As a child I was terrified of carousels, probably because I was (am) afraid of heights. My parents would try to lift me on the horse’s back and I would scream and cry. I would only ride in the sleigh seats close to the ground.
Perhaps that is why as an adult I find carousels so fascinating, they are still exciting for me. I even looked into purchasing a carousel horse, but sadly I don’t have anywhere to keep it. I love the pretty colors and the dramatic intricate designs, especially on older merry go rounds. Don’t you?
Here are some of the best carousels around the United States.
Boston Greenway Carousel
One of the newest carousels on this list, the Boston Greenway Carousel was built specifically for the Boston Greenway project. The story behind the merry go round is lovely. A donor named Amalie Kass wanted to provide something for the neighborhood children to enjoy and envisioned a wonderful carousel with fanciful creatures. But sea monsters and dragons were not a part of the plan. The carousel has hand made animals that live in the Boston area like a squirrel, fox, lobster, grasshopper and peregrine falcon.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Looff Carousel
The carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a National Historic Landmark. Installed in 1911, it is one of the few carousels still in its original location for more than 100 years. The carousel also has a working ring dispenser and an outside row of jumping horses. Try to grab the brass ring! My brother managed to grab it once. The wooden roller coaster at the Boardwalk is another historic landmark that should not be missed! Check out our favorite things to do in Santa Cruz.
Dentzel Carousel in Meridian, Mississippi
Even older than the Santa Cruz merry go round is the double row Dentzel carousel in Meridian, Mississippi. This carousel has been in operation since 1909 and is also a National Historic Landmark. The animals were hand carved from bass and poplar wood by Dentzel in Philadelphia.
Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome
The Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome is located on the Santa Monica Pier in the Los Angeles area. It used to house a Looff carousel but when the Hippodrome was sold a Parker brand carousel was installed. The current carousel is not original but a reconstruction from 1990. However, the carousel is worth a visit due to its lovely location on the Santa Monica Pier. Read more about the history of the Hippodrome here.
New Orleans City Park Carousel
Also called the “Flying Horses” the carousel at the New Orleans City Park is more than 100 years old. All of the animals were carved by hand by Carmel, Looff and Murphy and are hand painted. There are stationary and moving horses, as well as a camel, lion and giraffe. The horses have real horse hair tails.
Spokane Looff Carousel
This original Looff carousel from 1909 is located in Spokane, Washington. The carousel is hand carved and features horses, a giraffe, a tiger and a ring to catch. The horses on this merry go round have especially elaborate decorations.
Tilden Park Merry Go Round
The Tilden Park merry go round has been in operation for more than 60 years. It has 4 rows of hand carved chickens, giraffes, horses, cats, dogs, lions, deer, frogs and monsters. Located in a beautiful park in Berkeley, California it is worth a visit any time of year.
Bear Mountain Carousel
The Bear Mountain Carousel in New York is very special. It has animals native to the Hudson River Valley area like a rabbit, red fox, river otter, turkey and a skunk. The merry go round is located in a lovely state park where you can also swim, camp and fish.
Kit Carson County Fairgrounds Carousel
The Kit Carson County Fairgrounds merry go round was manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and is located at the county fairgrounds in Burlington, Colorado. It is a three-row, stationary machine housed in a 12-sided building. The paint on the menagerie animals and the side panels is original. The animals include horses, burros, camels, goats and zebras. The goats are especially cool.
Yerba Buena Gardens Carousel
Originally located in San Francisco, then moved to Long Beach in southern California for a short while, this Looff carousel has recently been refurbished and brought back to Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. It is now called the LeRoy King carousel after the former SF Redevelopment Commissioner who took his wife to the carousel on their first date.
Most of these carousels mentioned are vintage classics. But check out this fanciful new underwater themed carousel that opened a few years ago in New York.
Do you have a favorite carousel? Where is it?
Why not take a road trip in an RV or campervan rental and check out carousels along the way?