Discovering, Iowa

Things to Do in Amana Colonies: 2-Day Itinerary


Head to Amana Colonies in eastern Iowa for a fascinating step back into history.  We’ll show you how to enjoy a perfect 2-Day Getaway with things to do in Amana Colonies.

Relax and unwind in the German-themed villages of the Amana Colonies. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and today hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Visit the Seven Villages and see how the Amana Colonies represent an American dream come true. Enjoy German influence with every turn while you shop for quality goods, visit wineries, and a brewery, and dine family-style at any of the Amana Colonies restaurants. But first, let’s cover how the colonies formed and then get into things to do in Amana Colonies.

Disclosure: Amana Colonies Visitors Center hosted our guided tour and lodging. Opinions are our own.

This article contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission at no cost If you use any of our links. We appreciate the support that you give our website. – Kelly & Dusty

things to do in amana colonies

Where are the Amana Colonies?

The historic Amana Colonies are located in the Iowa River Valley of East Iowa, 20 miles south of Cedar Rapids, IA. The Amana Colonies in Eastern Iowa are comprised of seven scenic villages. The villages are spread out in a 17-mile loop and include Amana, East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, West Amana, and Homestead.

What are the Amana Colonies

Fleeing religious persecution and economic depression in their homeland of Germany, 1,200 Germans eventually settled in eastern Iowa in 1855.

They formed seven villages that made up the Amana Colonies. Each member worked cooperatively, contributing to their villages. Though everyone had a job, nobody earned a wage, as they didn’t need money in this communal way of life.

What Religion Are The Amana Colonies?

This group of people that broke from the Lutheran Church of Germany became known as the “Community of True Inspiration”. They broke away from their church because they were being persecuted for their beliefs. They first arrived in Buffalo New York but overcrowded farming led them to find 26,000 acres in Iowa where they settled in 1855.

Are the Amana Colonies Amish?

No! The group is not and never has been Amish. The Germans have fully adapted technology and they also produce and embrace alcohol. This group of Germans who settled the Amana Colonies only exists in Amana Iowa.

What was life like as a resident in Amana Colonies?

Residents worked and received a home, medical care, meals, and household necessities. The children received schooling. Property and resources were shared. The village council brethren assigned the jobs.

Each village had a church and members were required to attend 11 church services per week. Children attended school 6 days per week until the age of 14. Boys would be assigned jobs on the farm or in the craft shops and girls assigned to one of 50 communal kitchens or gardens.

These communal kitchens provided three meals per day as well as morning and afternoon snacks to each of the Colonists. The Communal Kitchen & Cooper Shop shown below is the only communal kitchen left today.

The villages also had breweries, wineries, a village smokehouse, a bakery, an ice house, a dairy, and huge gardens, all maintained by the villagers. Clock and furniture making allowed the craftsmen to take pride in not only the craftsmanship but also served as a testament to their faith and community spirit.

Things to do in Amana Colonies: a 2-Day Itinerary

Day 1- Things to do in Amana Colonies

Stop at the Amana Colonies Visitor Center

things to do in amana colonies

We recommend stopping at Amana Colonies Visitor Center. You can pick up literature and marketing materials for things to do in Amana Colonies and greater Iowa. The Amana Colonies Visitor Center is staffed with people who can answer any question you might have about your visit to Amana Colonies.

Amana Colonies Visitor Center is the meeting place for the Amana Colonies Guided Tour.

Take a Guided Tour of the Amana Colonies

Village Voyage Van Tour provides a guided tour of the Amana Colonies which gives great insight into the history of the Amana Colonies. These tours are led by locals! Hop on an air-conditioned bus and tour several of the villages where tour guides will provide more related history.

We gave a brief explanation above of the Amana Colonies but the tour shows you and goes more in-depth- it’s fascinating. Many visitors think that visiting the shops and restaurants is everything to see, but it’s not the case! The tour is a great way to learn more and find additional things to do in Amana Colonies.

The first stop is at the Amana Heritage Society Museum where we watched a short 20-minute video summarizing the history. They also have a small gift shop where you can purchase books to learn more about life at Amana Colonies and buy locally made goods.

Our tour stops included a Communal Kitchen & Cooper Shop, Homestead Church, and High Amana General Store. Each tour stop includes knowledgeable staff, often children or grandchildren of the original colony members. They love to answer any questions you might have.

things to do in amana colonies

Village Voyage Van Tour Information:

Plan on 2.5 hours for the guided tour. Click for more information. Tours run from May- October at 10 am and 2 pm on weekdays and Saturdays at 10 am.

Pro Tip- Make sure to stop at Amana Heritage Society Museum even if you don’t take a tour to learn Amana Colony history. The gal working the day of our visit is the daughter of an original colony member.

Pro Tip- When tours are not running take a self-guided walking or driving tour to learn more about fun things to do in Amana Colonies. Stop by the Visitors Center for maps and click to download the Amana Colonies App.

Check Into the Village Guest Suite

We spent the night at Village Guest Suite located on the “back street”, just behind the main road that takes you through Main Amana.

village guest suites amana colonies

Village Guest Suite is a historic building from 1856 that once served as a communal residence and a Zimmershop (carpenter shop).

Our room was the entire upstairs and was a very homey stay. Equipped with a full kitchen, living room, and bedroom, our accommodations were perfectly comfortable. We let the owners, Virginia and Alan, know that was the most comfortable night of sleep and they replied that they hear over and over from guests how comfortable the beds are.

P.S. Loved that they had a floor fan option in the bedroom in addition to a ceiling fan! You don’t get that in a hotel.

Our stay was very clean and comfortable. With a location on the back side of the main street through Amana, you can easily stay parked and walk to the shops and restaurants and all the things to do in Amana Colonies. As a matter of fact, you can see the Village Guest Suites from their antique store, Village Antiques & More.

Shopping at Amana Colonies

Shopping is one of the favorite things to do in Amana Colonies. Peruse and purchase handcrafted goods and antiques.

Visitors will find many handcrafted, quality goods such as candles, stained glass, woven rugs, framed artwork, quilts, and needlework are some of the handcrafted goods that can be found at any of the unique shops.

Knitting and quilting were big during Amana’s Communal Era. Those hobbies and skills are kept alive in world-class needlework and quilting shops at Amana Colonies.

Pictured below (left) are Warped & Woven Mill Mercantile. This is the retail store for Amana Woolen Mills that operates in the Millwright Hotel. Absolutely gorgeous pieces are available for purchase. Pictured below (right) is the inside of Amana Furniture Store- all of the furniture is made on-site and is available for purchase.

Have a German Beer & Dinner at Millstream Brau Haus

German Beer?! During the Communal Society, 5 breweries were established to serve all the colony members. Today, one stands. Iowa’s oldest operational brewery is Millstream Brewing Company at Amana Colonies. There are two locations of Millstream Brewing. We stopped at Millstream Brau Haus, a German-Style Bierhalle & Restaurant that serves German-inspired food.

Kelly went for the flight of beer and Dusty went for the highly recommended Pants Off Dance Off, a pistachio cream ale. It was excellent. Though they were currently out of the hefeweizen, a style of beer that Kelly’s sister turned us on to after work trips to Germany, Kelly enjoyed the flight with the Twigs & Berries (Blueberry Kolsch) and Pants Off Dance Off being the two favorites.

The Food: We noticed the veggie patty on the menu and verified with our waitress that the veggie patty did not contain eggs. We chose the toasted pretzel bun option. It was very good.

Does The Amana Colonies have vegan Food?

Being plant-based /vegan in Amana Colonies does present a bit of a challenge. We’re pleased to report it IS possible to eat vegan at Amana Colonies!

We originally planned to have dinner at Ronnburg Restaurant. Their menu advertises a vegetarian bean patty with barley, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers. Unfortunately, we spent too long exploring Amana Colonies that we would not have made it in time, as Ronnburg closed at 7 pm the night we were there. This gives us a reason to go back!

We also brought home a bag of soup from Village Antiques & More because Virginia, the owner of the Village Guest Suites said she carries a vegan soup. We picked up some local syrup from her shop as well.

Non-Vegans will absolutely love all of the authentic German food that is offered in the restaurants.

Walk or Drive Golden Hour in Amana

With shops and wineries closing at 5 pm, we were done by dinner at about 6:45. If you’re not ready to turn in quite yet, we recommend a walk or drive during golden hour to take in more of the quaint sites of Amana Colonies. There’s hardly any traffic and you feel like you have it all to yourself!

Day 2- Things to do in Amana Colonies

Get up early to take in the sites and adorable, well-kept historical buildings of Amana. The shops don’t open until 10 am so it’s the perfect time to explore before the Amana comes alive!

Continue Shopping at Amana Colonies

There are so many shops to peruse – take this time to fit in any stops you want to make before heading out of town.

things to do in amana colonies

The flower selection at Blumen Haus is amazing and this is just the cutest flower shop we’ve ever seen.

Lunch at Ox Yoke Inn

When we spotted the vegan burger option on the menu at Ox Yoke Inn and knew we’d be stopping for that! This is just the cutest German Family-style restaurant that dates back to 1940. It is obviously quite popular as it was filling up as soon as we arrived. We also ordered a side of pickled beets as well as a cranberry & pecan salad (hold the feta cheese to make it vegan). Our burgers were served with a side of homemade Ox Yoke Potato chips and they were so good.

Sip on Wine at any of the Amana Colonies Wineries

In addition to brewing beer, the Germans that settled Amana Colonies also made wine. Today, Amana Colonies are home to four wineries: Ackerman Winery, Fireside Winery, Village Winery, and White Cross Cellars. Since the hours of Amana shops are from 10-5, it’s only fitting that the wineries open at 11 am.

Take a Tour of Hotel Millwright

Hotel Millwright is a stunning and unexpected boutique hotel located in the central village of Amana. The history of the Mill at Amana Colonies dates back to 1855 which included making textiles to sell across the country. They soon gained a reputation for superior woolen products that stands today.

Changes in the textile industry brought change and empty buildings to the mill. The Amana Society sought help with how best to repurpose the building. A boutique hotel utilizes the space right alongside the working mill and equipment that operates today to produce woolen products. This is truly one of a kind.

Even more impressive is the outcome is a sustainable hotel right in Amana Colonies! They have 100% green energy provided by the Amana Fams methane digester and permeable paver streetscapes create stormwater runoff filtration. Impressive!

Even if you aren’t staying at Hotel Millwright, take a look around. They have a restaurant on-site, The Indigo Room, and you can enjoy a cocktail at the Electric Thread Social Club. Don’t leave town without checking out Hotel Millwright!

Stop and Smell The Flowers

You will truly find yourself slowing down to relax and enjoy yourself with all the things to do in Amana Colonies. Take time to stop and smell the flowers- you’ll notice them everywhere!

Is It Worth Visiting the Amana Colonies?

Yes! If you are looking for things to do in eastern Iowa a visit to the Amana Colonies is for all ages and interests to enjoy. The history is fascinating. Shopping is great in Amana colonies with everything from antiques to hand-crafted furniture, wool blankets, syrups

Amana Colonies Hours

An important detail to note is the hours of operation for shops in the Amana Colonies. Shops and wineries close at 5 pm, so plan your trip accordingly!  Restaurants located in Amana close at 8 pm with the exception of Indigo Room which closes at 9 pm. This is actually kind of nice because it makes you slow down and enjoy a nice, quiet evening at one of the local hotels or B & B.

Best Time to Visit Amana Colonies

A variety of German festivals take place in Amana Colonies year-round. Germans like a good party or celebration and Amana Colonies hosts many festivals throughout the year. Any time of year is considered the best time to visit Amana Colonies.

Some of the annual festivals include Winterfest in January. Celebrate spring in early May with Maifest, and attend the Wurst Festival to celebrate the German tradition of making sausages. Polka with friends or strangers at Oktoberfest while you enjoy German beer and brats. Kick off the Christmas season as you travel through the Tannenbaum Forest which has over 60 uniquely decorated Christmas Trees topped off by a visit with Santa. Get in the Christmas spirit with Prelude to Christmas.

If you enjoyed this itinerary of things to do in Amana Colonies, IA, you may want to check out a tour of the Historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA

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This article contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission at no cost If you use any of our links. We appreciate the support that you give our website. – Kelly & Dusty


  1. Tour the Historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake Iowa

    June 4, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    […] Traveling through Iowa? Take a tour of the historic Amana Colonies! […]

  2. Hege

    June 2, 2023 at 8:33 pm

    Four wineries! That alone is a great reason to visit, also being a history nerd – Amana Colonies seems like a super interesting destination! Pinned 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      July 13, 2023 at 12:06 pm

      Four wineries is definitely reason to visit! You would love the history of the area. It’s fascinating.

  3. Brittany

    June 1, 2023 at 10:46 am

    I have never even heard of the Amana Colonies before, and I have family that doesn’t live too far away! I would love to visit. Thanks for putting this spot on my radar!

  4. lisa

    June 1, 2023 at 1:21 am

    Interesting read – I’ve never heard of Amana Colonies before. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Elyse

    May 31, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    Visiting Amana Colonies would be such an interesting trip! Good to hear they have Vegan options available too. Thanks so much for sharing

  6. Sharyn

    May 31, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    Two of my favourite things – shopping and a beer with good food! I’m there.

    1. Kelly & Dusty Ratcliff

      May 31, 2023 at 5:06 pm

      Sharyn- you sound like our kind of people! Thanks for stopping by.

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