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Sunday, May 26, 2019

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida is one of the most Beautiful Museums You Will Ever Visit! A legacy left by John and Mable Ringling, who made their fortune as part of the famous Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  Your admission gives you far more than just one museum.



All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

Within the 66-acre grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay you can see the Circus Museum recapturing the heady days of the traveling circus, tour the magnificent Ca’ d’Zan Mansion and the extensive gardens, and visit the Florida State Art Museum, the original Asolo Theatre or the more recent Glass Pavilion, making this a great value-for-money attraction.  LTD gives you restaurant recommendations in the Sarasota area to make your visit a great "Day at the Museum!"


Enjoy our Video about John and Mable Ringling on the Museum grounds where we show you Ca' d'Zan live!




1. Ca' d'Zan


To understand Ca' d’Zan, it’s important to understand the Ringling Brothers’ story. John was born in Iowa in 1866 to German immigrants, the fifth of seven children.

In 1884, the brothers started a small local circus in Baraboo, and eventually the show toured by train all across the country. The Ringling brothers soon became a household name.  John’s job was as the advance man, visiting towns ahead of the circus to promote the show and plaster buildings with posters which you can view at the Museum today.  John and his brothers bought the famed Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1907, and operated them separately, growing them individually before combining them into an empire in 1919.  Soon, John and his brother Charles were some of the richest men in the country.

Outside the three-ring circus of his work life, John married his wife Mable in 1905, and in 1926, Charles died, leaving John the only Ringling brother. In 1927, John moved the show’s winter headquarters to Sarasota, where he invested in real estate on the side. Construction was completed on John and Mable’s new winter home, Ca ‘d’Zan, in 1926.

John and Mable were especially fond of the architecture and culture of Venice and traveled to Europe frequently in search of circus acts. They chose the site for Ca'‘d’Zan because its location on Sarasota Bay reminded them of the stunning Venetian Lagoon. The name Ca' d’Zan is Venetian for “The House of John”, and the architecture draws influence from all over, including the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

The Venetian Gothic Sarasota Bay mansion is truly eye-catching with its decorative pink sandstone exterior and beautiful multi-colored marble terrace. It is lavishly decorated with wrought-iron balconies, tile decoration, and ornate Moorish-style windows.

Tours of the house include the grand ballroom, solarium, the central “court” or living room, dining room, Tap room, and kitchen, all furnished just as in the days when John and Mable lived there.  Look for the original Florida cedar painted ceilings in the living room!

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida
Courtesy of the Ringling 

2.  The Grounds


All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

One of nature’s best-kept local secrets is The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s stunning grounds and gardens.  The rose garden, inspired by the one Mable kept, features 1200 roses, including many varieties that she herself planted. Also visit the Secret Garden, check out the statues in the Dwarf Garden, and admire the design of the Courtyard. As you explore the estate of Ringling’s winter home, the Ca ‘d’Zan, you’ll feel transported to another time and place entirely!

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

Thirteen awesome banyan trees were gifts to John Ringling from Thomas Edison, brought up from his estate in Fort Myers in the 1920s. (The story of this gift was passed down via oral history, but not officially documented.)

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida


Banyans are members of the large tropical family of trees, and represent some of the world’s largest tree girths, because their unique growth pattern can easily cover an acre of ground in less than a century, almost “walking” with expansion of their aerial roots and support trunks.

The Ringling grounds boast the most extensive collection of banyans in Sarasota County, In some schools a laboratory exercise is to calculate the mass of one Ringling banyan tree -- do you think you can do it?



3.  Circus Museum


There are only about 10 museums in the United States that involve the Circus Industry which many believe is a vanishing experience.  For generations, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus proved itself an enduring family entertainment, a show so popular that its self-proclaimed status as “The Greatest Show on Earth”.  The Circus closed its Big Top in 2017 and now lives to be seen through museums.

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

The Circus Museum at the Ringling is dazzling and amazing for young and old alike.  Walk the wire. Squeeze into a clown car. Snap photos with a ferocious (faux) tiger. Reminisce about days-gone-by. Thrill to it all: the parade wagons, the posters, the glittering costumes, and the cannon that shot daring performers through the air. Wonder at the must-be-seen-to-be-believed 44,000-piece Howard Bros. Circus Model and the Greatest Show on Earth Mural celebrating the entertainment that has delighted packed houses in great cities and small towns across America for generations. Step right this way…for the Greatest Show on Earth!


All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida




To get yourself in the mood for your visit to the Ringling Museum, put yourself back into the era of John and Mable Ringling with a great hat that will protect you from the sun.  Click the photo below to learn more and buy at Amazon!





4.  Historic Asolo Theater


Created in Asolo, Italy in 1798, brought to Sarasota in the early 1950s and painstakingly restored in 2006, the Historic Asolo Theater is one of the most beloved objects in The Ringling collection.  Walk inside and see the elaborate decoration that will transport you back to 18th century Europe.

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

The Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion, opened in January 2018, displays of The Ringling’s collection of American and European studio glass, and provides a welcoming entrance the Historic Asolo Theater. The Historic Asolo Theater is open for public viewing during select hours. Please inquire at the Visitor Services desk upon arrival for available times or phone ahead to see if it will be open when you visit. A short documentary of the Historic Asolo Theater, is available for viewing in the Visitor Pavilion, directly outside the theater entrance.


All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

5.  The Museum of Art


The Museum is both an extraordinary place and an extraordinary collection of art. From the Rubens Galleries to the Turrell Skyspace, view the permanent collection’s treasures, the fascinating exhibitions from around the world and the classical sculptures that fill the grand courtyard. Now the State Art Museum of Florida, this awe-inspiring palace was originally built by John Ringling as a legacy to the citizens of Florida.

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

In 1925, John Ringling decided to build an art museum, both as a legacy meant to outlast his business interests and as a memorial to his wife Mable and himself. By sharing the arts of Europe with the people of Florida, Ringling sought to educate and encourage curiosity for the wider world.

John H. Phillips designed the Museum—a pink, Renaissance-style palace with 21 galleries enclosing a courtyard graced with copies of iconic sculptures. First opened in 1930, Ringling filled the Museum with European paintings, paneled rooms from the Gilded Age Astor mansion in New York, and ancient and medieval objects purchased from distinguished collections. Upon his death in 1936, Ringling bequeathed  the Museum to the people of Florida.

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

The Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art is devoted to artists working in the 20th and 21st centuries and is a wonderful contrast to the traditional art located in Ringling's original galleries.

All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

Bottom Line:


The Ringling takes great pride in providing one of the best museum experiences in the country, and visitors are taking notice.  Plan for taking in all that The Ringling has to offer and allow yourself time to just sit and enjoy the beautiful architecture, grounds and views.  Make sure to visit the unique Circus Museum and be a kid again!  It will be a long day but rest during your visit or after you leave at one our favorite restaurants in the area.  To find out more about The Ringling, click here!

Our favorite restaurants in the area:


  •  Muse at the Ringling Don't want to leave the Ringling?  This soaring, contemporary museum restaurant offering modern American cuisine & a scenic patio is worth staying for!
  • Michaels on East Be prepared to open you wallet and make a reservation for this local dining establishment offering sophisticated New American plates & monthly specials in a modern setting with a chic piano lounge.
  • Veronicas Fish and Oyster Bar is a Relaxed seafood house with raw bar & Sunday brunch, cocktails & a funky-chic supper-club feel.
  • Pacific Rim in Sarasota the is a casual, contemporary option for Japanese & Thai fusion fare plus creative martinis.
  • Melange in downtown Sarasota is a modern dining spot offering eclectic American options such as rabbit tacos & quail, plus cocktails.
  • Chart House happy hour This location has a beautiful view and great small plates that are generous portions with drink specials for happy hour.  Get there early since it is very crowded!
  • Ruth's Chris A NOLA chain restaurant, but reliable upscale dining with a great Seasonal Classic menu (prix fixe)
  • Mirna's Cuban Cuisine Nearby the Museum and offers a unique dining experience that you won’t find elsewhere in Sarasota! Cuban culture is strong in the Tampa Bay Area.
  • PIER 22 Restaurant for Views of the Spectacular Manatee River in Bradenton
  • Beach Bistro Save your money for this spectacular ocean-front culinary experience!  Located directly on the beach on quaint Anna Maria Island.
  • The Sandbar is a local favorite on Anna Maria Island with a great view.  Enjoy some food and music, but prepare for a long scenic ride along the beach to get there.  It is worth the drive!
  • The Waterfront restaurant on Anna Maria is a great place to have a drink with a view of Tampa Bay
  • Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar Casual Waterfront Dining for seafood staples!
  • Another Broken Egg Cafe A popular chain in the area for breakfast all over but we prefer the one on Siesta Key!
  • Columbia Restaurant You may feel cramped at this open air, traditional Spanish restaurant, but enjoy the cuisine and take a walk around St. Armand Circle's shops, stroll out to Lido Key Beach, or grab some gelato after dinner.  




All You Need to Know When You Visit The World Class John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida




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