Over Labor Day weekend, the hubby and I took off for our annual camping trip…alone…without kids…or a dog! Just a weekend of him and me!  I love our weekends away!  I also love our boys, so don’t read something into that that isn’t, but if you’re a married couple with kids, you’ll get me!  It’s a time where you can just focus on each other without any distractions!

One of the amazing light shows of the skies at our campground!
One of the amazing light shows of the skies at our campground!

Where We Stayed

Since we were camping, we chose the Amana RV Park & Event Center in Amana, Iowa!  Amana is the largest colony of the Amana Colonies and where most of the action is, so it’s the perfect location to stay!  We had made our reservations online previously, which was super easy!  Check in was easy and smooth.  The employees provided us with tourist guides and coupon books, which is a great perk! It’s easy to find your camping spot as there are members of the staff that lead you directly there.  The staff will also help you get lined up correctly on our pad!  What we didn’t know prior to arriving was that there was also an AKC Dog Show going on at the exact same time and there were 1500 dogs on the grounds!  Thank goodness we had decided to leave Nike at home with my mom!  Because of their facilities, they are able to host events like this along with family reunions, etc!

Exploring the Amana Colonies

This was T’s first trip to the Amana Colonies, but I’ve been visiting with my family as long as I can remember.  Our first stop was in West Amana where we checked out the Broom & Basket Shop complete with Iowa’s Largest Walnut Rocking Chair!  It was fun to look over all the knick knacks that have been hand made!  This is a great stop for those that like hand-made items, etc.

Me in Iowa's Largest Walnut Rocking Chair
Me in Iowa’s Largest Walnut Rocking Chair

Middle Amana was our next stop to check out the Communal Kitchen.  We had prepared our stops by using the Tourism guide that the campground had provided the night before.  The guide is super helpful, especially if you’ve usually just visited the Amana’s to eat (like me)!  We were disappointed when we got their to find out that we needed tickets to get into these historical places and those needed to be purchased back in Amana.  We really didn’t feel like driving back and forth so we opted out.  This would have been helpful information to have in the tourism guide! 😉

Browsing the shops in Amana is probably my favorite activity in the Amana’s.  My favorite stops are the General Store, the Meat Shop, and Bakery.  Other shops of interest are the leather shop, Furniture Shop, Woolen Mill, Millstream Brewing Company!   At Millstream, you can partake in smapling their brews and even decide to take a growler of your favorite home!  Traditionally, I enjoy wine tasting at one of their many wineries!

Where to Eat!

Lunch of course, can only be had at the Ox Yoke Inn!!  Other than a deli sandwich from the Bakery, I’ve never eaten anywhere else in the Amana Colonies!  It is my #1 recommendation of places to eat in the Amana Colonies!

The best thing about the Ox Yoke is how good everything tastes of course, but the vintage German decor, and great service doesn’t hurt either.  I always order the same thing and have for years, Chicken Schnitzel , which is a flattened chicken breast dredged in cracker meal and sauteed quickly (according to the website).  T ordered the Traditional Chicken.  The menu says this is “two or four pieces lightly coated with our own seasoned breading.  Deep fried in a special blend of refined soybean oil for full flavor and moistness”.  The best way to order at the Ox Yoke Inn is style!  This means you are served several sides that everyone shares!

The waitress will quickly bring your cold “salads” which consist of coleslaw and cottage cheese.  The coleslaw I love because the cabbage is chopped instead of shredded and the dressing is flavorful without being overbearing.  The cottage cheese (T’s favorite) also has fresh chives cut into it and gives it a real fresh taste!

The Chicken Schnitzel is always served with Spatzle noodles, my favorite  Hot side dishes include: mashed potatoes (real and with the red skins on), brown gravy (which to me taste like a liquid roast beef), sauerkraut, and corn.  I guarantee you will need to have your mashed potatoes and gravy refilled!  If you’re a sauerkraut love, you’ll love this mild version!   I can eat the entire bowl of sauerkraut by myself.  Don’t forget the fresh bread and homemade strawberry preserves, which are like none other!  Of course, you’ll be stuffed to the gills, but happy!  We strolled through the streets a bit longer before heading back to the campground for an afternoon nap!

 

My Chicken Schnitzel & Spatzel!
My Chicken Schnitzel & Spatzel!

Wine, Cheese, & Baked Goods

If you’re visiting with a girlfriend or wine lover (T is not), I highly recommend visiting one of their wineries.  I usually manage to come away with a few bottles.  Some of my favorites are from Ackerman Winery including the Autumn Blend, Lover’s Wine, & Rhubarb Wine.  I also like to pick up some smoked cheddar cheese and my favorite, Onion Cheese!!

Of course, any visit to the Amana Colonies is not complete without a trip to the Bakery!  We decided to just try a few things instead of bringing home lots.  T likes the Fudge Brownie, Pumpkin Bar with Cream Cheese Frosting, & The Giant Cinnamon Roll!  I go for the Cream Cheese Pocket (ok, I actually bought  2 of them and they weren’t new to me, but they are my favorite), Apple Dumpling, & the Caramel Nut Roll.  It was all great!  The Pumpkin Bar is T’s favorite, while the Cream Cheese Pockets is always mine!  Finally, don’t forget to stop by the Meat Shop while you’re there!  We often select a jar of the Amana Colonies Sauerkraut, some smoked chops, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, & Natural Casing Wieners!  All so yummy!

My favorite item from the Amana Bakery, the Cream Cheese Pocket!
My favorite item from the Amana Bakery, the Cream Cheese Pocket!

Overall, the Amana Colonies is a great weekend getaway and I highly recommend it to all couples.  If you don’t camp, there are several surrounding towns that have hotels and there are lots of quaint bed & breakfasts in the colonies themselves!  Check it out, you won’t be sorry!

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