Generations of San Franciscans (and young visitors from around the world!) have fond memories of the children’s playground and carousel in Golden Gate Park’s southeast corner. The playground, called the Sharon Quarters for Children when it opened in 1888, is thought to have been the nation’s first public playground. In that era, the idea of providing a dedicated space solely for youth recreation was groundbreaking. The nearby Sharon Building was designed for indoor play during bad weather; it now houses Sharon Art Studio, which offers art classes for both children and adults.
With generous support from the Koret Foundation, the playground underwent a major renovation and reopened in 2007 as the Koret Children’s Quarter. New features include a climbing wall shaped like waves and a rope climbing structure; the historic concrete slide was retained.
Three carousels have been housed in Golden Gate Park near the Koret Children’s Quarter since the playground opened. The current carousel was built in 1914 by the Herschell-Spillman Company and operated at amusement parks in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, before it was installed in Golden Gate Park in 1940 after a stint at the World’s Fair on Treasure Island. It was shut down in 1977 and restored, reopening in 1984. The carousel’s 62 colorfully painted menagerie animals include a dragon, camel, and goat as well as horses, frogs, dogs, roosters, and pigs. Painted panels inside the carousel depict Bay Area landscapes.
To reserve the picnic area adjacent to the carousel and playground, please call (415) 831-5500.
Hours of Operation
The carousel operates daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from the day after Labor Day through the day before Memorial Day. Rides are from 10 am to 4:30 pm (the last ride begins at 4:15 pm).
Adults, $2; children ages 6 to 12 years, $1 per ride; children 5 and under free if accompanied by a paying adult. Children under 40″ in height must be accompanied by a paying adult.
320 Bowling Green Drive, between John F. Kennedy Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, adjacent to the Koret Children’s Quarter (playground) by the Sharon Building.
Parking is east of Bowling Green Drive, by the lawn bowling building.There is no parking by the carousel or Sharon Building.