Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Carousels

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Carousels are magic. They truly are. An adult can look at a merry-go-round in a play yard and safely think it's just for kids. You make that same merry-go-round two stories tall and full of expertly carved animals, lights, and calliope music and suddenly grown people will elbow each other in solar plexus to get on an ostrich.

The greater Houston area has some really keen carousels, and having a four-year-old daughter I have been on every damned one of them. In case you feel the need to go on a carousel quest yourself, here's the order it is best to proceed in.

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10. The Katy Mills Mall Carousel: Probably the weakest of the mall carousels in Houston is the Island Carousel in Katy Mills Mall. In addition to being quite a drive out to ride it, it's sort of small and scrunched right into the middle of the food court. Still, it's sort of cute, like a miniature carousel, even if it is otherwise sort of pedestrian.

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9. San Jacinto Mall Carousel:It's sad to see what's become of the San Jacinto Mall over the last 20 years. Once upon a time the Mall sported a play area that was honestly better than a full amusement park at times, and I spent a lot of my childhood playing there. Unfortunately, it's slowly running down and I don't expect it will be around much longer. The carousel is still there, though, and it's a bigger and better version than the one at Katy Mills.

8. The Woodlands Mall Carousel: Considering the amount of money that goes in and out of The Woodlands Mall you'd think they would have one of those massive double-decker affairs. The reality is a more modest carousel that is less dinky than Katy Mills and has far less depressing surroundings that San Jacinto. Plus, The Woodlands Mall has a lot more fun things to offer around it like boat rides, which makes it a better cheap day out destination.

7. The Rodeo Carousel: The midway at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo usually features a pretty solid carousel that is predictably big on horses over other animals. If you're a soldier it's an even better deal because the Rodeo annually holds an Armed Forces Appreciation Day that allows service members and their families free activities and performances. Living animal carousels are often featured as well if that's more your style.

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6. The Aquarium Carousel: Though it's only a single story carousel, the Aquarium's merry-go-round gets extra points for its customized nature. Sharks and other sea life replace the more standard fare, and the artistry is really, really well done. It's not as much fun as the nearby shark train, but it's up there.

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