One the things I liked best about staying at the Lido Beach Holiday Inn was its proximity to St. Armands Circle. It took less than five minutes to walk the 3 blocks to the European style shopping plaza. There are over 130 shops and restaurants in the circle. Most of the shops were too expensive for us to shop in but window shopping is FREE! We went to St. Armands Circle to eat, though, not shop. Our first evening in Sarasota we ate dinner ate Cha Cha Coconuts. We started with the Peel & Eat Shrimp, which were so yummy! Then I had their Yucatan Fish Tacos. They were good but I’ll try something different next time.

After dinner we took a short walk around the circle to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop. I loved my Phish Food ice cream, but it cost about $4 for a very small cup and my husband bought his own. Next time we’ll get the next size up and get a flavor we both like for less than $8.

The day we checked out of our hotel we parked at St. Armands Circle, which wasn’t all that difficult on a Friday morning, and stopped by a couple of shops. First, I stopped by Kilwin’s to pick up some chocolate peanut butter fudge (made in the shop daily) and a bag of Australian red licorice for my dad’s birthday. It came out to $14.50, but the quality  was well worth the money.

After that, we went to Starbucks to eat a tasty Farmer’s Market Salad. As far as I can tell, nearly every eatery has outdoor seating so you can sit and enjoy your food or beverage while gazing at the beautiful courtyard in the center of the circle. I didn’t have the chance walk through the courtyard, but I did love all the Italian statues and palm trees along the walkways. We even saw some young men playing guitars that looked like they were fashioned from cereal boxes; I wish snapped a picture of them.

I hope we go back to St. Armands Circle sometime soon. On our next visit, I’d like to spend more time checking out the shops filled with beautiful clothes, eat dinner at the famous Columbia Restaurant, and grab some ice cream at Kilwin’s.