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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Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal (Hiking Adventure)

Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal (Hiking Adventure)

Trekking in the shadow of the ice-clad Himalayan summits -- for avid hikers, scaling these peaks of legends is a dream come true. “The sights, sounds and culture of Nepal surround you like no place on the planet,” says Justin Wood, travel exec with REI Adventures, “your psyche will be forever changed.” On the trail, you pass black-and-white yaks with ornate woven harnesses and clanging bells, as well as singing children and locals carrying unimaginable loads of supplies bound for their remote villages. The best time to trek to Everest Base Camp is October through November for clear dry weather, but the trail will be full of trekkers. If you’re looking for more solitude, consider March through April, when you’ll find cloudy skies but fewer hikers. 960 1280

REI Adventures  

US Route 50, Nevada (Road Trip Adventure)

US Route 50, Nevada (Road Trip Adventure)

Nicknamed “The Loneliest Road in America,” US Route 50 begins just past Lake Tahoe, CA, and ends at the Utah state line. In the 409-mile stretch between Fallon, NV, and Delta, UT, alone, there are only 3 towns. Road tripper and documentary filmmaker Allison Otto, says, “This route is beautiful in its austerity, offers numerous photo ops, traverses several large desert valleys and 17 mountain passes -- in some cases reaching altitudes of more than 7,000 feet.” This route was constructed over a historic corridor first used by the Pony Express; today, enjoy several must-see sites along the way, including the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park and the singing sand of Sand Mountain, as well as the old mining town of Ely. Take a detour south along Route 6 to NV-375, aka the Extraterrestrial Highway that passes the alleged location of mysterious Area 51. 960 1280

Ken Lund, flickr  

Djibouti (Water Sport Adventure)

Djibouti (Water Sport Adventure)

You may have never heard of Djibouti, but if you’re looking for an amazing water adventure this tiny country -- located on the Horn of Africa -- is about as epic as it gets. “Djibouti sits on the Gulf of Aden, which is home to warm, clear waters that are full of pristine reefs and shipwrecks that have yet to be overrun by the diving masses,” says Shane Reynolds, founder of Color Earth. “Marine life is plentiful and the biggest attraction, literally, are whale sharks.” Seasonally these gentle giants settle in to feed here, providing divers the opportunity to share their space, all without the crowds like in other destinations such as Cancun. Djibouti is the ultimate water adventure experience. There’s no other destination in the world that provides scuba diving inside the rift that separates Asia and Africa. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Andalusia, Spain (Camping Adventure)

Andalusia, Spain (Camping Adventure)

Spend a night underneath the stars in Andalusia, Spain. Most people wouldn’t know it, but this area is a hot glamping spot. Sleep in a tricked-out tipi at Altiplano Tipis or in a hand-crafted luxury yurt at Hooting Owl Yurt Holidays. The more adventurous campers who like to rough it should head to Desfiladero de los Gaitanes National Park. “The rock climbing and hiking here is great,” says Matthew Karsten, adventure travel expert and blogger for ExpertVagaBond.com. “Plus the famous, but steep Caminito del Rey trail is located right outside the Park,” he says. Only in the south of Spain is it possible to go camping on the majestic snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, then travel an hour to the Mediterranean coast and pitch your tent on a beautiful, sunny beach in Malaga. 960 1280

ruudb0y, flickr  

Pacific Coast Highway 1 (Cycling Adventure)

Pacific Coast Highway 1 (Cycling Adventure)

See the beauty of the Pacific Coast from the seat of your bicycle. "Pedaling down California's famous Highway 1, surrounded by towering forests and endless coastline is a cyclist’s dream," says avid cyclist and travel journalist Ryan Van Duzer. The epic journey starts along the breathtaking Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and goes all the way down to the sunny beaches of Southern California in San Diego. "My favorite sections are the redwood forests in Northern California, including the mind-blowing beautiful coastline in Big Sur, and being able to dig your feet into the sand along the beaches in LA,” he adds. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Hearst Castle are other must-see sites that cyclists will find along this amazing pilgrimage that showcases The Golden State’s history and diverse landscapes. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Yosemite National Park- California (Family Adventure)

Yosemite National Park- California (Family Adventure)

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, which paved the way for the famed national park to come. Home to wildlife, glaciers, waterfalls, valleys, granite domes, cliffs, lakes and wilderness, Yosemite is an ecological wonderland. “Families have a buffet of activities at their disposal, including biking, backpacking, camping, fishing, bird watching, rock climbing and horseback riding,” says Tawanna Browne Smith, travel expert and founder of Mom’s Guide to Travel. “Stay overnight and camp out in a tent, relax in a cabin at Curry Village or enjoy a luxury stay at the AAA Four-Diamond Ahwahnee hotel.” More than 150 activities are planned throughout the year to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Yosemite Grant Act to protect the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia (Eco-Friendly Adventure)

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia (Eco-Friendly Adventure)

Just off the coast of Queensland, <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/beaches/articles/fraser-island-australia">Fraser Island</a> is ideal for an all-encompassing eco-friendly adventure. It is the biggest sand island in the world, and home to a wide range of animal and plant life. Visitors can take in the sights of this phenomenal giant sand system on a 4-wheel drive adventure; hire an Aboriginal tour guide to discover their connection to the island; or escape the heat by swimming in one of the many lakes around the island. “Swamp wallabies, echidnas, possums and sugar gliders hide within the bush and a native dingo population -- said to be the purest breed alive today -- roam freely,” says Linda McCormick, travel writer and editor. Staying on Fraser Island can be as exciting -- or as luxurious -- as you wish. “No matter where you stay or what you do,” says McCormick, “it’s certain you’ll be wowed by this impressive natural habitat.” 960 1280

Matthew Bowden / iStock / Thinkstock  

Ubatuba, Brazil (Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure)

Ubatuba, Brazil (Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure)

As host country of the <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/brazil/photos/brazil-2014-world-cup-cities-tour">2014 World Cup</a>, Brazil has been top of mind for travelers and sports lovers alike in recent months. Escape the throngs of soccer fans, and embark on an underwater adventure around the coastal town of Ubatuba, in Sao Paulo state. “Isolated beaches line the coast, and beds of coral and islands dot the surrounding waters, making the region heaven for scuba divers and snorkelers,” says Valerie Conners, travel writer and expert. “Find a tour operator to take you into the pristine waters of Ilha Anchieta, Ilha Vitória and Ilha do Prumirim,” she adds. In addition to underwater rock formations, divers will see caverns, colorful corals, plenty of dolphins and even an underwater statue of researcher Jacques Cousteau. 960 1280

Gabriel Pevide / iStock / Thinkstock   

Skydiving in Orange, Virginia (Extreme Adventure)

Skydiving in Orange, Virginia (Extreme Adventure)

Go local to experience extreme adventure in your own backyard. “I’ve gone paragliding off Pedra Bonita in Rio, but sometimes you don’t have to travel thousands of miles away to experience extreme adventure,” says Kwin Mosby, managing producer for TravelChannel.com. His suggestion? Experience the adrenaline rush of skydiving with local companies like Skydive Orange, the largest tandem skydiving center in the Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland area.” Skydive from 13,500 feet in the air with experienced instructors. And while you’re in freefall, make sure you take in the unpolluted, country-fresh air and the awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains off in the distance. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The Pantanal, Brazil (Wildlife Adventure)

The Pantanal, Brazil (Wildlife Adventure)

The Pantanal is hands down the hottest and best wildlife safari destination outside of Africa Africa, and with the latest photos of jaguars taking down caimans on riverbanks dominating the internet, it's not hard to see why. The wildlife sightings get better and better each year. “On any trip, you can expect to see several rare and endangered wildlife species, such as giant river otters, neotropical river otters, giant anteaters, tamanduas, crab-eating Fox and Tyra -- a type of honey badger,” says Jessica Pociask, owner of WANT Expeditions. “You can easily expect to see up to 50 species of birds in one day.” See beautiful birds like hyacinth macaws, toucans and herons. This is a not-to-be missed destination if you’re a wildlife photographer. 960 1280

Jessica Pociask/WANT Expeditions  

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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