Travel's Best Amusement Parks and Water Parks 2014

From Tokyo’s DisneySea to Tennessee’s Dollywood, our advisors handpicked the most thrilling theme parks for our family fun list, Travel's Best Amusement and Water Parks 2014.

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Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

"You've come to see such dramatic sights as glaciers calving, whales breaching and eagles flying overhead. Being on a ship that's itself a contemporary stunner only enhances the scenery," says Fran Golden, cruise expert for USA Today’s Experience Cruise site. The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice is full of “firsts,” including the first Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass on the top deck. 960 1280

Celebrity Cruises Inc.  

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Sea Dream’s twin luxury yachts, the Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II, carry 112 passengers each and visit the most exclusive ports, including St. Barts, Bequia and St. John. “The cruise line offers the Champagne & Caviar Splash, where guests wade into the surf to indulge in premium caviar and bubbles, served on a surfboard covered in white linens, and enjoy a barbecue feast on a secluded white-sand beach,” says Anne Campbell, editor of CruisingFromNewYork.com and ShipCriticBlog.com. 960 1280

SeaDream Yacht Club  

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

“Sailing aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto provided a comfortable and intimate ambience, amazing food and service, and the ability to dock right in the heart of Europe’s fascinating cities,” says Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine. As the ship sails along the Danube and Rhine rivers, among others, guests are afforded picture-perfect views of ever-changing scenery and regular ports of call such as Amsterdam; Zurich, Basel and Lucerne, Switzerland; Cologne, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Budapest, Hungary. 960 1280

AmaWaterways  

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

"Royal Caribbean's new, 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas is one of the most exciting ships in years. It’s fun for the whole family," says Fran Golden. Kids can ride bumper cars in the SeaPlex sports center or feel what it’s like to go skydiving in the RipCord by iFly, while parents can grab a cocktail from the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar. Beginning in the fall, this ship will start sailing to new ports of call such as Bermuda and the Bahamas. 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

It made our Travel’s Best Cruises 2014 list, and this year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America remains the reigning champion in the Best Hawaiian Cruise category. It's the only major US-flagged cruise ship that offers passengers a total of nearly 100 hours of port time on all 4 main Hawaiian Islands during a 7-night voyage. "Other cruise lines sail to the islands from LA or San Francisco, which usually means passengers spend only 52 hours in port to see 3 islands on a 15-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron, president and CEO of CruiseGuy.com. 960 1280

Danny Lehman  

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Without a doubt, Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Odyssey is for the traveler who wants to be pampered at sea. This ship has 225 ocean-view luxury suites, the Spa at Seabourn, and a few upscale bars and restaurants for passengers to grab a cocktail or enjoy a delicious meal. “World-renowned American chef Thomas Keller partnered with the cruise line to create new menu items and a signature restaurant (making its debut in 2016) across its entire fleet of ships,” says Stewart Chiron. The cruise line visits more than 170 World Heritage Sites, including Thebes in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru and the temple complex of Borobudur on Java, an island in Indonesia. 960 1280

Seabourn  

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

On Viking Ocean Cruises’ first ship, the Viking Star, passengers can swim in the glass-backed infinity pool; watch a movie under the stars; and feel snowflakes descend onto their skin in the spa’s Snow Grotto. “The 930-passenger ship pleasantly draws guests’ attention to the picturesque Mediterranean and Baltic scenery with amenities including a double-decker observation lounge, 2-story panoramic windows in the Explorers’ Lounge, and alfresco dining experiences,” says Jason Leppert, editor of PopularCruising.com. With these amazing amenities and special features, the Viking Star is the only way to cruise in the Mediterranean. 960 1280

Viking Cruises  

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Carnival Cruise Line's recently upgraded Carnival Miracle sails year-round to the Mexican Riviera from Long Beach, CA, for 6- or 7-day journeys. “With the new Fun Ship 2.0 features added this year, the ship is a perfect choice for heading to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta,” says Jason Leppert. The additions include the RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar watering holes; Seuss at Sea for kids; Hasbro, the Game Show for families; and new, energetic Playlist Productions shows, such as Motor City. Have some fun exploring Mexico via fun excursions, including fly-fishing in the Sea of Cortez and horseback riding through the Sierra Madre. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images   

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

“One cruise line that has really met the demand for music lovers is Carnival Cruise Line, which launched its Carnival Live concert series cruises several years ago and continues to offer these special sailings,” says Bill Panoff. Past artists have included Chicago, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum and Journey; upcoming performers include Heart, Boston and Lionel Richie. The line is expected to announce next spring’s lineup in the months ahead. 960 1280

Carnival Cruise Lines  

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

While Carnival Cruise Line's ships are in the midpriced category, their food surpasses cuisine served by pricier competitors. The Carnival Breeze has something for even the most finicky eater, with 10 restaurants serving up a variety of lip-smacking food, including juicy burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint, owned by Food Network personality and restaurateur Guy Fieri. “I had a memorable meal in the Steakhouse, indulged at the Bonsai sushi bar and savored Italian delicacies at the Cucina del Capitano restaurant, topped off by some of the finest wines at sea,” says Anne Campbell. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Miguelangelbriones/RooM/Getty Images   

Knott's Scary Farm (Buena Park, CA)

Knott's Scary Farm (Buena Park, CA)

"In late fall, Southern California's Knott's Berry Farm morphs into the most-attended Halloween attraction in the world. In addition to heart-stopping rides like GhostRider (one of the longest and tallest wooden roller coasters in the world), Knott’s Scary Farm Haunt's elaborately themed mazes, like the brand new Trapped: The New Experiment, will give you memories you'll never forget … try as you might. Six sinister live shows, including my very own Elvira's Sinema Séance, all add up to the ultimate horror experience!" -- Elvira, Mistress of the Dark 960 1280

Knott's Berry Farm  

The Haunting of Lemp Brewery (St. Louis)

The Haunting of Lemp Brewery (St. Louis)

“I had the pleasure of walking around Lemp Brewery when I was filming in St. Louis for our 100th Ghost Adventures episode. The building alone is creepy, and to put an actual haunted attraction inside is freaky. Very cool history of the Lemp Brewery. A must-see.” -- Nick Groff, Ghost Adventures Investigator 960 1280

  

Markoff's Haunted Forest (Calleva Farm in Dickerson, MD)

Markoff's Haunted Forest (Calleva Farm in Dickerson, MD)

“Ask anyone in the DC area for a Halloween pick and they’ll tell you to head to Markoff’s Haunted Forest, where they’ve been freaking out guests for more than 20 years. Haunted hayrides, zombie hunts and a walk through the Not-So-Fun House Maze are just a few ways your creepy adventure unfolds on one of 2 terrifying trails. Dress in your warmest clothes and bring your best running shoes. Beware of the chainsaw-wielding stalker ... and be prepared to get spooked!” -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Markoff's Haunted Forest/Calleva Inc.  

Disney's Haunted Mansion (Orlando, FL)

Disney's Haunted Mansion (Orlando, FL)

“Such a classic family attraction! Beautiful sets and wonderful illusions. We definitely go through the Haunted Mansion whenever we're at Disneyland or Disney World! It's like having a Halloween experience year-round. Fun and spooky but not so scary that you would need to have your children in therapy for years!” -- Ed Edmunds and Marsha Taub-Edmunds, Owners of Distortions Unlimited Corporation 960 1280

Disney  

Spooky Empire's The Ultimate Horror Weekend (Orlando, FL)

Spooky Empire's The Ultimate Horror Weekend (Orlando, FL)

Spooky Empire is a horror convention that takes place in my hometown of Orlando, FL, a week or two before Oct. 31. It feels like a 3-day Halloween party full of treats when you're surrounded by horror icons such as George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Bruce Campbell and Elvira. Besides appealing to my love of Halloween, this hometown event offers me the chance to see family and reminisce about Octobers gone by.” -- Aaron Sagers, Geek Culture & Paranormal Pop Culture Expert 960 1280

Michael Gavin/Spooky Empire and Mel Allebach Photography  

Eastern State Penitentiary's Terror Behind the Walls (Philadelphia)

Eastern State Penitentiary's Terror Behind the Walls (Philadelphia)

“Eastern State is by far my favorite supposedly haunted location in the country. And at Halloween, ESP gets even better. A haunted attraction in a haunted prison is cool enough, but the elaborate designs, effects and costumes at play here are artistically terrifying. I have been through countless scary attractions and Terror Behind the Walls is always good for a few startled jumps.” -- Aaron Sagers, Geek Culture & Paranormal Pop Culture Expert 960 1280

Jeff Fusco  

Salem Haunted Happenings (Salem, MA)

Salem Haunted Happenings (Salem, MA)

“History and Halloween enthusiasts alike would be challenged to do better than to visit Salem, MA. Of course, events really ramp up as Halloween approaches. The notorious history here is an indescribably tangible addition to any one of the town’s attractions. There are haunts like Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery for thrill-seekers, as well as tours and museums like the Salem Witch Museum to satisfy your more cerebral needs. -- Scott Cummins, Artist & Pro Pumpkin Carver 960 1280

Robert Deschene  

Spooky World's Nightmare New England (Litchfield, NH)

Spooky World's Nightmare New England (Litchfield, NH)

“I really liked walking around Spooky World because of the variety of haunted attractions they offer. Spooky World has frights for everyone, as well as family fun, for extreme people who need a rush, like myself. I had a blast at Spooky World, especially when I got to shoot zombies with paintball guns!” -- Nick Groff, Ghost Adventures Investigator 960 1280

The Pixel Perfection  

Zombie Pub Crawl (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

Zombie Pub Crawl (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

“Sometimes for fun and sometimes to promote charitable causes, zombie crawls are organized public gatherings of people dressed up as zombies. In 2012, the largest zombie crawl was in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), with an estimated 30,000 in attendance, making it the largest gathering of zombies according to Guinness World Records. It's not hard to become a zombie. Take some old cloths, cut them up and spray paint them with some dark brown and gray primer. -- Ed Edmunds and Marsha Taub-Edmunds, Owners of Distortions Unlimited Corporation 960 1280

Davide, flickr  

KC West Bottoms' Haunted Houses (Kansas City, MO)

KC West Bottoms' Haunted Houses (Kansas City, MO)

“On Kansas City’s west side is one of the most unique haunted venues I’ve ever had the displeasure of visiting. The KC West Bottoms area is made up of several late 19th-century buildings that were just made to be haunted houses! This “village of the damned” has 4 -- count ’em 4 -- epic haunts: The Beast, The Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe, Macabre Cinema and the granddaddy of ’em all, The Edge of Hell -- each one is a unique, must-see experience for haunted house afflict-cianados.” -- Elvira, Mistress of the Dark 960 1280

Full Moon Production  

Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours

Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours

Fans chose Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours as their favorite to add to our list of Travel's Best Halloween Attractions 2013. With historian, author and photographer Bloody Mary, tourists visiting the Big Easy have a few options for a spooky guided tour, including the French Quarter Walking Tour, the Tour of the Undead and the Moonlight Graveyard Tour. Explore NOLA's creepiest haunts to learn about the ghosts and spirits that still lurk in the French Quarter, Treme, the Garden District and the Mid-Cities of the Dead aka the New Orleans Cemetery District. 960 1280

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Out-of-This-World Views: The Lasso, SD, to Devil’s Tower, WY

Out-of-This-World Views: The Lasso, SD, to Devil’s Tower, WY

TV host Don Wildman chose the 110-mile loop from Rapid City, SD, to Devil’s Tower, WY, as one of the country's best road trips. While Wildman was brave enough to cover the Badlands during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, he says it’s just as memorable to travel by car, since either way you’ll drive through deep forests and thrilling mountain vistas. If you’re not brave enough to ride a Harley like Wildman, you can at least follow in his footsteps and stop at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum in South Dakota.

"Maybe you’ll even have a close encounter to write home about,” adds Wildman; Devil’s Tower is the site where the iconic alien landing scene was filmed in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
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South Dakota Department of Tourism  

Off-Road Adventure: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Off-Road Adventure: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

For the intrepid road tripper, Bolivia offers off-road adventures across otherworldly landscapes. “The world’s largest salt flat, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is a surefire, natural amazement,” says Don Wildman, host of Mysteries at the Museum. After a short flight south from La Paz, Bolivia, a number of skilled tour companies will house you in a hotel constructed entirely of salt and then drive you out to experience extraordinary visuals not to be missed in this life, adds Wildman.

While the salt flats are the smoothest “road” you’re likely to drive on, keep in mind you’re at an altitude of 12,500 feet, so take measures to prevent altitude sickness.
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AFP / Getty Images  

Unexpected Fall Foliage: Glacier National Park, Montana

Unexpected Fall Foliage: Glacier National Park, Montana

One of the most iconic drives in the country, Montana's “Going to the Sun Road,” is a true bucket list drive not to be missed, says RoadTrippers.com CEO and founder James Fisher. The road spans a breathtaking 50 miles of Glacier National Park's most beautiful twists and turns. Considered an engineering marvel, the road was completed in the fall of 1932, after workers blew through half a million pounds of explosives for its construction.

Jackson Glacier Overlook, between Logan Pass and St. Mary offers the park's best views of a glacier from the road. And while Montana might not be the first place that comes to mind for viewing fall foliage, we suggest taking a drive here in autumn to witness the dazzling color show.
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David Restivo / NPS  

Castles, Caves and Cheese: Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England

Castles, Caves and Cheese: Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England

It’s no surprise that Fisher, born and raised in the English countryside, also picks a road trip in the United Kingdom. It all starts at a castle, says Fisher: Tintagel Castle, located high atop the rugged coast of Cornwall. Fisher advises then taking the scenic route to Bath, past the fishing village of Boscastle, which dates back to the 1500s. The gorge itself is one of England's most interesting areas, a land of witches, caves and waterfalls.

Fisher adds, “But most importantly it is home to the original, cave-matured, cheddar cheese.” See the cheese being made by the town’s only remaining cheesemakers at Cheddar Gorge Cheese Factory, followed by free tastings of the town’s namesake.
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Britain On View / Getty Images  

Mountains and Mining Towns: The San Juan Skyway, Colorado

Mountains and Mining Towns: The San Juan Skyway, Colorado

Nicknamed the "Road to the Sky," the San Juan Skyway loops through the heart of southern Colorado's towering San Juan Mountains and is a "must-do" for road tripping fans, says filmmaker, photographer and road tripper, Allison Otto. The Skyway passes through old Colorado mining towns like Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton, climbs to an elevation of more than 14,000 feet and circles down to the ancient cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park.

“The views are dazzling, especially in the late summer/early fall, but be careful along the cliffside-clinging stretch known as the ‘The Million Dollar Highway,’ where there are parts of the road that lack guardrails," adds Otto.
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Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images  

Adventure South of the Border: Creel to Batopilas, Mexico

Adventure South of the Border: Creel to Batopilas, Mexico

Skip the touristy beaches of Mexico and take an adventurous road trip instead. Otto suggests driving from the Mexican town of Creel to Batopilas: “This is an amazing white-knuckle, eye-popping drive to the base of Mexico's Copper Canyon, which is actually a series of 20 canyons formed over the years by 6 rivers,” says Otto. The narrow, mostly dirt road begins in Creel, which has a frontier feel, and ends in Batopilas, a sleepy old silver mining town at the base of the canyon.

There are no guardrails on this route and drivers can expect to weave through a few cattle, donkeys and goats along the way. “The views are truly breathtaking, though, and Batopilas, which was founded around 1632, is definitely worth a visit and a perfect base for day hikes in the canyon,” adds Otto.
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Altrendo / Getty Images  

Beaches and Leaf Peeping: Michigan's Gold Coast

Beaches and Leaf Peeping: Michigan's Gold Coast

“Leaves, lighthouses, and sugary beaches! New England? Nope: Michigan!” reveals Robert Firpo-Cappiello, executive editor of BudgetTravel.com. Treat yourself to a 3-day autumn road trip starting in Grand Rapids, MI, where you can soak up serious art, public gardens and craft beer, suggests Firpo-Cappiello. Drive along the “Gold Coast” highway west to the jaw-dropping shoreline of Lake Michigan. “From Grand Haven down to Saugatuck and on to South Haven, you'll have a great weekend and bring home bragging rights for having 'discovered' some of the finest beaches, highest dunes and freshest seafood in America,” says Firpo-Cappiello.

Take a break from driving and ride on Saugatuck’s ferry to Oval Beach, the only remaining chain-driven ferry in the United States.
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Thinkstock  

The European Tour: France to Italy to Switzerland

The European Tour: France to Italy to Switzerland

Skip the train, and travel at your own speed on a road trip through Europe’s charming lakeside towns. Start your journey along the banks of Lake Annecy that sits under the French Alps’ Mount Blanc, advises travel writer and TV personality, Kim Mance. “You’ll cross many picturesque canal bridges as you drive toward Italy, with countless castles on hilltops,” says Mance.

After you stop for an Italian fondue lunch (yes, that exists!), Mance suggests you head back north toward Switzerland’s tiny villages, which dot the mountainside. From here, make your way to the stunningly beautiful Belle Époque city of Montreux, Switzerland on the shore of Lake Geneva. The entire drive from Annecy to Montreux can be done in about 4 hours, but Mance suggests taking a week.
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Switzerland Tourism  

Tour of the Island: Oahu, Hawaii

Tour of the Island: Oahu, Hawaii

The best way to explore the island of Oahu? By car, preferably a Mustang convertible to be exact, says Kathleen Rellihan, interactive producer for TravelChannel.com. Escape Honolulu’s crowds and explore the hidden gems on Oahu, from the Halona Blowhole to Lanikai Beach (often ranked as one of the world’s best beaches) and Tropical Farms’ Macadamia Nut Farm.

Plan to stay at least a night on Oahu’s famed North Shore , a relaxed surf mecca that’s home to Pipeline, a world famous surf break, and beach-basking sea turtles. “Don’t miss the garlic shrimp trucks along Kamehameha Highway and stop at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach to watch big wave surfers and incredible sunsets,” adds Rellihan.
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Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson  

Seaside Foodventure: Puglia, Italy

Seaside Foodventure: Puglia, Italy

If you’re looking for a road trip off the beaten track with plenty of unforgettable food stops, look no further than Italy’s Puglia region. With over 250 miles of ancient olive groves, charming fishing villages and glistening Adriatic coastline, Puglia “the heel on Italy’s boot,” is less tourist trodden than other regions in Italy and best explored on a slow-paced road trip, says Rellihan.

As you drive along the coast of Puglia, steering clear of cattle and steep rocky drops, stop at cliffside wonders like Vieste’s fortified whitewashed castle and Bari’s Grotta Palazzese, one of the many restaurants nestled inside ancient caves perched over the blue-green Adriatic Sea.
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E+ / Getty Images  

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