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Welcome to an Iowa Great Place, Tourism Community of the Year, Iowa River Town of the Year, two-time America in Bloom national champion and a three-time finalist for Great American Main Street Community. Oh, did we mention the birthplace of the American “tractor,” childhood home of a national women’s rights leader and the first whitewater river park in Iowa? Welcome to Charles City, Iowa!
Located on the banks of the Cedar River in north central Iowa, the community has made a name for itself both for its achievements and its ability to overcome adversity. Home to approximately 7,500 people, Charles City is situated along the four-lane Avenue of the Saints highway and is also at the convergence of Highways 27, 14 and 18. As a result, Charles City is less than an hour’s drive from larger urban centers like Mason City and Cedar Falls/Waterloo, and just a couple of hours away from Des Moines and Minneapolis. Bigger than a small town and smaller than a big city, Charles City is a self-supporting community with much to offer, but without the big city traffic, crime and stress. A great place to work, live and play, Charles City has also developed a reputation as a wonderful place to raise a family. Many a native of Charles City who has gone to live elsewhere has come back to make this their home.
The retail and industrial base of the community is varied, with such major employers as Zoetis, Cambrex-Charles City, Winnebago Industries, Simply Essentials and Mitas Tires North America. The community is also served by a variety of grocery stores and retailers, restaurants and motels, as well as the Floyd County Medical Center.
Something visitors and people passing through Charles City always comment on is the great number of beautiful parks and green spaces available in the community. Charles City has over 300 acres of parks within the city limits, most of them owned and maintained by either the City of Charles City or the City Improvement Association. Charles City also has many recreational opportunities to offer, including whitewater kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, tubing, canoeing and fishing on the Cedar River that winds its way through town. There’s also the excitement of high school sporting events, adult recreational leagues like softball, bowling or the many offerings at the local YMCA. The community boasts two public golf courses, as well as several very fine public sporting complexes such as Sportsmen’s Park (baseball, softball, tennis, outdoor basketball courts and playground), Lion’s Field Park (swimming pool, baseball, softball, skate park, sand volleyball and a giant children’s playground), Westwood Park (softball, lots of open recreational space), I.C. Ball Fields (soccer, baseball, softball) and Wildwood Park (baseball, softball, public golf course and playground areas). More recent additions include disc golf and pickleball.
Looking for culture? Would you believe you can find art works such as Picasso, Rembrandt and Grant Wood on display in a town of under 8,000? The Arthur Mooney Collection at the Charles City Public Library has that and much more. There’s also the Charles City Arts Center, various community performance groups, the Grammy Award-winning Charles City High School Music Department and a growing collection of public art throughout the community.
Tourism opportunities also abound with the Floyd County Historical Society Museum, which chronicles Charles City as the birthplace of the American tractor. Charles City was also the childhood home of noted women’s rights leader Carrie Lane Chapman Catt and features a number of listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Just outside of town is a little piece of Wimbledon with the only public-access all-grass tennis court (in the middle of corn fields, no less), as well as the famous Little Brown Church in the Vale and Rockford Fossil & Prairie Park. More than anything, though, Charles City has become known as "America’s Hometown" because of the people who have – and continue to – call it "home." We invite you to visit and find out why for yourself!
Information courtesy of Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Charles City Press