Wow - what an lovely mansion (built in the Venetian/Italian style). Make sure to allow time to sit on the back veranda set on the bay to enjoy the view and rest before heading onward to other activities or start here and wait for the next tour to start (which is what we did). I especially loved some of the unusual furniture and the venetian building details. Tours are self-guided downstairs and you can also pay for a guided tour which includes the upstairs as well (ck w/ticket counter for specifics on times, etc.). Loved the chandalier from the original Astoria hotel in NYC, too!
The grounds leading up to the house are amazing. There is the beautiful Mable Ringling Rose Garden, the fascinating and magical banyan trees, the Secret Garden and the graves of Mr. & Mrs. Ringling behind the Secret Garden.
There are free golf carts to take you to the other buildings/sites on the property if you're not up for the return walk. We walked to the mansion and did everything on the property and then took the golf cart over to the art museum... which I recommend you take a golf cart at least one-way as the drivers fill you in on details we didn't know any other way, like the height of the flag poles (which represent the big top main poles) and why they needed to be shorter than they'd have been if they held the big top tent (interesting info).
So glad we came!
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