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“The museum and grounds are FREE on Mondays!”
Review of The Ringling

The Ringling
Ranked #1 of 143 things to do in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: The Ringling is located in Sarasota, Florida and preserves the legacy of John and Mable Ringling. It is home to the State Art Museum of Florida, the historic Ca' d'Zan Mansion, Bayfront Gardens, an Art Library, the Circus Museums and the Historic Asolo Theater. The grounds and gardens are free to visit, and the Museum of Art offers free admission on Mondays.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed August 22, 2011

From what I understand, the Ringling family's gift to the public - in the form of these amazing grounds and stunning artwork - was contingent upon an agreement to allow the public a regular opportunity to experience it free of charge, so the museum and the grounds are absolutely free on Mondays. This does not include the Ca D'Zan mansion or the circus museum, but still well worth a day trip from whatever distance. The art is truly amazing - lots of great artwork - my favorite is a tiny portrait stuck in the corner of one of the gallery rooms called "Blue Madonna" by Dolci. If you enjoy portraits with nuance, google this, or better yet, see the real thing at the Ringling.

I won't go into any more detail about the artwork since you can do that on the official website etc.; I would just offer some general advice about how to get the most out of a visit. If it's a hot day, I would recommend walking the grounds earlier or later out of the heat of the day (although they do offer free transportation on golf carts for those who do not care to walk). The banyan trees (which drop roots from their branches) are amazing, and the rose garden is classic. There are countless out of the way nooks and crannies of the grounds where you can take a moment and sit down on a bench and just "be". The Ca' D'Zan mansion sits on the western-most point of the grounds on the intercoastal. If the budget allows it, a tour of this building is essential, because it is absolutely stunning inside. The mansion was restored several years ago, and during the restoration it was used in the filming of the remake of "Great Expectations" with Ethan Hawke and Gwineth Paltrow.

The circus museum is somewhat interesting, but to be quite honest if time is a factor or unless one of your party is a circus fanatic, you aren't missing much by skipping it. I tend to find the displays of old circus memorabilia a bit depressing, actually, but I'm sure that there are those who would very much enjoy it.

The art museum is wonderful, and there are usually some special exhibits in a separate viewing area in the back -- most recently there was a very interesting display of modern and pop art, which my daughters absolutely loved.

There are a few dining venues on site, including an upscale (but pricey) cafe in the main entrance building where tickets are purchased. The gift shop has many prints and other replicas of the artwork in the museum.

In this economic climate, having the Ringling available free of charge on Mondays is something every visitor (and resident) should take advantage of. If you love art and want a taste of how the mega-wealthy surrounded themselves with beauty and decadence in the early Florida boom, this place is a must-see.

4  Thank eclecticfun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5,181 - 5,185 of 5,592 reviews

Reviewed August 17, 2011

We strolled along the paths of the beautiful outside area and also went into the Art Museum - which both are free on Mondays! If you also want to see the circus museum and inside of the mansion, it's $25 per adult.

The most impressive part of the grounds were the huge Banyan trees!! Also check out the very nice and colorful rose garden. The Ca' d’Zan Mansion is just as breathtaking (front and back, great sea view, and you can also go inside), as well as the art museum's court with gorgeous arcade walkways! Of course the inside of the museum of art itself is worth a visit too, with many pantings and sculptures from all kinds of different periods and countries.

Be sure to plan enough time to see everything!

1  Thank Andie2303
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2011

Our family takes vacation in Sarasota. For four generations it has been a destination! For our family we have included the Ringling Museum as a highlight to our trip. We have even become members because it is something we love to support!

There is the art gallery with some artwork that always remains. Then there is the area that is ever changing with new and old talents alike. You'll enjoy the circus museum and the mansion off the bay is breathtaking! And a rose garden that will amaze!

The area is quite large but don't worry! There are trolies running all the time if you need it.

Thank StephieDee6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2011

My wife and I spent nearly a day here and very much enjoyed every moment. The high point for us was a guided tour of the art museum which contained some wonderful classic paintings. The museum of circus was an odd combination against the backdrop of art and high culture but none the less it was fascinating. The circus museum contained a beautifully displayed model which brought to life the era of the travelling entertainment. The gardens are a joy to walk in and host some attractive bird life.

My tip is to organise your visit to take advantage of the free guided tours. There are free tram rides around the site, but walking in the gardens is better. Parking is easy. The staff were very well informed and helpful. Photography is allowed (without flash). The site has two cafes and a restaurant. Toilets are dotted around the site, everything you need for a good day out is available.

This place contains such a mixture of things to see that it seemed to us surreal at times. This place is unique and fun and educational. I’d heartily recommended this place.

1  Thank MaffUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2011

My husband and I spent 1/2 the day here yesterday. We are frequent traveler to great museums all over and where impressed with the vast amount of world class art here! The circus exhibits where a real highlight too! And the Manson was great as well, we spent time on the patio just enjoying the gulf view and breeze. There r many buildings but a nice little trolley plus they are very walkable. And the banyan trees are the nicest I have been outside of Hawaii.

Thank lindsay8182
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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