Whimsical creatures, sparkling lights, old-timey music—if you’ve ever ridden a carousel, you understand the unique blend of magic and joy that it can bring to a child. Fortunately for those craving vintage fun, carousels are getting another spin on life. Read on to learn more about our favorites located in (or within two hours of) the Portland area.
photo: Jeff Muceus via Flickr
Oaks Amusement Park Carousel
The oldest ride in Portland’s beloved, turn-of-the-century amusement park, the historic Herschell–Spillman Noah’s Ark Carousel has been delighting children for 100+ years. You’ll step back in time when you step onto this ride with your little adventurer. You’ll find a menagerie of 46 wooden, hand-carved animals, including pairs of zebras, ostriches, roosters, and giraffes. And each turn and spin is set to traditional tunes that brings smiles to the faces of young and old alike.
Rides are $3.75/person or unlimited with a ride bracelet, $15.75-$31.25/person.
7805 SE Oaks Park Way
Oregon Zoo Carousel
The zoo’s petite carousel is back! Originally added to the grounds in the 1960s, the petite merry-go-round had been MIA during the last wave of renovations. Located in the newly-dubbed North Meadow Terrace, it runs daily starting at 10:30 a.m., weather permitting.
Rates are in addition to regular admission, $3/general and $2/members.
4001 SW Canyon Road
photo: wplynn via Flickr
Salem Riverfront Carousel
This Salem landmark, which opened its doors in 2001, is an old-world style carousel located on the banks of the Willamette in the city’s 23-acre Riverfront Park. More than just a ride, the Salem Riverfront Carousel is considered a work of art that offers a magical experience to everyone who steps aboard. After taking a few merry spins, check out the on-site carving gallery and gift shop. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to visit this site that some call the heart of the community.
Rental space is available for a variety of private events, including birthday parties and weddings.
Rides are $1.50/person.
101 Front St. NE, Salem, OR
Seaside Carousel Mall
A local attraction since the 1980s, Seaside’s compact, classic-style carousel is a modern-day replica located two blocks from the beach inside the Carousel Mall. Twenty-two animals are featured, from a prancing brown horse to a whimsical, fish-loving black cat. Afterwards, you and the kids can play in the mall’s arcade and/or grab sweet treats at one of the candy shops. Cost is $2.50/person.
300 Broadway, Suite 22, Seaside, OR
photo: Karyn Christner via Flickr
About 70 miles south of Portland, this brand new 50-foot carousel — housed in a 22,000-square foot facility — is slated to open this year on National Merry-Go-Round Day, July 25. Expect a whimsical menagerie of some 52 handmade wooden animals (think snarling dragons, hopping toads, splashy orca whales, and more), many of which have been designed, carved, and painted by folks in the local community.
Rental space will be available. Ride tokens are $2 each.
SW Washington St. & W 1st Ave.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Paul Titus Antique Carousel
If you’re in the Tacoma area, head to Point Defiance Park to visit the zoo and take a spin on the refreshed c. 1917 Paul Titus Carousel, situated just inside the front zoo gates. Here you’ll find 34 wooden animals, including endangered Northwest species, as well as space for wheelchair riders.
Rides: $1.50/general admission and $1/ members.
5400 N Pearl St., Tacoma, WA
Did we miss your favorite carousel? Tell us about it in the comments section below.