The Amana Colonies are a collection of seven villages in Eastern Iowa, founded by German settlers 150 years ago. The people in these villages actively maintain many of the cultural traditions of their ancestors. The Colonies are located just west of Iowa City along I-80. They are: Amana (also called Main Amana), East Amana, Homestead, Middle Amana, High Amana, West Amana, South Amana.
In 1855, a group of German settlers decided to buy some 30 square miles (70 square kilometers) of land in eastern Iowa. These settlers, whose spirituality was marked by a strong belief in mysticism and communal life, sought to practice their religion in isolation. The Great Depression made it impossible for the villages to continue their isolation, and the Amana people voted to end their communal life and build economic ties with the outside world. To this day, residents still maintain some of the traditional industries—woolen textiles, meats and cheeses, furniture—that their ancestors brought over from Germany.
Everyone speaks English. Compared to the rest of the region, a greater proportion of residents have learned some German in school. Some of the oldest residents also speak an older form of German, derived from West Central German, called Amana German or Kolonie-Deutsch.
The nearest airport with scheduled passenger service is the Eastern Iowa Airport, which is located between Cedar Rapids and the Amana Colonies.
There is no public mass transit service, no bike rental, and no car rental service within the colonies. Transportation is by car, by joining a bus tour, by biking, or by walking.
Each of the villages is a couple of miles away from the next, originally making it about an hour's walk from one to the next. However, few people routinely walk or bike between villages now, except to follow the bike trail between Middle Amana and Main Amana. Within each small village, however, walking from one shop to the next is often the best choice.
- Iowa's Largest Rocking Chair, 618 8th Avenue, West Amana, ☎ +1 319 622-3315. 9AM–5PM, Closed Sundays. An 11-feet tall, 670-pound handmade attraction at the Broom and Basket Shop.
- Amana Colonies Recreational Trail (Kolonieweg). Trail for bicycling and walking, mostly paved, with some gravel. Bike or walk 3.1 miles (5 km) between the old Amana Depot in Main Amana and the trail's official end in Middle Amana. Stop for a picnic at Lily Lake on your way.
Main Amana, in particular, is home to many tourist-friendly shops selling art, antiques, clothing, and gifts.
- Amana Woolen Mill, 800 48th Avenue, toll-free: +1-800-222-6430, e-mail: email@example.com. Founded in 1857, it is the only woolen mill still operating in Iowa.
- Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse, 4513 F Street (North end of Main Amana), toll-free: +1-800-373-6328. Ham, bacon, pork chops, other meats and cheeses. Good source of food for a picnic.
One of the main attractions of the Amana Colonies are its restaurants, which usually feature old German recipes and family-style service. Several of these well-known restaurants are housed in former communal dining houses from the earlier period. Many attract bus tours from considerable distances for a meal in the Amana Colonies.
- Ox Yoke Inn, 4420 220th Trail (in the middle of Main Amana), ☎ +1 319 622-3441, toll-free: +1-800-233-3441, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A large restaurant that serves mostly German-style food with old-fashioned decor.
- Colony Inn Restaurant (formerly The Amana Hotel), 741 47th Avenue, ☎ +1 319 622-3030. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Ronneburg Restaurant, 4408 220th Trail, toll-free: +1-888-348-4686, e-mail: email@example.com. Closes early, at 7PM or 8PM depending on the day of the week.
Although many restaurants offer beer and wine, there are few bars, no clubs, and little nightlife. However, there are several wineries and craft breweries.
- Millstream Brewing Company, 835 48th Avenue in Main Amana, ☎ +1 319 622-3672. Hours vary each month. Iowa's oldest microbrewery.
- Heritage Wine, Cheese and Jelly Haus (Ackerman Winery), 4402 220th Trail, ☎ +1 319 622-3564. 10AM–5PM or later, depending on season. Mostly known for their fruit wines. Compare their popular, sweet Crimson Cranberry to the others, or pick up some wine, cheese, and crackers to make a picnic.
- Village Winery, 752 48th Avenue, toll-free: +1-800-731-7142. Free thimble-sized samples of 15 different fruit or berry wines. Also a gift shop.
If you want to stay in the Amanas, there are many small bed and breakfasts available. Larger hotels are available in nearby cities such as Williamsburg and Cedar Rapids.
- Zuber's Homestead Hotel (Iowa Prairie Hotel), 2206 44th Avenue, Homestead, IA 52236, ☎ +1 319 622-3911, toll-free: +1-888-623-3911. Check-in: 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.. A total of 15 rooms. Hot buffet breakfast.
- Amana Colonies RV Park and Event Center, 3890 C Street, Amana, IA 52203 (Half a mile northwest of main Amana. Take Highway 151 to C Street.), ☎ +1 319 622-7630, toll-free: +1-800-471-7616. Open mid-April through the end of October. Full-service RV park plus tent campgrounds US $20/night for tent sites, $34 for full-service RV sites..
- Guest House Motel, 4712 220th Trail, Amana, IA 52203, ☎ +1 319 622-3599, e-mail: Guesthousemotel@mediacombb.net.
|Routes through Amana Colonies|
|Des Moines ← Grinnell ←||W E||→ Iowa City → Davenport|
|Ends at W E ←||SW NE||→ Cedar Rapids → Dubuque|