To Main Map

Ringling Museum and Mansion

Sarasota FL
Print   Leave a comment
Ringling Museum and Mansion, Sarasota FL

Description

The Ringling is a complex on gorgeous Sarasota Bay with an incredible amount of things to explore! There is the Venetian Gothic style mansion of circus magnate John Ringling and his wife Mable, a circus museum, an art museum of works they collected, gardens with huge banyan trees, and an imaginative children's playground. You can enter the gardens, terrace over the bay, and playground for free, but to see inside the mansion and museums, you pay one admission fee.
Ca d'Zan (house of John) is the name of the stunning Venetian-style mansion. Its Venetian glass windows are a shimmering blue-green, its tower reaches six stories, and its facade has thousands of terra cotta tiles in the stucco that catch the golden coastal light. Built directly on the bay, its terrace is surreal. With patterned exotic marble covering an expansive space enclosed with a terra cotta balustrade, the terrace feels tranquil. It beckons you to stay a while, which you can on its wicker chairs.
Inside the mansion, check out the blue murals on the cypress coffered ceilings. In the main parlor with its classy black and white checkered floor, there is a piano. When we were there, a man was playing it and we danced along. He told us that now we had danced where the actress for the good witch in the Wizard of Oz danced!
The circus museum has a fantastic video about John and Mable Ringling that you must watch! Its two buildings contain the Ringling's train car, which is lovely, the human cannonball truck, and all sorts of wagons, props, and costumes from their circus.
The gardens are blessed with huge banyan trees that are such a joy to behold. Sit and have lunch outside at the cafeteria-style Banyan Cafe where you can look into the cool, dark shade of the banyan tree.
The gardens also contain a rose garden with sculptures of ladies and gentlemen playing musical instruments- pure joy! Near the entrance to the complex is a dwarf garden, with statues of dwarfs under a banyan tree.
Behind the Banyan Cafe is an incredible children's playground! It is like a work of art in itself! Here kids can climb to the top of what feels like a treehouse and look out yellow, red, and blue stained windows at the world around them. They can slide down a huge, steep slide. A toddler structure in similar style is beside it, including a playhouse with a steep roof that kids can climb up and slide down. There is a water play area with fresh, clean water surrounded by sand. And lastly there are big woven blue disc swings that kids can lay in and swing under the tall trees!
The art museum is wonderfully done as well! Its courtyard with archways, classical statues, and fountains takes you back to carefree days traveling in Europe. Inside, its works are displayed in rooms as beautiful as the paintings themselves. The rooms are arranged by country and time period, and you feel like you've walked through a tour of the periods in European Art History.
I would love to visit this wonderful place again, and especially to sit on the terrace of the mansion at sunset, looking out over the bay. On the same piece of land overlooking the bay, a short walk to the north of the mansion is New College of Florida.

[continued...]

Photo Gallery

Click on photo to see large version
The terrace over Sarasota Bay.
The terrace over Sarasota Bay.
Beautiful terra cotta ornamentation on the mansion.
Beautiful terra cotta ornamentation on the mansion.
The zigzag marble terrace.
The zigzag marble terrace.
Marble terrace over the luminous bay.
Marble terrace over the luminous bay.
Archways and classical sculptures in the art museum's courtyard.
Archways and classical sculptures in the art museum's courtyard.
Archways, sculptures, and pool in the art museum courtyard.
Archways, sculptures, and pool in the art museum courtyard.
Venetian painting called A Triumph, made with reverse painting and gilded glass.
Venetian painting called A Triumph, made with reverse painting and gilded glass.
The colorful Circus Museum.
The colorful Circus Museum.
Banyan tree.
Banyan tree.
The amazing branches of a banyan tree.
The amazing branches of a banyan tree.
Tall, incredible trees.
Tall, incredible trees.
The toddler playground, with colored windows to look through.
The toddler playground, with colored windows to look through.
Toddler house and playground, and big kid playground behind.
Toddler house and playground, and big kid playground behind.
Relaxing swings that are a big hit with everyone!
Relaxing swings that are a big hit with everyone!
Treehouse playground and giant tunnel slide.
Treehouse playground and giant tunnel slide.
Rose garden and banyan tree.
Rose garden and banyan tree.
Statue of a man playing the lute and serenading a woman, in the rose garden.
Statue of a man playing the lute and serenading a woman, in the rose garden.
Another music-themed statue in the rose garden.
Another music-themed statue in the rose garden.
Kids never tire of the water play station.
Kids never tire of the water play station.
Clean water to play with at the playground!
Clean water to play with at the playground!
Looking to the toddler play structure from the play house.
Looking to the toddler play structure from the play house.
Kids slide down the roof of the play house.
Kids slide down the roof of the play house.
Sculpture, with mansion and bay behind.
Sculpture, with mansion and bay behind.
Sculpture by the bay.
Sculpture by the bay.
The mansion, with its Venetian-style architecture.
The mansion, with its Venetian-style architecture.
Looking up at the tower.
Looking up at the tower.
The windows are so unique at the Ringling mansion!
The windows are so unique at the Ringling mansion!
Close-up of a window at the mansion.
Close-up of a window at the mansion.
Terrace over the bay.
Terrace over the bay.
Terra cotta lion looking out on the bay.
Terra cotta lion looking out on the bay.
Looking south down the intracoastal from the terrace.
Looking south down the intracoastal from the terrace.
Marble at the water's edge!
Marble at the water's edge!
Aaaah...the terrace.
Aaaah...the terrace.
There are banyan trees everywhere at the Ringling!
There are banyan trees everywhere at the Ringling!
Wonderful banyan tree.
Wonderful banyan tree.
Man playing piano in the mansion!
Man playing piano in the mansion!
The wonderful painted ceiling!
The wonderful painted ceiling!
Cypress coffered ceiling with blue murals.
Cypress coffered ceiling with blue murals.
The serene outdoor seating at counter-service Banyan Cafe.
The serene outdoor seating at counter-service Banyan Cafe.
One of many ornate circus wagons.
One of many ornate circus wagons.
Human cannonballs, a death-defying stunt.
Human cannonballs, a death-defying stunt.
The Ringling train car!
The Ringling train car!
The lovely art museum.
The lovely art museum.
Art by the French community in 17th century Rome.
Art by the French community in 17th century Rome.
The Rubens gallery, with its high ceiling and huge paintings.
The Rubens gallery, with its high ceiling and huge paintings.
Sculpture courtyard.
Sculpture courtyard.
Perfect banyan tree!
Perfect banyan tree!
Sculpture in a bright green spot near the entrance.
Sculpture in a bright green spot near the entrance.

Directions

The Ringling is located at 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota FL 34243, call (941) 359-5700. There is plenty of free parking.
Open daily 10-5. Museums (but not mansion) are open extended hours, until 8pm, each Thursday. Closed on Jan 1, Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov), and Dec 25.
Gardens (which are free to enter) are open daily 9:30-6.
Admission to the entire complex (mansion and museums) is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, $5 for students and children, free for children aged 5 and under. $10 for Florida teachers and active military. Adult admission drops to $10 after 5pm on Thursday.

This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

Visitor Ratings

Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.

Last Updated Fri, 14 Nov 2014 22:30:29 GMT