Run away to the circus in Sarasota

Even though the winter has been mild, the days are still too short and many people are feeling down. 

Get rid of those winter blues by warming up with a trip under the sun and adding fun to the season by visiting the Circus Capital of the World in Sarasota, Fla. 

From seeing the circus live to feeling sand between your toes, the Floridian city on the Gulf Coast can relax or re-energize visitors of all ages – depending on what type of trip you plan. 

“It’s getting back to that good hometown feeling,” said Lynn Hobeck Bates of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s pure entertainment. It’s good entertainment you want to bring your family to.” 

Sarasota was the long-time home of the Greatest Show on Earth – the Ringling Brother, Barnum and Bailey Circus. While Ringling Circus no longer spending the winter in Sarasota, the excitement and energy of the circus is still alive in the beach-front city today. 

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Bates tells Fox News Traveler the sights you don’t want to miss when visiting to the Circus Capital of the World. 

The Ringling Art Museum 

Established by John and Mable Ringling in 193, the Art Museum was John’s dream to turn Sarasota into a cultural destination. Visitors can walk through 21 galleries featuring internationally-renown European, American and Asian art, with masterpieces from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. 

The museum is open daily. Admission is $25 for adults, $5 for children and $20 for seniors. Discounted admission is offered on Thursday evenings. 

Circus Sarasota 

Experience the magic and excitement of the circus with a live performance by Circus Sarasota. The show features local and international circus stars. This year’s annual winter performance engagement, “Under the Big Top presenting Bellow Mania!” is from Friday, Feb. 10 to Sunday, February 26. It’s a one-ring European style circus. 

“You check in reality at the door and go through the Big Top doors,” said Jennifer Mitchell, the marketing director for Circus Sarasota.”You’re taken into a circus world where you’re seeing amazing people do the impossible.” 

Tickets start at $10. 

Big Top Tours 

Take a ride with a clown to see Sarasota from the historical perspective of the circus. “Making the tour unique is the fact that the host and escort on the tour is a professional circus clown and magician, Toby Circus Ballantine. He truly grew-up in the circus because his parents were both performers with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey,” said Bob Collins, the owner of Big Top Tours. 

The bus tour visits about two-dozen sites around Sarasota that have ties to the circus. Advance reservations are required and tickets are $40 per person. 

Siesta Key Beach 

Siesta Key Beach has been rated by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach as the number one beach in America in 2011.  The water is warm enough to delight and refresh visitors year-round.

“Siesta’s sand is 99 percent quartz, so it is always soft, never gets hot, doesn’t absorb heat, and is so white - it looks like snow,” said Erin Duggan, the Communications Director for Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

“There are great concessions, rentals, sports activities, life guards and more there…. it all adds to the charm.” 

Locals also recommend Longboat Key, Lido Key, Casey Key and Venice Beach.