Complete Guide to US Amusement Parks
Summer’s here, and the kids are getting restless. That means one thing: Time for an amusement park! From coast to coast, these parks keep kids (and kids at heart) happy with fun rides and more!
Castle Park (Riverside, California)In Southern California, head to Castle Park. You’ll love the park’s medieval castle, mini golf course and 21 amusement rides, such as Merlin’s Revenge and Dragon Flyer (pictured).
More California Amusement Parks:
Adventure City -- Anaheim, CA
Belmont Park -- San Diego
California's Great America -- Santa Clara, CA
Castle Park -- Riverside, CA
Children's Fairyland -- Oakland, CA
Funderland Amusement Park -- Sacramento, CA
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park -- Gilroy, CA 960 1280
Disneyland (Anaheim, California)Mickey and Minnie say hi. Beyond Disneyland’s entrance, the wonder of childhood dreams await: Step inside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, take a ride through Splash Mountain, and hop aboard a carriage as you take in the sights of Main Street, in the “happiest place on Earth.”
More California Amusement Parks:
Knott's Berry Farm -- Buena Park, CA
Pacific Park -- Santa Monica, CA
Pixieland Amusement Park -- Concord, CA
Rotary Storyland & Playland -- Fresno, CA
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk -- Santa Cruz, CA 960 1280
Legoland (Carlsbad, California)Love Legos? You got to visit this Legoland -- the first one outside of Europe. Spread across 128 acres in Carlsbad, CA, Legoland California greets the kids with a welcoming dinosaur right by the entrance. Lie inside a life-sized dinosaur footprint on Dino Island, venture into the wilds of Africa in Duplo Village and get soaked with 350 gallons of water at the waterpark.
More California Amusement Parks:
Scandia Amusement Park -- Sacramento, CA
Scandia Amusement Park -- Victorville, CA 960 1280
SeaWorld San Diego (California)A San Diego attraction since 1964, SeaWorld San Diego upped the ante in summer 2012 when it launched Manta, the mega-coaster that showcases 2 launches of up to 43 mph. Manta joins park mainstays like the Dolphin Point exhibit, the Bayside Skyride gondola ride and the Sky Tower, a 320-foot-high panoramic tower.
More California Amusement Parks:
Six Flags Magic Mountain -- Valencia, CA
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom -- Vallejo, CA 960 1280
Universal Studios Hollywood (California)Don’t panic! That guy going up in smithereens is part of the moviemaking magic at <a title="Universal Studios Hollywood" href=" http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com" target="_blank">Universal Studios Hollywood</a>. The movie studio is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood movie studios still in operation. One of its theme park highlights is Transformers: The Ride, which opened in 2012 featuring 3-D technology, fight simulation and more!
Elitch Gardens Theme Park (Denver)From late April through Halloween, this seasonal, 70-acre park in Denver is worth a family’s visit. With 30 rides, including 9 roller coasters, Elitch Gardens’ attractions include Half Pipe, a snowboard ride that will have you thrashing and spinning around … and around. Plus, cool off in Elitch’s waterpark. 960 1280
Lake Compounce (Bristol, Connecticut)You’re looking at the oldest continuously-operating amusement park in the US. Lake Compounce first opened its doors in 1846. Today, the amusement park spans 332 acres, with more than 40 rides, including Thunder n' Lightning (pictured). The park also has a beach and waterpark.
More Connecticut Amusement Parks:
Quassy Amusement Park -- Middlebury, CT 960 1280
Funland (Rehoboth, Delaware)There’s something for the whole family at Funland. Choose from among 19 rides -- everything from the carousel to the more fast-paced Sea Dragon thrill ride. The kids and you can also enjoy games, from Ring Fling to amusement-park fave Whac-a-Mole. Perhaps the coolest part about Funland: Many of the rides are decades old, so adults can enjoy a walk down memory lane while the kids discover rides for the first time. 960 1280
Aquatica Orlando (Florida)There’s a reason this is the ninth-most visited amusement park in the US: Spanning 200 acres, Aquatica Orlando showcases live shows (see Shamu!) and animal exhibits -- stingrays, turtles, flamingos and more -- plus rides like Dolphin Plunge, the most popular ride in the park. This pic shows why!
More Florida Amusement Parks:
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay -- Tampa, FL
Fun Spot -- Kissimmee, FL
Fun Spot -- Orlando, FL
Legoland Florida -- Winter Haven, FL
Old Town -- Kissimmee, FL 960 1280
Discovery Cove (Orlando, Florida)What kid wouldn’t love swimming with (and smooching!) a bottlenose dolphin? Interactive fun is yours at Discovery Cove. Also snorkel alongside rays in the Grand Reef and wade through water in the Freshwater Oasis, where a face-to-face encounter with an otter awaits.
More Florida Amusement Parks:
Sam's Fun City -- Pensacola, FL
Silver Springs -- Ocala, FL
Weeki Wachee Springs -- Spring Hill, FL 960 1280
SeaWorld Orlando (Florida)Along with Discovery Cove and Aquatica, this massive theme park is part of the SeaWorld Parks and Resorts entertainment complex. You could spend days in this one alone: Spanning 200 acres, SeaWorld Orlando boasts 4 roller coasters, including the fierce Manta and Kraken. 960 1280
Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL)It’s a small world after all … except at Walt Disney World! As the largest vacation resort in the world -- and the most visited -- this legendary entertainment complex is pretty darn big: over 30,000 acres, with 24 themed resorts, 4 theme parks and 2 waterparks. 960 1280
Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, Georgia)Just west of Atlanta, <a title="Six Flags Over Georgia" href="http://www.sixflags.com/overGeorgia/index.aspx" target="_blank">Six Flags Over Georgia</a> spans 290 acres, with more than 40 rides -- including Batman: The Ride (pictured). In 2013, the park added its newest attraction: SkyScreamer. Twirl in a 98-foot-wide circle -- as your feet dangle 24 stories above ground and wind blows in your face at 40 mph. You just might scream.<br><br><b>More Georgia Amusement Parks:</b><br>Lake Winnepesaukah -- Rossville, GA<br>Wild Adventures -- Valdosta, GA
Silverwood (Athol, Idaho)Live in the Northwest? You’ll want to check out Silverwood. Spread across 413 acres, the amusement park is the largest theme and waterpark in the region. Silverwood has more than 65 rides, slides and other attractions. Top draws include Silverwood’s Aftershock, the champion of inverted coasters! 960 1280
Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, Illinois)Another reason Chicago is our kind of town: Six Flags Great America. Located in Chi-town’s metro area, this theme park boasts 51 rides (including 13 roller coasters and 4 water rides) spread across 304 acres. Hop aboard Columbia Carousel, the world’s tallest carousel, and Raging Bull, the park’s tallest, longest and fastest coaster.
More Illinois Amusement Parks:
Santa's Village Azoosment Park -- East Dundee, Illinois 960 1280
Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)This combo theme park-waterpark in southern Indiana celebrates the holiday spirit year-round; Holiday World is divided into 4 themes: Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and July Fourth. Lest you start thinking this is some folksy traditional hangout, Holiday World’s Voyage coaster will set you straight.
More Indiana Amusement Parks:
Indiana Beach -- Monticello, IN 960 1280
Adventureland (Altoona, Iowa)This family-owned amusement park has you covered, with more than 100 rides, shows and attractions. Adventureland spans 180 acres, making it the biggest family resort in all of Iowa. Don’t miss the Giant Skywheel, the largest open-gondola wheel built in the US since the 1800s. Plus, take a dip in Adventure Bay waterpark.
More Iowa Amusement Parks:
Arnolds Park Amusement Park -- Arnolds Park, IA 960 1280
Beech Bend Park (Bowling Green, Kentucky)If you’re in Kentucky with the kids, Beech Bend is the place to go. Take a ride on one of 3 coasters (Kentucky Rumbler is the star, with a 96-foot drop). Enjoy Granny Jones’ Petting Farm (sheep, goats and more); and ride Sea Dragon, which was purchased from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
More Kentucky Amusement Parks:
Guntown Mountain -- Cave City, KY 960 1280
Carousel Gardens (New Orleans)The 15 rides at this seasonally operated amusement park will have your kids smiling. Hop aboard the antique coaster -- one of only 100 carousels of its kind in the US -- that’s been a fixture of Carousel Gardens for more than a century. Take a ride on the Miniature Train, or cool off with a trip down the Fun Slide.
More Louisiana Amusement Parks:
Dixie Landin' -- Baton Rouge, LA 960 1280
Funtown Splashtown USA (Saco, Maine)This family-owned amusement park features Excalibur, the only wooden roller coaster in Maine; it’s also the tallest and longest roller coaster in northern New England. Funtown’s other attractions include Dragon’s Descent (a 220-foot-tall drop tower) and Splashtown waterpark, with 18 waterslides and pools.
More Maine Amusement Parks:
Palace Playland -- Old Orchard Beach, ME
York's Wild Kingdom -- York Beach, ME 960 1280
Six Flags America (Mitchellville, Maryland)Just 15 miles from DC, and 30 miles southwest of Baltimore, Maryland’s only theme park goes all out, with more than 100 rides, slides and shows. Of them all, Six Flags America’s top attraction is Superman: Ride of Steel, one of the tallest coasters on the East Coast.
More MD Amusement Parks:
Frontier Town -- Berlin, MD
Jolly Ranger -- Ocean City, MD
Trimper Rides -- Ocean City, MD 960 1280
Six Flags New England (Agawam, Massachusetts)Visiting Connecticut or Massachusetts this summer? Take the kids to Six Flags New England. Less than a mile from the Connecticut border, and 3 miles from Springfield, MA, this Six Flags boasts Bizarro, one of the world’s top coasters.
More MA Amusement Parks:
Edaville USA -- Carver, MA
Salem Willows -- Salem, MA 960 1280
Michigan’s Adventure (Muskegon, Michigan)You want adventure? You’ve come to the right place! Spanning 250 acres, Michigan’s Adventure is the largest amusement park in the state, with 53 rides -- including Shivering Timbers roller coaster -- as well as WildWater Adventure, an outdoor waterpark.
More Michigan Amusement Parks:
Crossroads Village -- Crossroads Village, MI
Deer Acres Storybook Amusement Park -- Pinconning, MI
Dutch Village -- Holland, MI
Stagecoach Shop USA -- Irish Hills, MI 960 1280
Valleyfair Amusement Park (Shakopee, Minnesota)This 125-acre playground is your ticket to fun! At Valleyfair Amusement Park, choose from among 48 rides, including 8 roller coasters -- try Wild Thing, a steel beast that’s currently the tallest coaster in the park.
More Minnesota Amusement Parks:
Como Town -- St. Paul, MN 960 1280
Six Flags St. LouisHome to nearly 10 roller coasters, Six Flags St. Louis added Boomerang to its lineup in 2013. The steel roller coaster leads you on a pulsating vertical loop ride reaching speeds of 47 mph -- in just under 2 minutes. Keep the adrenaline pumping at Six Flag’s Hurricane Harbor water park, home to Bonzai Pipeline, the looping waterslide.
More Missouri Amusement Parks:
Route 66 Carousel Park -- Joplin, MO
Silver Dollar City -- Branson, MO
Worlds of Fun -- Kansas City, MO 960 1280
Fun-Plex (Omaha, Nebraska)Take the family to the largest amusement park in Nebraska. Fun-Plex is also home to the Big Ohhhhhh!!! -- the only roller coaster in the state. Also enjoy a “Putt-Terrific” 18-hole golf course, a twisty ride down a 5-story waterslide and slip-and-slide fun in a speedy go-kart. 960 1280
The Roller Coaster (Las Vegas)Head to the New York-New York Hotel & Casino on the Strip for the ride of your life: a 203-foot lift, then a 144-foot drop -- that’s just the start of what awaits aboard The Roller Coaster. The rest? An exhilarating ride at 67 mph.
More Nevada Amusement Parks:
Buffalo Bill's Hotel and Casino -- Primm, NV
Stratosphere Tower Thrill Rides -- Las Vegas 960 1280
Santa’s Village (Jefferson, New Hampshire)Since 1953 <a title="Santa’s Village" href="http://www.santasvillage.com" target="_blank">Santa’s Village</a> has entertained the whole family with holiday magic. Ride above the trees in Santa’s Skyway Sleigh, hop aboard Rudolph on the Reindeer Carousel and get behind the wheel of a Santa’s Smackers bumper car -- they’re among the 16 rides the kids will enjoy at this Christmas-themed amusement park.<br><br><b>More New Hampshire Amusement Parks:</b><br>Canobie Lake Park -- Salem, NH<br>Clark's Trading Post -- North Woodstock, NH<br>Hampton Beach -- Hampton Beach, NH<br>Six Gun City -- Jefferson, NH<br>Story Land -- Glen, NH 960 1280
Luna Park (Coney Island, New York)Ride the granddaddy of all roller coasters: <a title="Coney Island’s Cyclone" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/the-cyclone" target="_blank">Coney Island’s Cyclone</a>. <a title="Luna Park" href="http://www.lunaparknyc.com" target="_blank">Luna Park</a>’s other thrill rides include Elctro Spin and Sling Shot -- who wouldn’t want to get shot up over 150 feet in the air … at 90 mph?<br><br><b>More NY Amusement Parks:</b><br>Adventureland -- Farmingdale, NY<br>Darien Lake -- Darien Center, NY<br>Deno's Wonder Wheel -- Coney Island<br>Enchanted Forest -- Old Forge, NY<br>The Great Escape -- Queensbury, NY 960 1280
Carowinds (Charlotte, North Carolina)See the Thrill Capital of the Southeast! The 398-acre <a title="Carowinds" href="https://www.carowinds.com" target="_blank">Carowinds</a> is home to 13 roller coasters -- can you brave <a title="Afterburn" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/carowinds-afterburn" target="_blank">Afterburn</a> and <a title="Intimidator" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/carowinds-intimidator" target="_blank">Intimidator</a>?<br><br><b>More NC Amusement Parks:</b><br>Ghost Town in the Sky -- Maggie, NC<br>Gold City -- Franklin, NC<br>Santa's Land -- Cherokee, NC<br>Tweetsie Railroad -- Bowling Rock, NC
Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)Explore the second-oldest amusement park in the US (behind Connecticut’s Lake Compounce). Opened in 1870, Cedar Point spans total 72 rides, including stars like Millennium Force!
More OH Amusement Parks:
Coney Island -- Cincinnati
Jungle Jack's Landing -- Powell, OH
King's Island -- Mason, OH
Memphis Kiddie Park -- Brooklyn, OH
Stricker's Grove -- Hamilton, OH 960 1280
Oaks Amusement Park (Portland, Oregon)A short way’s from downtown Portland is Oaks Amusement Park. Spread across 44 acres, the park includes Looping Thunder, a steel looping roller coaster; Disk-O, a pulsating flat ride; and the Rock-O-Plane, kind of like a Ferris wheel, only these seats rock and roll!
More Oregon Amusement Parks:
Enchanted Forest -- Salem, OR 960 1280
Dorney Park (Allentown, PA)“Two Great Parks for the Price of One” is no exaggeration: Located between NYC and Philadelphia, Dorney Park is also home to Wildwater Kingdom waterpark. Try braving Steel Force, the world’s ninth-longest steel roller coaster. Or kick back in a cabana rental within the waterpark.
More PA Amusement Parks:
Bushkill Park -- Easton, PA
DelGrosso Amusement Park -- Tipton, PA
Dutch Wonderland -- Lancaster, PA
Idlewild and Story Book Forest -- Ligonier, PA
Kennywood -- West Mifflin, PA
Knoebels Amusement Resort -- Elysburg, PA 960 1280
Hersheypark (Hershey, PA)More than 65 rides and other attractions await at this oh-so-sweet family theme park. Head to Hersheypark for a mix of high-adrenaline thrill rides and more laid-back fun, from the extreme coaster Skyrush, to the more leisurely Intercoastal Waterway water ride.
More PA Amusement Parks:
Lakemont Park -- Altoona, PA
Sesame Place -- Langhorne, PA
Waldemeer Park -- Erie, PA 960 1280
Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN)Head to the biggest ticketed tourist attraction in Tennessee: Spread across 150 acres, Dollywood showcases 27 rides, including 6 roller coasters: You owe it to yourself to try Dollywood’s Thunderbird -- our own Bert Kreischer calls it the best wooden coaster he’s ridden!
More TN Amusement Parks:
Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park -- Chattanooga, TN
Fun Mountain -- Gatlinburg, TN
Ober Gatlinburg -- Gatlinburg, TN 960 1280
Schlitterbahn (New Braunfels, Texas)“Slippery road” is what this waterpark’s name literally translates to -- and with 3 locations in Texas, Schlitterbahn delivers with tube chutes, kiddie pools and water coasters. Brave the Downhill Race -- we dare you not to scream.
More Texas Amusement Parks:
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier -- Galveston, TX
Joyland -- Lubbock, TX
Kemah Boardwalk -- Kemah, TX
Kiddie Acres -- Austin, TX
Kiddie Park -- San Antonio, TX
Six Flags Over Texas -- Arlington, TX 960 1280
SeaWorld San Antonio (Texas)One of the largest of the 3 parks in the SeaWorld chain, SeaWorld San Antonio spans 250 acres, with a marine mammal park, oceanarium and theme park. See One Ocean (the newest Shamu show), explore aviary habitats, and ride on The Great Ride, the park’s first coaster, which reaches speeds of 50 mph.
More Texas Amusement Parks:
Six Flags Fiesta Texas -- San Antonio, TX 960 1280
Riverfront Park (Spokane, Washington)Every spring and summer, Spokane’s 100-acre Riverfront Park sees its Pavilion transformed into an amusement park wonderland: Enjoy rides like the Sizzler, which speeds up to 70 mph, and the Spider, which, you guessed it, will have you spinning and twirling.
More Washington Amusement Parks:
Wild Waves -- Federal Way
Fun Forest -- Seattle 960 1280
Family KingdomFamily Kingdom is an oceanfront amusement and water park in one. Splashes the water park takes the lazy river up a notch and offers water flumes with 100-foot drops. Family Kingdom has just added a Twist-and-Shout steel roller coaster to its fleet of more than 30 rides bumper cars and Go-Kart tracks. 960 1280
Water SportsIf the kids (and adults) are looking for more than just a day at the beach, take part in a popular water sport. Little ones will have fun clinging to a banana boat, older speed demons can take out jet skis -- or pair off and sail high above the water on a parasailing trip. 960 1280
Miniature GolfAs you'd expect from the "golf capital of the world" Myrtle's mini-golf courses don't disappoint. Our top pick? Whimsical Captain Hook's Adventure Golf where the whole family can play through 2 different 18-hole courses – complete with a 15-foot smoking skull. 960 1280
Myrtle Waves Water ParkAt South Carolina's largest water park more than 1 million gallons of water pumps through Waves' raft rides wild rapids and slides. Open mid-May to mid-September families will be pleased to find covered picnic areas and certified lifeguards on duty at all times. 960 1280
Medieval TimesYes it's pure kitsch but your little knight or princess will get a kick out of Medieval Times' dinner show. Expect an entertaining joisting tournament lots of horses and crowd participation. Just don't expect silverware to come with His Majesty's royal feast. 960 1280
ATV TourGet the family outdoors and off-roading with Caroline Backwoods ATV adventures. No experience is necessary to explore the approximately 2-hour Down n Dirty and High n Dry (ok semi-dry) trails. Kids under the age of 12 can ride on the back of a family member's ATV. 960 1280
Children's Museum of South CarolinaThe perfect rainy day activity take the kids to explore the Children's Museum of South Carolina. With weekly story and craft times as well as exhibits like the Imagination Playground and Bubble Mania there's plenty to keep your kids happy and entertained. 960 1280
WonderWorksChances are your kids will be begging to go to WonderWorks once they spot its upside-down building at Broadway at the Beach but the Anti-Gravity Chamber Bed of Nails Lazer Tag and Ropes Course appeal to kids of all ages -- and some adults too. 960 1280
Ripley's AquariumLike no aquarium you've been to before at Ripley's Aquarium you can glide on a 330-foot moving path beneath the dangerous reef through sharks and stingrays visit rainbow rock (the Indo-Pacific coral reef) and more. 960 1280
MagiQuestThe world's largest live-action role-playing game MagiQuest allows your kids to enter an enchanted fantasy world and choose their adventure -- all with the wave of a wand! Will they befriend a pixie? Slay a dragon? Learn from an ancient wizard? You guess is as good as ours but we're sure you'll hear all about it. 960 1280
Pier at Garden CityEvery night during the summer, enjoy live music or karaoke at The Pier at Garden City, just 8 miles south of Myrtle Beach. Listen to the music, grab a snack at Sam's Corner diner or let the kids play a few rounds at the arcade. 960 1280
Frank Theatres Cinebowl & GrilleSummer vacation is synonymous with the summer blockbuster. After a day in the sun head to Frank Theatres Cinebowl & Grille in Murrells Inlet for a little bowling and a big screen. 960 1280
Kalahari Resort (Wisconsin Dells, WI)At the Kalahari Resort, guests can enjoy the indoor water park or the Zambezi Outdoor Waterpark. The indoor water park has 125,000 square feet of fun that includes the Victoria Falls family raft ride, spas, a wave pool and FlowRider, where guests can boogie board every day of the year. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, the outdoor water park features fun slides and areas like the Swahili Swirl, the Anaconda Experience and Splashdown Safari (pictured).