Best Carousel Rides Around the World

Highlights
Old Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
You know a carousel must be quite special if it is the first to make the National Register of Historic Places. Jane’s Carousel, located in Brooklyn Bridge Park in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, is truly unique. The fully-restored antique carousel from 1922 with 48 beautifully carved and painted wooden horses and 1,200 lights sits on the edge of the East River, nestled between the Brooklyn and the Williamsburg Bridges. In addition, the Carousel is housed in a modern glass pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel. The carousel originated in Ohio. In 1984, it was purchased and brought to Brooklyn for two decades of careful restoration before the pavillion opened to the public in 2011. The carousel is the perfect resting spot after walking over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. Release your inner child with a ride on the carousel ($2/ticket) and marvel in the breathtaking 180-degree views of Manhattan. Afterwards, hit Grimaldi’s Pizzeria up the block or the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in a nearby landmark fireboat house. And on weekends in the warm months, visit Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn Flea Food Market with 100 vendors. www.janescarousel.com
214 Royal St
What a trippy and unique experience. Tourists and locals alike are crowded shoulder to shoulder on this revolving carnival ride, ordering drinks with exotic names like Vieux Carré, London Fairy, and Corpse Reviver. And Sazeracs, of course. Installed way back in 1949 inside New Orleans’ famous 5-star Monteleone Hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, the carousel revolves at a slow enough pace to prevent anyone from getting dizzy. The powerful cocktails are meant to do that! If you’re lucky enough to find a seat at the carousel, the novelty just doesn’t wear off. The bartenders are attentive and focused. The carousel is beautiful and lovingly maintained, certain to make you feel like a kid again. Just make sure you have your ID!
Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Nothing is a more powerful symbol of the City of Light than the Eiffel Tower. Designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exposition, it’s one of the world’s most-visited monuments, with nearly 7 million people ascending the 1,062-foot wrought-iron structure each year. Glass elevators spirit you to the top—hardy souls can take the stairs part of way—where in addition to unparalleled panoramic views of Paris, you can toast your arrival with a glass of bubbly at the Champagne bar. Evenings there’s a grand light show: every hour on the hour, the tower sparkles for five minutes with 20,000 bulbs.
New York, NY 10018, USA
A few green acres of valuable Midtown Manhattan real estate affords office workers and visitors with valuable peace and space, two things that are hard to find in the surrounding streets. Bryant Park shares the block between Fifth and Sixth avenues and 41st and 42nd street with the main branch of the New York City Library (also worth a visit). The library runs an al fresco reading room along the north end of the park, and occasionally hosts readings and author events. In summer, a stage at the western edge of the vast green lawn runs a busy schedule of performances and films. In winter, the lawn becomes an ice skating rink and the site of a busy holiday market. All year round, the park is a popular destination for the bocce ball courts, ping pong tables, small carousel, food kiosks, open lawns, gravel paths, seasonal plantings, and a graceful fountain. It may be a challenge to find a seat at lunchtime, but it’s worth the wait. Take a break from your walk and enjoy some great people-watching, as well as shade and a measure of serenity in a green space bound on all sides by tall buildings.
7300 Macarthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD 20812, USA
Recently, I had out-of-town guests with two children who were too young to be sightseeing all day long. I felt sorry for the little ones. Visiting D.C. sights can be boring if you’re under the age of 10. One morning, I packed up supplies for a picnic lunch and we headed for Glen Echo Park. When I was a child, my parents would take my siblings and I to the park quite often. A wooded path leads to the center of the park. Barely 30 paces into our journey, we would hear the sounds of the Wurlitzer organ. From there, it was a mad dash to arrive at the most wonderful ride we knew at that time—an old-fashioned carousel. I loved watching the colorfully decorated animals going up and down and around. It was always difficult for me to decide the animal I would claim—which one of the forty horses, four rabbits, four ostriches, giraffe, lion, tiger or deer would be my ride? One thing was for certain, I would not be on one of two chariots that were reserved for the “old folks” (aka Mom and Dad). Mom would buy the tickets. I don’t know how much they cost back then, but it couldn’t have been much—it’s only $1.25 now. After our ride, we would picnic in the park. I led my guests to the Dentzel Carousel and watched the little ones enjoy themselves as much as my siblings and I did all those decades ago. It brought back wonderful memories. Glen Echo Park is located in the Maryland suburbs, about a half-hour’s drive from downtown D.C.
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA
The Santa Monica Pier embodies what Southern California is all about: fun in the sun. Popular with tourists and locals alike, this iconic boardwalk adjacent to the Pacific Ocean—filled with all the amusement rides, midway games, fried food, ice cream and cotton candy you can dream up—is a fantastic place to spend a nice day. My favorite attractions are the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and the world’s first solar-paneled Ferris wheel, which provides breathtaking beach and ocean views as you ride ‘round and ‘round. Be sure to dip your toes in the soft Santa Monica sand, too. Nearby, you’ll find the Third Street Promenade, a bustling entertainment district filled with wonderful eateries and shops.
Piazza della Repubblica, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
The Piazza Della Repubblica was the place to be in Florence in the evenings. Tourists and locals alike dined at the restaurants lining the square, student groups gathered, families enjoyed the Carousel, and gypsies and other migrants tried to sell everything from silk scarves to toys..right up until the police arrived and they all magically disappeared.
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