When you label something a 'Tourist Trap', it brings certain images to mind, and none of them are good. By definition, a Tourist Trap is "an establishment that has been created with the primary purpose of attracting tourists and their money." And while I've been to my fair share of traps during my lifetime, one Eastern Iowa attraction is being unfairly labeled as a tourist trap and I'm not going to stand for it.

USA Today is responsible for this list of places that will suck you dry of money and leave you for dead on the side of a road. My words, not theirs. And they came up with the list by analyzing tens of millions of Google reviews of the 500 most popular tourist attractions in the world. They looked at how many of those reviews mentioned words like "overrated", "expensive", and "tourist trap." Based on that criteria, here are USA Today's top five tourist traps in the United States.

  1. Four Corners Monument in Arizona
  2. Salem Witch Museum in Massachusetts
  3. Calico Ghost Town in California
  4. Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota
  5. International UFO Museum in New Mexico

On this list of the 100 biggest tourist traps in the U.S. is an Iowa attraction. And while you may or may not enjoy visiting, I simply can NOT label The Amana Colonies a tourist trap! The Amanas came in at number fourteen on the list. I don't think that the Amanas fit the definition of a tourist trap. The villages weren't built to attract tourists. They were built by settlers fleeing religious persecution in Germany. The tourism that the Amanas are known for is a celebration of German heritage, not doing whatever you have to do to make a buck.

Facebook via Amana Colonies Festivals Inc.
Facebook via Amana Colonies Festivals Inc.

Of course, there are many shops and restaurants you can visit while in the Amana Colonies, but I never feel like I'm being gouged for going there. There are expensive items to purchase, and there are many reasonable and affordable gifts you can purchase during your time in the Amanas. Plus, historic preservation efforts continue thanks to non-profits and the Amana Society Inc. Celebrations like Winterfest, Maifest, and Octoberfest celebrate German heritage and welcome all to join in the fun!

Sorry USA Today. That Amana Colonies are no tourist trap. They are a uniquely Iowa destination that we continue to be proud of!

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