MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Where to ride on carousels?

A friend of mine wants to ride on as many carousels as possible this year. Which ones do you know of in the Midwest? - Deb, Minneapolis

Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis., has a great carousel; I just saw it on the Milwaukee lakefront during the Great Circus Festival. It's big and gaudy and colorful. For more about Circus World, see Baraboo's gilt complex.

In Madison, Ella's Deli has a restored 1927 C.W. Parker Carry Us All Carousel once used in a park in New York. The goofy restaurant is filled with vintage toys, some of which move around the dining area, plus animated orchestras, like House on the Rock. It's on East Washington Avenue/U.S. 151, just south of the exit from I-94.

In Chicago, there's a musical carousel on Navy Pier, near the Ferris wheel. It was designed for Navy Pier in the style of the 1920s and has 36 hand-painted animals.

One of the most unusual and whimsical carousels is along the Mississippi River in Kellogg, Minn., just south of Wabasha, at L.A.R.K. Toys. The hand-carved animals have amazing detail. It's indoors, so you can ride it year-round.

In St. Paul's Como Park, near the conservatory, Cafesjian's Carousel has 68 horses and was built in 1914 as a concession at the Minnesota State Fair. Riding it became a family tradition, and after it was put up for sale in 1988, the community raised money to keep it in St. Paul. It's named for its most generous benefactor.

The cheapest carousel is at Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, Wis., on the shore of Lake Michigan. It's not fancy, but it only costs 25 cents to ride it. The whole park is wonderfully old-fashioned.

Those are the carousels I've seen. It might also be fun to check out the carousel at Arnolds Park on Iowa's Lake Okoboji. The park has been operating since 1889.

Most every county and state fair has a carousel, too, but I'm assuming your friend is looking for the niftier carousels. I'll add others as I think of them.


Last updated on July 14, 2009