The Amish community in the Sarasota-area Pinecraft neighborhood is one of the most unique Amish settlements.
I went into more on why in the Florida Amish state guide page, as well as in the 40+ photo post about my 2013 visit.
So if you don’t know much about this unusual community, I’d suggest checking out those.
One difference between now and that 2013 visit: there are now two church districts in Pinecraft.
A small Amish population is present here year-round. But the community really swells in the winter months due to seasonal visitors.
As I drove in this past Tuesday, I was reminded that Pinecraft is located in a busy part of the city.
Here are a couple of Amish people on tricycles waiting at a well-trafficked intersection.
But when you pull off the main four-lane Bahia Vista Street which runs through the neighborhood, it quiets down significantly.
Tricycles are a common vehicle here.
So are bicycles:
And don’t forget old-fashioned leg power:
No buggies clip-clop the streets of Pinecraft, so you won’t find those familiar signs. But you do see golf cart warning markers:
Many of the streets feature typical Amish last names:
In this shot you can see signs for Yoder, Graber, and barely visible, Miller Avenue:
Here’s the Pinecraft Amish Church building:
Food & More
I met with two local friends Tuesday, and an Amish couple who live part of their year in Kentucky and the other part in Pinecraft.
We ate lunch at a relatively new place called Sommers Dutch Restaurant, located on Cattlemen Road (about a 10-15 minute drive from Pinecraft).
This is a buffet-style restaurant similar to Der Dutchman, but smaller and cozier.
We had a great lunch and I learned a lot about the Amish couple, who have lived in places including Indiana, Missouri and Iowa.
I picked up some Bear Jam and Pecan Coconut Oatmeal cookies on the way out. I’m glad my friend made sure I didn’t miss this!
I’ve tried the cookies, they are tasty. The coconut feels like a Florida touch.
Later I met a new friend for a cup of coffee at Der Dutchman, the largest Amish-style restaurant in the area.
It also has a bakery and gift shop.
You can pick up another Amish staple – the Budget newspaper – here, as this barely-visible window transparency informs us:
There are several Amish-style businesses in the community, including furniture stores and a quilt shop.
Since my last visit in 2013, the place seems a bit more developed, though feels mostly the same. One main change is the presence of a Carlisle Inn just behind Der Dutchman.
It was described to me as Walnut Creek (a popular tourist town in Holmes County, OH) being transplanted into Sarasota. It has that feel, though with palm trees:
Sadly the main post office building is no longer a post office. I learned it has had several uses since it stopped functioning as a post office, including housing some sort of historical display one winter.
I forgot to take a photo of what it looks like now, but previously it was something of a symbol of Pinecraft. Here’s what it looked like six years ago:
Shuffleboard at Pinecraft Park
I also had a chance to get a closer look at the shuffleboard area. This is a popular pastime for people in Pinecraft.
When I arrived close to 4pm there were several Amishmen there, two of whom were playing.
They had their tricycles parked in the park pavilion area. You can see a battery onboard this one:
After they finished I was able to get some closer shots of the shuffleboard lanes. There are eight of them.
There is a special lane reserved just for the ladies.
The park committee asks for donations to play. Fifty cents per two games is the suggested amount.
Some benches and the scoring boards:
There was a shuffleboard tournament scheduled for later in the evening.
At the park pavilion, there are message boards similar to what I remember on the old post office.
There are some real estate offers, construction, and ride-related businesses including Amish taxi services.
How about an electric dryer? (Pinecraft bungalows are electricity-equipped)
Or golf cart rental?
I picked up a brochure from the Journey Tours company, which runs trips from Daviess County, Indiana to Pinecraft. It also covers the Arthur, Illinois community and Kentucky.
There are several lines which shuttle Amish back-and-forth between this southern outpost and settlements in the Midwest and East Coast.
A good-bye stop at Yoder’s
Before I left Pinecraft, I made sure to grab a slice of pie from the take-out window at Yoder’s.
Red raspberry this time:
I also picked up some grape cherry tomatoes and mini pumpkins (“Jack B Littles”) from their produce stand.
I don’t recall this produce stand from my last visit, but it did feature in the Ukrainian travel show episode with Sherry Gore.
The last time I was in Pinecraft, it had a more deserted feel, owing to it being earlier in the autumn.
Now in mid-November, there are definitely more people around.
You can see Amish folks walking, biking, and triking up and down the palm-lined Pinecraft streets.
A bus had arrived that morning, and another one is due to come today.
I can only imagine what it is like in January and February, which are the community’s peak months.
I hope you enjoyed this look at Pinecraft.
If you’re in the area, it’s worth visiting – especially in the colder time of year.
It’s definitely an “Amish” place, but one unlike any other.
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No pictures came through, just captions underneath. Maybe it’s my computer???
Thanks for letting me know. Has that ever happened before?
I just cleared the cache, maybe that will help it. If you refresh the page, does anything change?
Pinecraft brings back memories
Many winters, when I was a kid, my parents and I spent time in Pinecraft. Since I was the last child and was quite a bit younger than my siblings, I had to go with them to Florida. The rest of my siblings stayed at home. They were all old enough to keep the home fires burning while we were lazing away in FL. I went to school there a few times while we were there. One year my dad decided he wanted to see Cuba. This was in 1952, before Castro. So off we went on a cruise ship. It was stormy and the boat was heaving up and down and sideways. Mom and I got very sick. Not dad, he was all over the ship. In the morning, he got up early for a hearty breakfast. It was still stormy. He went up on the top deck to get his first look at Havana. Then his stomach started rumbling. Long story short….. it was still very windy and the wind blew his coat out while he was getting rid of his breakfast and dinner from the night before. Our tourist passes were in his inner coat pocket. Out they went in the ocean. We weren’t allowed to get off the boat with the rest of the tour and they left us behind. The officials in Havana never saw anything like these strange looking people; plain clothing, black-hatted and bearded Amishman with his wife and daughter. Finally after getting confirmation from Miami that we weren’t stowaways on the ship, we were allowed to leave. They got us a hotel room in old town Havana and we were supposed to meet up with the tour at noon. There was no way my dad was going to sit in a hotel room all those hours. So him and I explored Havana by ourselves for a few hours. It was fun. Lots of good memories of our time spent in Pinecraft. Makes me homesick. Sand, palm trees, ocean breezes, fresh squeezed orange juice… I think I’m going to put Florida on my bucket list!
What a story! Wow, thanks for sharing that Lydia, I always like your comments where you share from your Amish upbringing 🙂 A Florida cruise to Cuba, those were different times weren’t they?
Cuba side trip
What a neat memory Lydia – Thanks for sharing.
We winter in Homestead FL but visit Pinecraft every winter for the Haiti Auction. We love Pinecraft.
We live in Zillah, WA in the Yakima Valley where Apples & Cherries are grown.
When, I lived in Tampa, I would go there and spend the day. Always came home full and happy. Its relaxing just to visit this place and see the people and shops. I live in Texas now, would love to be able to visit monthly like in the past. Great people, great food, great fun….
Neat, I guess it’s quite an easy trip from Tampa. I like that it is one place where you’re able to come across Amish from many different settlements in one location. The only other regular venues where that happens would probably be things like larger auctions and events like Horse Progress Days, and then only for a day or two at a time.
Why a second district?
I’m curious why a second district has formed. Has the population increased, or is there a desire for a second ordnung (more or less strict)?
I did not get the full story on that, but reading between the lines I suspect it has to do with the second reason. The Amish Studies site gives the estimated (permanent) Amish population there as just 100. If I find out more that’s share-able, I’ll share it here.
Inn/place to stsy
My question is where to stay. The Carlisle is very pricy in February . Any suggestions on where to stay while visiting Pinecraft? Amish inns bed breakfast etc or nearby reasonable hotel? Thank you
Pinecraft is beautiful in the winter months
It is a Beautiful time of year to go to Pinecraft. Temperatures can get into the upper 80’s on some days and the sun is intense. Go early in the day or after 3pm if it is too hot for your taste. Spend a day – go to the beach too – Enjoy.
I am sorry I missed seeing you.
I am sorry too Katie. I need to make a longer visit next time.
My trip to Sarasota Florida 2019
You will find people you never knew that are related to you!
You will see things that you have never seen before!
The first day I went to the Der Dutchman Restaurant, I went in and set around a table full of Amish and ex Amish, talking about what men talk about during an early morning coffee and breakfast stop. Some call it the Gossip Table, I enjoyed every minute of my time there!
One person ask me where I was from and I replied Lebanon, MO but was born in Arthur IL. The man setting directly across from me ask, do you know Shorty Gingerich? I said yes, he said Shorty’s wife was his aunt, and I said you are my brothers first cousin! You see my Father Joe A Miller’s first wife Lizzie Ann Mast was his aunt also! John Miller was a great hose to me while I was in Florida, Thank you John!
Andy Miller Lebanon, MO
Andy Miller was This John Miller originally from Plain City, Ohio?
John Miller lived in Iowa
Yes I do believe it was the same one. His mother died very young and his step brother was a great NASCAR driver!
I love listening in when this kind of thing happens, which is common when you’re in the room when two folks of Plain/Amish background meet for the first time.
I understand that the former post office is going to become the Postal 98 Cafe. Here is a link that tells about it: https://www.businessobserverfl.com/article/postal-98-cafe-pinecraft-post-office-sandwiches-coffee-ann-michelle-stoltzfus
I don’t know what the projected opening date will be, but maybe it will be open the next time you visit Pinecraft, Erik.
Also, if my memory is correct from reading news from Pinecraft scribes in The Budget newspaper, at the peak of the Amish tourist season, there are Amish church services held in as many as four locations in Pinecraft. It is interesting to read about those services, because it seems like they are often lead by several ministers from various states who are visiting Pinecraft. I think that would make it interesting for local Pinecraft Amish to hear sermons from many different guest ministers during the tourist season.
Thanks Al, I didn’t even spot the building this time. Just forgot to go by actually. I only had about a total of an hour or so in the community outside lunch and coffee unfortunately.
Good info on the church services, I remember hearing similar.
Photographing the Amish?
I have been enjoying your articles about the Amish. I’m a photographer who works with old-fashioned cameras and black and white film, and I was wondering if there are any groups that would allow me to photograph them, and not just their property?
That would depend on the people. Generally groups like New Order Amish are more permissive, and in fact a lot of Amish don’t mind photos as long as they’re not posing for them. You can ask them beforehand if you’d like to get the okay. Have you had a chance to read any of the articles and discussion posts on this site? If you use the search box in the top right, that should lead you to a lot of them which go into greater depth. Hope that is helpful.
Update on Pinecraft
In the Feb. 26 edition of The Budget newspaper, one of the scribes from Pinecraft reported that on Sunday Feb. 23 there were Amish services held at 5 places in Pinecraft, with 53 ministers present between the 5 places. He also stated that it was the peak of attendance, with more buses scheduled to be going home than coming in beginning the week of March 1. The report included the news that during the week of March 1, the Postal 98 Cafe (former Pinecraft post office) will be opening.
Update on Pinecraft Amish Church Services
In the March 15, 2023 issue of The Budget newspaper, one of the reporters (scribes) of news from Pinecraft stated that on Sunday March 5, 2023, there were Amish church services again in four locations, just as I reported in 2019. There were 74 Amish ministers present at the four locations. He also stated that was the peak of the tourist season at Pinecraft.