Iowa weekend: communal Germans and their dandelion wine and freezers

Amana Colonies, northwest of Iowa City, is a great outing without seeming superficially olde tyme-y since it is an active community.

Founded in 1855 by German Pietists and living a communal life until the 1930s, they have also made their mark on business, the Amana Corporation manufacturing the first upright home freezer (1947) and side-by-side refrigerator/freezer (1949), now owned by Whirlpool. The history of the little-known community is a fascinating read.

Hearty German meals are served family-style at restaurants Ronneburg and Ox Yoke Inn. Local food products from cheese to honey are on offer at the shops, and a wide variety of unusual wines are free to sample, from dandelion to pomegranate. The only disappointment for film buff The Rapid Traveler is there is no elderberry wine. Wallet warning: there are many gift shops of knickknacks that irresistibly attract shoppers and children, including Twin Nieces of Rapid Traveler.

Iowa 045

Sure, pick the hardest thing to pack

Iowa 080

Home cookin’

Outside the main tourist cluster, the other quiet villages make a great circuit around languid Lily Pond.

Iowa 102

Lily Pond

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