Sightseeing in Mason City

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Phelps Youth Pavilion houses more than 40 interactive children’s art exhibits to entertain miniature artists. Pintsize painters can head to the artists' studio to create virtual masterpieces or journey to the past with Professor Paintspotz's Amazing Art-o-Matic Time Traveling Mega-Machine. Bookworms can settle down with an intriguing paperback at the book nook and reading corner, and babies and toddlers can congregate at Caribbean Kinder Island to explore the playhouse, sculpt at the sand activity table, and mastermind plans to overthrow parental overlords. Phelps Youth Pavilion also boasts a virtual tractor drive, digital finger painting, and a mini museum where guests can showcase their artwork. With today’s deal, Groupon holders also get 20% off at the gift store, where they can pick up jewelry, pottery, and kids' toys.

225 Commercial St
Waterloo,
IA
US

The artist-run Works of Glass studio burnishes custom stained-glass pieces and extends materials and advice to hobbyists of the semitranslucent arts. Each Make 'n' Take stained-glass class provides all of the materials and guidance for six students at a time to create a three-piece heart-shaped sun catcher using the same copper foiling method used in Tiffany glass production. After a practice cutting session with old windowpanes and the walls of glass houses, students select their favorite shade from the studio's spectrum of glass and cut it themselves to form the base of the heart. Like soldering a rainbow and heart together to create the ultimate T-shirt logo, students solder two clear half-circle bevels to the sun catcher, which will make it cast rainbow shadows on sulking rooms. Students will get to do their own foiling and soldering—the processes used to bring pieces together—and will finish off the piece with a metal filigree. Finished works measure 5 inches at the widest point and are 4.5 inches long, with every square unit of surface area declaring undying love to a favorite window. Just like remedial woodshop, classes take place on the weekends.

114 Duff Ave
Ames,
IA
US

For more than 10 years, The Heart of Darkness has elicited scares from nearly 10,000 visitors every Halloween season with one of the largest haunts in Iowa. People from across the country and ghosts studying abroad brave nine separately themed areas on the terror-infested grounds, from a haunted playground to a maniacal-clown asylum. Each section crawls with grotesque creatures. A living scarecrow swipes at guests with a rusted sickle, causing them to flee right into the padded cell of Crispy, a demented arsonist whose victims gave him a taste of his own medicine by scorching his skin.

So committed to their duty to terrify, owners Kevin and Dolly Schults are affectionately known as The Halloween Family, as detailed on a 2009 episode of ABC's Wife Swap. Outside their spooky corridors, the Schults reward survivors with concession stands, a live DJ, and a photo booth that snapped the pictures Crispy uses for his online-dating profile.

5111 Osage Road
Waterloo,
IA
US

Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Zoo's troupe of snake-taming animal lovers tend to dozens of species of reptiles and amphibians, creating a nurturing environment that cares for the creatures and educates the public. From lizards and snakes to crocodilians and tortoises, the zoo's menagerie contains specimen both docile and hostile, and visitors often pose for pictures with animals to commemorate their visit to the zoo. After being successfully raised by sage clans of snapping turtles, each keeper draws on their years of experience and love of animals to conduct presentations and seminars during visits to the zoo.

3297 County Road 45
Owatonna,
MN
US

Several years ago, Ken Smith and Chase Williams were typical door-to-door salesmen. In need of a gimmick to boost sales and a quicker mode of transport, the duo tried riding Segways and immediately fell in love. Eventually, they turned their love for the two-wheeled transporter into their current venture, All American Segway Tours. Their company provides all manner of Segway engagement, including guided Segway tours that offer rolling educations in local history and wildlife. Customers can also discover the revolutionary devices on their own by renting out Segways for recreational use, private parties, or as a friend for a lonely office chair or shopping cart.

23rd Ave. SW and 1st St. SW
Rochester,
MN
US

The Iowa Arboretum captivates nature lovers and aspiring botanists with 378 acres of idyllic landscape. A family membership to the arboretum includes free admission year-round to the arboretum’s agricultural wonders and reciprocal privileges at more than 250 other North American gardens and arboretums. In addition, members receive a free yearlong subscription to Iowa Gardening magazine, a 10% discount on many gift shop purchases, and reduced class and workshop fees. Bring your brood to the arboretum to acquaint yourselves with 19 different plant collections showcasing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Amble along hiking trails through 330 acres of century-old oak trees or wander through the four-acre restored prairie.

1875 Peach Ave
Madrid,
IA
US