Visitors, guests, full- and part-time residents often look for a new way to explore Sarasota. Key Culinary Tours is the perfect answer. Our experienced tour guides are chosen for their knowledge of the area as well as their love of food and all things culinary. They provide an entertaining and memorable event, and of course, the cuisine samplings will delight you.
There is no better outing for your visiting friends and family. It’s also a wonderful way to spend a birthday, anniversary, or just a night out with someone special. Whether you are new to the area and want an introduction, or would like a way to enjoy a group of friends for a special outing, Key Culinary Tours is sure to exceed your expectations.
ST. ARMANDS CIRCLE HISTORY
We decided to begin our tours with St. Armands Circle because of its rich history and circus tradition. Thousands of people stroll the unique shops and gourmet restaurants each day and it is one of the most exquisite and charming retail establishments in Florida, and arguably the world.
We thought we would share a bit of history to entice you... St. Armands was nearly forgotten 70 years ago. Prior to 1920, it was an island only accessible by boat. The first homesteader was Charles A. St. Amand, a Frenchman, who came to the key in the late 1880s to fish and grow vegetables. St. Amand filed a government claim in 1893 to homestead three islands and paid around $20 for 131 acres. He cleared one acre of land and built a small shack. Then in 1894, he sold the land to Augus McInnes for $1,500. Over the next 22 years, the land changed hands several times and somewhere along the way, an "r" was added to the name St. Amand.
Mr. John Ringling, visionary and circus magnate, bought the St. Armands Key property in 1917. His plans for development included residential lots and a shopping center laid out in a circle. No bridge to the key had yet been built, so Ringling engaged an old paddle-wheel steamboat aptly-named the "Success" to help with materials transport. His crews labored by dredging canals, erecting seawalls, and installing sidewalks and streets lined with rose-colored curbs. In 1925, work began on a causeway to join St. Armands Key to the mainland.
One year later, amid much pomp and ceremony, both the John Ringling Causeway and Ringling Estates development opened to the public. John Ringling himself led a parade across the causeway while his circus band whaled from a bandstand in the center of the Circle. Every hour, free bus service was offered from Downtown to St. Armands for prospective buyers and sightseers.
John Ringling's influence is still evident today in the planning and design of streets radiating from the Circle, the island's hub. The Italian statuary generously donated from his personal collection are strategically placed around the key. Casual and chic indoor and outdoor restaurants woven between boutique shops and specialty stores is the premier destination in Sarasota!
ART GALLERY TOURS
Downtown Sarasota's State Street and historic Palm Avenue ("Gallery Row") boast of some of the finest art galleries around. These palm tree-lined promenades host every genre from modern to abstract, sculpture to rugs, cuisine to couture and even luxury automobiles. All venues are within easy walking distance of each other. The tour will commence with a Prosecco toast and include small bites and wine along the way, finishing with a restaurant stop to include an appetizer and craft cocktail. Join us for the opportunity to hear gallery owners speak of their collections and ask questions in a relaxed atmosphere created especially for our guests. Offered only on Tuesdays at 4pm, this exclusive tour is a must-do for art lovers and aficionados who wish to engage in and learn more about the art scene in Sarasota.