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8 Historic U.S. Carousels for Summer Fun

With summer coming I thought we would pay tribute that amusement park classic, the merry-go-round. Here are eight especially cool carousels to seek out this summer. The list begins and ends in Brooklyn, and I’m unapologetic about that.

Be sure to tell us about the ones we left out!

What: B&B Carousel

Where: Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
Why It’s Neat: Built in 1906, it offers riders 50 hand-carved wooden horses and a Gebruder Bruder “Elite Orchestra Apollo” band organ (believed to have been constructed between 1913 and 1916). It was nearly sold in pieces at an auction in 2005. But it was reopened right on the boardwalk two years ago as part of Luna Park’s makeover.

B&B Carousel in Coney Island

What: Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel

Where: Los Angeles
Why It’s Neat: Located in the Los Angeles Zoo, it features several of the Several residents the zoo has worked to keep from extinction. Riders will notice the flora and fauna of California in the artwork and appreciate the “California sound” of the 1960s and 1970s AM radio.

the carousel at the LA Zoo

What: Crescent Park Carousel

Where: East Providence, Rhode Island
Why It’s Neat: This very swift carousel, proclaimed the State Symbol of Folk Art in 1985, offer 66 figures designed in 1895 by Charles I.D. Looff.  Its band organ is carved with moving figures in neo-baroque style.

crescent park carousel, RI

What: Riverview Carousel, Six Flags

Where: Austell, Georgia
Why It’s Neat: Built in 1908, this wood carousel features 60 horses, 14 and 4 cherub-bedecked chariots.  This is one of four 5-row carousels built by a company called Philadelphia Toboggan Company and the only one still in its original configuration.

The Riverview carousel in GA

What: San Francisco Carousel

Where: San Francisco
Why It’s Neat: Handcrafted in Italy, this double-decker merry-go-round at Pier 39 features local landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Chinatown, Lombard Street, Alcatraz and the California sea lions that hang out near the pier.  The carousel has 1,800 LED lights and its 32 animals include panda bears, horses, dolphins and sea dragons.

the pier 39 carousel in san francisco

What: Smithsonian Carousel

Where: Washington DC
Why It’s Neat: Built in the 1940s by the Allan Herschell Co., This little merry-go-round has a unique, antique feel to it. Hop aboard any number of horses or chariots, but if you’re really lucky you’ll get to ride the brightly colored dragon.


What: Cedar Downs Racing Derby

Where: Sandusky, OH
Why It’s Neat:  This 1920 carousel makes its home at Cedar Point amusement park. Its 64 horses move forward and backward in rows of four to create one of a rare breed of racing carousels. Hope you win!

the racing carousel at cedar point

What: Jane’s Carousel

Where: DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY
Why It’s Neat: Built in 1922 by Philadelphia Toboggan Company, PTC number 61 features 48 carved horses and two chariots. It was originally installed in Idora Park in Youngstown, OH. It’s new home along the East River probably makes it the carousel with the best skyline view anywhere.

Janes carousel in DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY

Tell us which carousel we left out, and why you love it!

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  1. Jennifer
    August 7, 2015 at 1:45 pm — Reply

    The bug carousel at The Bronx Zoo is another unique, NY carousel to add to the mix.

  2. May 27, 2015 at 12:33 am — Reply

    Carousels are so much fun. We’ve ridden plenty of them when my kids were younger. These and playgrounds have been our saving grace in some of our travels. This is a great collection. I’ve only seen the San Francisco one and now I should make an effort to see the Los Angeles one.

    • May 27, 2015 at 10:19 am — Reply

      it’s amazing how excited kids get about a playground no matter where they are.

  3. May 26, 2015 at 4:34 pm — Reply

    Oh, I love a beautiful carousel! Have ever since I was a little girl. This is a great list! I’d also add the beautiful Carousel of Happiness in the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado. If you ever get the chance to visit, I definitely recommend it. It has 56 hand-carved animals that were carved by a Marine. So beautiful! Thank you for sharing at Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring you in this week’s issue.

  4. May 20, 2015 at 7:50 am — Reply

    I loved riding carousels when I was young, and I still like to see them. I haven’t been on one in a long time.

  5. May 19, 2015 at 1:41 pm — Reply

    I have actually never been on a carousel and from all the comments it seems that I am missing out on a lot.

    • May 19, 2015 at 1:58 pm — Reply

      You probably have enough interesting encounters with real animals to make up for your lack of carousel exposure.

  6. May 18, 2015 at 10:42 am — Reply

    ooh I can’t remember the last time I went on a carousel, but I’m sure I had fun! I think the classic ones are just beautiful… #wkendtravelinspiration

  7. May 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm — Reply

    What a beautiful post! I want to ride on the elephant too! Thanks for joining Weekend Travel Inspiration!

    • FG editor
      May 17, 2015 at 10:37 pm — Reply

      the elephant does look fun!

  8. May 17, 2015 at 3:55 pm — Reply

    carousels are so much fun!! Now that our little one can’t still go on his own, I can ride on them too 🙂

  9. May 17, 2015 at 4:47 am — Reply

    Eileen, I’m a sucker for old-timey carousels. Even if I don’t actually ride them, I can’t help taking tons of photos of them. If my kids were still young, I”d put them on every one I passed.

    Cheers to the Weekend Travel Inspiration Dream Team!

    • FG Editor
      May 17, 2015 at 10:38 pm — Reply

      weel. they’re prettier than most other amusement park rides, aren’t they?

  10. May 16, 2015 at 11:45 pm — Reply

    I love carousels even now at my age. There is something old world charming about them, including the generally grumpy operator

    • FG Editor
      May 17, 2015 at 10:41 pm — Reply

      They usually throw in the grumpy operator for free! 🙂

  11. May 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm — Reply

    Hi Eileen, what a delightful post. I’ve been on the Coney Island carousel several times (I’m always the oldest kid in the carousel:). I didn’t realize that it was that old! Really interesting. I’ve seen the one in Dumbo but yet to get on it. Again, it’s interesting to learn it’s history. I enjoyed reading about the other historic ones as well.

    • FG Editor
      May 17, 2015 at 10:40 pm — Reply

      i haven’t yet been on the one at Coney Island. I have ridden the Smithsonian one and the one in Rhode Island though (and DUMBO). Maybe this summer!

  12. May 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    What a creative post! The San Francisco one is beautiful. The Cedar Downs has to be my favorite with the racing horses.

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