Snowbird | Six Sights to See in Pinecraft, Florida

Phillipi-Creek

Snowbird—Six Sights to See in Pinecraft, Florida

“So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go;
To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow.” Snowbird, Anne Murray

We were blessed to be invited to a Sarasota, Florida wedding for our niece and her fiancé in December. The Monday ceremony was very special and reason enough to fly to Florida, but blessing piled on blessing when my husband readily agreed to a half-hour drive to Pinecraft the following Wednesday. In case you haven’t heard, Pinecraft is prime Florida Amish country!

Pinecraft is a small community of mostly rental bungalows. It has been called (by the Amish themselves) the Amish Las Vegas—what happens in Pinecraft, stays in Pinecraft. Fear not, though! What the Amish consider daring is far from the seamy doings in Vegas.

In Pinecraft, daring means riding your three-wheeled bike to the Wednesday afternoon shuffleboard match at Pinecraft Park on Gilbert Avenue. Not all is innocence, though. I took a restroom break at the park shelter and reeked of cigarette smoke afterwards. Somebody had hidden in the women’s restroom for a forbidden smoke break, and it wasn’t me. Just sayin’.

Shuffleboard-at-Pinecraft-Park

Pinecraft Park features live oaks festooned in Spanish moss, a picnic shelter, a playground, and a shuffleboard court. I was drawn to Phillippi Creek, a pretty stream that borders the park. Waterfowl aplenty fished there. We watched the shuffleboard match for a couple of minutes and I snapped the photo from the car, taking a page from Katie Troyer’s book and snapping away without asking first. Katie’s blog features her awesome photos of Pinecraft doings. That’s how I knew about Big Olaf’s Creamery!

Big-Olaf-Creamery

Big Olaf’s (3350 Bahia Vista St.) is at the corner of Bahia Vista St. and Yoder Avenue. Cattycorner across Yoder is the Pinecraft Post Office (1240 Yoder Avenue), privately run and complete with a pay phone on the outside wall. Big Olaf served up some pretty good ice cream. My husband opted for Butter Pecan and I chose Kahlua Krunch. Then we sat on the plentiful wooden benches out front and people watched, and trust me—if you sit here for five minutes, you will see plenty of Amish. Bahia Vista is an extremely busy four-lane road with many Amish on foot or on bikes. Fortunately, we didn’t see any accidents. In between bites of ice cream, I snapped photos with snowbound readers in mind. Lest you envy us, the temperature was about 55 degrees, so we were grateful for the sunshine, a rarity that chilly week.

Pinecraft is known for the Amish snowbirds, of course, the Plain bus riders from Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania who escape the frozen North to soak up sunshine during their farming downtime. They disembark at the Mennonite Tourist Church (3340 Bahia Vista St.), right behind the Post Office. But Pinecraft is also known for Pie. In fact, they should spell it PIE-ncraft. Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow for dinner at Yoder’s Restaurant (3434 Bahia Vista St.), but a friend tells me they serve the best pie. We also walked through Der Dutchman (3713 Bahia Vista St.), sister restaurant to the one nearby in Plain City, and watched a lady chuckle over Sherry Gore’s cleverly titled and charming Me, Myself, and Pie cookbook. Sherry is another famous Pinecraft resident.

Amish-Parade

There are many Yoder’s shops on Bahia Vista near Big Olaf’s, including Yoder’s Fresh Market with the diorama of traditional Amish Country, Yoder’s Amish Gift Shop, and Yoder’s Amish Village. If you venture through the neighborhood behind Big Olaf’s, watch for pedestrians and bikers. What surprised us the most about Pinecraft is how small it is. Everything is small, from the bungalows that may measure 600 square feet, to the area itself. It’s only 3/4 mile west-to-east and about 1/2 mile north-to-south. In hindsight, we would have done better to park the car at the park and walk rather than drive through.

Though it was too cold for the beach the day we were there, Pinecraft visitors may take the Scat bus and make a day of it at Siesta Key Beach. Coincidentally, my husband and I stayed at Siesta Key in April 1985, so I can tell you it’s a gorgeous beach with sugar-white sand. I would have loved to see Amish kids enjoying a day at the beach, but we saw very few children, maybe three. Possibly more kids turned up closer to Christmas when they were visiting their grandparents for the holidays.

Say-Cheese

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Pinecraft and highly recommend a visit. We weren’t the only ones people-watching that day, so if you go, be prepared to say cheese!

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Stephanie Reed (17 Posts)

Stephanie Reed lives on the outskirts of Plain City, Ohio, site of a once-thriving Amish community. She gleans ideas for her novels from signs glimpsed along the byways of Ohio. Her previous books are "Across the Wide River" and "The Light Across the River." Her Amish novels include "The Bargain" (Plain City Peace, Book One) and "The Bachelor" (Plain City Peace, Book Two), available October 2014


Comments

  1. Hi Stephanie.
    Loved this post. My husband and I would love to go to visit Pinecraft Florida. I’ve read a lot about it. I love anything Amish. Thanks for the pictures . It looks like such an interesting place.
    Your Friend
    Shirley

  2. Hi, Shirley! Pinecraft is very interesting. If you do make the trip, PLEASE visit my favorite beach instead of the one mentioned in the post. To get to Nokomis Public Beach, take Albee Rd off the Tamiami Trail. Set your Garmin for the Nokomis Post Office, pass it, and keep heading west. If you run into the ocean, you went too far! 😉 More seashells than you can imagine (in some places it looked like sand and seashell lasagna), and since it’s a public beach, there are nice restrooms. So many birds, and they’re not very afraid of people. Beautiful.

  3. Pinecraft is beautiful! I worked there a couple of months many years ago, helping out at a friend’s farm stand. This post brought back a lot of fond memories. The nearby public library has a walk-through aquarium to the children’s section, and I think the local Beachy Amish church welcomes visitors on Sundays (Sunnyside). I was plain then but I’m sure they would welcome regular folks too. Good memories 🙂

  4. Oh, I love Pinecraft so much! I loved setting my book series there. I really want to go back again — you captured it beautifully. 😀

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