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St.Armands Circle A Shopping
Atrue visionary, John Ringling, fell in love with the area well before the Roaring Twenties. So much so that he purchased St. Armands Key in 1917. To- day, Ringling’s hopes for St. Armands Key as the jewel of Sarasota have finally been realized. The cir- cus tycoon pictured a welcoming ring of residential and shopping units that would take the form of a circle. He toiled to bring his vision to light in the 1920s but the stock market crash of 1929 temporar- ily put it on hold.
Sadly, St. Armands Circle sat dormant until the 1940s and 1950s, when businesses began to flock to the shopping district. Today, it’s the gem Ring- ling once imagined, and draws shoppers and diners from around the world.
St. Armands Circle has more than 130 thriving businesses, from boutiques to gift shops, restau- rants, galleries and salons.The shopping possibilities include high-end men’s and women’s fashion and accessories, one-of-a-kind jewelry, original art, dé- cor and gifts, antiques and specialty items.
Thoughtful reminders of Ringling are dotted throughout the Circle. His historic statue, along with more recent additions, which include the “Sev- en Virtues of Sarasota,” are on view around the Cir- cle and throughout St. Armands Key. Visit the Cir- cus Ring of Fame in St. Armands Circle Park, which honors Sarasota’s hearty circus tradition. (picture
the Hollywood Walk of Fame but for circus folk.) Each year, the Circus Ring of Fame Foundation in- ducts new members.
Most of the Circle shops open by 10am, Monday through Saturday, and all stores open by noon Sun- days. Breakfast eateries open by 7am, 7 days a week, and other restaurants welcome customers between 11am to 11pm, 7 days a week. d
The Centre Shops
5300 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive
Located mid-island are a collection of special- ty boutiques, galleries, ice cream parlor and an array of tempting restaurants. The Longboat Key Education Center and the Longboat Key Cham- ber of Commerce are found here as well.
Shoppes of Bay Isles
2600 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive
A one-stop shopping haven with a mega-gro- cery store, pharmacy, beauty salon, dry cleaners, women’s clothing store, etc. Opened in 2012, Publix is a true showpiece, one of just three na- tionwide built as a similar prototype. At almost 50,000 square feet, it features a hot/cold food bar, Pacific wok station plus a wine-chilling fa- cility to keep your vino at the ideal temperature while you peruse the aisles.
Whitney Beach Plaza
6800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive
Situated at the north end of Longboat Key, this shopping plaza houses a liquor store, restaurant, salon, kayak and paddleboard rentals and more.
Shangri La
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