Nestled into the heart of Eastern Iowa lies the Amana Colonies. Amana is comprised of seven German colonies settled in 1856 and, most famously, is home to the Amana appliance factory. However, what most may not know is that Amana is a large tourist destination, offering guests a chance to step back in time and explore cobblestone streets and brick buildings built over 100 years ago.
As you explore the colonies, you’ll discover authentic German cuisine, hand-crafted solid wood furniture, local art, wine, beer, and much more.
While there are events and special happenings all year round, Christmas is a special time in Amana. Evergreens are decorated throughout the colonies and each business decorates both outside and inside their shop.
I grew up outside of Amana and even had my first job 18 years ago at the Ox Yoke Inn, a family-style German restaurant. I never fully appreciated how unique the colonies are because they were just a part of my life. Returning all of these years later gave me a new look and appreciation for the history of the area and the heart and soul that is put into the handcrafted items in the shops there.
The Millstream Brewing Company is a must-see when you are in Amana. It’s Iowa’s oldest and most award winning brewery. You can sample their variety of beers and root beer or order a full pint and pull up a chair in their bar seating area. They also have off-sale available for purchase, a variety of fun t-shirts, magnets, glasses, and more. The brewery and bottling area are seen through a window off the shop so when beer is in production you have a front-row seat to the action.
Make sure to also stop into the Ackerman winery. They have a variety of locally made wines including rhubarb, dandelion, and mango that you can sample. Their shop also offers a variety of different gift items, cheeses, spreads, jams and jellies, etc. Everyone who works there is exceptionally friendly and helpful.
The Amana furniture store is another great stop. The craftsmanship and skill is evident in every piece on their showroom floor.
I never leave Amana without stopping in the Meat Shop and Smokehouse. They have the world’s best jerky. Once you experience Amana jerky, nothing will ever compare. The perfect smokey flavor coupled with a spot-on ratio of meat to fat will leave you wanting more. You’ll also want to pick up fresh cheese curds and string cheese here. You’ll find samples throughout the store of a variety of different jellies, jams, cheeses, mustard, and other offerings. I guarantee you won’t leave empty handed.
When you visit the Amana colonies, you take a step back in time and have the opportunity to connect with German heritage. It’s such a neat place and is definitely worth exploring. You may leave saying – Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.