Connected to downtown Sarasota by the John Ringling Causeway, St. Armands Key is home to the famed St. Armands Circle, an island shopping center filled with some of the area’s finest boutiques, galleries, cafes, salons and more. With an international flavor, St. Armands offers a warm ambiance filled with charming courtyards and tropical landscaping. If you are at BLVD and looking for “shopping near me,” St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, Florida is a not-to-be-missed selection.
Situated just a few blocks from the Sarasota Bayfront, Downtown Sarasota features a small, walkable shopping area filled with dozens of boutiques, specialty shops, and art galleries. Main Street is also home to several upscale apparel shops and designer boutiques. Once per month, Downtown Sarasota residents and visitors have the opportunity to enjoy these shops beyond their regular hours. Known as the First Friday Walk, the event also offers shoppers opportunities for wine tasting.
From unique to classic, the Mall at University Town Center is the go to place for national brands and trendy fashion. The world-class dining and shopping destination features Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Dillard’s and more than 125 stores and restaurants. The mall is easily accessible and less than 15 minutes from downtown.
Since 1979, the Sarasota Farmers Market has been a favorite amongst residents and visitors every Saturday morning. The market now has over 70 vendors providing the community with “local produce, plants, prepared foods and artisans.” Located between Main Street and Lemon Avenue in Downtown Sarasota, the Sarasota Farmers Market is open rain or shine every Saturday between the hours of 7:00 am and 1:00 pm. Bring the family and discover the products and services provided by local farmers, downtown businesses and Sarasota artisans. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as handmade soaps, seafood, coffee and baked goods, bulk spices, orchids and more.
You will find all styles and mediums of art from realism to abstraction at Towles Court Artist Colony – a colorful collection of “Old Florida” bungalows that house galleries, studios and cafes. Ceramics, jewelry, photography, paintings, prints and glass are found in formal galleries and gift shops as well as in artists’ private studios. Commission a portrait or take an art class – Towles is a Sarasota hidden treasure.
Zagat rated cuisine is the standard for Sarasota, where your tastebuds are in for an adventure. Marina Jack’s is right downtown on the bay with a spectacular second floor view. Excellent downtown eateries include landmark establishments like Bijou Café, Selva Grill, Caragiulo’s, Barnacle Bill’s, Divino’s, Mediterraneo, and Salute. Lido Grill, at the Lido Beach Resort, features a bar with a panoramic beach vista and a dining room overlooking Sarasota Bay. Ophelia’s on Siesta Key offers intimate enclaves and dockside dining with views of Little Sarasota Bay. South from downtown, on the east side of Route 41, is a hidden local gem called Roessler’s with lakeside views tropical gardens and gazebo.
Sarasota’s Palm Avenue and Main Street offer numerous art galleries to explore. Known by locals as “Gallery Row,” Palm Avenue offers opportunities to purchase everything from sculptures and hand blown glass to jewelry and paintings created by local artisans. During the First Friday Artwalk, which takes place on the first Friday of each month from 6 to 9 PM, visitors can visit the many galleries beyond their regular hours.
Be ready for a stroll after a great meal. The Crab and Fin and Café L’Europe are St. Armand landmarks featuring classic continental cuisine, patio seating and sidewalk piano tunes (only at Crab & Fin). The Columbia with under cover and outdoor dining offers excellent Spanish food while Tommy Bahama’s draws young professionals to moderately priced small bites, burgers and seafood. Off the circle is a pocket of eateries like Le Colonne and 15 South Ristorante Enoteca with musical entertainment upstairs at their nightclub, Straight-up.