In the little community of Pinecraft, the way it is, is the way it was. Here, some 3,000 Amish and Mennonite residents live the way their ancestors did, using their own hands to make or bake whatever they need. They create one-of-a-kind-crafts and housewares as well as unusual culinary treats for visitors. When you shop at one of Pinecraft's interesting little markets, you'll want to bring home the wonderful baked goods and homemade jams, and when you visit the shops and galleries of the local craftspeople, you'll find beautiful homemade quilts and hand-crafted furniture and old-fashioned utilitarian crafts that will last as long as you do. Stop by Yoder's Amish Restaurant for the chocolate cake or the best pies in town. Ditto for Der Dutchman Restaurant for comfort food with a capital "C!"
Kayak through Mangrove Tunnels
Mangroves are stands of smallish trees that grow only in marshy, subtropical wetlands, and there's such a place in Sarasota where these little islands actually form green tunnels. Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures can take you there, where the silence is beautiful; the winding waterways are placid; and the wildlife is watching you, even though you may not always see it. But you'll see a wide variety of birds, among them osprey; little blue herons; pelicans; wood storks; and, occasionally, bald eagles. You'll also see a variety of swamp-inhabiting smaller animals (but no alligators). In addition, these eco-tours can also take you out into Sarasota Bay, where both manatees and dolphins are abundant. The tours will take you into a world you may never have seen before but one that you'll always remember.
Travel Back in Time at Manatee Village Historical Park
When you walk into Manatee Village Historical Park, you're stepping back in time and right past a 1913 locomotive lovingly called "Old Cabbage Head" by the locals. The attractions here include a courthouse from pre-Civil War days (1860), a church from 1887, a one-room schoolhouse from who-knows-when, a wooden house from Old Florida times, and the Sugar Cane Mill and Smokehouse (sugar cane was the chief crop around here in the old days). You can also visit a blacksmith shop; a boat-crafting facility from settlement days; and the Wiggins General Store, built in 1903, where you'll be hard-pressed to walk out without buying one of the unusual gifts, housewares, or delicious treats. There are 14 landmarks in total here, each of them revealing a glimpse into a long-gone time when Florida was one of America's new frontiers.
Walk on the Wild Side at the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
Residents of the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary range from little goats, sheep, and donkeys in the petting zoo to magnificent lions. Other animals here include huge tortoises, birds of some very beautiful feathers flocking together, monkeys and apes, camels, bears, ligers (half-tiger, half-lion), and tigers. All are in naturalistic environments, and many have been rescued and nursed back to health. You can see dozens of rare and exotic species here, many of which you may not have seen before. The two daily shows are "Parrots In Paradise" and "Big Cat Encounter," and all admission fees are used to house, feed, and care for the animals.
2075 Main St Suite 22,
Sarasota, FL 34237