Spend a day or week shopping and dining

From award winning restaurants to fine boutique shopping, near Lido Beach

Columbia Restaurant in St. Armands Circle
Columbia Restaurant - A popular restaurant on St. Armands Circle and winner of multiple awards, the island's oldest restaurant opened in 1959.

A gem of the world in Sarasota is actually on a barrier island, St. Armands Circle. Known for its shopping and dining in a quaint area of St. Armands Key and Lido Key, its charm attracts visitors from around the world. And with 130 merchants within a short walk of each other, it is no wonder TripAdvisor awarded the shopping district with its 2018 Certificate of Excellence. The circle is rated high overall and generally receives high rankings for its merchants on Yelp.com.

Plan at least a half day to enjoy the many diverse shops, have breakfast or lunch, relax or explore the history left by the visionary John Ringling who saw this location as a perfect vacation destiny. Do an Internet search on St. Armands Circle for things to do and each list will give you a different perspective of places to dine and places to shop. A few places make each list but the perspectives of each list has a ranking of personal choice, nearly all the restaurants are highly rated.

Take for instance, the Columbia Restaurant. This has been a landmark restaurant of Florida since 1905, the first in Tampa. Today it is the oldest restaurant on the key, having opened its doors in 1959. Among the many accolades of this restaurant is the 2018 recognition as one of the 100 Best Al Fresco Restaurants in America. The list was compiled from 12 million Open Table reviews of outdoor dining restaurants.

If your cuisine interest is something other than Cuban, try the Crab & Fin for its seafood delicacies. Serving fresh catch from the Gulf of grouper and snapper, the menu is also a haven for anything worldly seafood, from oysters to stone crab. Or order the succulent 16-ounce pork porterhouse. The Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar is also a favorite of those who love seafood in a relaxed casual atmosphere. The Shore advertises a cool vibe and delicious eats for its seafood menu. The Surf Shack has an outdoor patio dining experience and an indoor restaurant next door, and shares its ownership with the Surf Shack in Tampa.

The Café L’Europe is a wonderful restaurant if you are looking for European cuisine. Opened in 1973, this established restaurant often holds special wine tasting events in the peak season starting in October. The Blu Kouzina serves Greek and Mediterranean cuisine in a quaint location just off the circle on North Boulevard of the Presidents, near the Madison Avenue Café and Deli, is a delightful café to grab a sandwich.

The Daiquiri Deck is a combination sports bar with an American food menu on two levels. Lynches Pub & Grub is a new pub located near the circle that also serves American style dishes. Italian and pizza dishes are served at Venezia on the circle. Relax in a comfy atmosphere to enjoy vegan or gluten-free food at the Green Zebra Café. The Blue Dolphin Café is a good breakfast and brunch café on John Ringling Boulevard as you enter the circle from the mainland.

Alvin's Island
Alvin's Island has a wide variety for the beach visitor.

In between the times of breakfast and lunch, and before you walk to the white sands of Lido Beach, there is shopping to explore. From novelty shops to the highest levels of fashion are presented on St. Armands. Shop a brand name like Chico’s or the local franchise Foxy Lady for the latest in women’s fashionable attire. And don’t forget, this Thursday is ladies night with shopping discounts in many stores. Ladies night is held the third Thursday of every month from 5 PM to 9 PM.

The Lilly Pulitzer shopping boutique is in the process of remodeling but has opened a temporary store across the street on John Ringling Boulevard. Apricot Lane Boutique has a good selection of fashions, jewelry and shoes. Casa Smeralda has a similar line, so what you don’t find in Apricot Lane may have your selection here.

You can find your choice of fine jewelry at Alicia’s Dream, where your choice is among Pandora, Alex & Ani, Nora Fleming, Ronaldo or Les Georgette brands. Exceptional fine service is available at Alexander Fine Jewelers directly on the circle. Select from classic or contemporary designs. Unique design jewelry by award-winning master goldsmith Stephen Cole Powell can be found at Jewelry by Cole. Art, glass, jewelry and jewelry repair is a good choice at Armel Jewelers. Otto’s Jewelry & Service and McCarver & Moser are also on the circle.

The Met on St. Armands Circle
The Met - An elegant day spa for fashionable people

The Met Fashion House on South Boulevard of the Presidents is in one of the most elegant buildings on St. Armands Circle. Climb the steps and step into a world of fashionable attire for both men and women. Find a selection of accessories, shoes and fragrances to be set for the opera or chamber music concert. On the second floor you can have yourself pampered in the day spa and salon, with full services for men and women. The treatments are from head to toe, hair styling to pedicures. Relax for the day and leave as a new person.

There are local specialty and gift shops. A good selection of cooking oils and spices are available at the Pepper Palace and Florida Olive Oil Company. From Tervis to sunglass specialty stores, you can also find stores that cater to beach wear. Alvin’s Island, a mega store by St. Armands standards, has a wide variety of beach wear and novelty items. You can find unique gifts at St. Armands Antiques and Gifts.

Wyland Gallery on St. Armands Circle
Wyland Gallery - A mix of Wyland originals and guest artist exhibits in his St. Armands gallery.

One of the world’s leading marine wildlife artists, Wyland, has a line of his original works with contemporary artists working in different media. The Rob Arra collection of panoramic college and professional sports stadiums at the Stadium Gallery is an amazing collection of photos in high resolution for the sports enthusiast. Nature photographer Clyde Butcher captures the spirit of Ansel Adams with his breathtaking collection of black and white landscape photography at the St. Armands Gallery. The exhibit runs through January 6, 2019.

Cars, and boats and zombies, Oh My! The events in the park on St. Armands Circle are well attended and held mainly in peak season. Jaguar car enthusiasts will appreciate the Sun Coast Jaguar Club Concours d’Elegance, October 13. Ferrari’s on the Circle is November 3 and Porches are in the park on November 15. Cannon’s Marina on Longboat Key will hold their Boat Show October 20-21.

The Stadium Gallery
Panoramic sports stadiums at the Stadium Gallery

Three of the most celebrated events of the year are held on St. Armands Circle. Zombies, ghouls and goblins invade the park October 31 for the annual Fright Night. Each year a special performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller is performed by the Sarasota High School Drama Department. Another of the year’s SRO events is the lighting of the Christmas Tree. This year the Holiday Night on St. Armands is scheduled for December 7. The heritage of St. Armands Circle and the John Ringling Circus are celebrated each year in January. The 32nd annual Circus Ring of Fame induction ceremony of circus performers and promoters will be held January 13. Even a horse that was a staple in the circus and led the parade in the movie Greatest Show on Earth, Starless Night, was inducted in 2017.

The big days for shopping are upcoming as well. On November 10 and 11, the 30th annual St. Armands Art Festival attracts some of the best artists from around the country. Those two days the Annual Fall Sidewalk Sale opens up the galleries and shops for deep discounts on holiday gifts. So there are tremendous gift opportunities inside and outside of the park circle. Veterans receive an additional discount that Sunday, November 11, at participating stores and restaurants.

St. Armands Gallery
The next Ansel Adams - Black and white landscape photography by Clyde Butcher will be available through January 6 at the St. Armands Gallery.

With the large popularity of St. Armands, organizations and governments are thinking of opportunities to enhance visitor experience. A four-story parking garage which will accommodate 503 automobiles is under construction to be completed in December. Temporary parking is available around the circle since the parking spaces on North Adams Drive were closed for construction. The proposed public restrooms won a merit award by the local American Institute of Architects. A completion date has not been announced.

Catch my interview with Diana M. Corrigan, Executive Director, St. Armands Circle Association in my REALTALK™ #58 video. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing