4:55 PM EST, February 25, 2013
One of the nicest places to spend an evening in Sarasota is historic St. Armands Circle, which is home to a number of upscale eateries and is the traffic hub between Lido Beach and Longboat Key. If you like Spanish food – and, really, who doesn’t? – the Columbia Restaurant has a huge menu and is known for it’s terrific paella.
The circle is part of an early 20th century commercial real estate development envisioned by circus magnate John Ringling. The shopping district was developed during the 1920s Florida land boom, but deteriorated badly during the Great Depression and did not rebound until investors rediscovered the area
after World War II.
Now, it’s one of the most popular and scenic shopping areas in Florida, with palm trees lining the streets and the traffic circle featuring a lush garden and a statue of Ringling. The name of the circle comes from the original owner of the land, French homesteader Charles St. Armand, who acquired much of the land in the area for $13 in 1885.
It’s a pretty good place for Orioles fans to see players in their natural spring habitat, since a number of them take rentals on Lido Beach.