15 Best Things to Do in Amana, IA

Amana, IA
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If you're looking for an authentic German ambiance in Iowa, head to the city of Amana.

German settlers established the city, which their descendants preserved for many generations.

Imagine the delight of experiencing unique German culture without leaving the US.

Many reasons to visit the Amana Colonies include its unique and scenic seven villages, delicious beers, excellent wines, art, handcrafted products, and quaint shops lining the streets.

Thanks to its architecture and numerous festivals every season, you'll love the ambiance.

You should see the seven villages of the Amana Colonies, founded in 1855 by the German immigrants, now collectively named a National Historic Landmark.

Of course, stop first at the Amana Heritage Museum to learn about the beautiful history of the area.

Once you understand its past, it’s easier to understand and appreciate its future.

Spend a few days here to experience the beauty of the Amana Colonies fully.

Here are the best things to do in the Amana Colonies, IA:

Explore the Seven Villages of the Amana Colonies

Welcome sign of Amana Colonies
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Discover the seven villages of the Amanda Colonies, namely Amana, West Amana, South Amana, Middle Amana, High Amana, East Amana, and Homestead.

The German pietists, who suffered persecution from the Lutheran Church and the German government, built the villages.

Though they first settled in New York in the town of West Seneca, they sought quieter and more peaceful surroundings and found Iowa, where they lived a communal life from 1856 to 1932.

Houses along Amana Colonies
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The seven villages have been declared a National Historic Landmark, showcasing community spirit and religious faith.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors visit with the desire to experience the past, the beautiful German culture, and the people's hospitality.

You’ll love the streets dotted with historic brick, clapboard, and stone homes.

Accentuated with vegetable and flower gardens, this vibrant community is a sight to behold.

Exterior of a historic home at Amana Colonies
Amdizdarevic / Shutterstock.com

Taste Excellent Wines at the Ackerman Winery

The Ackerman Winery has produced wines in the Amana Colonies since 1956.

You’re talking about handcrafted fruit wines featuring some of the world’s most exotic varieties, including Rhubarb, Dandelion, and Mango.

You shouldn't miss their popular Red Raspberry, Blackberry, and the Lover’s Wine, the unique combination of plums and cranberries.

As the oldest operating winery in all of Iowa, many Ackerman wines are entered into international wine competitions annually, receiving distinctions and top honors for the winery’s fruit wines.

See the Beautiful History of the Amana Colonies at the Amana Heritage Society

Exterior of Amana Heritage Society
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The Amana Heritage Society maintains a group of museums on arts and culture to preserve the history of the Amana Colonies for the next generations.

Come to the Amana Heritage Society and admire its displays of artifacts and photos that reflect the history of the Amana Colonies.

The museum sits on spacious grounds, inside three 19th-century buildings.

Explore the Noe House, which was first a communal kitchen and then used as a doctor’s residence.

Built in 1870, the Schoolhouse screens an audio-visual presentation of the history of Amana.

The third is the original washhouse/woodshed, which houses the gardening and winemaking displays.

Other sites include a communal kitchen, a blacksmith shop, a church museum,  a working General Store, and a research library.

Visit the Communal Kitchen and Museum and Cooper Shop

Known as the “Rüdy Küche” (Ruedy Kitchen), this kitchen built in 1863 is Amana's only intact communal kitchen.

It’s interesting that families didn’t cook for themselves during their era but ate in one village kitchen.

Each of the kitchens served around 40-50 people, and one of these was the Ruedy Kitchen.

Today, you can visit and see a dry sink with tubs, a large brick hearth, and the original implements used to serve meals.

For years, the staff and volunteers have worked hard to catalog artifacts, clean the area, and prepare the space for exhibits.

Meanwhile, the Cooper Shop features exhibits of tools and products from the barrel maker's trade, built in 1863.

Check Out New Wines at the White Cross Cellars

The founders of White Cross have one thing in mind: change the way visitors think about the wines of the Amana Colonies.

They took a detour from the usual fruit wines in the area and focused more on classic grapes and midwestern varieties created in the Californian, German, and French styles.

The grapes are grown in their vineyard, located some 20 miles from the winery.

White Cross Cellars is proud of its handcrafted wines, designed to meet specific palettes, employing its winemaker to achieve that particular style.

They have whites such as Chateau Blanc, Ebenezer Lieblich, Fleur de Lis, Mittler Kabinette, and Oktoberfest.

You can enjoy their Knight’s Red, Monk’s Red, Stormy Night, and Sweet Carol Wine for their reds.

Try Your Swing at the Amana Colonies Golf Club

Practice your swing at the Amana Colonies Golf Club.

This golf club is not your average golf club because it has consistently received top honors from Golf Magazine and the Golf Digest as one of the top public courses in the state.

Thanks to its dramatic elevation changes, dense forests, and striking rolling hills, every hole on the course offer fantastic views.

The Amana Colonies Golf Club is unique because it tries to preserve the land's natural features while making this 18-hole championship golf course stately.

The ponds and streams make the surroundings unique and the games more exciting, complementing the landscape.

Whether you are a pro or a newbie, you are guaranteed a great game.

Count yourself among those who have described the place as charming, breathtaking, and beautiful.

Experience a Different Museum at the South Amana Barn Museum

You may have already gone to different museums, but you should not miss visiting the South Amana Barn Museum.

This museum contains the largest-known collection of miniature replicas built solely by Henry Moore.

These miniatures come in scales of an inch to a foot, with 200 models.

Likewise, these miniatures reflect America's rural history.

Marvel at each building that has taken about six months to fully and completely reflect the original structure’s past or present.

The museum used real cedar for the shingles and the siding, matching the exact measurements and proportions.

You can see curtains in the house, the forge in the blacksmith, and mangers, pens, and stanchions for the barns in great detail!

Get Your Wool Bits and Things at the Amana Woolen Mill

The exterior of Amana Woolen Mill
Hank Shiffman / Shutterstock.com

If you’re into woolen things like blankets and throws, you should visit the Amana Woolen Mill.

It is the only remaining woolen mill in Iowa, which has woven woolens since 1857.

It was a crucial mill during the communal era, as it helped the community survive by selling textiles throughout the country.

You can do a self-guided historical tour and see how they produce quality American-made blankets.

Visit the salesroom to find Amana woolen blankets and cotton ones in various sizes.

You can also find specialty Civil War replica blankets, in addition to men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and gifts.

Taste Wines to Your Heart’s Content at the Village Winery

The Village Winery produces fruit and berry wines.

It has more than a dozen types of wines, including raspberry, cranberry, blackberry, and Dandelion and Rhubarb wines.

You can receive a free sample when you stop by the Village Winery.

Don’t forget to visit their gift shop, which features many different collectibles and handmade items from local crafters.

Do you like primitive pillows with cute quotes?

You can find those here and more at the Village Winery.

Visit the Fireside Winery in the Village

The Fireside Winery in the Village is the sister company of the Ackerman Winery.

It is next door to the Ackerman Winery on Amana’s main street.

However, instead of selling or serving wines, they offer gourmet food, including a wide variety of cheeses and cured meats.

You’ll fall for their preserves, pickled vegetables, and charcuterie essentials.

And if you want to indulge in a seated wine sampling session, you can certainly do so.

The Fireside Winery offers these sampling sessions in the Village every day.

Visit the Amana General Store

Exterior of Amana General Store
Chanilim714, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every tourist who comes to the Amana Colonies has to stop by the Amana General Store.

Erected in 1858, the building had two floors.

Its first was the general store, while the second floor was the proprietor's residence.

T0day, this place is a prominent landmark in the Amana village.

On the first level, you can find the Amana Coffee & Tea Company, offering a unique line of coffee flavors using only the finest ingredients.

Think spicy cinnamon, rich chocolate, smooth vanilla, and zesty oranges to put in your coffee.

Try their bestseller, the Snickerdoodle, a delicious blend of hazelnut and cinnamon.

Then, you can enter the Christmas Room, where you can find tons of Christmas collectibles and holiday trims and ornaments.

You’ll want to bring your checkbook here because you'll leave here with something.

Get All the Sausages You Want at the Amana Colonies’ Wurst Festival

One of the celebrations and festivals that the Amana Colonies is known for is the Wurst Festival, voted as the Best New Festival in Iowa.

What is German culture for without the sausage-making tradition?

All the wurst makers throughout the state come together to prepare the best sausages.

You'll sample their small-batch sausages during the festival and cast your vote for your favorite.

Naturally, tons of drinks will complement your food, such as locally made beers, wines, and sodas.

You can also listen to live music and watch the annual Dachshund Derby.

Check Out the International Christmas Market

How do different nations around the world celebrate Christmas?

Find the answer at the International Christmas Market, inside the Amana General Store.

You’ll find a world of color, lights, and sparkles in a year-round holiday wonderland, from ornaments and tree displays to beautiful home decors.

If you want handcrafted items, browse the International Christmas Market.

Explore this market to feel Christmas in July.

Join the Winterfest

Celebrated in late January, the Winterfest features outdoor and indoor activities on a Saturday.

This annual festival lets you have fun and games in the snow, including Ham Put, Beard contest, or eating delicious open-fire chili.

Have you ever tried the Wine and Beer Walk?

It’s the best way to try all of Amana’s local beverages.

You’ll never run out of activities to do at the Winterfest.

Join the Fun at the Amana Colonies Oktoberfest

Enjoy live music, beer, German food, games, and more at the Oktoberfest!

They feature different games and bands each year, but the fun remains the same.

Imagine what happens within three days of great food, music, and beer.

Plus, there’s also the annual brat-eating competition.

You know what happens at Oktoberfest.

Final Thoughts

The Amana Colonies offer incredible experiences for the entire family.

It lets you have a slice of Germany without leaving the country, an affordable alternative to a German vacation.

Bring the whole family and experience German culture in America.

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