Mason City, Iowa was the boyhood home of Meredith Wilson who wrote “The Music Man”. The community has embraced the theme and created a signed bicycle tour route to see the sites from the musical.
But the city is much more than “76 Trombones”. Mason City has the largest collection of Prairie School architecture in Iowa. The focal point is the Historic Park Inn – a Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel that has been restored and is a wonderful place to stay.
The Cultural Bike Route visits:
Central Park • Historic Park Inn • Federal Plaza • Southbridge Mall • Music Man Square • Mason City Public Library • MacNider Art Museum • Meredith Wilson Footbridge • Rock Crest/Rock Glen Historic District • Robert E. McCoy Architectural Interpretive Center/ G. C. Stockman House Museum • City Hall
Your ride departs from Central Park, adjacent to the Historic Park Inn. Simply follow the bike route signs to visit the sights. While on the route, be sure to notice the Sculptures on Parade – a year-round exhibit of outdoor sculptures from unique artists.
The first stop is the boyhood home of Meredith Wilson. This restored 1895 modified Queen Ann house was the birthplace and boyhood home of songwriter and playwright of “The Music Man,” Meredith Wilson. There are 30-45 minute tours of the properties.
Music Man Square features a 1912 streetscape with an ice cream parlor/soda fountain and gift shop, all in set designs from the “The Music Man”. Tours are included with the Meredith Wilson home.
Across the street is the Mason City Public Library. First designed in 1939, this library has a recent addition and remodeling.
The ride crosses Willow Creek via the Music Man Footbridge, named after the legendary composer.
Nearby, you can visit the MacNider Art Museum. A North Iowa cultural treasure, the museum includes a permanent collection of American art, the famous Bil Baird puppets, and an impressive range of ceramics.
Another must-see museum is the Frank Lloyd Wright designs Dr.G.C. Stockman House Museum. It was built in 1908 and the only Prairie School home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Iowa. Tours are available May-October.
The Rock Crest and Rock Glen areas are the largest assembly of Prairie School architecture homes on one site. There is a self-guided tour available as you visit the neighborhoods.
Before your ride is complete, stop by Mason City Brewing for a craft beer.
Your tour returns to downtown Mason City – past the pool hall made famous in the musical. But don’t miss stopping at the Historic Park Inn. Originally opened in 1910, the property is now a 27-room boutique hotel with lounge and restaurant. Docent-led tours are available.