Consider this area as a circular outdoor mall. Like any mall, you can shop, dine, browse or just people-watch. Unlike most malls, this one never closes to walkers.
St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, Florida, is interesting and delightful to walk around practically any time of day or night. Side-by-side stores, restaurants and art galleries line the 360-degree attraction so you’ll find plenty of retail experiences and dining opportunities to fill part of a day. Stop and listen to sidewalk musicians who often entertain in parts of the circle. Go to its center where abundant lush vegetation and benches welcome you to take time out for yourself.
Although typically not an area to look for souvenirs, St. Armands Circle provides an assortment of quality stores and upscale eating establishments. Ice-cream outlets are popular for their inventive flavors. Bars open out onto the sidewalk, letting patrons watch the constant motion outside. Identify license plates of vehicles parked or driving by. Chances are excellent, especially during the winter months, of seeing representation from most states and many Canadian provinces.
Park wherever you find a legal space. The circle is regularly patrolled for infractions, which can lead to challenges for motorists. If you’re determined to find a parking space on the circle you may need to drive around a few times; otherwise it’s usually easier to find a place elsewhere and walk to the area. Generally, the busiest times are from mid morning to late at night.
Strolling on hot pavement can take a toll on family pets, but retailers and restaurateurs often put water bowls and even treats outside their doors for the canine population. Although the number of people dwindles in the later hours, that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of entertainment. Visit establishments that remain open for live music and investigate rooftop bars with fire pits or gardens.
Get to St. Armand Circle from downtown Sarasota by traveling over the John Ringling Bridge. This area has greatly changed since the late 1800s when it was farmland owned by homesteader Charles St. Armand. Circus owner John Ringling later acquired the property and envisioned the current-day setting of a circle of shops.