Last Friday night, we traveled to a basketball game for our youngest son in a town about 45 minutes away. My sweet hubby suggested that we use the rest of the weekend to get away for a bit, and take a break from all that’s been going on in life lately. Since we’d already be almost halfway to The Amana Colonies of Iowa, we decided to just pack a bag, and head the rest of the way there after the game. We just needed to escape for a little while.
We stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton at the Iowa River Landing in Coralville. We arrived late after the basketball game and we hadn’t had any dinner, so we bought some popcorn from the little convenience area in the lobby, and settled in to bed to watch some TV. We brought our Amazon Fire Stick with us, and it plugged in easily behind the television, allowing us to pick right up with the next episode of the show we’re currently watching, which is Shameless. Anyone else? This show. Wow.
It was so nice to be able to just relax. It felt like forever ago that we had time to sit still and do “nothing”. I have been craving that lately…just time to be, and not to do.
The next morning, we slept in, which we also hadn’t done in ages. My always-sweet hubby brings me coffee almost every single morning while I shower, and it’s no different when we travel. He headed down to the lobby, and came back with coffee for us both. He’s a keeper. ❤️
After we were dressed, we went down for a bite to eat from the hotel’s free breakfast. It was okay. Probably better than most hotel free breakfasts, but we were planning lunch at the Amana Colonies, so we really just needed a little bit to tide us over, and a toasted bagel did the trick.
By then I needed some better coffee than free hotel coffee. Fortunately, right outside the doors to our hotel at the Iowa River Landing was a little coffee shop called High Ground. We popped in there to grab a couple of lattes before getting in the car to make our way toward the Amana Colonies.
Most of the shops in the Amana Colonies are in original buildings from the mid 1800s. Many of them used to be homes, but there were also shops and restaurants in what used to be the communal kitchens and other buildings that supported the communal lifestyle of the people in the colonies. I’m a history buff, so I really enjoyed reading about the history of each building we entered. It was like a double treat, because we got to browse the items in the shop, but also tour these 150+ years-old structures. So cool.
Antique shopping was our primary purpose for visiting the Amana Colonies, and there were numerous options to browse around in. We enjoyed spending most of the day strolling leisurely through the old stone buildings filled with multiple floors of vintage treasures.
Amana Woolen Mill
Our main goal of this trip was antique shopping, but there were so many other interesting places to see as well. We spent quite a bit of time in the Amana Woolen Mill, where they make and sell handcrafted wool and cotton items on vintage looms. There were so many beautiful, well-made items.
Surprisingly, the Amana Colonies also has several wineries. We enjoyed popping into several, learning about the local vineyards, and tasting quite a few delicious varieties. Coffee, antiques, and wine. My kinda weekend.
Ox Yoke Inn
We had lunch on our first day at the Ox Yoke Inn. I remember coming here as a child with my parents and grandmother, so I was excited to visit it again. They serve traditional German food, family style. I ordered the schnitzel with spaetzle. Mark had the bratwurst with sauerkraut. Our meal was served with family style sides for sharing, which included fresh baked bread with butter and strawberry jam, sauerkraut, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, brussels sprouts, and a cold broccoli salad.
It was far more food than we could eat, but it was fun to sample a few bites of all the offerings.
We don’t typically order dessert, but the waitress came around and said pie was on special that day….for 80 cents a slice! We were both pretty full, so we at first thought we’d share a slice, but when I asked my husband what kind he was considering, he said the banana cream pie…. uh, no. He said it was wonderful, but I’m just not a fan.
So, that “forced” me to select my own piece of pie. Rhubarb with a crumb topping. Not as good as my mama’s recipe, but still far better than banana cream, right? 😂
Millstream Brau Haus
By late afternoon, after more walking and shopping, we were ready for a break, so we stopped in Millstream Brau Haus for a beer.
This place used to be an inn, back in the Amana Colony days, and I loved how they used the doors to the rooms of the inn to build the bar. The original door knobs were still attached and are now used for hanging your coat or purse while at the bar. Really cool.
After our beer, we headed back to Coralville and our hotel. We dropped our stuff in our hotel room, and elected to walk right across the street from our hotel to a place my daughter and her husband (who is from Coralville) recommended– 30 Hop.
30 Hop in Iowa River Landing, Coralville
We had cocktails at the bar while we waited for a table. Once seated, we had an appetizer of some fabulous Brussels sprouts with candied almonds, sherry, parmesan cheese, dried nectarine pieces and sea salt. It was soooooo good. This scrumptious appetizer was pretty filling, so we shared a burger as our entree, which was also fabulous. Mike and Cassidy didn’t let us down with this recommendation.
After a long day shopping in the Amanas, then dinner and some cocktails, we were ready to head back to our hotel for some chill time. We ended the evening with Netflix and relaxation, which is just what we needed out of this weekend away.
Sunday morning we slept in, took our time showering, and packed up. We had hotel coffee and then real coffee from High Grounds again, and then set off to the Amana Colonies to visit a couple of last places that we didn’t have time for the day before.
Amana Furniture & Clock Shop
We didn’t make it here on Saturday before closing, so it was our first stop on Sunday morning. They sell beautiful handcrafted furniture that they make on site. I fell in love with this grandfather clock. If I had a place to put it in my home, I think I would have bought it.
My husband found this much smaller clock though, and it did make its way home with us.
He’s a graduate of the University of Iowa Pharmacy School, and this clock was made at the Amana Furniture & Clock shop using wood from the south bleachers that were taken out when the football stadium was renovated about 12 years ago. The bleachers date back to the 1920’s, and are the same ones that would have been there in the late 80s/early 90s when he was there, so it’s pretty cool that he has a piece of history from his alma mater.
The Ronneburg Restaurant
Since we didn’t eat breakfast, we were starving by the time we sat down to lunch in another historic Amana restaurant. We both ordered the traditional reuben sandwiches, but I think we were so hungry, I didn’t capture any pics this time.
After eating, we climbed back in the car for the journey home.
In addition to hubby’s Iowa clock, I brought home a few treasures, too.
A cast iron horse, some pink depression glass plates, and a vintage bunny and chick. I think I paid $18 for the horse, but the plates, and the bunny and chick were only $1 each. Deal. I already used the pink depression glass plates on my Valentine’s Day dinner table, and the bunny and chick will be perfect for my Easter decor.
I have some projects in mind for the book and the antique buttons that I can’t wait to show you!
This was a much needed weekend away from all of life’s responsibilities. It was close, simple, and low key. I love traveling far and wide, but I also like to take easy weekend get-aways, too.
If you’re local, I’d love to know where you’d recommend we go next for one of our not-too-far-but-far-enough-away weekend escapes. Leave me a comment with your suggestions!