Amana is located west of Iowa City and celebrates many German-type festivals throughout the year. The Amana Colonies are a unique group of 7 villages founded by Germans who settled the area. Until almost the middle of the 20th century, these groups of people worked totally together. In turn they provided a lifestyle that was simple, well-done and made a base for this community today.

The old buildings now house shops, the same restaurants, meat shops, wineries and bakeries. Bring your camera and a small bag for special souvenirs.

The eastern Iowa Alpensterne Band plays a variety of German songs each day. Attend the Oktoberfest parade on Saturday morning and you’ll find local school kids, business people and traveling groups all in the dress of early Bavarian clothing.

Many options for micro-brew made available by Millstream Brewing Company are waiting just for your taste-buds. Taste and purchase gifts for family and friends.

Local artists have lively paintings of life in the Midwest available for purchase. Be sure to take time to visit with artists directly to appreciate German artistic history. No, they are not Amish and they will be glad to share the differences. All of the crafters have a special home-made craftsmanship commitment to doing their best.

Allow time to eat at Oktoberfest – try the Ox Yoke or Colony Inn. Great old-fashioned and family style German type food truly fills you to the brim.

The Amana Meat Shop and Smoke House makes a variety of meats prepared with traditional German techniques to help you enjoy old-time flavor of Germany.

One of my favorite shops – and hopefully soon to be yours – is Lehm’s Books and Gifts.

Lehm’s is located, like most shops, in a brick building surrounded by beautiful German-type flowers. You will find it at the eastern edge of the restaurant street.

It won’t take long and you will be lost in the vast assortment of books, music boxes, as much John Deere tractor stuff as any man or boy would love to touch and have. The proprietor and her staff are very friendly and helpful and will quickly have you nose-deep in whatever most interests you. The scrap-booking area is any “scrappers” delight.

The villages are beautiful this time of year.

A fall drive along the Iowa River and maybe another stop or two will fill your whole day. And everyone in your family should be able to find something they treasure.

An ice-cream cone anyone while you dance the polka and listen to the omp-pah pah band?