Your Guide to St. Armands Circle

Posted by Tamara Berryman on Monday, June 9th, 2014 at 2:48pm.

When you live in Bayview Acres, you're in a great location to take advantage of the many amenities of the City of Sarasota as well as the barrier islands that dot the coast of Southwest Florida. One of these islands is St. Armands Key. Located on the key is a world-famous shopping and dining location known as St. Armands Circle.

From your home, you can get to the Circle in about 20 minutes by following Rt. 41 (Tamiami Trail) north to the John Ringling Causeway, which will take you out to the island. Whether you are just going out for a quick lunch or you are taking visitors to spend a day shopping 'til they drop, you'll want to grab a map of the four quadrants of the circle, which are separated and designated by the colors purple, pink, gold and aqua. This way, you'll remember where you parked, as well as where on the circle you are at any given time. Here are some of the places that you will want to check out:

Fantasea Coastal Home 

Located in the middle of the purple quadrant, which is situated between John Ringling Blvd and S. Blvd of Presidents, the Fantasea Coastal Home will have you wanting to decorate your own Bayview Acres home to resemble a tropical paradise. You'll find beach-inspired home decorations, but also bath and body products, toys for children and a variety of seashells.

Kilwin's Chocolates

Also situated in the purple quadrant, Kilwin's is known for its delectable fudge, candied apples, gourmet popcorns and salt water taffy. Their top seller is the Mackinac Island Fudge, which comes in several varieties, including the classic chocolate, sea salt caramel, peanut butter and butter pecan. You can also buy a customized gift basket for any occasion.

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Binjara Traders and Ivory Coast  

The same people, native Australians, own both of these stores, and they are both located in the pink quadrant of the circle. At both, you can pick up exotic fashions and home furnishings from Morocco and other areas of Africa. You'll find sundresses, necklaces, scarves and home décor items. Both stores have their own unique styles, so you'll want to visit each of them.

Columbia Restaurant

While the first Columbia Restaurant opened in Tampa in 1905 and is known as the oldest restaurant in Florida, the one here in St. Armand's Circle, which opened in 1959, is not only beautiful, but convenient for you to visit from your home in Bayview Acres. Everything is Spanish-inspired, from the paella to the Cuban bread to the Sangria. The restaurant is located in the gold quadrant, and has an attached gift shop.

Nautical North 

Continuing around the circle, you'll soon end up in the aqua quadrant, which is home to Nautical North, a unique shop that offers wooden maps and nautical charts. If you have a touch of wanderlust, a traveler in the family or a desire to decorate your home with something unique, you'll want to stop in here.

Bennington Tobacconist

Whether you are trying your first cigar or are simply hoping to stock up, you will want to stop in at Bennington, also located in the aqua quadrant. You'll also find pipes and other smoking paraphernalia. Even if you don't smoke, a step inside is a fragrant experience!
Circle Park  While this is not a shop or a restaurant, you'll certainly want to head to the center of the circle and take some time to explore. Here, you'll find some interesting plaques and dedications from John Ringling to various performers. Also, there are often special events taking place, such as live music or art festivals.

The great thing about St. Armand's Circle is that with well over 100 shops and restaurants, you will always be able to find something new, no matter how often you go. Your close proximity to the island will allow you to visit frequently, and it makes a great place to take any out-of-towners for lunch, boutique shopping and people-watching. Enjoy!

 

Tamara Berryman
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Listing information last updated on June 2nd, 2020 at 3:15am CDT.

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