IMO, a softener is the simplest and best solution. Use a rust removing salt (like Dura Cube Red-Out) to keep the media clean. Once you get used to soft water, you'll wonder how you managed without it. Faucets will last almost forever and your washer will require less detergent.
If you have more iron than a softener alone can handle (over about 4 ppm), there are dedicated iron removal systems that work similar to a water softener but don't use salt. I seriously doubt you need one of those.
As for filters, they're a fair amount of aggravation. You need to change the O-ring about every other filter, and filters need to be changed every few weeks. With my old softener I added a filter upstream of the softener to reduce the iron the softener had to remove. I got tired of having to constantly change filter elements so I got rid of it when I replaced the softener.
We also have a reverse osmosis unit for drinking water downstream of the softener. This removes sodium, arsenic and other bad stuff from the softened water.