SIOUX CITY -- Iowa's top tourist attraction in a metro area? This year, it's Sioux City's Cone Park.
The Iowa Tourism Bureau and the Travel Federation of Iowa bestowed the 2019 "outstanding attraction" honor on the all-seasons park Thursday.
"It kind of reassures what we already knew about Cone Park -- that it's been a great thing for Sioux City," said Parks and Recreation Director Matt Salvatore, who accepted the award on behalf of the city.
The park at 3800 Line Drive boasts a 700-foot tubing hill, refrigerated 5,400-square-foot ice skating rink, fire pit and day lodge. In the summer months, the rink is converted to a splash pad. Visitors also have access to a two-mile trail loop.
For its second winter season, the park added a less steep tubing run for children. It's named Blue Bunny Hill for its corporate sponsor, Wells Enterprises, makers of Blue Bunny ice cream, the smaller hill. A lift, called a magic carpet, transports sledders to the top of each hill.
Snow Glow Tubing, an LED light show set to music, also is offered during some nighttime sessions this year.
With its own snow-making equipment, Cone Park can operate even when Mother Nature doesn't cooperate in the winter.
Salvorate said the park is popular not only within the community, but also draws visitors to Sioux City.
Cone Park attracted more than 20,000 people during its first winter of operation, from mid-December 2017 to March 11, 2018. Salvatore said tubing sessions were sold out nearly every weekend the first season.
"We're probably selling out even more this year, than last year," he said Thursday. "We've seen the numbers continue to increase."
Thursday is the second time Cone Park has been recognized in the past year. In April, the park was listed as Iowa's entry in MSN's listing of the best new tourist attractions in each state. The MSN lifestyle story highlighted the park's "gamut of outdoor fun."
"We're excited and honored to get another feather in our cap," Salvatore said.
The Iowa Tourism Office and Travel Federation of Iowa presented 27 awards recognizing excellence in the industry at a ceremony Thursday in Altoona as part of the 2019 Iowa Tourism Conference.Dragoon Trace Nature Center near Mount Ayr was honored as the top outstanding attraction in a rural area.
The Stone Pier Summer Concert Series, held on the shores of Black Hawk Lake in Lake View, was named the outstanding rural event.