Some figures are not surprising. Like how, since 2011, the southernmost state of USA breaks its own records in incoming tourism.

This peninsula of beautiful coasts, of Latin flavor, and multiple businesses, has been the perfect shelter from the extreme cold of Canada and the always extreme political or economic affairs of the south. Yet, sometimes it’s not a shelter, it’s just fun.

What is surprising to many is discovering that Florida has other charms beyond the sun and sand, or the famous shopping centers.

Florida has an interesting cultural life and history. On this trip we visited two of the most representative museums of the Sunshine State .

The Ringling Museum of Art

Sarasota, a city about 3 hours away from Miami, has the Bradenton airport for domestic flights, and also a gem: the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

A place to get lost, has locations for everyone in the family, loved by Canadian tourists, who completely pack it in the winter.

It really is a cultural complex that houses the art museum, the circus museum, a theater, the gardens, the famous mansion of John and Mable Ringling in front of the bay, and the land from Florida State University. Everyone agrees that it is the most important Pinacotheca of the U.S., with a collection that, in the hands of the university, has continued to grow, about 16 thousand pieces, featuring the great Baroque artists of the seventeenth century.

Leonardo Venta says in his blog, “The Cà d’Zan Palace  -Recently remodeled-, boasts many architectural details and finishes, not only in the walls and facades, with its gargoyles and capitals, but also inside with outstanding ocher colors that complement the ambience of a sober and welcoming space. Visitors who come to the museum have access to several rooms that recreate the Golden Age, a time of splendor in all areas.”

This museum is part of The North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM), so it exchanges discounts, complimentary passes and other benefits to active members and affiliates of other museums in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

It was fortunate for Sarasota and its visitors that the affluent owners of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey invested part of their wealth in the coast of Florida. Better yet is that they had good taste, which allowed them to acquire magnificent pieces through their trips.

Barbara Weibel, travel writer shares that  “with the vast fortune amassed by their circus, John and Mable Ringling traveled extensively throughout Europe. In Italy, especially, they developed a passion for art, which led John to become a regular at art auctions in the 1920s, both in New York and London. He bought masterpieces of Rubens, Titian , Velazquez, Hals, Van Dyck, and Gainsborough. He also bought a Cypriot collection, as well as Greek and Roman antiquities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By 1931, Ringling had built a museum designed after the Renaissance and Baroque palaces, and museums in Italy to house his growing collection.”

The Circus Museum never stops surprising, not only for the thorough and carefully curated pieces, but for the myriad of sensations they manage to evoke. For parents it is a great way to attract kids to something different. The entertainment industry of the 20th century was big on circuses, with a fascinating history to see through the miniature replica.


Our route continued along the coast, about 50 minutes north with more amazing scenery and tropical weather, the best part is still the multiple offers, which in this case a booming city like St. Petersburg can give. A traditional retirement area, today is attracting other interests, other investments and other ages. A selective, emotional or experienced tourism thrives here.

We were greeted by the wonderful Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which crosses the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park. Accommodations of all prices, and all very close to our destination: The Dalí Museum.

Salvador Dali was one of those universal, timeless artists that had been completely fixed in the collective unconscious. The very idea that St.Petersburg has this museum thrilled us,  the structure of the museum is a tribute in Dali.

The design corresponds to Yann Weymouth from HOK. The museums description says that this building is a combination of the rational and the fantastic, “… a simple rectangle with 18 inch thick hurricane-proof walls out of which erupts a free form of the large, glass, geodesic bubble known as the ” enigma.” The “enigma,” consists of 1,062 triangular glass parts. Inside, the Dali Museum hosts another unique architectural feature, a spiral staircase recalling Dalí’s obsession with spirals and the double helix of the DNA molecule.”

A photo in the garden with the recreation of the melting clocks, the labyrinth or the mathematical explanation of perfect proportions is inevitable.

Then, the wonderful collection, with works that show all the artistic life of the most important “master of dreams ” and surrealist of all times (1904-1989 ). The collection belonged to Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, who also chose Florida as their wonderful haven of art. On the third floor there are two rooms. One dedicated to Dalí and one for traveling exhibitions, which at the time of our visit had the pop art of Andy Warhol as chief guest, highlighting the connections between him and Dalí.

The Morses left the most comprehensive collection of Dali in the United States, and the museum has subsequently increased, amounting to 96 oil paintings, many original drawings, work books, prints, sculptures, photographs, manuscripts and an extensive archive of documents.

“Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea”“Nature Morte Vivante”

Since January 11 of 2011, this museum has been a piece of art comparable to that of Dalí, dedicated to understanding and transformation. From PanamericanWorld, we recommend this tour of a Florida that has left a very good taste.