A visit to Amana Colonies in Iowa is like taking a trip back in time. Luckily, there are modern day amenities available even with such a unique, historical setting. There is plenty of things to do in Amana and the nearby colonies, though it’s best to just take it easy during your relaxing visit.
Where are the Amana Colonies?
The Amana Colonies are a National Historic Landmark. It’s a picturesque set of towns that reflect the pride citizens have in their Amana heritage. The colonies consist of Amana, East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, West Amana, and Homestead.
Sleep in a (former) mill
One of Iowa’s newest hotels is in a former textile mill. The Hotel Millwright recently opened in a building that was part of an 8-acre mill complex. Back in the 1800s, the mills — and the textiles produced in them — were essential to the colonists’ communal living.
They produced goods for the community to use, but supported the colony by producing textiles to sell around the U.S.
Each room is unique and features historical art inspired by the work areas in the mill: the Dye House, Bale House, and Spinning Building.
- The Hotel Millwright, 800 48th Ave.
Things for kids
While taking kids shopping isn’t what most parents consider a good time, there are a few shops kids will like. I recommend The Little Red Wagon Toy Store and The Noble Stone – A World of Treasures, both located in Amana.
Take the kids to West Amana and show them Iowa’s largest rocking chair located at The Broom and Basket Shop. They can sit on it for a fun photo.
For more excitement, get a day pass to the Wasserbahn Waterpark inside the Ramada in nearby Williamsburg. It’s not particularly huge, and like many hotel waterparks, it feels a little dank. But kids love it.
2. The Little Red Wagon Toy Store, 4417 220th Trail, Amana
3. The Noble Stone – A World of Treasures, 4510 220th Trail, Amana
4. Wasserbahn Waterpark , 2211 U Ave., Williamsburg
Eat German food
For a family dinner, it doesn’t get much better than the family-style dining at a few of Amana’s famous German restaurants. Each has a specialty they’re known for. Ox Yoke Inn is known for their pork and the delicious strawberry jam. The Ronneburg Restaurant is said to have the best herbed cottage cheese, but their Amana pancakes are extra special.
The meals are large. At Ox Yoke, the Family Banquet Feast consisted of bread and homemade strawberry jam, two cold salads, fried chicken, roast beef, ham, green beans and the best buttery potatoes ever.
No time for a full meal? Plan a stop at Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse in Amana. Samples abound for meat and cheese… even Schwartenmagen, or head cheese.
5. Ox Yoke Inn, 4420 220th Trail, Amana
6. The Ronneburg Restaurant, 4408 220th Trail, Amana
7. Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse, 4513 F St., Amana
Drive the loop
The Amana Colonies Trail is a 17-mile loop on taking you to see most of the Amana Colonies and all of the tourist attractions.
8. The Amana Colonies Trail, Take Highway 220 which passes through all seven villages.
Attend a festival
Depending on your interests, plan a trip to attend one of the annual festivals held in the Colonies, including Maifest, Iowa Renaissance Festival and Oktoberfest.
9. Maifest, a German festival to celebrate the start of spring (first weekend in May)
10. Iowa Renaissance Festivals (held on various weekends throughout the year)
11. Oktoberfest, a celebration with live music, German food and beer, and games (first weekend in October)
Go to Iowa’s oldest brewery
Millstream Brewing Co., the oldest brewery in the state, is located in Amana. They brew 25 different beers each year. If it’s available, try the Schild Brau Amber.
Tip: Every Tuesday, you can watch as they bottle beer from about 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
12. Millstream Brewing Co., 835 48th Ave., Amana