When one thinks of the word ‘Ringling’ most people think of the “Greatest Show on Earth” like the Circus. A trip down to Sarasota, Florida will put a new meaning to that word. John N. Ringling of course was the founder of the Ringling Brothers Circus and with his brothers he did make it into the “Greatest Show on Earth” however there is much more to John N. Ringling than just his “Circus”. We call it ‘The Ringling in Sarasota’ and is located right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico.
There are actually five main buildings at ‘The Ringling’. First is the main office complex with galleries, bookstore and is where you purchase your tickets. It also has the Center’s Education Art Library and Conservation Lab.
It also houses a very upscale dining room. The 2nd building is the Museum of Art. First stop after getting your tickets is to walk to the Museum of Art with 31 galleries filled with priceless pieces of art from Old Masters thru contemporary from throughout the world. The exterior of the Museum is magnificent itself with statues and columns everywhere. One could easily spend a whole day just in the Museum of Art.
Then a leisurely walk to the Gulf of Mexico to tour John and Mable’s Mansion. With 4 floors of magnificent European furniture, oil paintings, bronzes, crystal chandeliers, fine china and silver, it is breath-taking to see. Located directly on the Gulf of Mexico with views to remember forever.
While you are there, visit the Bayfront Gardens. This is one of the most beautiful gardens that we have seen. It is as much ‘real art’ as one can witness. It is a true living treasure with plenty of statuary under the magnificent banyan trees and roses everywhere!
As you take another leisurely walk to the Circus Museum you will see the parade wagons, the posters, the glittering costumes and the cannon that shot performers through the air. It will surely bring back a lot of memories for you when the circus would come to town and you and your family would rush down to see it.
The 5th building is the beautiful historic Asolo Theater which is housed next to the main building. They have dramatic performances there that is a ‘must see’ for visitors.The theater has a remarkable history and you can read all about it at https://www.ringling.org/history-historic-asolo-theater It actually dates back several hundred years and was brought over to the United States years ago and re-assembled.
They have two places to dine at “The Ringling”…… a very lovely sit down restaurant in the main building and an outdoor dining option close to the Museum of Art. Next time that you are in Florida, forget Mickey Mouse and visit the ‘Ringling’ instead. You won’t be sorry as this is a tremendous Museum to visit and one that you will remember forever.
The Ringling Museum is the largest museum in Florida. They are located at 5401 Bay Shore Road in Sarasota. They are open daily, 10 AM -5 PM and Thursdays until 8 PM. Their phone number is 941.359.5700 is www.ringling.org/ They have plenty of free parking.
When we visit museums and art galleries we always like to give praise to special people. At the ‘Ringling’ we want to praise Robin Findlay and Alice Murphy in the front office and to Mary Schreck who was one of the finest tour guides that we have ever encountered in all of our travels from coast to coast. She was extremely professional and informative about the Mansion. Everyone in our group was extremely pleased with her knowledge and she answered all questions perfectly.
TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).