Just a frisbee’s throw from the white sands of Lido Beach, St. Armands Circle attracts stylish shoppers and sidewalk-strollers to its fine boutiques, galleries, outdoor cafes and restaurants. Whether you’re circling The Circle for the quintessential macaron, the latest in Lilly Pulitzer or an al fresco experience of oysters on the half shell, you’ll find unique delights and pleasures—and some of the best people-watching around.
The cool, modern interiors under the retractable roof at Shore Diner signal that a creative dining experience awaits. Florida seafood (shrimp ceviche, red snapper) stars in a number of dishes, and signature cocktails keep the bar scene buzzing. 465 John Ringling Blvd., #200, (941) 296-0301, dineshore.com
You can’t say you’ve been to the Circle—or Sarasota—until you’ve enjoyed a meal in the elegant, Spanish-style dining rooms of the legendary Columbia Restaurant. Traditional Latin favorites, from paella to seafood to flan, are perfectly executed. The Cuban bread alone is worth the trip. 411 St. Armands Circle, (941) 388-3987, columbia-restaurant.com
Indulge the kids (and yourself) at Kilwins, where you’ll choose from 40 different flavors of brain-freezing delight. There’s homemade fudge, peanut brittles, chocolates and a galaxy of candy as well. 312 John Ringling Blvd., (941) 388-3200, kilwins.com/sarasota
15 South Ristorante Enoteca’s upstairs nightclub sizzles with Latin, Caribbean, jazz, and more music until 2 a.m. most nights. The downstairs restaurant serves Italian fare until 10 p.m. Start with a libation on the balcony or at the piano bar, where you’re bound to meet and mingle. 15 S. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-1555, 15southristorante.com
Bennington Tobacconist is an old-school smoke shop with a vast selection of cigars, pipes, humidors and other smoking accessories. Hand-blended pipe tobaccos were selected and passed down by founder William E. Bennington. 5 Fillmore Drive, (941) 388-1562, benningtons.com
The Met is part day spa and part fashion palace. Spend the day getting pampered in the spa and hair salon, or discover top designer styles for men and women in the store. 35 S. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-3991, themetsarasota.com
The Circle sparkles with jewelry shops. Pick up a personalized diamond dolphin at Jewelry by Cole (7 N. Boulevard of Presidents, 941-388-3323, jewelrybycole.com). Pop the question with a one-of-a-kind engagement ring from McCarver & Moser (482 John Ringling Blvd., 941-388-1331, mccarvermoser.com). Or indulge in a Carl F. Bucherer masterpiece watch at Armel Jewelers (22 N. Boulevard of Presidents, 941-388-3711, armeljewelers.com).
For those not cut from the common cloth, The Dream Weaver Collection features apparel (hand-painted silk and velvet dresses, sueded rayons) and accessories from Kiss of the Wolf, Catherine Bacon, Sarah Pacini, Carter Smith and other fiber artists and designers. 364 St. Armands Circle, (941) 388-1974, dreamweavercollection.com
Your guide on a Key Culinary lunch tour will share historical tidbits as you stroll the Circle visiting restaurants and specialty stores, tasting signature items. The happy hour tour includes light bites and specialty drinks at four restaurants. (941) 893-4664, keyculinarytours.com
Fun special events run throughout the year on the Circle, from Corvette and antique car shows to holiday and culinary events. Check starmandscircleassoc.com for up-to-date details and dates.
Lido Beach stretches for miles along the Gulf and includes a public beach with family-friendly amenities, such as an Olympic-sized pool, concession stand, covered picnic area, playground, and showers and dressing rooms.
South Lido Park is a 100-acre wildlife preserve with Gulf and bay access, teeming with flora and fauna. Hike its shady trails, picnic on its beach, or kayak and canoe through mangrove-lined canals, bayous and lagoons. 2201 Benjamin Franklin Drive.