Florida isn’t just a great destination for high school- and college-aged kids to party on the beach… it’s also where the Amish go to get away. And, let’s be honest, if there’s any community of people who collectively deserve a vacation, it’s the Amish. The Amish spring break destination of choice? Panama Beach. Nah, JK. It’s an adorable neighborhood outside Sarasota called Pinecraft.
The history of Pinecraft
Pinecraft started off prior to the 1920s as the Sarasota National Tourist Camp, a little public park and campground. The ’20s were when the Amish arrived, hoping to grow celery and other crops. The soil was unsuitable, but the weather was nice, so some stayed. Through the 1940s it started to develop into a residential neighborhood, with Amish renting buildings to their friends coming for Amish spring break. In fact, Pinecraft was once further removed from Sarasota, but the city has grown up around Pinecraft. In 1946, the Mennonite Tourist Church opened in an old bakery. It was originally used by both the Amish and the Mennonites (the Mennonites are kind of like Amish Lite). Around 1950, a Tourist School opened for the children as well.
Getting to Amish Spring Break
Obviously, the Amish don’t take planes down to Florida. They don’t drive their buggies down either, though. They actually take buses. Routes run between major Amish settlements like Shipshewana, Indiana and Millersburg, Ohio and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Pinecraft, primarily between December and March. Horse-and-buggies are banned on city streets in Sarasota. So, Amish use giant tricycles to get around. If they want to go to the beach, they might catch a bus out to Siesta Key.
Once you’ve arrived in Pinecraft, head to Pinecraft Park. This is the central hub of activity where games of horseshoe, volleyball, and shuffleboard go down. When you visit, stop by Der Dutchman or the local farmer’s market for hearty home cooking and quality, Amish-made goods. And definitely don’t miss out on a slice of Peanut Butter Cream Pie from Yoder’s Restaurant and Amish Village. It will be the highlight of anyone’s spring break, Amish or not, guaranteed.
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