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“Worth the price-spend all day” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Ringling

The Ringling
5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243
+1 941-359-5700
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Ranked #1 of 112 things to do in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
Activities: Group tours/walking tour
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Ringling is located in Sarasota, Florida and preserves the legacy of John and Mable Ringling. It is home to a Museum of Art, the historic Ca' d'Zan Mansion, Bayfront Gardens, an Art Library, the Circus Museums and the Historic Asolo Theater.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Lexington, Kentucky
Level Contributor
23 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Worth the price-spend all day”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2014

We usually always take a day away from the beach to do something cultural. We have never done the Ringling as the kids usually want to go to the Mote Aquarium. The price is not cheap but we did find a coupon for $2 off adult admission. Kids tickets are much cheaper. We got there right at the opening and began with the circus museum. The miniature circus was amazing and really gave and overview of what circus life was like during the heyday. My kids loved the interactive area where they could watch a clown put on his make-up, get in a clown car, walk a tight-rope... Then we went to the "old" circus museum and spent a good deal of time looking at the old train cars. Really neat stuff. Then we walked to the mansion and enjoyed the beautiful view on the back deck while waiting to go in the house. We did not pay to take the guided tour but my kids (9 and 11) were not that thrilled with walking through the house so the first floor tour was perfect. After the house tour we made our way to the art museum. We opted for the free docent-lead tour. I recommend it. We learned a lot about the paintings-more than just what was on the plaques by each painting. The exhibit on fakes and forgeries was really quite fascinating. My 11 year old was none too excited about art museums but by the end wanted a book about the art museum to read more about the paintings in the collections. We spent about 5 hours in total. It was a great day away from the beach and we may return again the next time we are in the area. We did eat at the cafe which was so-so food with a really high price tag.

Visited July 2014
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The Villages, Florida
Level Contributor
101 reviews
58 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“There's a good reason this is ranked #1”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2014

My husband and I ( no kids) visited in late July. We expected it to be sweltering hot, but were pleasantly surprised with the shade and lovely breeze off the bay. Do not be put off by the size of the estate. They have golf cart trams running frequently that will take you from venue to venue if you don't want to walk. But walk if you can in order to take in the beautiful grounds, landscaping and statuary along the shaded paths. The banyon trees alone are impressive, but there is so much more. While we are not particularly strong art museum enthusiasts, the artwork here was so very well exhibited, we ended up spending over 3 hours in the museum and didn't manage to see it all. Don't miss seeing the film on John and Mabel Ringling in the circus museum. It's well done and very interesting. Also don't miss going into Ca d' Zan, but don't feel you have to spend the extra for the 3 room tour of the upstairs. Our guide rushed us through every room so that by the end we wished we had taken the self-guided tour at our own pace. Plan to spend a whole day here. There are a couple of places to get a bite to eat, not surprisingly over-priced, but the sandwiches we had were good. A day very pleasantly spent learning about a bygone era. They just don't make rich people like they used to!

Visited July 2014
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Florida
Level Contributor
24 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Plan on spending 2 days to see it all!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2014

Wear good shoes and bring water in the summer months. The parking was free and very close to the entrance. We bought a one day ticket but ran of time and went back and upgraded to a 3 day ticket for $10.00 each for 2 extra days. They didn't have a 2 day ticket available. They do offer a military, veteran and senior discount. In the summer they also have a little one ring show with about 5 acts. The cost is an additional $15.00 each. If you go see this show the line starts to form about an hour before the show starts. We went to the very upper level balcony and had great seats. The show was great and the one acts is currently on the TV show "Americas Got Talent".

The gardens are wonderful. There is the Mabel rose garden, the dwarf garden, the butterfly garden and a linear tree garden. There are many statues throughout the property. Lush and green with ponds and fountains. They do offer golf cart rides (the tram) to help get you around if you don't want to walk.

The 2 circus museums were outstanding and we spend almost one whole day just seeing everything. The miniature circus was something in a class all by itself. You just have to see it to believe it. Take your time and really look inside all the tents and see all the detail. Wonderful! There is also a movie in the circus museum with the train. Make sure to watch is as it gives a great overview of the Ringling's.

We also toured the summer home of the Ringling's. What a treat. It is right on the bay and is beautiful! You can tour the upper levels of the home but it will be an additional cost.

The art Museum is not to be missed with a huge interior courtyard filled with gardens and more statues. The docent asked if we wanted a tour and we said yes and we were the only 2 on the tour. He was excellent and full of great information. The art work is mainly from Europe and was collected by John Ringling on this travels there to obtain circus acts. After our tour we went back and went through the museum again to be sure and see everything.

Ringling is a wonderful place to go but plan on having enough time to see it all.

Visited July 2014
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Texas
Level Contributor
72 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Have your walking shoes on!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

If you love the circus, you will love this place. The tiny circus exhibit is fantastic. The mansion is cool also.

Visited July 2014
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Greenville, South Carolina
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Nice Day”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

Went there with family. It was a wonderful day there lots to see and admire with Art, Circus Museum etc.
Plus beautiful views from the Mansion!

Visited July 2014
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