Family Travel: Our Ringling Museum Experience
Many people don’t realize that Sarasota Florida was originally settled by the Ringling Brothers when they moved their winter circus headquarters there in 1927. At the time, it was mostly undeveloped and seemed the perfect place to set up for them thanks to the weather and available space.
Since that time, Sarasota has grown to become a hub for everything circus, fine arts and incredible performances. There are so many wonderful things to do when you Visit Sarasota now, one of the most interesting being a visit to the Ringling Museum.
What is The Ringling Museum?
The Ringling Museum is the first museum to document the rich and fascinating history of the American Circus – there is even an exhibit detailing the entire history of the circus from the start of time. The first thing to see is a huge building showcasing incredible circus memorabilia and unique wardrobes with interactive stations that really are fun for the whole family. Across from there is another beautiful building that is home to an incredible fine art collection, a very well done rose garden to walk through with a fantastic playground for the kids and a small café. And at the very end of the property is the Ca’d’zan, the original home built by John and Mable Ringling when they first moved to Sarasota.
The Ringling Museum has something unique to offer people of all ages and makes learning so much fun – though how could learning about the circus not be fun?!
Our Ringling Museum Experience
We arrived on a Friday morning when the opened at 10. Parking was a little confusing so I’ll tell you, when you enter from the main road, you will take a right into that first parking lot and park there in front of FSU Center For The Performing Arts. Once parked, walk towards the building and you will see an entrance to the left across a small street to the Ringling Museum. Parking is free and there is plenty of it.
Getting our tickets where a breeze, and as we exited the lobby, we entered a peaceful, beautiful area with 2 lakes, water fountains, gorgeous landscaping and people sitting out painting. It was really pretty.
We entered the Tibbals Learning Center first. This is a huge building filled with all kinds of circus stuff. From carriages to interactive stations to amazing old circus videos to a huge model of a circus and all that goes into raising one to gorgeous costumes… there was so much to see and do! It took us about an hour to get through this first building.
Next we went into the Original Circus Museum next door. This is home to many circus stage coaches, travel wagons, the first human catapult and the train car that the Ringlings would travel around the country on looking for new circus acts. It took us about 30 minutes to get through this building and was really fun as you can get up on the train and get a close look at the human catapult car!!!
Across the way, we went over to the Fine Art Museum and had a walk through. It truly is a great collection. Sorry, no pictures allowed, you are just going to have to visit to see it for yourselves!! 😉 It took about 30 minutes to walk through. I would have liked to have spent more time, but my littles were in a hurry to check out the rose garden and playpark!!
There is a tram that runs from each point so if/when you get tired, you can just hop on. There is a lot of walking involved, so we utilized this to get us to the garden and playpark! It was fun.
The playpark is awesome, they have slide that pretty much catapults the kids out!! The garden is lovely.
Lastly, we checked out the Ca’D’zan (meaning ‘House of John’). This is a beautiful estate, and the view is incredible – check it out!
We were exhausted by this point and ready for a late lunch, time to head out! We spent about 3 hours here and had a blast.
You will want to dress in layers as it can get warm walking outside and cool when inside. Defintely wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking to be done.
Don’t forget your cameras, sunscreen and some water! There is a nice café offering food for you to purchase and a gift shop you must check out before you head home.
A special thanks to Visit Sarasota for sponsoring this post and showing us such a great time in Sarasota! We learned so much at the Ringling Museum and had so much fun doing it that I hope you will take some time on your next vacation to Sarasota to visit them! Start planning your trip here!
Cheers and Safe Travels!
Malibu Mama Loves Xx