While visiting The Ringling, you are welcome to explore the vast 66-acre grounds at your leisure. As awe-inspiring as any work of art, the Bayfront Gardens are a living treasure that will awaken all your senses. Relax under the shade of a banyan tree, feel the cooling breezes coming off the bay as you walk along the promenade, and smell the intoxicating perfumes of flowers in bloom. The Bayfront Gardens offer many different plants, trees, sculptures, and trails for you to enjoy all year long.
Visit the Gardens
Access to the Bayfront Gardens is included with Museum Admission, and with the Experience Ca’ d’Zan Tour.
If you wish to visit only the gardens, you may purchase Bayfront Gardens Admission.Admission Tickets
Bayfront Gardens Tour
This small group, guided walking tour of the Bayfront Gardens is available seasonally — November through May. This tour will introduce you to interesting botanical specimens while providing a historic overview of the development of the estate.
The tour covers ∼1 mile, and takes place entirely outdoors. Tours are subject to weather conditions.Check Availability
One of the loveliest, most fragrant spots on the Ringling estate is Mable Ringling’s 27,000-square-foot Rose Garden. Completed in 1913, it was Mable’s first major landscaping project on the property, although rose gardening in Florida in the early 1900s proved challenging. Although none of Mable’s original plants survive today, many of the 1,200 roses currently growing in the garden are the same types that she planted. Varieties include hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, and old garden roses.
When planning a visit to the Rose Garden, please be advised that the roses are cut back every February and October. A nice flush of new blooms is expected approximately six weeks after each cutback.
Just north of Ca’ d’Zan is what is known as Mable’s Secret Garden. Mable filled this garden with plants and cuttings given to her by friends and neighbors during her winters at Ca’ d’Zan. After Mable’s death, the garden was neglected and became overgrown. Many decades later, volunteers from the Sarasota Garden Club (of which Mable was the first president) helped The Ringling revitalize the garden. Today, visitors can enjoy an informal and eclectic garden that includes colorful bromeliads, succulents, variegated bougainvillea, and other Florida-friendly varietals.
Just beyond the Secret Garden is a private enclosure where Mable and John, along with John’s sister Ida Ringling North, are buried.
This garden, located just outside of the McKay Visitors Pavilion, includes a selection of stone statues representing various characters from commedia dell’arte, a type of improvisational theatre developed in sixteenth-century Italy. Serving as a symbolic link between the visual and performing arts, the statues provide whimsical delight to visitors of all ages. Nestled beneath a banyan tree, the statues peek out from among the garden’s various sub-tropical plants such as bromeliads, hibiscus, and bamboo.
Trees of the Estate
To wander the estate today is to encounter an expansive collection of trees, including fourteen banyans, one shaving brush, one tiger’s claw, one bunya pine, one rainbow eucalyptus, and six varieties of bamboo. The Millenium Tree Trail, on the south side of the property, provides a welcome respite from the Florida sun and showcases a wide variety of trees, including oak, holly, citrus and magnolia.
Arboretum Level II
In 2019 The Ringling was awarded a Level 2 Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. The Ringling is also recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.