The greatest show on earth is about more than just circus peanuts and bearded ladies, at least if the John and Mable Ringling Estate is any indication. The official art museum of the state of Florida, the Ringling Museum of Art was founded in 1927 and has impressive holdings of European, Asian and American art. Also on the estate grounds is the waterfront mansion known as the Ca d'Zan or the House of John. The Ringlings threw many a shindig in this palatial home, which was built in the Venetian Gothic style. To top it off, the Ringling Estate is also home to the Ringling Museum of the American Circus and the Tibbals Learning Center, where the world's largest miniature circus is displayed alongside costumes, parade wagons and one of the finest collections of circus posters, art prints and handbills in the world.
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Public art is a point of pride in many Florida towns. Since 1993, town leaders throughout the state have made an effort to enliven public areas with historic and scenic murals. Visitors touring these life-size paintings will definitely want to stop over in Lake Placid, where there are approximately 40 façade decorations sprinkled throughout the city. Palatka, Gainesville and Punta Gorda are a few of the other towns that have made the mural program a priority. From images of cattle drives and native flora and fauna to lamplighters and vintage cars, the Florida Mural Trail is a worthwhile pathway to take.