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The Bay Area's Coolest Carousels

This is our weekly guest-blog post from the moms behind Red Tricycle, a site that focuses on the "lighter side" of parenting. Every week, they'll be bringing us their picks of stuff to do around the Bay Area with kids.

If you rode a carousel when you were little, you’ll remember what a magical experience it was. The thrill of the sparkling lights to the music to picking out what animal you would ride never got old. Why not treat your family to the same great memories of good old-fashioned fun? We’ve found the Bay Area’s best spots for a fun-filled carousel ride that will make you and your little ones giggle in delight!

SAN FRANCISCO

Golden Gate Park Carousel

This colorful vintage carousel dates from 1912 and has 62 animal figures to choose from. Rides are $2 for adults, $1 for ages 6 thru 12, and kids five and under are free.  It’s open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, and the rest of the year Friday thru Sunday at the same times.  If you’re in the mood to explore the entire park, check out our guide for the Best of Golden Gate Park with Kids.

The Zeum Carousel

Carved entirely by hand way back in 1906, this carousel is truly a work of art. Prepare to be amazed and let the kiddos ride to their hearts content.  Hours are Tuesday – Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, and it costs $3 for two rides.

Eugene Friend Carousel, San Francisco Zoo

Next time you visit the zoo, make sure the kids get to ride this 1921 antique menagerie of 50 animal figures.  This gorgeous carousel has made its home at the zoo since 1925, and was painstakingly restored to its former glory in 2000.  It’s $2 a whirl (adults stand free).

The Carousel at Pier 39

The whole family will love a ride on this double-decker carousel from Italy with a sea creature theme.  There are sea lions, dolphins, sea dragons – and some spinning bowls for the fearless.  It’s open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until 7:00 pm, with extended hours from May to September of 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. It’s $3 a ride, and is located on the first level at the Bay end of Pier 39.

EAST BAY

Tilden Park in Berkeley’s Merry-Go-Round

The giant rooster is the hands-down favorite ride on this lovely carousel built back in 1911. Hours are 11:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday thru September 5, and rides are $2.  Come and celebrate the carousel’s 100th birthday on Saturday August 13th from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. There will be children’s crafts, face-painting, and of course birthday cake! The event itself is free (apart from rides).

The Oakland Zoo Carousel

The gorgeous ‘Endangered Species’ carousel in the rides area of the zoo include Siberian tigers, black rhinos, gorillas, giant pandas and many more.  An extra $1.50 in addition to the admission fee will buy you unlimited rides on the carousel and all the other rides they have to offer.

Children’s Fairyland’s Carousels, Oakland

Treat the under-fives to a gentle twirl on the super-cute Alice in Wonderland-themed Wonder-Go-Round. There’s a carousel for the school-aged crowd as well.  Rides are included in the general admission price of $8.

PENNINSULA

The Carousel in Oak Meadow Park, Los Gatos

The 1915 Bill Mason vintage carousel at Oak Meadow Park  is a special family favorite. Rides are $2 and ages 2 and under are free. It’s open June thru Labor Day daily from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm and the rest of the year from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm on weekends and Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm. Learn more about Los Gatos by clicking here.

Great America’s Carousel, Santa Clara

Been to Great America yet?  When you go, don’t forget to take the kids for a twirl on the Columbia double-decker carousel – the tallest one in the world! Rides are included in the general admission cost.

WORTH THE DRIVE
A little further afield, but well worth the trip, are these carousels, which are all perfect destinations for a day trip:
San Jose has two adorable carousels, one at Arena Green (check out San Jose’s Coolest Discovery Museum to find out more) and the other at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.
Hayward’s Kennedy Park has a super-sweet carousel and pony rides too!
One of Train Town’s rides in Sonoma is a gorgeous carousel. Be sure to read all about it!
Pittsburg’s Small World Park is an itsy-bitsy playground that has a mini ferris wheel and a little train to ride, as well as a carousel.
Pixieland in Concord is a darling little amusement park with six rides including a carousel.