Amana, IA: Amana Colonies

Located approximately half-way between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are the Amana Colonies, one of America’s longest lived communal societies and a National Historic Landmark known best for its distinctive shopping and dining.  The Amana Colonies are a collection of seven villages of German ancestry originally built as an self-sustaining community not dependent on the outside world for daily life.  After a change in fundamentals and a resulting economic boom following the Great Depression, the Amana Colonies became known for industrial output (Amana appliance for example) and later, as they are know for today, tourism.

The Amana Heritage Museum greets visitors as they enter the Amana Colonies

The Amana Colonies are isolated geographically from other nearby cities or any development at all, though its roughly a 30 minute drive from Cedar Rapids.  Parking is free throughout, and every village is very walkable; in fact there are tours that bike or walk between villages (though they are somewhat spread-out, so for families with younger kids driving may be best).  On our family visit we toured the first of the larger villages (Amana) which started with a history lesson at the Amana Heritage Museum.

Arriving at the Village of Amana

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Cedar Rapids, IA: NewBo City Market

Located in the New Bohemia neighborhood of Cedar Rapids, Iowa is the fresh and sleek NewBo City Market.  This year-round farmer’s market features indoor and outdoor markets as well as a kids play area all nestled within one of the most trendy districts in Cedar Rapids.  Certainly a destination for foodies, NewBo City Market is also home to arts, crafts, events, festivals and a host of family-friendly things to eat, see and do.

NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

NewBo City Market is about a 10 minute walk from the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids.  Our convention center hotel was approximately 10 city blocks away, though I was surprised at how green Cedar Rapids turned out to be – it was a very pleasant walk!  There is a several block walking park along train tracks that is extensively landscaped and leads to the blocks of the New Bohemia District filled with historic shops and ambiance. Continue reading

Cedar Rapids, IA: Science Center Cedar Rapids

Although we enjoyed gorgeous weather during our visit to Cedar Rapids, Iowa we did have one rainy afternoon, which we spent indoors exploring the Science Center Cedar Rapids.  Housed in a temporary location after it’s original downtown located flooded, the Science Center Cedar Rapids offered enough entertainment and learning to keep our kids happy for the afternoon. Admission was free (using our reciprocal membership from home) and there were no crowds – a perfect combination for young families!

Dinos at the Cedar Rapids Science Center

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