Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A teaser trailer to Mason City, Iowa, attractions September 23, 2014

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IOWA. We Minnesotans joke about our neighbor to the south.

“What’s in Iowa?”

“Why would you ever want to go there?”

Well, my fellow Minnesotans and anyone who has ever shunned Iowa, there are many reasons to visit this Midwestern state. Iowa is about much more than the slogan, “Fields of Opportunities,” bannered on a Welcome to Iowa sign as you cross the border aiming south.

You'll see lots of farms as you drive through Iowa, including this one off Interstate 35 just across the Minnesota border.

You’ll see lots of farms as you drive through Iowa, including this one off Interstate 35 just across the Minnesota border.

Yes, you will see an abundance of endless fields and lots of barns. Northeastern Iowa is even designated a Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area celebrating agriculture.  But you’ll also discover charming river towns and other interesting attractions, too.

Welcome to Mason City, a community of some 28,000 in northeastern Iowa.

Welcome to Mason City, a community of some 28,000 in northeastern Iowa.

We’ll start our journey off Interstate 35 just across the border in Mason City, home of my friend, Beth Ann Chiles, who blogs at It’s Just Life. Beth Ann welcomed my husband and me into her northeastern Iowa community, touring us around town on a hot and steamy August Sunday afternoon. Yes, we were practically dripping sweat. But, it was a great tour and a wonderful day and overnight spent with a friend whom I cherish.

Friend and blogger Beth Ann, right, was our personal tour guide in Mason City.

Friend and blogger Beth Ann, right, was our personal tour guide in Mason City.

Here’s a sneak peek from my visit to Mason City:

This sign does not point to downtown Mason City, but rather to a quirky and interesting attraction.

This sign does not point to downtown Mason City, but rather to a quirky and interesting attraction.

Any guesses as to what this might be?

Any guesses as to what this might be? Photographed in the heart of downtown Mason City.

My husband kicks back in an historic building that draws lots of interest.

My husband kicks back in an historic building that draws lots of architectural interest.

Not just any old street corner in any old neighborhood.

Not just any old street corner in any old neighborhood.

Check back for a closer look at these attractions as we tour Mason City before journeying toward the eastern border of Iowa.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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