Does HBO’s Luck have you itching to play with a few ponies? If you’re not ready to take your toddlers to the racetrack for a day, visit an old-fashioned carousel instead. These century-old attractions are perennial faves of kids and adults alike. Here are six of our favorite local merry-go-rounds:
Los Angeles Zoo’s Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel, Los Feliz
New in town since winter 2011, the Conservation Carousel is so much more than just ponies! This carousel is populated by a wide array of hand-carved wild animals, ranging from endangered oddities to familiar backyard critters, along with a unicorn, a princess pony and eclectic mix of birds and bugs. And if your kid doesn’t like the “uppy-downy” of a typical carousel jumper, you can even take a seat on two unique chariots: a peacock, or an iridescent dung beetle pushing a giant ball of…dung. (Don’t miss that if you have an eight-year-old boy in the gross-out phase!) The carousel’s music isn’t your typical organ tunes either; major donor Jerry Moss founded A&M Records, so the music includes artists from that label like Janet Jackson and Cat Stevens. Don’t miss this delightful attraction!
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, Ca 90027
Open Daily, $3
Santa Monica Pier Carousel, Santa Monica
Built almost 100 years ago and lovingly restored in the 1980s, the Santa Monica Pier Carousel has been a beloved beach destination for generations of local families and hundreds of thousands of tourists. Housed within the historic Looff Hippodrome, the Pier Carousel is a rare relic from Los Angeles’ earliest years. Make some memories before the summer beach crowd hits: Drive down to Santa Monica to ride carousel, then enjoy an ice-cream cone at the nearby sweet shop, check out Pacific Park and the Pier Aquarium, and then just enjoy the sights and sounds of the sea!
200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, Ca 90401
Open Daily, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm (Monday and Thursday), 11:00 am – 7:00 pm (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), closed Wednesday and Tuesday, $2 adults, $1 children
Griffith Park Carousel, Los Feliz
Built in 1926 in San Diego, the Griffith Park Carousel moved to Los Angeles in 1937, where it has lived ever since, nestled in a little knoll near the playground. The best thing about the Griffith Park Carousel is the huge antique band organ that includes moving figurines, detailed woodwork and very loud music. Sure, it may be a little worse for wear after all these years, but nonetheless, the Griffith Park Carousel remains a favorite of local families with little ones!
4730 Crystal Springs Road
Los Angeles, Ca 90027
Open weekends and summer weekdays, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, $2
Worth the Drive:
Chase Palm Park Carousel, Santa Barbara
Next time you’re enjoying a weekend getaway in S.B., take the kiddos to Chase Palm Park to experience the historic Allan Herschell Three-Abreast Carousel. Built in 1916 and outfitted with 36 horses and two chariots, this oceanside carousel is a National Historic Landmark.
236 East Cabrillo Boulevard
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Open Daily, 10:00 am to dusk, $2
King Arthur Carrousel, Disneyland
Walt Disney himself–inspired by none other than the Griffith Park Carousel–oversaw the creation of this carousel, which was one of Disneyland’s featured opening-day attractions back in 1955. Designed to look like a crown from the outside, the carousel features 68 jumping horses representing the destriers and stallions used by the likes of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Contemporary updates to the carousel’s styling have included Sleeping Beauty artwork and nods to 1963’s Arthurian animated feature The Sword and the Stone.
West Ball Road & South Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, Ca 92802
Grand Carousel, Six Flags Magic Mountain
This nearly century-old carousel moved to Valencia in 1971. Fans say the best time to visit is at night when the carousel proper and the surrounding pavilion are lit with thousands of individual bulbs!
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway
Valencia, Ca 91355
What’s your favorite old-time local attraction? Share the love with other L.A. parents and let us know in the comment section below.
— Jennifer Arrow