The 10 Best Carousels in the Washington, DC Area


Here are the 10 best carousels in the Washington, DC area for families. Kids (and adults!) will be thrilled and you’ll make a fun memory. And get some pics for Instagram! Text a buddy and plan a playdate at one of these carousels!

Some notes about carousels:

  • Make sure to check the bottom park of the animals (creature) to make sure it goes up and down if your child wants to do that.
  • Check weight limit. Some carousels allow adults to ride, while others are not fit for adults.
  • Typically children under 42 inches tall must be supervised by a parent on the carousel (sometimes an adult ticket is needed)
  • Several of these carousels offer birthday parties too
  • Safety first on carousels. No getting on or off while the carousel is moving. We want to ride these for years to come and do not want them to be shut down.

Top 10 Carousels in the Washington, DC Area

1. Smithsonian Zoo Carousel Washington, DC

Open July 1-Sept 31, Tickets are $4 per person OR unlimited rides for FONZ members

The Smithsonian Zoo is a magical place with animals galore, a playground, an an extravagant 42-foot in diameter carousel! The Speedwell Conservation Carousel was custom built for the zoo and features a lot of precious animals like a naked mole rat, lion, zebra, and more! Tickets are $4 per person, but Friends of the National Zoo get unlimited rides. Your child can ride over, and over, and over again (and they will!). Total side note, but we also love being FONZ members to support the zoo, park for free three times a year, get 15% off purchases, plus THREE people (last names do not have to match) can be one one membership.

National Zoo Carousel2. National Mall Carousel Washington, DC

The National Mall Carousel is currently closed. Once it reopens, enjoy a historic, picturesque carousel ride on the National Mall. This was built in 1947 and has 58 horses and two chariots. There are four jumping horses per row, but be on the lookout for a lone Sea Dragon!

National Mall Carousel3. Watkins Regional Park Kettering, MD

Hours of operation vary based on the season and day. Tickets are $2 for PG residents and $2.50 for non-residents.

This playground has it all with a Dentzel carousel, mini-golf, an amazing Wizard of Oz-themed playground, a miniature train (currently under construction), outdoor skating, free Old Maryland Farm, Nature Center, trails, and more. Watkins is huge and deserves a visit and carousel ride! Be sure to check out the amazing playground and animals at the farm. Look at this map to get your bearings straight before exploring!

4. Friends of Frying Pan Park Carousel Herndon, VA

Open Monday-Thursday 10:20am–1:40pm, Friday-Sunday: 10:20am-3:40pm, Tickets are $3 on weekdays and $4 on weekends and holidays. Tickets sold in Old Country Store.

Take a spin (kids only) on the 1920s Hershcell Carousel at Frying Pan Park. This is a sweet carousel that is perfect for youngsters. Whats more, there is a fun playground and extensive free farm to enjoy too. These are timed tickets, so make sure you choose the time you want.

Frying Pan Park Carousel5. Clemyjontri Carousel McLean, VA

Hours of operation vary, but in general, it operates daily in the Summer starting at 9:30 am, and weekends in the Spring and Fall. Also, it is open on a few Federal Holidays. Tickets are $3 on the weekdays and $4 on the weekends. Parents with a child under 42 inches must ride with the child, but the adult does not require a ticket.

Clemyjontri Playground truly is a must for this area. In addition to the accessible, huge playground, the centerpiece is a gorgeous covered carousel with 14 horses, chariots, and spinning tea cups. This is an accessible carousel with a platform that is level with the ground.

Clemyjontri Playground Carousel6. Glen Echo Park Carousel Glen Echo, MD

Open May-August, Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday, 10am-2pm and Saturday-Sunday, 11am-5pm. Open September on Saturday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Also open on Memorial Day and Labor Day. Tickets are $2 per rider (of any age) and a caregiver is required to ride with anyone under 6.

Glen Echo Park charms everyone that comes for a visit and there are lots of cute photo opportunities. The Dentzel Carousel just celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in 2021. In fact, it is now listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It is known as the “menagerie carousel” because of the unique animals on the carousel. When you visit, make sure to plan to see a puppet show or attend one of their many fun events!

Glen Echo Carousel

7. The Carousel at National Harbor Oxon Hill, MD

Open daily from noon to 8pm. Tickets are $7 per child for unlimited rides and free for adults that accompany children. They also offer a $5 military discount too.

This National Harbor not only offers gobs to do for families, but also a classic Americana-style carousel for families. Enjoy a playground, picnic area, and a pavilion for birthday parties.

8. Wheaton Park Carousel Silver Spring, MD

Operating hours vary, but during Summer months, ride Thursday-Sunday. Tickets are $3.50 a ride, or a booklet of 10 tickets is $31.50.

Did you know that Wheaton’s Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel was actually the Smithsonian Carousel on the National Mall from 1967 until 1981? This large covered carousel can’t be missed with 33 jumping horses, some zebras, and some chariots. We recommend buying a booklet because you can use the passes for the carousel or train (which is right next to the carousel). Plus, sometimes the line to get ticket is really long, so having a ticket on hand is great! This is a great place for a birthday party and parking is a cinch too!

Wheaton Regional Park Carousel9. Carousel at Rio Gaithersburg, MD

Hours of operation vary based on the season. Tickets are $6 for unlimited rides and children under 42″ must have a parent ride (for free) with them. Bonus discount: buy a carousel ticket book for $21 on Tuesdays.

This Herschell-style carousel is whimsical and fun with a great view of the water. As many as 38 adults can ride plus 30 children passengers. This carousel is also wheelchair accessible. Be sure to carve out time to visit the playground and ride the paddle boats.

10. Chessie’s Big Backyard Carousel Alexandria, VA

Open Tickets are $3 per person on weekdays and $4 per person on weekends and holidays.

Chessie’s Big Backyard Carousel is accessible for all children to enjoy. Along with galloping horses, there are a variety of animals to ride on. Wheelchairs move vertically in bench instead of staying fixed.

Which carousel is your child’s favorite? Share your carousel tips for fellow moms in the comments! And see more fun ideas for fun and exploring on our site.

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Courtney Whittington
Courtney was born and raised in Louisiana where she met her husband (married in 2005). They have moved several times, but finally feel very settled in NW DC after moving back in 2016. She has four energetic kids: Cormac (2010), Evangeline (2013), Solomon (2016), and Antoinette (2019). She thinks motherhood is absolutely wonderful, but is constantly trying to figure out how to manage it all. She spends her days talking Star Wars, playing with legos, doing crafts, having tea parties, and chasing her toddler. Motherhood is wonderful and wild and in 2017 she banded together with other mothers to start DC Area Moms to inspire, learn, and grow together. She loves morning coffee, chocolate, chatting with people since she's an extrovert, a clean house (which is rare these days). She dislikes when her kids don't listen the first time, she abhors littering, and doesn't enjoy shopping.