Suggestions for Touring the Amanas
The Amana Colonies offer something for every visitor including lovely rural scenery, quaint villages, unusual architecture, museum exhibits, artisan demonstrations, nature trails, extensive shopping, golf, and unique German-American dining. A complete guide to all of these features including van, walking, and wine tours is found at the official Amana Colonies web site www.amanacolonies.com. Additional information can also be found at www.amanavillages.com. Bábi's Bed and Breakfast provides an ideal location to explore all seven villages. We are located on the south side of a 17-mile loop through the villages called the Amana Colonies Trail.
Settled in the 1850s by a German religious group, the Community of True Inspiration, the Amana villages were built one-to-three miles apart. Each village had a church, general store, farm buildings, multi-family residences, workshops and communal kitchens. The communal system continued until 1932. Today, the original communal buildings in each village contain private residences, museums, art galleries, artisan workshops, restaurants, B&Bs, antique shops and a variety of other businesses.
· South Amana is almost entirely brick buildings and is famous for its wonderful flower gardens. Here too is an agricultural museum and a museum of miniature buildings depicting Amana's and Iowa's rural past. The Schanz furniture shop, located across the road from Bábi's, carries on the Amana tradition of fine handcrafted furniture. Fern Hill offers antiques, architectural salvage, quilts, and many more items while nearby third-generation weaver George Berger produces traditional Amana rugs. The U.S. Post Office here occupies one of the many historic buildings.
· Upper South Amana contains a small number of traditional homes.
· West Amana buildings are primarily made of sandstone. While much of the village is still residential, a stop at the old West Amana church will find Michele Maring Miller producing watercolor images of Amanas. Near the church/gallery are a blacksmith shop, and a tractor and farm equipment museum. Down the hill along the highway are a broom and basket shop, a basket museum, and the famous giant walnut rocker.
· High Amana also has many sandstone structures including the Amana Arts Guild (housed in an old church) where works by local artisans are displayed and sold. The High Amana General Store has changed little in 150 years and is both a museum and a shop. On the south side of town are a large farm complex and the offices of Amana Society Farms, Inc. which oversees the 25,000 acre crop, cattle and forestry business.
· Middle Amana contains brick and frame homes including bed and breakfasts and the only original open hearth bakery still in operation. A kitchen museum here depicts the large-scale cooking and dining operations typical of the communal period. Here also is the modern Amana Refrigeration plant (now a division of Whirlpool) and nearby the Amana Golf Course. Just east of Middle Amana is Lily Lake with its variety of wildlife and the famous water lilies which bloom each summer. Further down the road is the Old Creamery Theatre, one of Amana's professional theatre companies, offering lighthearted and serious dramatic works much of the year.
· Amana is the largest of the seven villages and its streets contain dozens of shops, galleries, wineries, several B&Bs, a motel, the Amana Woolen Mill, a micro-brewery, a professional theatre company and all of the German-American restaurants.
· East Amana is entirely residential but one of the most picturesque of the villages.
· Homestead was added to the Amana Colonies in 1861 to provide initial access to rail service for the colonies. There is a store and church museum here as well as an art gallery, bed and breakfasts, a hotel, winery, and organic grocery store.