Horses and buggies. Laundry lines full of handwashed (and handmade) clothing drying in the sun. Pies made with lard. It might sound like a throwback to the past, but it's 21st century life for Iowa's Amish and Mennonite families.
Many communities welcome visitors to learn more about their conservative lifestyle and enjoy handmade and homegrown goods. Here are four that are open for business:
1. Davis County Amish
Davis County is home to a conservative group of Old Order Amish. They are a large settlement and are divided geographically by church and school districts. In all, there are 94 businesses you can visit. View a complete list of businesses and plan your visit. A few favorite shops in Davis County that have regular hours include:
Yoder's Country Korner
Purchase beautiful handmade furniture and gifts.
Hershberger's Bulk Food & Grocery
Find unique locally-grown and homemade food items.
Southern Iowa Produce Auction
Twice each week (in season), wagons full of fresh produce are auctioned off. Participate on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m.
2. Hazleton Amish Community
The Hazleton Old Order Amish community is recognized as the most conservative in Iowa. With 800 residents and nearly 50 Amish businesses open to the public, it's also a popular destination for handmade furniture and homemade baked goodies. View the map of Amish businesses and be sure to stop at:
South Bend Bakery
At the edge of the community on "Amish Boulevard," this bakery is a great place to start your trip.
D&E Furniture, Crafts & Quilts
Baskets, rugs, painted saws and furniture repair.
Raber's Clock & Furniture Shop
Custom furniture including dining room furniture, quilt racks, chairs and bookcases.
3. Kalona Amish & Mennonite
The area around Kalona may be the best-known Amish settlement in Iowa - and for good reason. The settlement was established before Iowa even became a state in 1846. There are several different districts of Amish and Mennonite families in the Kalona area, each with its own degree of conservatism.
Get a guided tour of the settlement with Amish By-Ways Tours. You can also start your visit at the Kalona Historical Village and Iowa Mennonite Museum for a dose of the area's history.
4. Van Buren County Amish and Mennonite
Cantril & Milton
To find this community, wind your way across Highway 2 between Bonaparte and Milton. With Mennonite communities in the area, you'll find individuals and businesses with more relaxed rules. Some businesses even have websites. Some can't-miss stops include:
Operated by a Mennonite family since 2006, this creamery sources all its milk from local Amish dairies. Milton Creamery has won several prestigious awards for its cheese.
This store sells a variety of products to Amish families in the area, including Amish clothing and quilting fabrics (they stock over 5,000 bolts of fabric!); but they are best known for their interesting grocery products.
A note as you visit - many Amish and Mennonite businesses don't keep regular hours and you definitely can't call them or check their website. Sundays are a strict day of rest - so plan your trip accordingly and be open to unexpected stops and surprises.