Just 10 miles apart, these neighbors have distinct personalities (120 miles north of Des Moines).

Rock and roll history and lake fun anchor Clear Lake; Mason City is great for architecture buffs.

What to do

Stockman House and Robert E. McCoy Architectural Interpretive Center Frank Lloyd Wright's 1908 Stockman House illustrates how Prairie School style suited middle-class homes. The interpretive center next door shows a video on Wright's influence in Mason City. stockmanhouse.org

Stockman House
Stockman House

The Music Man Square Tour the childhood home of Meredith Willson, who wrote and composed The Music Man, and see a replica of the 1962 movie's streetscape. The Music Man Square on Facebook

The Surf Ballroom and Museum In Clear Lake, big-name concerts typically pack the venue best known for the gig Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played before all three died in a 1959 plane crash in northern Iowa. Self-guided tours are also available year-round. surfballroom.com

Where to eat

Northwestern Steakhouse Enjoy melt-in-your-mouth steak in a cozy atmosphere in Mason City. Northwestern Steakhouse on Facebook

PM Park This Clear Lake spot looks a little plain, but the cheerful cafe's breakfast is good. PM Park on Facebook

Where to stay

The Historic Park Inn Hotel The best stay in town is the world's only surviving Wright-designed hotel. stoneycreekhotels.com

The Historic Park Inn Hotel
Historic Park Inn Hotel

More information: Visit Mason City visitmasoncityiowa.com and Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce clearlakeiowa.com