With National Carousel Day fast approaching, wouldn’t it be fun to ride one of America’s most treasured carousels? After all, Americans have had a long relationship with amusement rides and many classic merry-go-rounds are still in operation! What’s more, since this special day only comes once a year and some attractions might be free or have gifts to mark the occasion!

The following list isn’t by all means meant to be a Top 10 Best Carousels in the U.S. But then again, this list does feature some of the oldest and most famous of them all.

B&B Carousel at Luna Park in Coney Island
B&B Carousel (credit: Wikimedia)

B&B Carousel

Luna Park
1000 Surf Ave.
Brooklyn, NY  11224
(718) 373-5862
www.lunaparknyc.com

Cost: 3 Credits

No list of vintage carousels would be complete without having one from Coney Island. On the other hand, B&B Carousel is the last of its kind at this iconic seaside destination. Completed in 1906, this beautifully restored classic was built by architect William F. Mangels. Moreover, the colorful horses were originally carved by renowned “Michelangelo of carousel carvers” Marcus Illions. If that’s not enough, B&B’s music is provided by a 1917 German-made Gebruder Bruder organ.

Related: America’s Best Seaside Boardwalks

Euclid Park Caroussel at Cleveland History Center
Euclid Park Caroussel (credit: Randy Yagi)

Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel

Cleveland History Center
10825 East Blvd.
Cleveland, OH  44106
(216) 721-5722
www.wrhs.org/euclidbeachgrand-carousel

Cost: Two free rides with price of admission. $6 for kids, $12 for adults.

Not all vintage merry-go-rounds still in operation are in amusement parks. In fact, this beautifully restored Philadelphia Toboggan Co. ride is inside a museum. But then again, this 1910 attraction is from a defunct lakeside park. In addition to horses and chariots, this distinctive carousel has a Greek god and cherubs. Incidentally, the Cleveland History Center has a number of notable museums, particularly the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.

1903 Muller carved carousel in Forrest Park, Queens, York
1903 Forest Park Carousel (credit: Wikimedia)

Forest Park Carousel

Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village
Woodhaven Blvd. & Park Dr.
Woodhaven, NY  11421
www.forestparkcarousel.com

Price: $3.50

While Central Park’s famous merry-go-round remains closed, the one in Forest Park is a nice alternative. What’s more, the Queens version is original and older than Manhattan’s. Designated a NYC landmark, Forest Park Carousel is one of two surviving roundabouts created by master wood carver Daniel Carl Muller. Completed in 1903, it features two chariots and a beautifully restored menagerie. Additionally, Forest Park Carousel is blessed with the original band organ.

 

Pavilion housing the Flying Horses Carousel on Martha's Vineyard island
Flying Horses on Martha’s Vineyard (credit: Wikimedia)

Flying Horses

33 Lake Ave.
Oak Bluffs, MA  02557
www.vineyardtrust.org

Cost: $3.50

A standalone attraction on Martha’s Vineyard, Flying Horses is America’s oldest platform merry-go-round. Originally built in 1876 as a Coney Island attraction by Charles Dare, Flying Horses eventually made its way to Oak Bluffs in 1884. Specifically, the ride is housed in a distinctive structure and features an assortment of colorful horses and chariots. It further is  one of the country’s last roundabouts to have brass rings. A 1923 Wurlitzer #103 band organ provides music to its riders and onlookers.

the Pavilion that houses the Flying Horse merry go round
Flying Horses Pavilion (credit: Wikimedia)

Flying Horses

Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round & Beach
151-153 Bay St.
Watch Hill, RI  02891
www.merrygoroundbeach.com

Cost: $1 inside, $2 outside, with brass ring

Although Flying Horses on Martha’s Vineyards lays claim as the nation’s oldest, a neighbor may be even older. Although Watch Hill’s Merry-Go-Round arrived in 1883, the belief is that this Charles Dare attraction may have been built in 1867. Either way, this amusement relic is the oldest with horses suspended from chains. Yet another classic is Crescent Park Looff Carousel in East Providence, currently under renovation.

Kremer merry go round at Lakeside Park in Ontario is similar to
Kremer Merry-Go-Round (credit: Wikimedia)

Grand Carousel

Knoebels Amusement Park
391 Knobels Blvd. Route 487
Elysburg, PA  17824
(800) 487-4386
www.knoebels.com

Cost: $2

Grand Carousel is one of two historic roundabouts at Knoebels yet not the oldest. But then again, the Kremer-built 1913 Grand Carousel is widely considered the world’s best. Furthermore, it’s also among the world’s largest, with 63 intricately carved horses and three chariots. The smaller counterpart yet equally impressive is a 1910 merry-go-round built from Stein & Goldstein. Located 70 miles north of Harrisburg, Knoebels is America’s largest admission-free amusement park.

Hampton Virginia merry go round
Hampton Merry-Go-Round (credit: Wikimedia)

Hampton Carousel

Carousel Park
602 Settler’s Landing Road
Hampton, VA  23669
www.hampton.gov

Cost: $1

Originally installed in 1920, Hampton Carousel is one of the more recent rides listed here. However, it is no less deserving than its older counterparts. Often called Buckroe Beach Carousel, Hampton retains its original horses, in addition to original mirrors and oil paintings. Made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, this National Historic attraction also features a 1914 Bruder band organ. In a nutshell, there is no better merry-go-round in the Virginia Commonwealth.

Looff Carousel at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Looff Carousel (credit: Randy Yagi)

Looff Carousel

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach St.
Santa Cruz, CA  95060
(831) 423-5590
www.beachboardwalk.com

Cost: $6 or with All Day Wristband

The beautiful 1911 Looff Carousel is one of two National Historic Landmark rides at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Designed by German master carver Charles I.D. Looff, the iconic ride has 73 horses, two chariots and a brass ring toss. Additionally, this classic ride features three organs, including the original 1894 Ruth & Sohn organ. In addition to being one of the last antique rides on the west coast, it’s also one of few surviving Looff merry-go-rounds in the country.

The Merry-Go-Round at Kennywood amusement park
Kennywood Merry-Go-Round (credit: Wikimedia)

Merry-Go-Round

Kennywood
5122 Kennywood Blvd.
West Mifflin, PA  15122
412) 461-0500
www.kennywood.com

Cost: Daily passes only

Built in 1926 by William Dentzel, the Merry-Go-Round is one of three roundabouts at this historic amusement park. Moreover, it is the park’s largest and the last carousel built by the Dentzel Company. Equally important are its features, like 64 horses including jumping and stationaries, as well as a single tiger and lion. Lastly, the 1916 Wurlitzer #153 is considered the oldest of its kind and possibly the first to be built.

Santa Monica Pier roundabout
Carousel at Santa Monica Pier (credit: Randy Yagi)

Santa Monica Pier Carousel

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA  90401
(310) 458-8901
www.santamonicapier.org

Price: $2 adults, $1 children

Housed within the historic Looff Hippodrome, Santa Monica Pier Carousel is not the original Looff merry-go-round. Instead, it’s a 1922 ride from Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Nevertheless, PTC #62 has stood on the Pier for nearly 100 years and part of a National Historic Landmark. The classic wood carousel has 44 horses, two chariots and a 1926 Wurlitzer #146 organ. Although PTC #62 is not considerably rare, it is housed within a historically significant structure from 1916.

Surprise Bonus Pick

 

House on the Rock merry go round in Wisconsin
House on the Rock Carousel (credit: Randy Yagi) 

World’s Largest Indoor Carousel

House on the Rock
5754 Highway 23
Spring Green, WI  53588
www.thehouseontherock.com

The carousel at the House on the Rock isn’t exactly vintage. Nor can anyone ride it for that matter. However, it’s considered the world’s largest indoor merry-go-round. Even more surprising is of the 269 animals, there are no horses! Standing 35 feet high, 80 feet in diameter and weighing 35 tons, the enormous ride debuted in 1981. With that in mind, it might also be the world’s largest, whether indoors or outdoors.

 

Related: America’s Best Historic Seaside Amusement Parks

 

About The Author:

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University, U.S. Army veteran and lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, California.

 

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