clock menu more-arrow no yes

The Bay Area’s best carousels, mapped

Go for a spin on these historical gems

View as Map

Carousels are often a shared part of childhood nostalgia, but as we get older they are usually brushed off as entertainment for toddlers and overlooked at amusement parks for faster thrill rides with 90-degree drops or circular loops.

But what these slowly spinning mechanical contraptions lack in speed and adrenaline, they make up for in history and architectural beauty.

Around the Bay Area, there’s no shortage of these historical relics—many of them renovated—that have been cherished by generations of riders from the rolling hills of Sonoma to the urban playgrounds of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Here are some of our favorites.

Read More

1. Herschel-Spillman Carousel

Copy Link
Martin Luther King Jr Dr & Bowling Green Dr
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 861-0778
Visit Website

Located at the Koret Children’s Quarter playground, this carousel is the third reincarnation of the ride since the park opened. It has enchanted children with its collection of carefully crafted creatures from dragons to classical horses. The current carousel was created in 1914 by the Herschell-Spillman Company, and made an appearance in the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island, before coming to the park in 1940.

#carousel

A post shared by Emma Proctor (@egacc) on

2. San Francisco Carousel

Copy Link
Pier 39, Beach St
San Francisco, CA 94133

This double decker delight is one of the main attractions at Pier 39 for kids and adults who want to experience a classic ride from new heights. Imported from Italy, there’s a sea creature theme with sea lions, sea dragons, and dolphins that matches the surround waterfront theme perfectly. At night, 1,800 twinkling LED lights add an extra magical touch.

A post shared by Gabriel Dias (@fdgabriel) on

3. Leroy King Carousel

Copy Link
221 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 820-3320
Visit Website

As a highlight of the Children’s Creativity Museum, this century-old carousel has some stories to tell. Constructed in Rhode Island by famed craftsman Charles I.D. Looff in 1906, the move to San Francisco was delayed due to the earthquake. Finding a longtime home at Playland amusement park on Ocean Beach, this carousel was finally moved to its current location after years in storage and was named after former SF redevelopment commissioner Leroy King.

Photo by Brock Keeling

4. Eugene Friend Carousel

Copy Link
Sloat Blvd & Great Highway
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 753-7080
Visit Website

Handcrafted by William H. Dentzel in 1921, this carousel showcases the intricate detail of wooden artwork that was popular on merry-go-rounds until the Great Depression. This is one of only seven remaining carousels created by Dentzel in the country. It honors Bay Area philanthropist Eugene Friend.  

Photo by mliu92

5. Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round

Copy Link
Central Park Dr & Lake Anza Road
Berkeley, CA 94708
(510) 559-1004
Visit Website

This menagerie carousel was created by the Herschel-Spillman Company in 1911 and is one of the last antique carousels in the country. It’s on the list of National Register of Historical Places, having found a home in Southern California before its current home, Tilden Park, in 1948. Much of the original machine still exists, including the seven-and-a-half horsepower Westlinghouse electric motor.

A post shared by Karla May (@karlamayyy) on

6. Wonder-Go-Round

Copy Link
699 Bellevue Ave
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 452-2259
Visit Website

This Alice In Wonderland-themed carousel was installed in Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland in 1965, and has been delighting generations of small fans ever since. There are only a few seats, but every one of them features a Lewis Carroll-inspired character, from the toothy walrus to the Mad Hatter himself.

Photo by Annie Wong

7. Conservation Carousel

Copy Link

Located in the midst of rides at Oakland Zoo’s Adventure Landing, riders can choose from giant pandas, black rhinos, and Siberian tigers to take them on a spin. Zoo admission is not required, since the carousel is located in a separate ride area.

Photo by Trisha Fawver

8. Kennedy Park Merry-Go-Round

Copy Link
19501 Hesperian Blvd
Hayward, CA 94541
(510) 670-7275
Visit Website

Within a neighborhood park, this carousel has plenty of nostalgia for families in the area. Grab a picnic and mingle with local tots who never fail to be mesmerized by the dancing horses.

A post shared by Kendens_world (@kendens_world) on

9. Pixieland Antique Carousel

Copy Link
2740 E Olivera Rd
Concord, CA 94519
(925) 676-9612
Visit Website

One of the rides within a beloved mini-amusement park, this metal carousel has been going strong since the 1950s when it was first installed. Generations of local kids have reveled in choosing a colorful horse of their own to race to the finish line.

A post shared by Hunter Wimmer (@hlwimmer) on

10. W.E. “Bill” Mason Carousel

Copy Link
233 Blossom Hill Road
Los Gatos, CA 95032
(408) 395-7433
Visit Website

This historic treasure was built in Great Britain for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and was shipped to the U.S. around the horn of South America to its current home in Los Gatos. The wooden horses are from such renowned carvers CW Parker, and the Wurlitzer-type organ helps transport riders back in time.

It was too hot on our run so I decided to take pics instead

A post shared by Niki Jaimes (@gypsyjaimes) on

11. Carousel Columbia

Copy Link
Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara, CA 95054

Not for those who fear heights, this double-decker carousel at Great America in Santa Clara is one of the biggest in the world at 100 feet high. It has been an iconic spot in the park since 1976, with its signature gold spire. During the holidays, it’s worth seeing decked out in its seasonal best with giant wreaths and twinkling lights.

Photo by Jeremy Thompson

12. Keep-Around-Carousel

Copy Link
748 Story Rd
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 794-6400
Visit Website

As part of Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, this merry-go-round features endangered species. Kids can choose from lifelike crocodiles or jaguars to hitch a ride on. (Most of the characters are also endangered species.) Rides are included in the price of admission.

Photo by Eric E Castro

13. Iron Horse Carousel

Copy Link
20264 Broadway
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 938-3912
Visit Website

Trains may be the main stars of Sonoma Train Town Railroad, but the carousel is a favorite for many pint-sized visitors. This ride was the first amusement park attraction brought over in 1995. Going along with the railroad theme, there are detailed pictures of trains decorating the exterior of the carousel.  

A post shared by JiYoung Shin (@202m) on

14. Howarth Park Carousel

Copy Link
630 Summerfield Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
(707) 543-3737
Visit Website

Nestled within a local city park, this carousel delights with 30 brightly colored horses and two chariots for those who want to stay more grounded. Thousands of lights illuminate the ride during the day giving it an extra sparkle.

1. Herschel-Spillman Carousel

Martin Luther King Jr Dr & Bowling Green Dr, San Francisco, CA 94117

Located at the Koret Children’s Quarter playground, this carousel is the third reincarnation of the ride since the park opened. It has enchanted children with its collection of carefully crafted creatures from dragons to classical horses. The current carousel was created in 1914 by the Herschell-Spillman Company, and made an appearance in the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island, before coming to the park in 1940.

Martin Luther King Jr Dr & Bowling Green Dr
San Francisco, CA 94117

2. San Francisco Carousel

Pier 39, Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133

This double decker delight is one of the main attractions at Pier 39 for kids and adults who want to experience a classic ride from new heights. Imported from Italy, there’s a sea creature theme with sea lions, sea dragons, and dolphins that matches the surround waterfront theme perfectly. At night, 1,800 twinkling LED lights add an extra magical touch.

Pier 39, Beach St
San Francisco, CA 94133

3. Leroy King Carousel

221 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Photo by Brock Keeling

As a highlight of the Children’s Creativity Museum, this century-old carousel has some stories to tell. Constructed in Rhode Island by famed craftsman Charles I.D. Looff in 1906, the move to San Francisco was delayed due to the earthquake. Finding a longtime home at Playland amusement park on Ocean Beach, this carousel was finally moved to its current location after years in storage and was named after former SF redevelopment commissioner Leroy King.

221 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

4. Eugene Friend Carousel

Sloat Blvd & Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 94132
Photo by mliu92

Handcrafted by William H. Dentzel in 1921, this carousel showcases the intricate detail of wooden artwork that was popular on merry-go-rounds until the Great Depression. This is one of only seven remaining carousels created by Dentzel in the country. It honors Bay Area philanthropist Eugene Friend.  

Sloat Blvd & Great Highway
San Francisco, CA 94132

5. Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round

Central Park Dr & Lake Anza Road, Berkeley, CA 94708

This menagerie carousel was created by the Herschel-Spillman Company in 1911 and is one of the last antique carousels in the country. It’s on the list of National Register of Historical Places, having found a home in Southern California before its current home, Tilden Park, in 1948. Much of the original machine still exists, including the seven-and-a-half horsepower Westlinghouse electric motor.

Central Park Dr & Lake Anza Road
Berkeley, CA 94708

6. Wonder-Go-Round

699 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
Photo by Annie Wong

This Alice In Wonderland-themed carousel was installed in Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland in 1965, and has been delighting generations of small fans ever since. There are only a few seats, but every one of them features a Lewis Carroll-inspired character, from the toothy walrus to the Mad Hatter himself.

699 Bellevue Ave
Oakland, CA 94610

7. Conservation Carousel

Oakland, CA 94605
Photo by Trisha Fawver

Located in the midst of rides at Oakland Zoo’s Adventure Landing, riders can choose from giant pandas, black rhinos, and Siberian tigers to take them on a spin. Zoo admission is not required, since the carousel is located in a separate ride area.

8. Kennedy Park Merry-Go-Round

19501 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, CA 94541

Within a neighborhood park, this carousel has plenty of nostalgia for families in the area. Grab a picnic and mingle with local tots who never fail to be mesmerized by the dancing horses.

19501 Hesperian Blvd
Hayward, CA 94541

9. Pixieland Antique Carousel

2740 E Olivera Rd, Concord, CA 94519

One of the rides within a beloved mini-amusement park, this metal carousel has been going strong since the 1950s when it was first installed. Generations of local kids have reveled in choosing a colorful horse of their own to race to the finish line.

2740 E Olivera Rd
Concord, CA 94519

10. W.E. “Bill” Mason Carousel

233 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, CA 95032

This historic treasure was built in Great Britain for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and was shipped to the U.S. around the horn of South America to its current home in Los Gatos. The wooden horses are from such renowned carvers CW Parker, and the Wurlitzer-type organ helps transport riders back in time.

233 Blossom Hill Road
Los Gatos, CA 95032

11. Carousel Columbia

Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA 95054
Photo by Jeremy Thompson

Not for those who fear heights, this double-decker carousel at Great America in Santa Clara is one of the biggest in the world at 100 feet high. It has been an iconic spot in the park since 1976, with its signature gold spire. During the holidays, it’s worth seeing decked out in its seasonal best with giant wreaths and twinkling lights.

Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara, CA 95054

12. Keep-Around-Carousel

748 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95112
Photo by Eric E Castro

As part of Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, this merry-go-round features endangered species. Kids can choose from lifelike crocodiles or jaguars to hitch a ride on. (Most of the characters are also endangered species.) Rides are included in the price of admission.

748 Story Rd
San Jose, CA 95112

13. Iron Horse Carousel

20264 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476

Trains may be the main stars of Sonoma Train Town Railroad, but the carousel is a favorite for many pint-sized visitors. This ride was the first amusement park attraction brought over in 1995. Going along with the railroad theme, there are detailed pictures of trains decorating the exterior of the carousel.  

20264 Broadway
Sonoma, CA 95476

14. Howarth Park Carousel

630 Summerfield Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95405

Nestled within a local city park, this carousel delights with 30 brightly colored horses and two chariots for those who want to stay more grounded. Thousands of lights illuminate the ride during the day giving it an extra sparkle.

630 Summerfield Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95405