In 1929, John Ringling chose Sarasota as winter headquarters for his “Greatest Show on Earth” circus, and even though the circus has moved on, the Ringling legacy is very much alive here. The Ringling Museum of Art is a Renaissance-style palace that the circus king built to house his art collection. In addition to the 31 galleries of art, the Ringling includes a 66-acre bayfront garden, the Ringling’s 56-room mansion and a circus museum. Next to his museum, Ringling reconstructed an 18th-century Italian theater with stones brought piece by piece from Asolo, Italy. Throughout the year, visitors can see plays and operas in the playhouse built for Queen Catherine (5401 Bay Shore Rd., 941-359-5700).
Sarasota also has several beautiful beaches including Siesta Beach, Lido Beach and Longboat Key Beach, which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. If you are up for a hike, nearby Myakka River State Park has trails, a river cruise and opportunities for bird and wildlife watching. Keep an eye out for alligators! (Transportation required.)
Mote Marine Lab & Aquarium on nearby Lido Key has a stingray touch tank and shark tank plus manatees in a nearby mammal center (1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., 941-388-444). While on Lido Key, check out St. Armans Circle, an outdoor shopping district featuring a variety of boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
The Waterway Guide Team has gained extensive boating knowledge over the years, and now we are sharing all of the tips, skills and tools we’ve picked up along the way!