The Ringling was first opened in 1948 and is home to the Ca’ d’Zan mansion, where John and Mable Ringling once lived. John Ringling was one of the five brothers who started the famous traveling circus show at the beginning of the 19th century. Now known as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the circus show was a hit with families, and those visiting Sarasota can now get a closer look behind it.
Beyond the Ca’ d’Zan mansion, the Ringling is also home to the John and Mabel Museum of Art, the Circus Museum, the Historic Asolo Theater, an Education Center, and the Bayfront Gardens.
The Circus Museum is great for kids, as it features interactive exhibits and activities, like a high wire (that isn’t too high) for kids to walk across; a clown car for little ones to squeeze into; and an impressively, expansive model circus that features 44,000 pieces that move, dance, sing and more, just like an actual circus.
The Historic Asolo Theater offers tours for guests who are interested in exploring the stage areas and balcony seating, which have hosted a plethora of performers and audience members over the years. Originally created in Asolo, Italy, the theater was moved to Sarasota in the 1950’s. Tickets are available for shows and performances.
The Education Center hosts workshops, many of which are family-friendly, that focus on art, myths, science, and more.
Bayfront Gardens is home to statues, flowers, plants and a Millennium Trail, all of which allow guests to get close to the beauty of nature. Events are also hosted at the gardens each month.
The Ringling is an excellent attraction for a multi-generational family to visit. Kids will love the Circus Museum, adults will love the historic mansion tour and older adults will love the gardens and art museum. This truly is a spot for everyone and families could easily spend a half day or an entire day here depending if you plan to see portions of The Ringling or everything it has to offer.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and until 8 p.m. on Thursdays
Things to Know/Bring: The Ringling is quite expansive and a complimentary tram service is available to transport guests around the grounds.
Dining: Several cafes can be found in different parts to The Ringling. There is also a picnic area if families would like to bring their own food and beverages in.
Parking: Free parking is available.