Mason City, Iowa Neighborhood Guide

Sitting in the heart of the midwest, Mason City, Iowa, is the county seat to Cerro Gordo County, the historic summer home for both Sioux and Winnebago nations.

Sitting in the heart of the midwest, Mason City, Iowa, is the county seat to Cerro Gordo County, the historic summer home for both Sioux and Winnebago nations. Mason City’s favorite son is none other than Meredith Wilson, known for The Music Man with characters written about people Meredith Wilson knew growing up in Mason City. 

The city is 28 square miles and is slightly on the cool side at an average temperature being 56 degrees Fahrenheit and annual precipitation at 36 inches. Multiple industries drive the local economy, with most people employed in manufacturing, health, financial services, tech, and education.

The Community

Mason City is relatively homogenous, with over 90% claiming Caucasian as their primary ethnicity as a community. There are fewer than 29,000 residents in the area, with 7,000 living in the city directly. The median income for the site is slightly more than $33,000 for a single household and $45,000 for a mixed-income home, placing an approximate 10% of the families below the poverty threshold. 

The average number of people per home is 2.2, with a little under 3 persons per family unit, with 40% of the community living in a married home. 


The violent crime rate of Mason City is half the national average, while property crimes in the area are slightly higher than in the rest of Iowa. 

Two primary police stations serving the community, the Mason City Police Department to the east and North Central la Narcotics to the west. The mission of working hand-in-hand with the community and the local police department serves the small town well. 

A staff of 48 professionals operates the Mason City Fire Department that provides fire suppression, emergency services, and rescue operations for the city, including public education events. 

The Schools

There are four public elementary schools in Mason City spotlighted by Harding Elementary to the north, with Jefferson Elementary located in the heart of Mason City. Residents can also choose between the remaining public schools at Hoover or Roosevelt Elementary or Newman Catholic Elementary. 

John Adams, Clear Lake, and Lincoln Intermediate schools highlight public education for grades 6-8 while Mason City High and Alternate High schools serve residents for 9-12th grades. 

For postsecondary higher education options, residents can attend North Iowa Area Community College, Buena Vista University, and Purdue University Global. 

The Culture

Located just a little over 130 miles from St. Paul, Minnesota, and 120 miles north of Des Moines, Iowa, Mason City is the largest urban center in northern Iowa. In the late 1990s, Mason City was rated the #10 best cities in the United States to live in based on climate, industry, outdoor space, and location. In 2018, Iowa was rated the top state to live in, and CNN has dubbed Mason City an architectural hotbed. 

Since 1928, Mason City has hosted the annual North Iowa Band Festival, where marching bands from around the midwest come to compete for the title of the best marching band. 

The Lifestyle

Safe, neighborly, relaxed, with big-city amenities best, describes the lifestyle of living in Mason City, Iowa. Home to various outdoor events and serves as the cultural, economic, and entertainment center for the surrounding areas. Plenty of museums, eateries and entertainment venues spotlight the benefits of living and visiting Mason City. 

Here are a few of our favorites

One local landmark is Where The Music Died, the final resting place for Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson. The low-key memorial is decorated with a set of oversized glasses in honor of Buddy Holly that serve as the gateway to the field where the plane went down that infamous night in 1959.

A more upbeat memorial is the Music Man Square honoring the late Meredith Wilson and his musical, The Music Man. The replica movie set and home of Meredith Wilson is a tribute to the River City famous in the play. So come as a family, enjoy the backdrop of River City while eating ice cream and exploring the museum, all for only $6!

Are you looking for a quick bite, unique appetizers, or looking for something a little more upscale? The Quarry Restaurant has you covered. From burgers to exquisite Ribeyes, delectable soups, and incredible pork tacos, there’s something on the menu for everyone in your dining party. Just come hungry as the portions are well-known to be large enough to feed an entire football team all at the same time. 

If southern creole/cajun is your craving, you don’t have to jet down to Louisiana. Instead, just head over to Larado’s, located on South Federal Way. Start with an order of the loaded nachos and wash it down with a $3 margarita. The hole-in-the-wall atmosphere makes the experience quaint and cozy, perfect for a small town with a big city feel. Lorado’s also hosts various live entertainment on most evenings from open mic night to open jam night, hippy dance party, or techno night. 

For a relaxing time along the idyllic Clear Lake, check out Lakeside Landing Kitchen + Bar. This seasonal restaurant and bar is a local hotspot and can get busy during dinner time. Come for the Jumbo Wings and Wisconsin Cheese Curds while washing it down with your favorite housemade cocktail. If you’re still hungry, grab a Lakeside Burger or the Cali-style Fish Tacos as you sit back on the deck watching the time go by. 

From breakfast to lunch, dinner, and after hours, Rookies Rockin’ Sports Bar is the hotspot to grab some great food and catch a game or two with your buddies. This area sports bar boasts widescreen TVs showing all the hottest sports action from NFL to NCAA games, NBA and MLB packages, and more, while you can challenge your friends to a game of pool. Or perhaps you’re looking for a spot to host your next party, have no fear; at Rookies, they have space to accommodate your next event. 

Real Estate

Homes in Mason City, Iowa, have a median list price of $148,000 and spend an average of 51 days on the market. Newer construction of houses on over 2 acres of land can be purchased well over the median price and fetch in the vicinity of $600,000, but these are not the norm for the area. 

Most homes in the area average over 2,500 square feet and are built with basements, though some detached single-homes are made with a contemporary brick look on raised foundations lacking the cellar underneath. 


Myrtle Beach, SC Neighborhood Guide

Back to Research

Old Town, Key West Neighborhood Guide