Pinecraft Pioneer Trails Bus

Pinecraft in Sarasota, Florida is a place where Amish and Mennonites like to congregate in the colder months.

If you’re Amish and traveling to Pinecraft, there’s a good chance you’ll hop on a bus such as that operated by Pioneer Trails.  The company makes regular runs from Ohio and Indiana from September to July.  For Pennsylvanians,  Elite Coach provides service from January to March.

Heading north, the Indiana line first stops in Fort Wayne, where Allen County Amish can “de-board”.  Later destinations include Shipshewana, Nappanee, and other points in the northern Indiana Amish settlements.

The Ohio bus makes a few stops in Holmes and Wayne Counties, before reaching its final destination in Middlefield, heart of the Geauga County Amish community.

March is the heaviest month for bus departures, with 13 trips north this month.  For that matter the winter-spring months of January-April are busiest (at least 9 runs each way).

A one-way trip currently costs $137, a round-trip slightly less than double that. Those traveling to Middlefield have the longest journey, at over 26 hours. Fortunately, there is a bathroom on board.

Ernie Bontrager took this video of the Pioneer Trails bus leaving Pinecraft. Goodbyes and hellos happen in the parking lot of the Pinecraft Tourist Church. Watch the hands pop up as the bus pulls out.

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    1. New York State of Mind

      I really enjoyed Ernie’s video. Makes you want to hop on a bus and head south.

    2. Juanita Cook

      I would love to jump on this bus and head south with them for the Winter months.

    3. I was amazed to learn that a young Amish friend of my mom’s enjoyed inline skating. She did it in Sarasota.

    4. SharonR

      Pioneer Trails Bus

      Well, hop on the bus……’s warm down here; As a Florida resident, living on the east coast, last year, we spent the weekend in Sarasota, and spent one of our days, in Pinecraft. It’s a lovely place, not very big, with friendly people and good food, local markets and shops!! Plus was able to attend the local Mennonite Church Quilt Show!!

      A little bit of “Amish” country, in Florida! We plan to visit, there again, soon.

      1. Debbie


        Where in Florida do you live? I am in Ormond Beach. I haven’t been to Pinecraft as of yet but plan to go soon. Any recommendation on accomadations? Debbie

        1. SharonR


          Debbie from Ormond Beach, FL — yes we live in Edgewater, Fl just a few miles south of you! Accommodations are mostly in Sarasota – and we ate at Yoder’s, right in middle of Pinecraft! If you look up the history of this little town, it’s been here for a long time; Plus their homes are not very big here — more less like a “cottage” or vacation bungalow type. Also, went into the local Amish market, and picked up some good homemade breads, jellies; you’ll enjoy your visit! But, be careful when you are driving around — you have to watch out for 3-wheel bicycles, rather than horse/buggies!

    5. Erin

      Thanks for sharing this video. I loved seeing the gentleman with the metal detector. My husband used to go out treasure hunting with his Grandpa when he was young and now our son is doing it with his Grandpa. Love traditions!

    6. Deb

      I’ve always wondered this question. Would a non-plain couple or family be able to book seats on the bus? Does it happen? We have family in Bradenton & each year I look at the Indiana bus schedule & ponder………..

      1. I’m sure you could Deb, not sure how many non-Plain people ride in practice though.

      2. Linda Oros

        I took the bus to Tampa. I have two daughter that live close to Tampa. So thats where the dropped me off. My daughter picked me up. I had a wonderful ride on the bus. Going to Fl. not to many on the bus. Coming home it was almost full.

        Its a nice ride. I’m English.

      3. Tina

        Hello ,
        I am an Englisher from PA and typically ride the bus to and from Florida 2x a yr during the winter .I am also beginning to see more englishers every year .

    7. Alice Mary

      Neat! I’m planning a day trip (day and a half, actually) to Shipshewana in mid-May, on a chartered bus through our local Jr. College. They do this annually—a bus tour to Amish country. I’ve never been there, so if anyone has any suggestions for shopping or restaurants I’m all ears! We’re having dinner in an Amish home the first night, then staying at the Essenhaus. Seeing this video, I’m raring to go! (Maybe we’ll run into an Amish tour group, too!)

      Alice Mary

      1. Deb

        Alive Mary- we visit Shipshewana every couple of months, so I can recommend a few things. Certainly visit the shops around the Inn and inside the restaurant. Are you in town during the flea market days? Certainly walk that if you can, its massive so dont tire yourself. Walking can be a bit difficult as the roads are crushed stone. Just be careful. Be sure to walk thru the auction barns (including the upper walkway of the animal barns, as long as its not an auction day). Yoders Dept Store & Hardware Store are a must see, they are located across the street from the flea market. Dont forget the nice stores in the downtown blocks. Its an easy walk.
        A huge draw to Shipshe is E&S sales which is a giant bulk food store with really good prices. Its always busy and we love to shop there. There are many stores located within a mile or 2 of the downtown area, heading south out of town.
        There are many different places to eat. I know there is a brand new restaurant going in at Yoders Dept Store. Its not open yet, but I believe the target date is middle of May, sometime. Otherwise Blue Gate right at the 4 corner stop in Shipshe is always busy. 5&20 diner a few miles away is good, really everything is good in Shipshe. Have a wonderful trip. You will love the Essenhaus Inn. We walked thru there just a few weeks ago after getting some information about a family reunion. We saw a few rooms, the bkft area, pool and meeting rooms. Its beautiful!

        1. Alice Mary


          Thank you, Deb, for all the Shipshe tips. I truly appreciate it. Yoders sounds like a “must see”–I love dept. AND hardware stores—really, sometimes on boring weekends, I go to Menards just to see what’s new!

          I wish I were staying longer, ’cause E & S sounds like a place close to my heart. I’m also glad to hear you speak so highly of the Essenhaus Inn. You can be sure I’ll try to hit many of the places you mentioned. And since we’re going in Mid-May, who knows, maybe the restaurant at Yoders will be complete! I’ll let you know!

          Thanks again!

          Alice Mary

    8. Laura

      Thanks for the video. It’s nice to see the Amish version of “snowbirds”! There’s a very good chance we’ll be moving to the Tampa area in the near future, so we’ll be able to visit Pinecraft. I’m definitely looking forward to having a good Amish restaurant or two nearby!

    9. Don Curtis


      I asked Mark about this. He said that some of the Belle Center Amish will catch the bus to visit in Florida. They will hire a driver to take them to Botkins, OH which is on Interstate 75. There is some gas station that is used as a bus stop. Mark said that the Belle Center Amish may go to visit for a few weeks but it is not allowed, unless for health reasons, to spend the winter away from the home community.

    10. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Is this seasonal exodus done on a basis of family and close friends, or is it done through the church community as a whole? I apologize if I had missed that detail in the initial posting.

      1. Shom this is an individual family vacation thing and not a group church trip. Families go with children, young people go, older “retirees” as well. In some communities it’s a lot more common to go down than in others, in fact some would frown upon going to Florida. But maybe that’s because they’ve never been.

        1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

          I see – thanks!

          I remember looking at Katie Troyer’s blog once upon a time, and the place looks really nice, Pinecraft, not quite like the Florida of my imagination, but Florida is to me, like California, coloured by Hollywood and Television, I am certain that its different than that and “normal”, but because I am old enough to have the pop-culture residue of 1980s television shows like “Miami Vice” and “Golden Girls” and a few movies of them days, I have a certain view of FLA in my mind, the rural small town aspect of the state doesn’t pop into my imagination, as it might not also to the Amish who perhaps don’t want their wives and daughters in skimpy bathing suits and being all immodest, or at least don’t want them considering it.

          In fact, I would like to go to Florida one day before I did and do the Disney thing, and leave Winter far behind and catch a Grapefruit League Baseball game, returning home to find my part of Canada nicely thawed and starting to green up.

          1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

            In the last paragraph I meant to say:
            “In fact, I would like to go to Florida one day before I die and do the Disney thing,..”
            I wanted to be clear.

            1. SharonR

              Pinecraft Pioneer Trails Bus

              Hello, Slightly-handled-Order-man —
              YES, we do have more than just DISNEY down here!! Being an original Floridian, and still living here, full time — my husband and I always seek out the small town atmosphere, and things to do, to get away from the crowds/rat race that Orlando area seems to attract —- Isn’t it funny that we always want to explore other places, away from where we live? Every chance we get, we try to get OUT OF FLORIDA, and see more of the USA – ha Like 2 years ago, our aim was to go to Lancaster, PA, and I loved it!!!!

              Words of wisdom — when you plan to go to DISNEY — bring a fat wallet with lots of money — plus, do a little research on different areas of Florida, and you’ll find that the “real” Florida really does exist, if you look hard enough (Real Florida meaning small back-road towns, mom/pop establishments, palm trees and lots of foliage, alligators, etc, un-crowded beaches, swamps, good fishing holes, and lots of natural areas of State Parks and National Parks, too)….and did I mention– most sections of Florida have moderate temperatures, year-round.
              Come on down — the weather is great right now! 80’s all this week!

          2. Katie Troyer bus photos

            Shom I’m glad you mentioned Katie, I meant to share a few posts to her site with photos of the different buses. She’s got photos from at least three lines on her site– Elite, Pioneer trails and Melard:




    11. Lois Garman

      Ride from Pinecraft to Lancaster, Pa.

      Looking for a ride for threes adults from Pine Craft to Lancaster, Pa, either March 26, /7th or 28th.

    12. Dan


      I wish to bring family members from South Bend to Sarasota for a week or so and then send them back. Do you offer these services.

      1. Marcus Yoder

        pioneer bus

        You need to contact Pioneer Trails Phone # 330-674-1234
        Marcus Yoder