My family loves thrilling roller coasters with steep drops, upside down turns and neon lights flashing, but we also love the beautiful simplicity of riding a carousel. NYC has no shortage of these, each one unique with it’s own personality, just like the neighborhoods in this kid friendly city. Riding a merry-go-round may be simple but there’s nothing boring about the designs of these and some come with a pretty interesting story.
SeaGlass Carousel — Financial District
Battery Park (entrance across from 17 State Street), Lower Manhattan
Hours: 7 days a week, 10am – 10pm, weather permitting
Price: $5 on-site
This is our favorite carousel in NYC. This magical ride sits in the original location of the New York Aquarium (which is now in Coney Island). This aquatic-themed carousel is made of steel and glass and features 30 sea creatures under LED lights. The gorgeous iridescent fish, some up to 13 feet tall, seem to glide in dancing movements during the ride so it’s more exciting then your typical carousel. The LED lights shining from above and mystical music help create a wonderful underwater dream-like experience. This impressive carousel took over a decade and $16 million to make. Its a must visit. For our full day experience in Battery Park riding SeaGlass and doing other activities click here.
This small but charming carousel is located in Brant Park, the same grounds as the gorgeous NYC Public library. This adorable, European-style merry-go-round was specially created to complement Bryant Park’s French classical style. The carousel features 14 various animals like rabbits, cats and of course horses. It spins slowly to French cabaret music, making it ideal for families with small children. During the summer, Flaubert Frog tells stories and plays games with kids on Saturdays from 1-2pm. Magicians often perform tricks on Sundays. We always ride this when we’re in Bryant Park, it’s fun seeing the skyline from a carousel.
Friedsam Memorial Carousel (The Central Park Carousel) — Central Park
Central Park (mid-park at 64th Street)
Hours: April–October: 10am-6pm daily. November–March: 10am-4:30pm weekends. (Hours are weather permitting.)
Price: $3 per ride (cash only)
This classic carousel is one of Central Park’s most popular attractions. This large merry-go-round is actually a vintage carousel that was found in an abandoned old trolley terminal in Coney Island. It’s one of the largest carousels in the United States and represents an excellent example of American folk art. This historical merry-go-round has 57 almost life-size horses to choose from. Once aboard, the horses run laps to vintage organ music. As far as carousels go, this one is surprisingly fast, and for this reason one of my daughter’s favorites. We rarely go on it only once. This carousel is actually Central Park’s 4th. It is said that the original carousel had a live mule or a horse, hidden beneath the Carousel platform. The animals were trained to begin walking and halt when the conductor tapped the floor.
Pier 62 Carousel — Chelsea
Hudson River Park, Cross at W22nd St At Pier 62 In Chelsea
Hours: 11am-7pm daily (weather permitting; closed in winter)
Price: $3 per ride; $ $25 for 10 rides; free for parents assisting children shorter than 42 inches.
Situated out on Pier 62 is a charming, relatively new carousel featuring 33 gloriously hand-carved and painted wooden animals. The animals are mostly inspired by the indigenous critters to the Hudson River Valley. You can pick from riding a sea turtle, raccoon, wild turkey, Atlantic sturgeon, harbor seal, horseshoe crab…or a unicorn. The carousel building is also unique and has a green roof that opens out to a large lawn with tree-lined pathways. There are a lot of other activities in this area so if you plan to visit this carousel, its easy to make a whole day experiencing all the things this neighborhood has to offer.
Totally Kid Carousel — Harlem
Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive at 145th Street, Upper Manhattan
Price: $1 per ride
This funky carousel, opened in 1997, was designed using children’s drawings of animals. Local artist Milo Mottola built this playful carousel, making it truly one of a kind. It underwent a restoration in 2009 and is still showcasing the same original 36 critters from 1997. The carousel is situated at the end of the pier overlooking the Hudson River with great views of the George Washington Bridge. Hours seem inconsistent so be sure to confirm it’s open before making the trip here. There’s also roller skating, swimming and ice skating during the winter in this park.
Barbara Hrbek Zucker Bug Carousel — The Bronx Zoo
Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd. at Fordham Rd.
Hours: Open year-round during normal zoo hours.
Price: $5 per ride with a general-admission ticket, free with a total-experience ticket.
The Bug Carousel is another one of our favorites. This enclosed carousel is always open and tons of fun. It was added to the zoo in 2005, and is composed entirely of bugs and butterflies. Each insect is hand-carved from sustainable basswood and then intricately painted to make each figure come to life. The carousel also features a hand-painted mural highlighting the transformation of caterpillars into beautiful butterflies. Conveniently, it happens to be located next to the Butterfly Garden, where you can see live butterflies in the spring and summer. On the Bug Carousel, kids can hop a ride on any of the 64 brightly painted, enormous insect replicas. The bugs don’t come with typical saddles which makes the adventure of hanging on all the more exciting. My daughter loves the green praying mantis and orange grasshopper. I’m more a fan of the red ladybug.
Flushing Meadows Carousel Fantasy Forrest — Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, enter at 111th Street and 55th Avenue
Hours: vary but approximately 11am-7pm.
Price: Tickets $1 (three tickets are needed per ride), six tickets $5, 20 tickets $15.
The Flushing Meadows Carousel, adjacent to the Queens Zoo has one of the more unique stories behind it. This carousel combines figures from two early 1900s Coney Island attractions: the Charles Feltman and Stubbman carousels. The mash up merry-go-round was installed at its current home for the 1964 World’s Fair. This merry-go-round holds 70 horses and a lion. Since 2013, this carousel has served as the centerpiece of the mini-amusement park Fantasy Forest. Being fans of all things fun, we visit Fantasy Forest and this carousel a couple times each summer.
Jane’s Carousel — Dumbo
Brooklyn Bridge Park, enter at Dock or Main St.
Hours: Open year-round. Hours vary.
Price:$2 per ride, $20 for 12 tickets.
Jane’s Carousel is the quintessential classic carousel, so magnificent it’s often rented for special events like weddings. The original structure was created in 1922 and reopened in 2011 in Dumbo after undergoing almost 30 years of renovations by local artist Jane Walentas. The carousel, complete with 48 large horses is surrounded by a stunning glassy pavilion. On the same grounds is a beautiful deck overlooking the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.
Prospect Park Carousel — Prospect Heights
Use Willink park entrance, at Ocean and Flatbush Avenues and Empire Boulevard
Hours: Open late March through mid-November. Hours vary.
Price: $2 per ride; $9 for a book of 5 tickets. Enjoy unlimited, free rides with a Family Plus membership.
This charming classic carousel features magnificent carved animals and is situated in Prospect Park’s Children’s Corner. Prospect Park’s carousel has been a popular attraction since 1952, after being moved from Coney Island, it’s original home since 1915. This elaborate gem was hand carved in 1912 by Charles Carmel, one of the most popular carousel designers of his time. The ride is known for its expressive equestrian figures that prance to the music of a Wurlitzer organ. Although there are 51 horses, the Gray Ghost and Brownie the lion are fan favorites.
Carousel for All Children – Staten Island
Willowbrook Park, Eton Pl. at Richmond Ave
Hours: vary, May, Sept., Oct.: Fri.–Sun. 11am–5:45pm; June: Wed.–Sun. 11am–5:45pm; July, Aug.: Mon.–Fri. 11am–5:45pm.
Price: $1.50 per ride
Dolphin? Panda? Ostrich? Or maybe one of the 51 other hand carved wooden animals will suit your needs on at rarely crowded Carousel for All Children. This Victorian style carousel, built in 1999, is tucked away in Willowbrook Park, Staten Island. The most popular critter is the large Saint Bernard dog from the borough’s former Tirelli Carousel which operated from the early 1900s through 1957. This charming carousel is located just behind a fairy-tale -like duck pond, so it’s easy to make an afternoon when visiting Willowbrook Park .
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