St. Armands Circle, a popular tourist destination, features a large circular roundabout surrounded by 130+ retail shops, dining establishments, ice cream and chocolate retailers, art galleries, salons, spas and the like. In the center of the large circle is a park like setting which often is home to many exotic car shows, arts and craft festivals, and outdoor performances each year. Originally conceived by circus Magnate John Ringling in 1925, the modern day Circle has long surpassed his original vision and dream of a premier shopping and dining district.
Many of the Circle's popular names are restaurants including The Columbia, Crab & Fin and Cafe L'Europe which have lined its circular street since the late 70's. For your convenience we have listed many of the popular St. Armands dining establishments and retail stores futher down this page. We have also listed information about free and handicap parking if you are visiting the Circle for the first time. If you're planning on Lido Key when visiting the area, check out our "Places to Stay" page by clicking here. It lists Lido Key hotels and resorts as well as area vacation rentals by owner.
St. Armands Car Show
Aerial View of St. Armands Circle
Photo of St. Armands Circle from above taken during a Classic Corvette show.
St. Armands Circle - View towards Sarasota
History of St Armands Circle
In the late 1800's, the modern day bustling St Armands Circle was nothing more than mangroves and natural Florida landscape. The early roots of the Circle and surrounding area are tied to a Frenchman and first resident by the name of Charles St. Amand. He originally purchased the land for $21.71 for 3 large tracts which was just over 130 acres. Charles St. Amand homesteaded the land and in later land deeds, his name was misspelled "St Armand" and this spelling has contiuned to present day.
In 1917, circus magnate John Ringling purchased the St. Armands property and planned an upscale development which included both a large circular shopping center and surrounding residential lots. Eight years later in 1925, he commenced work on a causeway which connected his St. Armands Key property to the Sarasota mainland which retains his name to this day, the "John Ringling Causeway."
St Armands Dining
Whether you're seeking a family restaurant in a casual setting or a more intimate surrounding for that romantic weekend get-a-way, the Circle provides the perfect array of dining choices to fit your tastes and budget. If your preference is Seafood, you'll likely enjoy Crab & Fin or the Daiquiri Deck where you can always order the freshest catch of the day. If your preference is more Italian, you'll definitely enjoy the fresh pizzas and pasta dishes of Venezia Italian Restaurant. If your preference is more Cuban, then Columbia Restaurant is for you. And lastly, if your preference is more European, you'll want to make a reservation for Cafe L'Europe. Most places offer indoor/outdoor seating options as well as live entertainment.
As a popular tourist destination, vacationers from all over the world enjoy strolling around the Circle and it 130+ boutiqe shops and restaurants lined with lush tropical landscape, statues and seating areas. The Circle has a wide varierty of tenants including restaurants, wine bars, fashion stores, gift and collectable stores, art gallieries, jewelers, salons/spas and real estate offices just to name a few. With large window displays and bright lights, the shops and galleries of the Circle seem to naturally draw you in. Many people enjoy getting a large ice cream cone and leisurely strolling around the colorful storefronts. There are also many park benches available to just sit and people watch for a bit.
Popular St. Armands Shopping - Fashion, Galleries & More
When heading out to the Circle in season or during a special event, it's good to know all the free parking and/or handicap parking options available to you. If you're trying to get a parking spot on the Circle itself, you may be going in circles for a while. While most tourists are not aware, there are two large city parking lots behind the stores and restaurants themselves located on Adams street when you first enter the Circle. See location markers on the Google map showing the exact location of these lots. Additional free street parking is located on John Ringling Blvd between the Circle and Lido beach.
New St. Armands Circle Parking Garage - Opening Fall 2018
The city of Sarasota has recently approved a new four-story, 521-space parking garage, that is planned at the intersection of North Adams Drive and Madison Drive and expected to open by the end of 2018. Once the new $15 million-dollar garage project is completed, there will be almost 1,700 available parking spaces in and around St. Armands, according to the plans. To view project renderings and updates of the new parking garage, click here.
St Armands Circle Parking Lots
Interactive View of St. Armand's Circle on Lido Key
Navigate around St. Armand's Circle via the arrows embedded in the Google Map below.
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