The First Day of Autumn is Here!

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Today is the first day of autumn. I personally love this time of year,  the leaves are changing color, the fresh air is cool against your face, and football games are played on both Saturday & Sunday !

Along with the the beautiful scenery North Iowa has during this season there are many fun activities to do in #MasonCityIA. A personal favorite of mine is exploring the great outdoors.  From Sculptures on  Parade to Lime Creek Nature Center, there are many things to do and see. Below are my top 4 favorite things to do in #MasonCityIA during the Autumn season. 

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River City Sculptures on Parade

The River City Sculptures on Parade are located in various locations in downtown Mason City .Click here to download the River City Sculpture Map 

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The River City Sculptures on  Parade is an exciting exhibit of outdoor sculptures displayed year-round. Delight in the sights and sounds of downtown Mason City while experiencing the unique sculpture works of artists from all over the country. The self guided tour starts in the downtown district and loops through the cultural crescent which includes historical architecture, art museum, public library, and The Music Man Square.

Lime Creek Nature Center 

A public conservation facility nestled atop the limestone bluffs of the Winnebago River. The center features a variety of displays about the wildlife and natural resources of North Iowa. An outdoor amphitheater, hands-on nature displays and over nine miles of trails through prairie, forest and wetland habitat provide remarkable experiences.

East Park

East Park is a beautiful area that offers several children’s playgrounds, shelter houses, a gazebo, and the largest wooden maze in Mason City. Enjoy a scenic walk around the park or have a picnic outing in one of their many shelter houses. 

 

Music Man Footbridge

The bridge is named in honor of Meredith Willson, Mason City native and internationally renowned composer. This bridge spans across Willow Creek and is featured on the Prairie School Architectural Tour/ Historical Walking Tour. 

 The music man footbridge connects 2nd St. SE in Mason City over Willow Creek connecting River Heights Drive and South Connecticut Ave.  

Happy Exploring! 

Friday Night Live, The Great River City Festival, Beer Shindig and More!

If you weren’t in Mason City, Iowa this past weekend you really missed out! From Friday Night Live to the Iowa Independent Film Festival, there was a was a lot of GREAT fun packed into the weekend…! 

Starting with the Ethnic Lunch from 11am to  1pm with lots of vendors in Central Park. Followed by Friday Night Live from 6pm-10pm, beer and food for sale, inflatables for children and a live band – The Chocolate Crackers, And Man, they rocked! Below is a picture of the main vocalist – who stopped by the Visit Mason City selfie station before taking the stage! 

 

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Lead Vocalist (The Chocolate Crackers) stops and take a selfie at the Visit Mason City’s Selfie Station before his performance at Friday Night Live

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Visit Mason City’s booth at Friday Night Live

While the town was celebrating the Great River City Festival, the Iowa Independent Film Festival was being held just next door at the Historic Park Inn on Friday, September 16 – Sunday, September 18.   Public screenings of 30 new feature-length, documentary, short art films, and student productions were shown. Tanna Frederick was present with  her cutting edge virtual reality film which earlier this year was screened at the Sundance festival in Switzerland.

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Saturday was filled with fun –  family activities from 10am-4pm with live music all day, a craft show, photo-booth, root-beer floats, prizes and more!

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The Dillinger bank robbery was reenacted three times on Saturday at 10am, 1pm and 3pm at National City Bank in downtown Mason City. Photo credit of Main Street Mason  City

The annual Craft Beer Shindig and Street Food Fair made for an enjoyable afternoon for manyLots of craft beer, ciders and fried food for all!

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Downtown Mason City – Mason City Brewery Shindig and Street Food Festival

For someone who is not a HUGE fan of craft beer, I enjoyed the event- as there were many ciders that I liked! My favorites were ‘The Grand Mimoso’ and the ‘Pineapple Hulu’ – YUMM!

Downtown was thriving Saturday Night and the street was packed with people! The Quarry and Lorados also had a great turnout out on the Plaza!

If you missed this weekend for whatever reason, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year! Typically, this event is held the third weekend of September. 

Rancho Deluxe – The Original Bicycle Garden

Rancho Deluxe – The Original Bicycle Garden 

500 2ND St. NE 

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I remember this unique and memorable place from a number of years ago, I believe when I  was still a high school student.  My friend told me about this garden in Mason City that was strangely unique with lots of recycled art. She, too was very interested and talented in the field of art – so this garden was of much interest to her. 

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Now, as I head back to  Rancho Deluxe – The Original Bicycle Garden the first thing I notice is how much the garden has grown. Lots of fun art and Mason City history has been incorporated into the garden. 

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Max, the owner and artist  has many visions for the garden, thus, making it a “Hot Spot” for visitors to the community. Some of his future plans consist of making the garden a place for  bicyclists, as there is talk about a bike path extending  behind the garden-on the northeast side of town. The dream is to make this a camping and resting stop for those traveling on two wheels-with live local music played on the stage, brats & beer for sale and much more!

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While talking to Max, he shared that he has many visitors each and every day – lots of motor coach tours making  a point to stop and check it out. On weekends it’s not uncommon  for senior pictures to be taken, family get togethers to happen and on a GREAT day there may be a wedding or two!  – Crazy!

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In 2014 RAGBRAI made an overnight stop in Mason City, IA.  Rancho Deluxe Garden served a camping site for many of the RAGBRAI rides and added a unique twist to their stay in Mason City, IA.  

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The Garden is home to many pieces of Mason City. Such as  bicycle racks from former schools, old school gates and many signs.

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I have to say my favorite part about the Garden is the cement blocks that have been turned into real works of art by both locals and tourists. The cement blocks serve as a blank canvas for many artists. When visitors are at the Garden they can create whatever their imagination has in store for them… they are able to leave just a little bit of their artistic ability for all to see.  The cement blocks are a way for people to release energy into something positive – and they turn out to be amazing works of art. Anyone is free to bring paint and claim a block to create their own masterpiece…in fact, it’s encouraged! 

 

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Rancho Deluxe is a must-see when you’re visiting Mason City, Iowa.

Camping this Labor Day Weekend?

Camping this Labor Day Weekend?

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As our summer days are limited  this time of year – Labor Day, is our last guarantee for a cooler, but a nice long weekend to see  family, catch up with friends or perhaps go camping. 

Camping is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy! It consist of a mini-vacation with friends  and/or family, cooking over the open fire, swimming in the lake, playing games, and sharing laughs with one another. 

Weather you’re an expert wilderness camper or a newby, to this whole camping idea – Everyone can benefit from a helpful packing list, and some ideas to make the most out of your three day weekend in the Great Outdoors! 

Packing List:

Everyone hates packing…. But, hopefully with our camping list below it’s a little bit easier to get organized for the weekend’s camping trip! One thing to not,  it can get pretty cold during the night  labor day weekend, so be sure to bring warm clothes and extra blankets. 

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Family Fun Camping Activities:

 Bean Bag Tournament:

This activity is great for families with older children (8+) or groups of friends. Get your family and/or friends into groups of twos and depending how many boards you have play a double elimination bracket style tournament. See below for set-up, rules and scoring system. 

Setup:

  • Place bean bag  boards 30 feet apart from the middle of the board 

Rules: 

  • Each game will be played with two players on each side in teams of 2
  • Team members will stand on opposite sides
  • Each team has 4 bags to throw
  • Each player must throw from behind the front of the bean bag board. If a player steps over the front of the bean bag board, that is a foul and that bag does not count for that round. 
  • Each team alternates shots beginning with the team that scored the last point

Scoring:

  • Points are scored when a player has a bag either on the board or in the hole 
    • On the board – 1 point; In the hole – 3 points 
  • The max amount of points that can be scored in a single round is 12 points. This would only occur if one team made all four bags into the hole, and the competing team didn’t score a single point. 
  • For instance, if one team scored 2 in the hole (6 points) and 1 on the board (1 point) and the competing team scored 1 in the hole (3 points) and 3 on the board (3 points) – the first team would bank 1 point.
  • If a bag hits the ground and then bounces back up on the board it is considered dead and does not count. The bag must immediately be removed from the board before resuming play. 
  • The game is over when one team scores 21 points. You must hit 21 points exactly without going over. If your team goes over the 21 points, you will go back down to 11 points. You must however, win by two points. 

 Cooking Pizza Pie’s Over the Fire:

Change your menu up from the traditional grilled food like hamburgers and brats and try pizza pie’s over the fire.  It’s easy to make, and can be catered to everyone’s preferred pizza desires!

How to make Pizza's over the Fire

Multi-Colored Fire:

Sometimes sitting around the campfire gets tiresome after a long day. To keep youngsters entertained and to create some excitement at the campfire -pack some Christmas lights with you  this Labor Day Weekend. Once you get the fire going throw the lights in the fire and pretty soon you’ll have a multi-colored campfire. This is completely  safe and fun for everyone! Each strand of lights lasts about 5-10 minutes until the fire will turn back to burnt orange flames. 

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Lastly, take photos and cherish the memories….

Camping is such an unknown  – From the people you will meet to rainy weather changing your agenda – When you when looking back you will just chuckle. So have some fun, be silly and take the unforgettable ‘Selfie’ ! 

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We want to wish everyone a FUN and Safe holiday weekend from Visit Mason City. For campgrounds in or around Mason City, IA; Please visit: bit.ly/2bVI7zn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Weekend Getaway – Frank Lloyd Wright Historic Park Inn..

Historic Park Inn Hotel

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Whether you’re a Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast or a tourist longing for a historical getaway adventure…The Historic Park Inn may be exactly what you are looking for in a weekend getaway.

Located n the heart of downtown Mason City, across from Central Park, sits the only remaining Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel in the world. Reopened in 2011, featuring original art glass as well as restoration of texture walls, flooring and woodwork, is the Historic Park Inn. Guests will experience what the hotel, bank and law office were like at the time it was originally built – it’s definitely a must see!

To point out a few details of the buildings, look at the photo below. Looking left to right is the bank (City National Bank), in the middle- Law Offices and on the right is the Hotel..

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Historic Park Inn 

Something to note about Wright is that everything he constructed had a purpose, rhyme or reason to it. The bank indicates a ‘safe place’, that is why the walls are tall, the windows sit high and is incredibly solid. The two tall structures on either side of the hotel are to indicate “arms” reaching out, to pull you into the building.

As you walk into the hotel you will notice that it is very open and comfortable,  as you move closer to the check-in area – the ceiling becomes low and you may start to feel a bit claustrophobic. You may wonder why it was built this way… well, it was fully intentional. Wright  wanted people to engage in conversation and socialize with others in the lobby area. The check-in area was designed to make guests feel secure, yet a bit uncomfortable, so they would not linger and immediately move back into the lobby or forward into the Great Room after checking in.

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Today, the Historic Park Inn features a ballroom (formerly the space occupies by City National Bank), as well as meeting space, a business center for guests  (former Law Offices), and hotel & restaurant (original hotel). The Historic Park Inn is definitely a destination when traveling to Mason City and North Iowa.

Ballroom (City National Bank) 

Meeting & Office Space (Law Offices) 

Law Library 

For more secrets and stories about the Historic Park Inn & Frank Lloyd Wright  – we encourage you to take a guided tour! >> http://wrightonthepark.org/

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Every year the Historic Park Inn attracts guests from all 50 states and every country in the World

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The Historic Park Inn sits directly south of Central Park & Veterans Moment in downtown Mason City, IA 

The Historic Park Inn offers 27 beautiful guest rooms of which no two are alike  

The Ladies Parlor

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Wine Room 

Enjoy billiards and a drink at the 1910 Lounge

  A favorite in Mason City, Iowa – 1910 Grill located in the hotel on the west side

The Historic Park Inn is a must-see site in Mason City, Iowa. Please share your experience and photos with us – @VisitMasonCity  &  @Wrightonthepark

For more information on the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic Park Inn >> http://wrightonthepark.org/

For all other must-see attractions in Mason City, Iowa >> http://www.visitmasoncityiowa.com/things-to-do

Piano on Federal Plaza

Piano on Federal Plaza 

Two local Mason City artist repurposed a piano that was donated from the Clarion Inn of Mason City. Local artist Tara Fitzpatrick and Joshua Brueggeman created a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired paintings on the piano. The piano will be located in Downtown Mason City, Iowa on the Plaza.

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http://globegazette.com/news/local/piano-on-federal-plaza-is-colorful-new-addition/article_0752d862-69a1-5dfe-81e9-1d876d993316.html

 

9 FREE Activities in Mason City, IA

9 FREE Activities to Take Advantage of when Traveling to

 Mason City, Iowa

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Whether you’re visiting  Mason City for one of our many attractions or just visiting family and friends – Here are 9 inside secrets to get the biggest bang for your buck while staying in Mason City.

 Visit Mason City Information Center 

Located on 2021 4th St. SW  – This is one stop you don’t want to miss when starting your adventure here in Mason City. At the Visitors Center you will find an array of brochures FREE to the public for attractions, entertainment and even local community events. A friendly staff member will greet you at the door and point out must sees, lodging, direction information, dinning /shopping options and so much more! Grab a Mason City Travel Guide and look for a FREE survivor coupon- HINT, HINT. The Visitor Center is open 24/7 and staffed: M-F 8-4:30

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Prairie Playground East Park

Prairie Playground, located at East Park, East State St. is the largest outdoor play area in Mason City. The wooden maze will be sure to burn off energy while the shelter areas make a perfect place to eat a sack lunch or have a picnic.

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Cannonball 457

After burning off some energy and with a full tummy, walk over to the Cannonball 457 east side of Prairie Playground (East Park, East State St), before exiting the park. The Cannonball 457 was built in 1912 and is the last remaining Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway steam locomotive- No. 457. The “Cannonball” has been restored to reflect its appearance in the late 1920’s. Mason City is also home to Iowa Traction Railroad, the only remaining organization that still uses electric locomotives to haul freight in regular service in the United States. Visitors can see an electric freight-hauling locomotive in operation on almost any day while traveling on 19th St. SW / County Rd B 35. The Cannonball 457 is a fun site for any age – take pictures and admire this historical site!

Cannonball 2016 from Friends 457

Music Man Footbridge/ Meredith Wilson

Music Man Footbridge is named in honor of native Mason City’s Meredith Wilson an internationally renowned composer.  The Footbridge is located on 2nd St. SE in Mason City over Willow Creek – connecting River Heights Drive and South Connecticut Ave. While this  Foot Bridge has a historic background it’s a prime location for a ‘selfie’ or a family photo as you have a beautiful background on the bridge.

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Charles H. MacNider Art Museum

Calling all art, puppet and ceramic enthusiasts to check out this  museum when you are in town. Admission is FREE  for a self-guided tour, and is located on 303 2nd St. SE. The Charles H. MacNider Art Museum houses a permanent collection of American art, the famous Bil Baird Puppets and an impressive range of ceramics. The museum offers changing exhibits, films, studio classes, special events, Imagination Playground and a museum shop.

Prairie School Architectural Tour

Want to take a nice walk? Want to see the largest group of Prairie School designed homes on an unified site? Well you’re in luck when you’re visiting Mason City! The best part  it’s FREE (for a self guided tour). Prairie School Tour encompasses 14 blocks and the Historical Tour is an additional 13 blocks beginning at 303 2nd St. SE. Explore and be amazed when walking in the Rock Crest & Rock Glen area.  Architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Burley Griffen, William Drummond, Francis Barry Byrne and more. Download the Enlarged Mason City downtown map featuring an overview of the self guided walking tour.

Mason City Veterans Monument in Central Park

Located in Central Park (West State St.) is the Mason City Veterans Monument. This monument in Central Park honors over 3,300 veterans with Mason City connections. Standing 8 feet high and weighting  4,000 pounds it features 12 Black India Granite stones!

Mason City Vetrans Monument

 River City Sculpture on the Plaza

Sculptures on the Plaza are located at various parts of downtown Mason City. This is an exciting exhibit of outdoor sculptures displayed year-round. Self guided tour starts in downtown and loops through the cultural crescent which includes historical architecture, art museum, public library and the Music Man Square. Tour routes can be found at the Visit Mason City Center. Take a group of friends and enjoy the afternoon of seeing amazing works of art!

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Lime Creek Nature Center

If you are headed North on your way out of Mason City be sure to stop by Lime Creek Nature Center; located at 3501 Lime Creek RD; HWY. 65 N. The Nature Center features a variety of displays about the wildlife and natural resources of North 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 with an unlimited amount of fun and learning!

After your day or days visiting Mason City we hope you found this helpful, as there are many other attractions to see and do. But, sometimes it’s nice to have a couple FREE activities in the itinerary. For more information on what all Mason City has to offer and lodging information please visit: http://www.visitmasoncityiowa.com