Carol Ann’s Carousel Is Quite a Ride

We’ve loved this riverfront attraction since it opened—and your family will too.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

Carol Ann’s Carousel opened in 2015 and I was there, at opening weekend, with three McCoshams under the age of 5. Harvey was not even a year old, and Julian and Mary were 4 and 3, respectively. We’d long enjoyed the carousel at the Cincinnati Zoo and were also big fans of the water features at Smale Riverfront Park, so this four-seasons, totally indoor attraction was right up our alley.

In the almost decade since, Carol Ann’s has become not only a beloved part of my family’s Cincinnati experience; it’s become an inextricable part of the riverfront—a Queen City icon. And not only is the carousel iconic as a whole, but each of its 44 hand-painted figures represents part of our beautiful town. The paintings on the carousel frame contain many a local Easter egg. Even better? The building in which the carousel is located has panoramic, all-glass windows that allow for the most mesmerizing views of the Ohio River, Cincinnati skyline, and some of our town’s most celebrated attractions and bridges.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

The carousel was a gift from the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation and built by Carousel Works in Mansfield, which, fun fact, is the world’s largest manufacturer of hand-carved wooden carousels. It’s nostalgic and whimsical and historic and significant, yes—but more than that, it’s just plain fun.

Every time our family goes downtown for a Reds game or theater performance, we stop by the carousel. Over the years, my kids have grown (and Pearl joined the ranks), and I have photos of my crew sitting on the same horses in 2024 as in 2017—though back then, Daddy or Mommy stood nearby, just in case.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

My kids are growing up so fast and I swear I can feel the Earth actually rotating some days. Sometimes, it’s just nice to sit back and relish the moment—be part of the movement, the round and round of the world. This is what Carol Ann’s Carousel is to me. It’s a $2, couple-minute pause where I can simply sit with my kids and enjoy the ride, memorizing their 2024 faces and imprinting new memories.

And maybe embarrassing my kids by tearing up, but that’s kind of my job.

Carol Ann’s Carousel, 8 E. Mehring Way, Cincinnati

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