There’s something magical about riding a carousel. Whether it’s the music or the animals slowly moving up and down, these wonderful rides make children smile and adults remember what it was like to be a child. Here are our 10 favorite carousels in the Bay Area.
East Bay
Herschell Spillman Merry-Go-Round This antique carousel at Tilden Park has hand-carved, painted wooden animals to ride. Children also love the calliope-style music. $3.50 per ride; $20 for seven-ride ticket book. Tilden Regional Park, 2501 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Orinda. .
Oakland Zoo Conservation Carousel Kids can ride endangered species on this beautiful carousel in Oakland Zoo’s Adventure Landing. Animals include ostriches, elephants and tigers. $1.75 per ride. 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland. .
San Francisco
Dentzel Carousel Located at the San Francisco Zoo near the Fisher Family Children’s Zoo, this historic carousel was restored in 1921. The menagerie style merry-go-round delights children as they choose from a horse, cat, rabbit or giraffe. $4, plus zoo admission. Sloat Boulevard at The Great Highway.
Golden Gate Park This 1914 beauty built by the Herschell-Spillman Company has led a well-traveled life including the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island. Located in the Koret Children’s Quarter, the collection of rideable characters include a dragon, camel, giraffe, tiger and horses. $2 adults, $1 children, under 6 FREE. 320 Bowling Green Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
LeRoy King Carousel This carousel has a long history that started in 1906 when it was constructed by renowned designer and craftsman Charles I.D. Looff. In 1913, it came to San Francisco’s Playland-at-the-Beach, and finally in 1998 it was purchased by the City of San Francisco and opened at its current location at the Children’s Creativity Museum. It was restored in 2014 and renamed in honor of former San Francisco Redevelopment Commissioner LeRoy King. $4, $3 with paid admission to the museum. 221 Fourth St., San Francisco.
San Francisco Carousel Handcrafted in Italy, this carousel has hand-painted San Francisco landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Chinatown, Lombard Street, Alcatraz and the sea lions at Pier 39. It also features 1,800 twinkling LED lights and more than 30 animals to ride. $3. Pier 39, Beach Street and the Embarcadero.
Silicon Valley
Carousel Columbia At more than 100-feet high, this iconic carousel at California’s Great America has been a dramatic focal point for all entering the park since 1976. You can choose from more than 100 exotic animals and horses for a memorable ride. Included with admission. $39 online. 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara.
Keep-Around-Carousel Children can choose from a variety of endangered species for riding on this delightful carousel at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. Included with admission: $11.25-14.25. 1300 Senter Road, San Jose.
Looff Carousel This merry-go-round at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a National Historic Landmark.  Renown carousel carver Charles I.D. Looff delivered the carousel to the boardwalk in 1911. Each horse is unique, with colorful details such as swords at their sides, garlands of flowers around their necks, real horse hair tails and more. It is also one of the only carousels in the world still featuring a working ring dispenser. $5. 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz.
W.E. “Bill” Mason Carousel Dedicated on July 4, 1991, this carousel was part of a 10-year restoration project at the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. In 1980, Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad purchased the carousel after it was discovered in a San Francisco Peninsula warehouse. It was manufactured by Savage Bros. in Great Britain for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. Local artists painted and decorated the carousel. In addition, a Wurlitzer-type band organ was installed inside the building to provide an antique musical experience during the ride. $3. Oak Meadow Park, 233 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos.
Tag: Teresa Mills-Faraudo is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.


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