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Tilden Park Merry Go Round

Written by Amy Gaerlan. Posted in Recreation + Travel

Revisiting your childhood can be as easy as hearing the familiar music of the Tilden Regional Park  Merry-Go-Round.  For many East Bay families, this particular merry-go-round holds many happy memories.

Revisiting your childhood can be as easy as hearing the familiar music of the Tilden Regional Park  Merry-Go-Round.  For many East Bay families, this particular merry-go-round holds many happy memories.  Nationally acclaimed, this beautiful hand crafted merry-go-round is nestled in the gorgeous scenery of Tilden Regional Park.  Secluded in the midst of the trees, it's easy to spend an afternoon enjoying the carousel.  After a couple of quick spins – that might leave you a little dizzy – grab a sandwich from the shop and relax outside.  On weekend afternoons it's likely that you'll see many people soaking in the sunshine on some blankets or sharing a meal on one of the picnic tables.  One big question many families share this time of year is : When is it open?  During the winter season it's closed, but now that it's warmed up the merry-go-round is open on weekends from 11:00a.m.-5:00p.m. and starting June 13 it will be open daily.

Year round, this merry-go-round holds magic for many families.  This nationally acclaimed merry-go-round was built by the Herschell-Spillman Company in New York in 1911.  The carousel traveled from San Bernardino County, San Diego, Los Angeles, and eventually landed in Berkeley at Tilden Park in 1948.  The business was owned and operated by John and Janet Davis until 1953 when they became partners with their cousins, Jeanette and Harry Perry who stayed in Tilden Park for thirty years.  In 1976 it looked like the merry-go-round might be closed, but locals banded together to “Save the Carousel.” The park district worked with the Perry family and purchased the ride.  The Perry family stayed on board managing the operation after the purchase took place.  In 1978, the Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is well known by carousel enthusiasts.  Since 1992 Terri Holleman and her family took over the role as caretakers.

The carousel may hold a lot of magic during the summer months, but during the Christmas season Tilden transforms this hand carved beauty into a magical holiday spectacular.  The experience involves an extensive array of outdoor holiday light displays which covers the merry-go-round and the surrounding area.  The holiday fantasy is sure to bring joy to everyone who comes to see.  Surrounding the merry-go-round are Christmas trees with various themes that range from Santa to Vampire themes!  As always, the staff happily offers delicious treats.  Holiday goodies and warm beverages are severed nightly – along with visits from Santa and his live reindeer!  Keep yourself updated for next year’s special events by visiting their website.

Tilden Park is a wonderful place to go for a day of relaxation or a day of celebration.  If you have a child who is as fond of the merry-go-round as you are, Tilden offers birthday packages you might be interested in.  The basic package starts at just $13 dollars per guest and includes cake, ice-cream, drinks, and four rides per child.

While you're visiting Tilden, don't forget to check out the other attractions.  If you're going for a day trip, grab some veggies and visit Little Farm.  If you've got a train enthusiast take a ride on the Steam Train – and watch for special events at Tilden that show exhibits of a variety of trains.  Of course, there's also a playground near the entrance of Tilden for kids to burn off that last little bit of energy while mom and dad take a breather!

Tilden Botanical GardenThere are also botanical gardens which anyone can enjoy, and a variety of paths to explore the views of the forest.  Lake Anza is a peaceful spot that is great to visit when you just want to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the sounds of nature.

So if you're looking for a local day trip for the family, or maybe you're just looking for an escape from work, Tilden Park has something for everyone.  Visit the Merry-Go-Round and take a few minutes to enjoy the care it took to craft all of the animals.  Listen to the music and let your mind drift back to the days of childhood.  Whatever the reason is, take a break and go!

From Highway 24 exit at Fish Ranch Road and head north on Fish Ranch Road.  Turn right on Grizzly Peak Blvd.  After 3 miles, turn right on Golf Course Road.  After one mile, turn right on Shasta Road.  Turn left on Wildcat Canyon Road.  Once in Tilden Park follow the signs to the Carousel/Merry-Go-Round.