There's something wonderfully nostalgic about kids getting a thrill from a ride on a carousel. It's the simplest of amusement park attractions, and there are more than a dozen merry-go-rounds in New York City alone. It's easy to stumble upon them on your next park outing.
Each city carousel offers a unique spin on this traditional kiddie ride, from harbor views to a ride inside an iridescent fish. We've rounded up the best merry-go-rounds in all five boroughs.
Parents of toddlers be advised: That first ride can be a little overwhelming, especially in Central Park. Photo by Pete via Flickr
Carousels in Manhattan
Central Park Carousel — Central Park
Mid-park at 65th Street
Open daily April-October, weekends November-March; 10am-6pm
$3.25 per ride
All NYC families know about this famous merry-go-round in the city's most famous park of all. With nearly life-size horses, it's one of the largest in the country. It's surprisingly speedy, so consider riding in one of the chariots if your kid's not a speed demon.
Totally Kid Carousel — Harlem
Riverbank State Park, enter at Riverside Drive and 145th Street
Open May-October; hours vary
$1 per ride
Local artist Milo Mottola built this funky carousel based on children's drawings of animals, making it truly one of a kind. It's gorgeous, with stunning views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. Be warned: Hours are sporadic, even in the summer.
RELATED: Best Amusement Parks for NYC Preschoolers
The more compact, slower Le Carrousel in Bryant Park is ideal for preschoolers. Photo by Marco via Flickr.
Le Carrousel — Midtown West
Bryant Park, 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Open year-round; June-Oct, Daily 11am-8pm
$3 per ride; $20 for a 10-ride discount card
This petite, European-style merry-go-round features a menagerie of animals in addition to horses. Open daily year-round, it's a top attraction for families visiting this popular Midtown park that's flanked by the city's central library. 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 April-October; hours vary (generally 11am-7pm or 8pm)
$3.50 for 1 ticket; $10 for 3 tickets; $30 for 10 tickets
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 is 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 January and February; summer hours Monday-Thursday 10am-7pm; Friday-Sunday 10am-8pm
$5 per ride
More than a decade and $16 million in the making, this custom-designed ride opened in August 2015 as part of the Battery's 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. Note: Kids under 42 inches tall must ride with a grown-up. Babies under 1 year are FREE.
The iconic B&B Carousell at Coney Island is always worth a twirl. Photo by Julienne Schaer for NYCgo
Carousels in Brooklyn
B&B Carousell — Coney Island
Steeplechase Plaza, on the boardwalk between West 16th and West 19th streets
Open daily June through August; weekends in May, September & October. Park hours vary
3 Luna Park credits per ride
Built in 1919, this historic relic from Coney Island's past was saved from the auction block in 2005 by the Bloomberg administration. 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.
Jane's Carousel — Dumbo
Empire-Fulton Ferry Park in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Mid-September through mid-May, Thursday-Sunday 11am-6pm. Mid-May through mid-September, Wednesday-Monday 11am-7pm (closed Tuesdays)
$2 per ride; $20 for 12 rides
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. It serves up gorgeous harbor views and is a great spot for a little one's birthday party.
RELATED: Best Things to Do in Brooklyn with Preschoolers
The Prospect Park Carousel makes for a great stop after the zoo or playground. Photo by Joe Buglewicz for NYCgo
Prospect Park Carousel — Crown Heights
Use the Willink park entrance, at Ocean and Flatbush Avenues and Empire Boulevard
Open late March through mid-November; hours vary, generally Thursday-Sunday & holidays, 12pm-5pm
$2.50 per ride; $11.50 for a book of 5 tickets
Almost as famous as its Central Park counterpart, this classic carousel, featuring 53 carved animals, opened in Brooklyn's Prospect Park in 1912. It's also wheelchair-accessible. Stop by after checking out the adjacent Prospect Park Zoo, or one of the park's many playgrounds.
Carousels in Queens
Flushing Meadows Carousel — Flushing
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, enter at 111th Street and 55th Avenue
Open late March-October; hours vary
$3.50 per ride
This merry-go-round, which was cobbled together from two other carousels, debuted at the 1964 World's Fair. Some kids might enjoy the wind whipping through their hair, while others will be stoked to ride a giant lion. Since 2013, it has served as the centerpiece of the mini-amusement park Fantasy Forest in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Forest Park Carousel — Forest Park
Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive
Open late March-October; closing hours vary. Opening time is 11am
$3.50 per ride; $10 for 3 rides; $30 for 10 rides
Ride one of the 49 horses, a tiger, or even a chariot at this carousel. Hours are limited in the spring and fall, but it generally opens every day during the summer months. You'll also find a few games and other mini rides here, such as the Woodhaven Express train ride, and a brand-new kid-sized Ferris wheel.
The Carousel for All Children on Staten Island offers rides for those with disabilities, too. Photo courtesy of the Greenbelt Conservatory
Carousels in Staten Island
Carousel for All Children — Staten Island
Willowbrook Park in the Greenbelt
Open May-October; daily July-August, otherwise only Friday-Sunday, 11am-5:45pm
$2.25 per ride
This gorgeous Victorian carousel stands by its name, 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
$3 per ride
The zoo debuted this merry-go-round in summer 2014. Housed inside a glass pavilion, the carousel features two dozen wooden creatures to ride, including a Komodo dragon, koala, rhinoceros, polar bear, and an anteater-like tamandua. All were handcrafted by Ohio-based Carousels & Carvings.
Insects like this praying mantis take center stage at The Bug Carousel at The Bronx Zoo. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher for the Wildlife Federation Conservancy
Carousels in the Bronx
The Bug Carousel — Bronx Zoo
Open year-round during normal zoo hours
Included with Total Experience Zoo tickets, otherwise $6 per ride
Don't get creeped out when your kids ride these giant insects at the Bronx Zoo. They're actually cool, and kids can't get enough of the Bronx's only year-round carousel.
Headed to the beach this summer? Find out where else you can go round-and-round with our roundups of Long Island and New Jersey carousels.
Top photo: The modern Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park is one of our favorites. Photo by Justin Kiner via Flickr
A version of this post was published in 2017; it has been updated.