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