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Discovering Pinecraft: A Hidden Oasis of Amish Charm in Sarasota, FL!

Did you know that nestled within the serene landscape of Sarasota, FL, lies a captivating Amish and Mennonite community known as Pinecraft? Embarking on a unique staycation adventure last November, my family and I discovered the charm and hospitality that define this hidden gem. Allow me to share the reasons why adding Pinecraft to your travel itinerary could be a delightful choice!


Accommodation:

Right in the center of the community is the Carlisle Inn Sarasota which is where we stayed for the night. When I tell you this was one of the most hospitable and cleanest hotels we've been to, I mean it! Each time we would enter, the staff at the front desk would always smile and ask how we are and if we needed anything. When we initially checked-in, we even got a mini tour of where everything was. The rates to stay there are a good price with free parking which is at times hard to come by and it is walking distance from all things in the community which was super nice! We stayed in the 2 Queen bedroom, but they have a variety of different options to fit your travel needs. The room was super spacious and the beds were extremely comfortable. There was also a desk area and mini-fridge which is a perk to have when I go over the food. All decorations where Amish themed and made by the Amish.


There is also an outdoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, and banquet rooms in the hotel. Now our favorite part was the community spaces/dining areas. They offered complimentary coffee, tea, juices, and water 24/7 which as a coffee lover was great. They even had some flavored coffee creamers and an ice coffee option which is a bonus for me. Each evening they have a complimentary cookie hour which the kids loved so much. In the mornings they offer a delicious complimentary breakfast. Now this isn't your normal small continental breakfast, this had more options than imaged for a hotel! They offer Amish made items including a waffle bar, pastries, baked goods, eggs, sausage, cereal, and more! I cannot recommend a stay here enough and we will sure be back soon!


Dining & Shopping:

Right outside of the Carlisle Inn is the Der Dutchman restaurant, bakery, and shop. We opted to eat dinner at the Der Dutchman and it was delicious and a good price! We heard breakfast is amazing as well. They offer a salad bar, buffet with an assortment of foods or you can order off the menu (you can add salad bar on with this)! I liked having this option as my kids do not eat much so a buffet for them isn't worth it, so having a kids menu to order off of was great. The rest of us did the buffets and the quality of food is a lot different than your average food. I will say my favorites were the salad with ranch and their honey glazed ham! I did not get as many photos due to being respectful to the Amish eating there. If you do not want to eat there, they also have a to-go section to order as well! The bakery had an assortment of baked goods and desserts, plus a lot of varieties of candies, drinks and other Amish made food. The shop is on the second floor of the building and has many unique items, I wouldn't say they were all Amish, but they did have some Amish gifts. There is also an Amish furniture store right in that plaza as well.


If you want to visit more in the community, less than a 10 minute walk is the rest of the shops and restaurants at Yoder's Amish Village. Yoder's restaurant is located here - we plan on eating there next time for sure as the line was out the door to eat there! They also have a market with all Amish foods including cheeses, pickles, meats, peanut butter, butter, dressings, candies, baked goods and more! I opted to get some Birch beer (similar to root beer) and a giant pickle. Honestly there was so many great things in that store we wanted to bring home! Pro tip: bring a cooler with you if you want to bring things home! We stopped to get some homemade ice cream right after at the Pinecraft Ice Cream Shoppe - this is another must stop!


Local things to do outside of Pinecraft:

Pinecraft is located less than 10 miles away from Lido Beach which we stopped at as well during this trip. This beach was gorgeous and had tons of space. We were able to see a lot of fish which is what I always enjoy seeing plus pelicans of course. With it being so close, it can be a quick trip to the beach to see the famous gulf coast beautiful sunsets (trust me if you never seen one before I recommend!). What I enjoyed about this beach was the free parking and they had a little area with a quick service dining option, entertainment, and best of all restrooms with changing rooms indoors - this is always a plus for me! There is also St. Armand's Circle, that offers more dining, shopping and entertainment options. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is located in Sarasota as well to visit for more family friendly fun! There are many other beaches around this region including Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key - two of our other beaches we visit. On top of that there a variety of boat and wildlife tours and other outside recreation to do - I just ask to make sure they are eco-friendly businesses. If unsure I would be happy to research it for you!


A few reminders:

If you do decide to visit Pinecraft, here are a few reminders I would like to share. First off, be respectful. Amish and Mennonite live here either full time or visit for vacation - do not take photos of them. Everyone in the community we walked by or saw always said hi and were super kind to us. Alcohol is prohibited in all community areas in the hotel and not sold in any stores in Pinecraft. Don't think your above the rules with this one. Also everything besides the hotel will be closed on Sunday due to it being their worship day and do not work. If you are there over the weekend only like we were, I suggest doing everything Saturday there and then venturing out on Sunday. Check times when the businesses are opened to, many of them closed earlier than what you may see in other areas so plan accordingly.


Whether its just a day trip or overnight stay, I cannot recommend a trip here enough! It was probably the most relaxing staycation we have had. It is a perfect family friendly spot or just to spend with your friends or significant other. We felt like it was a home away from home and always felt welcomed there.


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