasty restaurant. It’s no wonder that celebrities and politicians choose to stay here when they’re in town.


If you want to learn more about the hotel’s history and architecture, you can take a guided tour through Wright on the Park for a small fee. Trust me, it’s worth it!


3. Check Out the Sculptures on Parade

Mason City has a unique and impressive public art collection called River City Sculptures on Parade. These sculptures are located throughout downtown and are a must-see for any visitor.

To see all of the sculptures, take the 1.7-mile self-guided tour using the map, which is available online or at several locations around town. The map shows the name of each sculpture, its location, and the name of the artist who created it.

Each year, Mason City residents vote for their favorite sculpture, and the winner receives the “People’s Choice Award.” The city then purchases the winning sculpture and adds it to its permanent collection.


Some of my favorite sculptures were “Resplendent Fervor” (a dancer), “Bucky the Beaver,” and “Ralph Moose.” But the town favorite seems to be “Mr. Eggwards,” a quirky sculpture of an egg man sitting on a wall.

Fun Fact: Mason City has impressive shopping, namely Wright on the Park and Moorman Clothiers.


4. Eat at the Northwestern Steakhouse

No trip to Mason City is complete without a meal at the Northwestern Steakhouse. This casual eatery has been serving up some of the best steaks in Iowa (and possibly the whole country) since 1920.

The steaks here are prepared Greek-style, which means they’re broiled to perfection. The result is a juicy, tender, and flavorful piece of beef that will melt in your mouth. Trust me, you’ve never tasted anything like it.

In addition to the steaks, be sure to try the Greek spaghetti as your side dish. It sounds like an odd choice for a steakhouse, but it’s too delicious to pass up. I asked what the secret was to the rich and unique taste: steak juice!

The Northwestern Steakhouse is a small restaurant with limited seating, so arrive early. They don’t take reservations, but the wait is always worth it.


5. Tour the FLW Stockman House

The Stockman House is another Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece located in Mason City. It’s one of the first examples of Wright’s Prairie School style, which features a square shape, spacious floor plan, cantilevered roofs, and black band trim.

The house was built in the early 1900s when Mason City was a wealthy and thriving city thanks to its booming railroad, tile, cement, and limestone industries. Wright was initially commissioned to build the Historic Park Inn Hotel but later designed the Stockman House as part of his “Fireproof House for $5000” project.


Today, the Stockman House is a beautifully preserved museum that offers guided tours. While photos aren’t allowed inside, the tour is worth seeing Wright’s innovative design up close.

After your tour, head to Fat Hill Brewing to sample some of Mason City’s delicious craft beers.

One More Town to Love in Iowa 

You’ll find it all here whether you’re interested in history, architecture, art, or just delicious food.


Thanks to Mason City CVB for hosting my accommodations and trip. As always, reviews and opinions are 100% mine and unbiased. 

Read more about the Midwest at:

Cool Things to Do in Lincoln, NE

Riveting Reasons to Visit Elgin, IL

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Tami Wilcox

Friday 13th of September 2019

Totally love the Frank Lloyd Wright hotel and Stockman house. I'd love to do tours of both. His work is amazing!

Cindy Ladage

Friday 13th of September 2019

I love everything about mason city Iowa. The Frank Lloyd Wright stops are top notch!

Alex Howell

Thursday 12th of September 2019

That steak will look really juicy and delicious, the city looks very conservative and tidy, you see it was a great trip, thanks to your guide and I will be able to make an itinerary on my next trip.

Melody Pittman

Thursday 12th of September 2019

Thanks so much for reading! ;)

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