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St Armands Circle – Gulf Coast Florida
As the sun sets on the St Armands Circle, the tinkling sounds of a wooden upright piano resonate thru the air, it is played by Ed Williams. Ed has been playing to the locals and tourists for the past 22 years and has become part and parcel of this quaint upscale neighbourhood.
St. Armands Circle grew from a simple mangrove patch in the early part of the 20th Century and is now a haunt for the rich of residents of Sarasota Bay area and to live here you would certainly need a few zero’s tagged on to any prime number.
It is also a draw for thousands of tourists who flock here to sample the ambiance of its tropical surroundings, shops and restaurants each year.
Frenchman Charles St. Amand who the circle is named after bought more than 130 acres on the island in 1893 when it was nothing more than a mangrove; as the years went by an error spelling his name on land deeds led to the spelling of the name today.
John Ringling another famous bay area resident purchased property on the Key in the early 1900’s with a plan to build a shopping centre and residential homes, the lots were planned as a circle. However his plan did not come to fruition until the 1950s.
Ringling’s influence is very apparent in the architecture, the layout and the Italian statues which makes’ for an interesting walk.
Dining on the circle is a real treat and the choice is vast form a casual coffee shop to the sophisticated Cafe L’Europe which began life in 1973.
For Happy hour in a more relaxed atmosphere try Hemingway’s Retreat, Happy hour starts at 2pm and ends at 7pm everyday.
Of course there is always the ever popular Kilwin’s Chocolates & Ice Cream, where you will find homemade fudge and a huge choice of ice cream flavours.
For a great lunch, the famous Columbia Restaurant has a menu to suit all tastes. The signature original salad “1905” is simply scrumptious it is tossed at your table. Consisting of crisp iceberg lettuce with julienne of baked ham, natural Swiss cheese, tomato and olives; then dressed with Romano cheese and the famous family garlic dressing, I would also strongly recommend a glass or carafe, (if there are more than two of you), of the Sangria. . . . . . . .
For Jazz lovers, on the 4th Friday of every month St. Armands Circle hosts “Smooth Jazz on St. Armands, it is free and is open to the public.
There is something for everyone here, young and old alike and St Armands Circle is easily accessible from Rotonda West, Florida, using route 41.
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