MASON CITY, Iowa - If you have a desire to travel, you might not have to go too far: according to a report from the Iowa Tourism Office, Cerro Gordo County set a record for tourism based dollars. Tourism related expenditures in the county totaled $201.78 million, a 2.8% increase from 2016, with additional data showing travel-generated tax receipts in the county are at a record $3.51 million.
"We've been in parts of Iowa before, but not Mason City."
North Carolinians Dick and Carol Branting are making their way to Minnesota for a wedding, but not without a stop in Mason City to tour the historic Stockman House.
"We love the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and the architecture, and it's a very interesting place."
They say Cerro Gordo County's tourism is similar to what they see back home.
"We come from an area that's really big in tourism, so we can see the benefits of that, and we think it's a good idea."
Sioux City resident Wendy Brame visited Mason City for the first time this week and toured the Stockman House and Music Man Square.
"It seems like a nice little town. I literally just got in yesterday, so I haven't had a chance to drive around much, but I want to drive and see the other prairie houses now that I found out about those. It happens a lot, you come to an area and then you meet people who live here and they mention new things that you've never heard of or thought of and everything."
Lindsey James is the Executive Director of Visit Mason City, and says both Mason City and neighboring Clear Lake work together to bring in more tourists to the area.
"Everything that we have to offer in both communities complement each other so well that we really have enough to keep visitors busy for multiple days, and that's our job. We tell people about that and encourage them to come and stay here."
With so much to see in the area, and not enough time, the Brantings say they're considering coming back, and encourage others to pull of and see what Cerro Gordo County has to offer.
"It's a part of the country that you don't see when you're going by on the interstate. You don't see the people and how they actually live and it's very interesting."
With 2018 being a busy year bringing in visitors for events such as the PGI Fireworks Convention in July, the results have not yet been tabulated, but James expects them to be released around October of next year.
Libbey Hohn, the Director of Tourism for the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, says local water quality efforts are making a huge difference in drawing recreational visitors to the lake, as well as the many events that bring people to Clear Lake nearly every weekend of the year.
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