Round and Round We Go

With six historic merry-go-rounds still in operation, Rhode Island preserves a timeless pleasure

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Charles Looff immigrated to the United States in 1870, and he spent decades building roller coasters, Ferris wheels, and carousels. He was a master carver and crafted each horse by hand. Only around 50 such carousels were ever constructed, and two of them are still running in Rhode Island.

Like rock-skipping and stargazing, carousels have entertained whole generations, and they never get old, no matter how many tokens you buy. We’re lucky to have preserved so many vintage carousels in the Ocean State. Every time you give that mare a whirl, just imagine how many thousands of people have saddled up before you. Here’s where you can rustle them up.

 

Carousel Village

One of the gems of Roger Williams Park, Carousel Village is the perfect bookend for a zoo visit. Not only is the carousel a delight, but kids can also run around the playground, stroll in the nearby Japanese Garden, or ride a pony. There’s even a miniature bounce-house. Roger Williams Park, Providence.

Easton's Beach Carousel

Easton’s Beach is one of Newport’s most low-maintenance hang-outs: Beach-combing is free, there’s a great snack bar, and the Save the Bay Exploration Center. Finally, there’s the carousel, which started operating in the 1950s and even survived a hurricane. Ride to the rhythm of Disney standards. Easton’s Beach, Newport. 

 

Atlantic Beach Carousel

Built by Herschell Spillman in 1915, the Atlantic Beach Carousel is nestled in the middle of the action: Rides, games, and an arcade make Misquamicut a favorite summer haunt, but the age-old carousel is its century-old anchor. Atlantic Beach, Westerly. 

 

Crescent Park Carousel

Crescent Park draws thousands of visitors to Riverside each summer. The lawns and paths offer a gorgeous view of the Providence River, and you can stock up on fried seafood at Blount’s Clam Shack. Then there’s the local Looff Carousel, a historic landmark from 1895 boasting 61 horses, one camel, and chances to reach for the brass ring! Crescent Park, Riverside. 

 

Slater Park Loof Carousel

Galloping horses, a giraffe and lion, and even three dogs. This Looff carousel was originally built for a carnival in upstate New York, but it was relocated to Slater Park in 1910. The carousel is undergoing renovations this year, but it should be open by August. Slater Park, Pawtucket. 

 

Flying Horse Carousel

Why is it called “Flying Horse”? Because the horse sculptures are actually suspended from chains instead of stuck on the traditional poles. A rare breed of carousel, this Watch Hill staple is the oldest example in the country. The site dates back to 1879, when the carousel was rotated by an actual horse. Watch Hill, Westerly.