Hi everyone! Memorial Day weekend starts today, and that usually means a bit of holiday travel for most folks. In anticipation of the fun weekend ahead, I thought I would tempt you with photos from my trip to Sarasota, taken during my Florida sojourn this past winter. To those of you going somewhere relaxing, I hope you have a safe trip. And for those of you — like me — who will be enjoying a staycation, use these photos to dream of your next trip. Enjoy!
While in Sarasota, make sure to visit Pinecraft — a section of Sarasota where the Amish go to vacation. They have a great restaurant there called Yoder’s, as well as a fantastic market selling all things Amish like homemade jams and home grown produce.
The main draw to Sarasota is the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. It’s a like visiting the highly cultured version of Disneyworld, as it includes a world-famous art museum; Ca d’Zan, the impeccably-preserved home of John and Mable Ringling; acres of gardens, a circus museum, and the Tibbals Learning Center which houses the ¾-inch-to-the-foot scale replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919–1938, a.k.a. the “world’s largest miniature circus.” Plan to spend all day at the Ringling, and wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking from one end of the estate to the other. (Well, there is a tram, but that’s for the weak. To really experience the place I recommend hoofing it.) My mother and I were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was well worth the trip.
Here are some details from Ca d’Zan. The house is magnificently decorated and totally over the top. One word of advice: get your tickets well ahead of time, and invest in the extra tours that take you behind the scenes of the mansion’s upper floors.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the gardens surrounding the house, which look out towards Sarasota Bay.
The Circus Museum is a real treat, and the first museum of its kind to document the history of the trade. Make sure you visit the Tibbals Learning Center, which I found even more interesting than the actual Circus Museum. Inside is the gargantuan miniature replica of the full Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — from elephant to clean up crew — as well as several interactive exhibits. This is where you want to spend a lot of time during your stay.
Finally, for those of you with camera in hand, make sure to exercise your artistic mojo with the eerie garden statues.
There is a reliquary, of sorts, just past the Circus Museum that houses a lot of broken statues. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be there, but I take my photo ops where I can.
Also not to be missed is the Dwarf Garden, located to the left as you exit the main entrance pavilion. These odd little statues were an absolute delight to find. To find more hidden treasures, I recommend you click on the museum website and take a look at the suggested itineraries section.
We stayed overnight, but could have easily spent more time in Sarasota. Lots of great restaurants, (expensive) shopping at St. Armand’s Circle, as well as more museums and cultural discoveries.
To view more recent work, such as these photos of Sarasota, please visit my website.
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