Photo by Piers van der Merwe/OnStandby.
If you're a visitor or new arrival to Sarasota, one of the most satisfying things you can do is take a downtown stroll from Five Points Park down South Pineapple Avenue, past the taller buildings and through the roundabout, until you come to one of the most enchanting, tucked-away spots in Florida: historic Burns Square.
The Burns Square district is a treasure trove of Old Florida architecture mixed with an eclectic array of shops, restaurants, and culture that seems somehow hidden away in plain view of the soaring condos and gleaming bank towers of downtown Sarasota. The area gets its name from a narrow side street off of South Pineapple where a collection of tightly-packed Mediterranean Revival bungalows sit practically unchanged from their construction in mid-1920s -- a real treat for architecture and history buffs alike. The tiny street is a haven of stucco archways, Mission-style tile work, and miniature gardens.
Catch the Latest Indie or Foreign Film
While appearing quite out-of-place architecturally, Burns Court Cinema is also an area treasure. What it lacks in outward appearance, it makes up for in cinematic splendor. As a part of the Sarasota Film Society, the small neighborhood movie theater shows some of the finest and most critically-acclaimed independent, art and foreign films from the film festival circuit and offers a "big city" cultural treat for local residents.
Dinner and a Movie
Right next to Burns Court Cinema is one of Sarasota's most fun and delicious seafood restaurants. Occupying Owen Burns’ very own fishing cottage (built in 1926) is Owen's Fish Camp. With a diverse and tasty menu influenced by the cuisines of New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Deep South, there is usually a long wait to get seated. But this turns out to be a bonus if you find a comfortable seat on the restaurant's back porch, where you can enjoy friendly conversation with tourists and locals alike as well as live music from some of the area's very talented tunesmiths.
Made in the Shade
While approaching Owen’s Fish Camp, you will undoubtedly noticed the massive banyan tree. The beautiful and exotic tree was a gift from Thomas Edison to Owen Burns and has become an iconic landmark of the Burns Court.
Exploring the Square
It should be noted that nowadays, when local residents talk of Burns Court, they are often including the area around the tiny side street, where you will find sidewalk cafes, vivid wall murals, and even more of Sarasota's most fun restaurants and shops. A short walk from the equally historic Laurel Park neighborhood, the whole area has the vibrant feel of an arts community.
Another favorite local dining establishment in the Burns Court district is Nancy’s Bar-B-Q. Occupying what was once an old Sinclair Oil gas station and garage, Nancy’s features some of the best smoked pork, ribs, beef brisket, and chicken around, and the bucolic ambiance (which even includes a red tractor) completes the authentic barbecue experience.
Other notable restaurants, shops, and businesses in the area include Awesome Orchids, Burns Court Café, The Pineapple Bay Trading Company, 530 Burns Gallery, Starflower Organic Spathecary, and Clothesline, a unique art gallery and store featuring screen printing, graphic design and local art.
The next time you are looking for cool gift ideas, a unique dining experience, the perfect place to take a date, or just a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, Historic Burns Square is well worth a visit!
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Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist