Highlights of Iowa's Amana Colonies | Midwest Living

Highlights of Iowa's Amana Colonies

The legacy of a German communal group survives in the seven villages of the Amana Colonies, an Iowa tourism icon.
Photo from Amanacolonies.com

Amana Colonies

In the green east-central Iowa River Valley along Interstate-80 (100 miles east of Des Moines), the seven Amana Colonies have clung to their roots with German steadfastness since 1855. Almost half the residents are descendants of the original German colonists; inns, restaurants and shops draw heavily on traditional foods and handicrafts.

Click ahead to learn about some of our favorite attractions in the Amana Colonies. 

Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau


Amana Heritage Society

Start your Amana exploration with one of the tours offered through the Amana Heritage Society. The Heritage Package takes you through the Communal Kitchen Museum, Community Church Museum, Agriculture Museum, Homestead Store Museum and Amana Heritage Museum. Or check into five custom tours, with topics ranging from architecture to agriculture (319/622-3567; amanaheritage.org).

Amana Heritage Society

Amana-made food

Local ham, bacon, sausage and cheese fill Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse (800/373-6328; amanameatshop.com). Hahn's Hearth Oven Bakery (left) offers treats such as fresh bread and cinnamon rolls -- but be aware that this little Middle Amana gem has irregular hours and often sells out by 10 a.m. on summer days (319/622-3439; nps.gov/history/nr/travel/amana/).

Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse

Hahn's Hearth Oven Bakery

Wineries and breweries

The colonies' winemaking tradition continues at Ackerman (319/622-3379; ackermanwinery.com) and Ehrle Brothers, the Amanas' oldest winery (319/622-3241). Take a refined break from sweet colony wines at Fireside Winery (pictured at left; 319/662-4222; firesidewinery.com). Or buy a pitcher of beer and sit on the deck at Millstream, Iowa's oldest brewery (319/622-3672; millstreambrewing.com).

Fireside Winery

Ackerman Winery


Heritage Designs Quilting and Needlework

Classic quilts hang from the beams of this 1895 granary in the historic Amana Colonies. Heritage Designs Quilting and Needlework offers a variety of quilting, cross-stitch, punch needle, embroidery and tatting supplies. Fabrics include reproduction lines from the Civil War and the 1930s (319/622-3887; heritagedesignsquiltshop.com).

Heritage Designs Quilting and Needlework

Art classes

Put a personal spin on the "Handcrafted in the Amana Colonies" label at Amana Arts Guild workshops, including classes in basketry, watercolors, ceramics and silkscreen prints. Make a reservation for a weekend or weeklong class September-October (319/622-3678; amanaartsguild.com). Or take a class in an artist's studio, such as painter Michele Maring Miller's weekend classes. Reservations required (319/622-6330; maringmillergallery.com).

Amana Arts Guild

Michele Maring Miller Studio and Gallery

Old Creamery Theatre Company

Iowa's oldest professional theater has been performing in the Amana colonies since 1988. The Old Creamery Theatre Company performs a variety of comedies, dramas and musicals, such as I'm All Ears (pictured at left). Also look for the Christmas show and monthly cabaret (800/352-6262; oldcreamery.com)

Old Creamery Theatre Company

Shopping in Amana

Popular shopping options include the High Amana General Store (left), offering old-fashioned candy, handmade soaps and antique toys. (319) 622-3232; amanaheritage.org At Amana Woolen Mill, visitors can tour the facilities and watch the looms in action, as well as purchase products such as blankets. (800) 222-6430; amanawoolenmill.com Leham Books and Gifts sells Home Grown figurines, holiday items and more. (800) 840-2387; lehmbooksandgifts.com


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