The Ringling, with its beautiful pink exterior and intricate architecture, is the gem of Sarasota Florida.
Whether you have one day to spend in Sarasota or you’re in the city for a full on vacation, this place is a must see.
You can spend just a few hours there or spend the whole day exploring the 66 acre estate. Either way, it is worth stopping by the Ringling and it’s one of the best things to do in Sarasota.
History of the Ringling
John and Mable Ringling first purchased the waterfront property in 1911. John Ringling was one of the brothers who owned the circus called “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
From this success John became one of the richest men in America at that time, allowing him to build this stunning home.
Mable wanted a home that resembled the Venetian Gothic style palace so they hired an architect to help with the process.
Other than their main home, John also built a huge museum to hold the galleries of his paintings that he acquired.
During the Great Depression, John took a financial hit as well and started to fall into debt. Soon after he died, leaving the estate to the state of Florida.
However, the estate was poorly managed for a while until the state passed on the estate to Florida State University.
Soon after, money was allocated and raised to start renovations and the Ringling Estate was brought back to its former glory.
It was opened up again to the public and remains open today where you can tour the grounds and buildings.
Is the Museum Worth Visiting?
The Ringling Museum is unlike any other place that you will see in the area and one of the best places to see in Florida. With the stunning architecture highlighted in pink and the beautiful gardens across the acres, the estate is definitely worth visiting.
The paintings in the art museum are worth a stop as well. There are over 20 galleries of collections that span from the Renaissance era to modern day art.
It is a romantic thing to do in Sarasota for couples, great for families looking for a way to pass the day, and it’s the perfect place for those instagrammable shots.
The Ringling Museum and Estate
There are many things to explore on this 66 acre estate. Here are some of the things you can expect to see when you visit.
The Ca’d’Zan, or the “House of John”, was their primary home and sits right on the Sarasota Bay at the back of the property. It was built to reflect the Venetian Gothic style of the palaces in Venice, Italy that are on the banks of the Grand Canal.
This mansion was intricately designed in a light pink color with orange accents. The back of the home was lined with stained glass windows to have incredible views of the water.
Museum of Art
The art museum is the first thing you see as you turn into the parking lot of the estate. It is shaped like a U with the galleries lining the sides of the building. In the middle, there is a courtyard of manicured gardens. The statue of David, a replica of Michelangelo’s David, stands overlooking the courtyard.
The classic collection of paintings inside the museum showcase work from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical eras. Some of these paintings are as tall as the museum walls themselves.
You can also find a section of modern art and sculptures from artists living in the 21st century.
In the Circus museum you’ll find everything modeled after the once extremely successful circus owned by the Ringling brothers.
From the glittering costumes to the cannon that shot out performers, you can catch a glimpse of the extravagant circus that it once was.
The gardens are a beautiful part of the estate with majestic Banyon trees as the star of the show.
Historic Asolo Theater
This theater is one of the top in Sarasota. If you want a fun theater going experience then make sure to stop by.
Visiting Hours and Cost For the Ringling
Open Daily 10:00am – 5:00pm, Thursdays until 8:00pm. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.
On Mondays the entrance to the grounds and the art museum is free. However, the entrance to the rest of the areas are still for a fee.
Thursday nights are also discounted for admission called Art after 5. You get to explore the Museum of Art and the Circus Museum. This also includes access to limited programs and events. Whether it is a Gallery Walk and Talk, Ringling by the Bay, or a self-guided tour, there is something for everyone.
On any other day, Museum Admission which includes entry to the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, and Bayfront Gardens but doesn’t include entrance to the Ca’d’Zan is as follows:
- Adult: $25
- Senior (65+) $23
- Children (6-17) $5
- Children under 5 Free
- Members Free
There are also discounts provided for active military, Florida teachers, college students and personal care attendants, however, a current ID is required for proof.
To avoid waiting in lines upon your arrival, you can also purchase tickets online.
If you don’t want to see everything, you can also purchase tickets to only the things you want to see on the estate. The tickets for that come out cheaper since the cost can be split up depending on what areas of the estate you want to see.