There's something wonderfully nostalgic about kids getting a thrill from a ride on a carousel. There are more than a dozen merry-go-rounds in our city and all offer a unique spin on this traditional kiddie ride. With spring in full swing, it's a great time to take your first carousel ride of the season. There are merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs, which means there's probably one near you.
That first ride can be a little overwhelming, and the Central Park carousel goes pretty fast, so toddlers beware! Photo by Pete via Flickr.
Central Park Carousel — Central Park
Mid-park at 64th Street
Open daily April-October, weekends November-March. Hours vary.
All NYC families know about this famed merry-go-round. With nearly life-size horses, it's one of the largest in the country. It's surprisingly fast, so consider riding in one of the chariots if your kid's not a speed freak.
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The more compact, slower Bryant Park Le Carrousel is just right for preschoolers. Photo by Marco via Flickr.
Le Carrousel — Midtown West
Bryant Park, 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Open year-round. Hours vary.
This petite, European-style merry-go-round features a menagerie of animals in addition to horses. It spins very slowly to French cabaret music, making it ideal for younger children.
Pier 62 Carousel — Chelsea
Hudson River Park, Pier 62, 23rd Street at the Hudson River
Open daily spring, summer and fall. Hours vary.
Kids can take a whirl alongside the Hudson on one of the beautifully carved animals, most indigenous to our area (Atlantic sturgeon, harbor seal, horseshoe crab—we're guessing the butterfly unicorn's not from around here.) A green roof decorated with twinkling LED lights adds to the magic.
SeaGlass Carousel — Financial District
The Battery, enter at State Street and Peter Minuit Plaza
Open daily except in January and February. Hours vary.
More than a decade and $16 million in the making, this custom-designed ride opened in August 2015 as part of the Battery's ongoing overhaul. Its sea theme is a nod to the site's history as the original location of the New York Aquarium. Riders step into 30 tall (some up to 13 feet!), iridescent fish that seem to swim inside a giant nautilus shell thanks to a quartet of rotating turntables. Glowing lights, soothing classical music and aquatic sound effects complete the virtual underwater experience.
Totally Kid Carousel — Harlem
Riverbank State Park, enter at Riverside Drive and 145th Street
Open June-October. Hours vary.
Local artist Milo Mottola built this funky carousel. The designs were all based on children's drawings of animals, making it truly one of a kind. It's a gorgeous merry-go-round and offers stunning views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. Be warned: The hours are sporadic, even in the summer.
B&B Carousell — Coney Island
Steeplechase Plaza, the boardwalk between West 16th and West 19th Streets
Open mid-April through October. Hours vary.
Built in 1919, this historic relic from Coney Island's past was saved from the auction block by the Bloomberg administration in 2005. After a painstaking restoration, the merry-go-round was installed in a pavilion with ocean views alongside the derelict Parachute Jump. Operated by Luna Park, it's a stone's throw from the Brooklyn Cyclones MCU Park.
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Jane's Carousel in Dumbo offers a gorgeous view of the bridge and Manhattan skyline. Photo by dumbonyc via Flickr.
Jane's Carousel — Dumbo
Empire-Fulton Ferry Park in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Open year-round. Hours vary.
It was a project that took years and millions of dollars, but Jane's Carousel—formerly on stationary display in a gallery at 56 Water Street—has been installed and spinning at Brooklyn Bridge Park since September 2011, much to the delight of local Brooklyn families and tourists alike.
Prospect Park Carousel — Prospect Heights
Use Willink park entrance, at Ocean and Flatbush Avenues and Empire Boulevard
Open late March through mid-November. Hours vary.
Almost as famous as its Central Park counterpart, this classic carousel, featuring 53 carved animals, opened in 1912. It's also wheelchair accessible.
Flushing Meadows Carousel — Flushing
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, enter at 111th Street and 55th Avenue
Open late March-October. Hours vary.
This merry-go-round, which was cobbled together from two other carousels, debuted at the 1964 World's Fair. Some kids may enjoy the wind whipping through their hair, while others will be stoked to ride a giant lion. Since the 2013 season, it's served as the centerpiece of the mini-amusement park Fantasy Forest.
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Forest Park Carousel — Forest Park
Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive
Open late March-October. Hours vary.
This merry-go-round closed back in 2008 when the operator and the city got into a disagreement over money, but thanks to a new operator, the carousel is turning again. Ride one of the 49 horses, a tiger or even a chariot. The hours can seem limited in the spring and fall, but generally it opens every day of the summer months.
Carousel for All Children — Staten Island
Willowbrook Park in the Greenbelt
Open May-October. Weekly schedule varies.
This gorgeous Victorian carousel really stands by its name by accommodating children with physical disabilities. Hop aboard one of the 51 colorfully painted animals including a giraffe and a gorilla to enjoy the 2-minute, counter-clockwise spin.
Conservation Carousel — Staten Island Zoo
Open seasonally during zoo hours.
The zoo debuted this brand-new merry-go-round in summer 2014. Housed inside a glass pavilion, the carousel features two dozen wooden creatures to ride, including a Komodo dragon, a koala, a rhinoceros, a polar bear and a Tamandua. All were handcrafted by Ohio-based Carousels & Carvings.
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Ride a huge praying mantis at The Bug Carousel at The Bronx Zoo. Photo by Yang Shen via Flickr.
The Bug Carousel — The Bronx Zoo
Open year-round during normal zoo hours.
Don't get creeped out when your kids ride these giant insects. They're actually pretty cool and kids can't get enough of the Bronx's only(?!) year-round carousel.
Headed to the Long Island beaches this summer? Find out where else you can go round-and-round with our roundup of Long Island carousels.
Top image: The ethereal SeaGlass carousel shimmers with different lights at night. Photo by K M via Flickr.