Friedsam Memorial Carousel
As you walk along Playmates Arch in the Children’s Zone section of Central Park, you’ll hear the organ music before you see the Friedsam Memorial Carousel, which features 57 nearly life-size steeds. A merry-go-round was first installed at the site in 1871; it and two or three successors, according to park lore, caught fire and had to be replaced. In 1950, the Parks Department found the current carousel—crafted in 1908 by Brooklyn manufacturer Stein and Goldstein—in an old trolley terminal in Coney Island, had it restored and moved it to its current location. Expect a long line for the ride, though the balloon, hot dog and popcorn vendors may distract your little ones from the wait. Central Park, midpark at 64th St. (212-439-6900, centralpark.com). Open weekends Nov.–Mar. 10am-4:30pm (weather permitting); open daily Apr.–Oct. 10am–6pm. $3 per ride.
Bryant Park's Le Carrousel pays homage to the green space's Parisian influence with 14 animals that revolve to French cabaret music. But don't expect European snobbery here: Activities for families abound. This summer, the carousel's mascot, Flaubert Frog (a.k.a. children's storyteller about town Dan Kitrosser), will hang with local kids on Saturdays for games and stories, and on Sundays magicians from Monday Night Magic will astound tots with their sleight-of-hand. Check the website for a complete schedule of this year's events. Bryant Park, W 40th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves. (212-768-4242, bryantpark.org). Mar.–May: daily 11am-7pm; June.–Oct.: daily 11am-8pm; Nov., Dec.: Mon.–Thu., Sun. 11am–9pm; Fri., Sat. 11am–10pm, (weather permitting). $2 per ride; 10 rides for $15.
Totally Kid Carousel
After its restorative overhaul in 2009, the Totally Kid Carousel at Riverbank State Park is still rolling with the same 36 critters it debuted with in 1997. The menagerie was created by artist Milo Mottola based on imaginative drawings by local kids; the original sketches are posted above each bobbing animal for your brood to admire before hopping on the refurbished merry-go-round.Riverbank State Park, enter park from Riverside Drive at 145th St. (212-694-3633, nysparks.state.ny.us). Beginning May 25: Sat., Sun. and holidays 1–6pm. July 6–Sept. 2: Wed., Thu. 11am–3pm; Fri., Sat. 11am–8pm; Sun 1–6pm. $1.50 per ride.
Pier 62 Carousel
Its name may not sound fabulous, but the Pier 62 Carousel isn't bland. Located at Hudson River Park's Pier 62 near Chelsea Piers, this waterfront merry-go-round opened in May 2010 and features 33 hand-carved animals, most indigenous to the Hudson River Valley (we’re partial to the sea turtle, raccoon and wild turkey). Tykes can also perch atop a classic wooden steed (a unicorn, actually) or ride in the grand oyster chariot, which is also wheelchair accessible. Hudson River Park, Pier 62, W. 23rd St. at the Hudson River (212-627-2020, hudsonriverpark.org). Subway: C, E to 23rd St. Daily 11am–7pm. $2.
When construction is completed families will be able to try out the Battery Conservancy's SeaGlass Carousel. The new merry-go-round will feature 30 amazing, glass-and-steel aquatic creatures lit up by fiber-optic and LED lights (212-344-3491, thebattery.org).
Carousel in Prospect Park
The Carousel in Prospect Park has been a popular attraction since 1952, and was first erected in Coney Island in 1915. Hand-carved three years earlier by renowned designer Charles Carmel, the ride is known for its expressive equestrian figures that seem to elegantly prance to the tunes of a Wurlitzer organ. By coincidence, Carmel drew inspiration from his many visits to the Prospect Park stables, which were located just a few blocks from his home. Among the 51 horses, the handsome Gray Ghost is a favorite. Brownie the lion, one of three menagerie animals, has many fans too. Find them in the Children’s Corner of the park, adjacent to Lefferts Historic House and the zoo. Prospect Park Children's Corner, use Willink entrance, Ocean Ave. at Empire Blvd. (718-965-8951, prospectpark.org). Apr.–June.: Thu.–Sun. and holidays noon–5pm; Jul.–Sept..: Thu.–Sun. and holidays noon–6pm; Sept.–Oct.: Thu.–Sun. noon–5pm. $2 per ride, five tickets $9.
Jane’s Carousel opened in 2011 in Dumbo after undergoing almost 30 years of renovations by local artist Jane Walentas. Now, the original 1922 structure, repainted, reembellished and set with 1,200 lights, dazzles little ones and grown-ups alike in a pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel. Brooklyn Bridge Park, enter at Dock or Main St. (718-222-2502, janescarousel.com). May 24–Oct. 14: Weds.–Mon. 11am–7pm. Oct. 15–May 23: Thu.–Sun. 11am–6pm. $2 per ride, $20 for 12 tickets.
Sometime in 2013, the renovation of Coney Island’s last remaining historic merry-go-round, the B&B Carousell, will be completed. The 40-horse carousel is slated to be the centerpiece of Steeplechase Plaza (212-312-4233,thecidc.org).
Flushing Meadows Carousel
From watching a Mets game to exploring the New York Hall of Science, there’s no shortage of activities at 1,255-acre Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. Take a break at the Flushing Meadows Carousel, adjacent to the Queens Zoo. The turn-of-the-last-century wood classic comprises 64 "jumping" horses (some with flying manes and tails), seven standing horses, a lion and two stand-alone chariots. The ride combines figures from two early-1900s Coney Island attractions: the Charles Feltman and Stubbman carousels. Both were the work of master carver Marcus Charles Illions, who had a hand in several Coney Island amusements. The mash-up merry-go-round was installed at its current home for the 1964 World’s Fair. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, 111th St. at 55th Ave.
(718-788-2676, flushingmeadowscarousel.com). June: Sat., Sun. 11am–8pm. July–Aug.: Mon.–Fri. 11am–7pm; Sat., Sun. 11am–8pm. Select days in Sept. and Aug. Tickets $1 (three tickets are needed per ride), 12 tickets $10, 25 tickets $20, $50 tickets $38.
Forest Park Carousel
One of the few remaining creations of famed wood carver Daniel Carl Muller, the Forest Park Carousel was forced to shut down in 2009, after the operator let its contract with the city expire. In May 2012, the historic merry-go-round reopened under different management, so tykes can once again perch atop one of the jumping or standing horses while the A. Ruth & Sohn organ plays on. Birthday party options and Saturday clown shows add to the fun. Forest Park, use northwest entrance at Forest Park Dr. and Woodhaven Blvd.
(718-788-2676, forestparkcarousel.com). June.: Sat., Sun. 11am–8pm; Thu.–Tues. 11–6pm; Wed. 11–7pm. July–Aug..: Mon.–Fri. 11am–6pm; Sat., Sun. 11am–8pm. Sept.: Sat., Sun. 11am–7pm and holidays. Oct.: Sat., Sun. 11am–7pm. Tickets $1 (three tickets are needed per ride), six tickets $5, 20 tickets $15.
Barbara Hrbek Zucker Bug Carousel
Added to the Bronx Zoo’s Butterfly Garden in 2005, the trippy Bug Carousel will charm all but the most confirmed entomophobes. Your kid can cruise on any of the enormous, brightly painted insect replicas—be it the green praying mantis, orange grasshopper or red ladybug. Touted as the very first "all-bug carousel" (and who are we to argue?), it is educational as well as entertaining. A vivid hand-painted mural on the ride’s perimeter depicts the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies. Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd. at Fordham Rd. (718-220-5100, bronxzoo.com). Mar. 23–Nov 4.: Mon.–Fri. 10am–5pm; Sat., Sun. 10am–5:30pm. Nov. 4–Mar. 22: Daily 10am–4:30pm. $3 per ride with a general-admission ticket, free with a total-experience ticket.
Carousel for All Children
Tucked away in the Willowbrook Park section of the lush Staten Island preserve known as the Greenbelt is the Carousel for All Children. The Victorian-style merry-go-round, which was built in 1999, is rarely crowded, so kids can take their time deciding whether to try a two-minute turn on a dolphin, panda, ostrich or another of the 51 hand-carved wooden animal figures. (One of our favorites is a reproduction of a large Saint Bernard dog from the borough’s former Tirelli Carousel, which did service from the early 1900s until 1957 in nearby Midland Beach.) This popular attraction, which sits behind a serene duck pond, also features vividly painted scenes of Staten Island landmarks. Afterward, your kids may want to make a trip to see the Conference House—a historic Revolutionary War–era home—or the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. Willowbrook Park, Eton Pl. at Richmond Ave. (718-477-0605, sigreenbelt.org). May, Sept., Oct.: Fri.–Sun. 11am–5:45pm; June: Wed.–Sun. 11am–5:45pm; July, Aug.: Mon.–Sun. 11am–5:45pm. $1.50 per ride, $25 for 20 rides.
For more things to do with kids, visit timeoutnewyorkkids.com.