Starting with the round facade of the building (a former post office), the Merry-Go-Round Museum captures the magic of carousels. Primarily composed of intriguing collections of antique carousel animals, the museum also includes an area where visitors can observe wood carvers making new animals, along with other interactive stations. The star of the show, though, is the full-size antique carousel presiding over the center of the exhibition hall. Built in 1939, this Allan Herschell unit represents a distinct era in carousel history. And, yes, you can ride it! Your admission price ($6 adults; $4 for kids ages 4 to 14; younger kids are free) includes a token for the ride, appropriate for adults and children.
The collection of animal figures throughout the museum introduces a fascinating view of carousel history. For instance, did you know that the "lead" horse on a merry-go-round is fancier than its brethren? Or that French carousels spin counterclockwise, so the animals are all carved to face in the opposite direction? An hour-long guided tour is the best way to pick up these, and other, tidbits. If you wander about on your own, you'll still enjoy the wide variety of animals (ever seen a giraffe on a merry-go-round? Or a rabbit?), but the docent-led experience is worth it for the extra insights.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed during January and open limited hours during the off-season.