I love to visit the settings of my novels. Experiencing the area really helps me create a sense of place for my characters. This was especially helpful
when I began to write my Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, including The Proposal at Siesta Key, which releases today! Pinecraft is a small community nestled in the heart of Sarasota, Florida. It’s a favorite vacation spot for the Amish. Many Amish rent homes for a month or two become Snowbirds, spending most of January and February there. Others visit when their children are on spring break or when they’re ready for a break from the cold and snow.
To get there, many Amish in the Holmes County area take the Pioneer Trails bus line down to Sarasota. At the height of the season, buses arrive three and four times a week. Some Amish in the Lancaster County area opt to take a train down south.
Two years ago, my husband and I went down to Pinecraft, Florida during the month of February. It was snowy and cold in Ohio, and the first thing I noticed when we got to the area was how green and beautiful everything was. It was such a nice change after months of gray days in Cincinnati! Our time there happened to coincide with the last few days of my Amish friends’ vacation, so they took us to all the places I would need to be sure to include in the books.
I’ve since returned to Pinecraft and already I am hoping to return there next February!
Here are four places I suggest you visit if you ever get the opportunity to visit this lovely area:
1.) Siesta Key
Siesta Key is the beach that many Amish visit. The sand is white and sugar-fine. It also feels like it stretches on for miles! To get there from Sarasota, you can either drive (it’s only a ten minute drive) or do what the Amish do, which is hop on board the SCAT, the Sarasota County Area Transit. SCAT has buses and shuttles that everyone uses to get around the Sarasota area.
Yoder’s is a family owned restaurant that has been a landmark destination for generations. They have traditional Amish food there, but they’re most known for their pies. They are amazing. There is always a line of people waiting to go inside, which is kind of fun. You get to meet people from all over the country while waiting!
3.) The Post Office
This is the only Amish-operated post office in the country. Outside of the post office is a bulletin board with all kinds of notes. Here, the Amish let each other know who is hosting coffees and other fun get-togethers.
4.) Pinecraft Park
Here, you will see men and women playing shuffleboard. There are also basketball and volleyball courts as well as a grassy park and a covered pavilion area. Pinecraft Park is definitely a favorite gathering area for the Amish.
Shelley Shepard Gray lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. A busy wife and mother of two, she spends her days writing and keeping track of her two teenagers. Her two dogs keep her company when she writes in her basement. When not spending time with her family or writing, she serves on several committees in her church. Shelley enjoys writing about the Amish and visits Amish communities several times a year.
Her latest book is The Proposal at Siesta Key, which you can win a copy of below.
Purchase Shelley’s books here.
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