Relive Your Childhood at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Connecticut

All kids love a merry-go-round, and I was no exception. So when my husband and I found the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, we practically galloped right in.

Housed in a renovated factory, the museum boasts one of the country's largest collections of antique carousel pieces. We admired prancing steeds of all kinds.

I learned that carousels were created to teach medieval noblemen how to joust, but quickly became popular in their own right, with many featuring elaborately carved and painted menageries.

It was absolutely fascinating to see how master carvers and restorers work. I even learned a little about how to estimate a figure's age by its stance. Early carousel horses kept all hooves firmly on the floor; gradually, carvers figured out how to fashion horses rearing on their hind legs. After technology advanced to the point where animals could go up and down, carvers let all hooves fly in fantastic leaps!

As we wandered around, we heard cheerful merry-go-round music from an antique Wurlitzer carousel organ. A guide demonstrated how its old-fashioned punch rolls work.

Keep in mind that for 50 cents, you can take a spin on Hartford's antique carousel in Bushnell Park downtown (open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday from May through October).

This museum is a magical place. Not only did we revisit our own special childhood memories, we recalled happy hours spent watching our young kid's delight in riding. Come see for yourself–what goes around, comes around.

Fast Facts

Bristol is on State Highway 72 in central Connecticut, about 20 miles southwest of downtown Hartford. For information about the town, call the Greater Bristol Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-860-584-4718.

The New England Carousel Museum (95 Riverside Ave.) is located on Highway 72 near Main Street. To learn more, call the museum at 1-860-585-5411.

More to See

The American Clock and Watch Museum (100 Maple St.) celebrates Bristol's clock-making history. For details, call 1-860-583-6070.

To learn more about attractions in the picturesque Farmington Valley, which lies largely north of Bristol and west of Hartford.

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