One of my goals for January is to explore a new place in town with Lady Elle. Several weeks ago, I took her to The Ringling. The 66-acre estate founded by circus impresario John Ringling and his wife Mable is magnificent. Everything about this estate is amazing from the art museum to the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion and the grounds themselves. In full disclosure, I worked at The Ringling about ten years ago pre-Lady Elle and I do visit often for work but rarely with Lady Elle in tow. Obviously, this trip was long overdue. Seeing it through a four-year old’s eyes was refreshing. Here are my a few free kid-friendly activities at The Ringling.
Free Mondays at the Museum of Art.
Mondays are free admission days at the Museum of Art. John Ringling’s will stipulates the Museum of Art must be open free to the public one day a week. I really wanted to go to the Pathless Woods exhibition by Anne Patterson so it was free and kid-friendly. It was so much fun for both of us. The Museum of Art Courtyard is breathtaking and offers plenty of space for kids to explore.
The gardens and grounds.
Because it is the State Art Museum of Florida, the grounds are public property and free for the public’s use from dawn until dusk daily. Anywhere offering space for kids to run is always a kid-friendly activity in my book. The sprawling banyan trees, Mable’s succulent rose garden and sweeping views of Sarasota Bay makes the grounds one of the most appealing parts of the estate. Stop to smell the roses, you won’t be disappointed.
A playground like no other.
Tucked between Mable’s Rose Garden and a magnificent bayan tree offering plenty of shade, this is not an ordinary playground. It’s way cooler! According to my daughter, it has “the fastest slide ever,” bucket swings (I was eyeing these myself!) and a few other spin and jump kid-friendly activities.
On the way in, we picked up a scavenger hunt handout. I amended the scavenger hunt, intended for the Circus Museum, to fit the entire estate and made up items for Lady Elle to find. We found statues, roses, and looked for dolphins in Sarasota bay. It’s a fun and free kid-friendly activity.
We will go back to The Ringling to explore the Circus Museum and hopefully take part in a children’s program one Saturday morning.
Have you been to The Ringling? What is your favorite part, with or without kids?