One of our favorite Iowa destinations is the Amana Colonies. We can wander around the villages all day and never get bored. Now the Amana Colonies have made it even easier for visitors to tour the villages and learn about their history.
A visitor center has opened in the center of Amana. Housed in an old corn crib and refinished inside by the amazing wood crafters from the Amana Furniture and Clock Shop this should definitely be your first stop.
The interior is open and airy and filled with displays of the famous antiques and crafts Amana is known for. You can find brochures and tourist guides on the Amanas, Williamsburg Outlets, local hotels and Kalona, a near by Amish town. Another great resource (that I have only seen in airports) is a direct dial phone and directory of the colonies’ many B&Bs.
The visitor center staff is knowledgable and helpful and will steer you toward the days events. And now you can rent bikes, kids bikes, bike trailers, trail-a-bikes, wheelchairs and strollers from the visitor center ($10-$20 per day depending on the item). The bikes are a great way to get from village to village using the bike trail at the edge of town.
Before you leave the visitor center climb to the cupola and look out over the town. Many of the inner workings of the corn crib remain- it’s really a great diversion if the kids are getting antsy while a parent is gathering information.
You’ll want to spend your time in Amana wandering the quaint shops in search of treasures. Here are a few places you don’t want to miss:
- The Colony Inn: This is my favorite restaurant in the colonies. (But I’ve tried tham all and not one is bad) Food is served “family style”. You order your meats and you are brought bowls of salads, vegetables, cottage cheese and potatoes. If your kids are younger for only $1.95 they can share your meat and get a plate for the sides.
- Stone Hearth Bakery: wonderful baked goods. The gingerbread men are so fresh that Brenna had to eat his legs to keep him from running away!
- Right across the street from the bakery is the Chocolate Haus. Homemade and hand dipped chocolates. YUM!
- Heritage Wine and Cheese is on the far west end of town- next to the museum. Free tasting! Be sure to try the Lover’s Wine, the Autumn Blend and the American Pride blends. And sample some cheese while you’re there.
- The Amana Furniture and Clock Shop has an area where you can see the artisans at work (or look at their work area if they aren’t working!)
- If you’re getting tired there is a “hidden” garden next door to Maddies Fine Clothing and Gifts.
The most important thing to remember while you’re in the Amanas is not to rush. Take your time. Relax. And don’t forget the other villages. Each has it’s own wonders. Rent a bike and explore!