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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Dyker Heights Lights, Brooklyn, NY

Dyker Heights Lights, Brooklyn, NY

What’s Travel Channel host Samantha Brown’s favorite hometown holiday tradition? Taking in "the most delightful, delirious and over-the-top Christmas decorations" with her family in the Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. 960 1280

Michael Heiman/Getty Images  

Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany

Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg, Germany

Samantha Brown has always wanted to visit this world-famous Christmas market filled with decorations and treats galore, including Nuremberg bratwurst, gingerbread and mulled wine. Yum. 960 1280

Sean Nel/Getty Images/Hemera  

Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland

Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland

Want to visit Santa Claus on his own turf? Meet Santa in his office in the Arctic Circle. Families can send letters with the assistance of Santa's official postal elves. 960 1280

shashinkoubou/Getty Images  

Skating by the Sea, San Diego

Skating by the Sea, San Diego

San Diego’s landmark Hotel del Coronado offers an ice rink on the lawn with breathtaking ocean views. Travel blogger Amie O’Shaughnessy, founder of Ciao Bambino!, thinks skating by the Pacific Ocean makes for the best family holiday card photo. 960 1280

Sam Antonio/Getty Images/Flickr Vision  

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, New York

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, New York

One of the most treasured holiday traditions in New York City is seeing the spectacular dancers of the New York City Ballet perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Mickela Mallozzi, host of the travel dance series Bare Feet, says it's a must-see for any dance lover. 960 1280

Paul Kolnik  

12 Pubs of Christmas, Dublin

12 Pubs of Christmas, Dublin

A recent tradition in Dublin includes the 12 Pubs of Christmas, where revelers will don tacky sweaters and then make their rounds to 12 different pubs, swigging a pint at each one. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Sponza Palace, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sponza Palace, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Mickela Mallozzi, host of the travel dance series Bare Feet, suggests visiting the Christmas fair in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. This 1-000-year-old city turns into a Christmas mecca right out of a storybook, hosting local artisans and musical performances. 960 1280

Jean-Pierre Lescourret/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images  

Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana

One of the festive towns featured on ChristmastownUSA, Santa Claus, IN, celebrates Christmas 365 days of the year. Family-owned since 1946, the town’s popular amusement park, Holiday World, boasts 3 of the world’s top 10 wooden roller coasters. 960 1280

Spencer County Visitors Bureau   

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

You couldn't dream up a more magical place to spend the holidays than Reykjavik, with its vivid winter wonderland landscape and unique traditions. Visit the Christmas Village in Hafnarfjordur or Reykjavik's main Christmas market in Ingólfstorg Square for traditional Nordic holiday gifts, mulled wine and Yuletide music. 960 1280

Getty Images/Arctic-Images  

North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, Alaska

Yes, there really is a North Pole, and believe it or not, 3 men named Santa Claus live there. Opened in 1952, Santa Claus House, the town’s biggest attraction, is a Christmas-themed gift shop with oodles of ornaments, a 42-foot Santa statue and real reindeer you can visit. 960 1280

Davidd/flickr  

Take a Road Trip Through Belgium

Take a Road Trip Through Belgium

“Rent a car and don’t miss the vibrant university towns of Ghent and Mons,” say Kristin Henning and Tom Bartel of Travel Past 50. Along the way, stop in Bruges, which was made even more popular by the 2008 film In Bruges. It’s a picturesque city of scenic canals and bridges, art, relics, classic bell towers and historic civic squares. Another must-see is the gorgeous city square in Brussels, where you are never far from a fresh beer, chocolate and fantastic seafood and fries. “There is a whole world of history in Belgium,” Tom says. “Visit Bastogne’s Peace Forest memorial (think Band of Brothers) and the War Museum, newly updated for D-Day’s 70 year anniversary.”  960 1280

Gonzalo Azumendi/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Explore Utah’s Surreal Parks

Explore Utah’s Surreal Parks

In southern Utah, five parks are close enough to string together: Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Arches (home of the much photographed Delicate Arch). Spend a couple days in each. Bryce is home to surreal sandstone spires and some peaceful picnic and camping areas. “Zion hosts a spectacular hike up the Virgin River canyon,” says Kristin Henning and Tom Bartel. “Use walking sticks and prepare to get wet to your thighs. Reaching the Delicate Arch can be a long hot trek, but it’s rewarding.” 960 1280

Aaron Meyers/ Moment/ Getty Images  

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Go Off the Beaten Path in Italy

Go Off the Beaten Path in Italy

After you’ve seen Italy’s big 3 — Venice, Rome and Florence — go off the beaten path in Northern Italy. The “Cinque Terre is magical: beautiful scenery, good accommodations, easy access and several travel options between the villages that make it suitable for all fitness levels,” say Alison Armstrong and Don Read of Adventures in Wonderland. The 5 tiny, colorful villages clinging to Liguria’s rugged coastline are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and very few cars are allowed, but you can easily get around by ferry, foot or train.  960 1280

Amoklv/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Adventures at Sea in Beaufort, SC

Adventures at Sea in Beaufort, SC

Find solace in a Deep South filled with towering oak trees strung with Spanish moss, genteel mansions, and tranquil waterways in the picturesque town of Beaufort, SC, known as the "Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands." “The area's 64 islands are perfect for exploring by boat or kayak, and the area's plentiful population of birds and sea life make it a top destination for aviary enthusiasts and anglers,” says Valerie Conners of Retire There. “Travelers will encounter horse-drawn carriages winding through the downtown historic district and more than 300 acres designated a National Historic Landmark.” 960 1280

Snikeltrut/ Getty Images  

Roadtripping in Western National Parks

Roadtripping in Western National Parks

Two weeks of rugged scenery, abundant wildlife watching and adventure for all ability levels make this Western national parks road trip unforgettable. “Begin by exploring the hiking trails, glaciers and lakes of Glacier National Park,” says Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet. “Of course driving the engineering marvel, Going-to-the-Sun Road, is a must do.” Next, visit America’s version of the Serengeti where bison, wolves and elk roam vast Yellowstone National Park and don’t miss the geyser watching at Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful puts on a show. “A float down the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park completes this western road trip,” Donna adds. 960 1280

Wyoming Office of Tourism  

Discover Why Paris Is Always a Good Idea

Discover Why Paris Is Always a Good Idea

“Paris may seem like a surprising haven for retirees, but its manageable size, level terrain and superb transportation system make it a remarkably senior-friendly destination,” Lynne Martin of Home Free Adventures says. “Add fabulous food, art, history and undeniable beauty, and you’ll discover why it’s become (my) favorite European destination.” 960 1280

Iakov Kalinin/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Make Memories on a Un-Cruise in Alaska

Make Memories on a Un-Cruise in Alaska

“Swap ports for the quiet bays of Alaska’s Inside Passage with an expedition cruise that’s about doing rather than seeing,” says Donna Hull. “You’ll bond [with loved ones] while kayaking in Thomas Bay, riding a jet boat up the Stikine River or floating with icebergs in LeConte Bay.” 960 1280

State of Alaska/ Brian Adams  

Find Out Why People Fall in Love With San Miguel de Allende

Find Out Why People Fall in Love With San Miguel de Allende

An easy flight from most parts of the country, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Mexico has become a frequent stop for retirees. “It is not uncommon for tourists to visit and then purchase property within 3 days of arriving in San Miguel,” Alison Armstrong and Don Read say. Chalk it up to the welcoming people, mild climate, rich cultural opportunities, beautiful colonial architecture, safe environment and world-class shopping. They add, “We often wondered if we were in Mexico or Europe, until we saw some fabulous giant puppets at a Mexican wedding celebration.”  960 1280

JD Estevao/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Aspen, Any Time of the Year

Aspen, Any Time of the Year

Part of the appeal of an Aspen retreat in the Rockies is that while it’s located smack in the middle of Colorado, it’s slightly off the beaten path. “The attraction in winter is, of course, the skiing and winter sports–both at Aspen Mountain and nearby Snowmass, says Kristen Henning. “But the rest of the year, especially autumn, is equally stunning.” Maroon Bells Wilderness area, home to bear, moose, beaver and brilliant Aspen trees, offers hiking for all levels as well as bike trails that wind along rivers, connecting parks, neighborhoods and towns.  960 1280

Barrett Friel  

Premiere Golfing in Naples, FL

Premiere Golfing in Naples, FL

Well-heeled Naples has long been a popular haven for retirees and families and with good reason. “The small town along Florida's postcard-perfect Gulf Coast lets retirees enjoy a charming downtown filled with upscale shopping and dining, as well as cultural attractions,” says Valerie Conners. Still, this self-proclaimed, “Golf Capital of the World" draws scores of experienced and novice golf fans to play on the region's 70-plus greens, many designed by golf icons like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. 960 1280

Jeremy Sterk/ Getty Images  

Hudson Valley, New York

Hudson Valley, New York

“What’s on my fall drive checklist? Sinuous roads, sweeping vistas, elevation changes, barns and more barns, pleasant farm animals, homes you wish you could live in, a farmers market and and a cool diner for lunch. My favorite fall drive this year has all of the above and then some. As an agricultural area, Duchess County in New York’s Hudson Valley has some of the most beautiful land you’ll ever set your eyes on.” – Samantha Brown, Travel Host 960 1280

Dutchess County Tourism  

Hudson Valley Road Trip

Hudson Valley Road Trip

“Use Route 82 and Route 44 in Salt Point, NY, as your bookends and all the roads in between as your playground.” – Samantha Brown, Travel Host

See Interactive Map
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Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

“Head to Deep Creek Lake in Maryland to enjoy gorgeous views by car along 2 fall foliage heritage tours. Motor along Route 219 up to the Deep Creek Lake overlook in McHenry for a look at the lake, ski slopes and breathtaking autumn foliage before heading back to the visitors center as part of a 90-minute driving loop.”  -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i> 960 1280

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce  

Deep Creek Lake Road Trip

Deep Creek Lake Road Trip

“For a longer drive try Historic National Road, which starts near Deep Creek Lake and winds through 6 states. Foliage peaks in early- to mid-October. Slow down for parades, pumpkin chucking and ice cream sundae-eating contests at the annual Autumn Glory Festival (Oct. 9-13), a real family favorite.” -- Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com

See Interactive Map
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Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

“An easy drive from Washington, DC, Harpers Ferry in West Virginia has fall foliage that’s worth the drive the third to fourth week in October. When we take the kids, I like the Jefferson Rock hike, which is less than 1 mile and has a vista overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.” -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i> 960 1280

Jeffrey D. Walters / Moment / Getty Images  

Harpers Ferry Road Trip

Harpers Ferry Road Trip

“Another good spot for leaf peeping is Bolivar Heights, a Civil War battlefield across from the park entrance. You’ll find easy, flat trails and great views.” -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i><br/><br/><a href="https://roadtrippers.com/trips/521e22ce9d0782c36b0000f3 " target="_blank"><b>See Interactive Map</b></a> 960 1280

  

Route 112, New Hampshire

Route 112, New Hampshire

“This grand dame of foliage routes -- the ‘Kanc’ (Kancamagus Highway) -- is always worth a drive, but I suggest taking Route 112 west past the quaint little town of Woodstock, NH. Continue on Route 112 to Kinsman Notch at Beaver Pond -- a great spot for beginners and pros alike to photograph fall foliage.” -- <i> Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer</i>  960 1280

Denis Jr. Tangney / E+ / Getty Images  

Route 112 Road Trip

Route 112 Road Trip

“The best part of this area outside of the White Mountains is all the little side roads to explore. I found Coffin Pond off Route 116 -- don’t get going too fast or you will miss it. On a windless day it can have incredible reflections of the low hills surrounding the pond.” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer

See Interactive Map
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Route 7, Vermont

Route 7, Vermont

“In southern Vermont, Route 7 runs north/south through the Green Mountains. During a stretch just north of Bennington is a valley between 2 ridgelines covered in trees, many of them maples and birch. Around Oct. 12-15 is a great time to take a drive up Route 7 to see peak colors.” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer 960 1280

Jeff Folger  

Route 7 Road Trip

Route 7 Road Trip

“You also have a great little college town in Manchester to explore and shop in and the home of Robert Todd Lincoln for history buffs. Then the road names are very interesting. If you get a good map book out, you will find places like Mad Tom Notch -- doesn’t that scream to be explored?” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin

"Wisconsin is a magical land in the North, where the beer flows like wine and there are rivers of cheese. Not really, but pretty close to it. The Badger State is also the homeland of American architectural icon Frank Lloyd Wright. Fall is the perfect time of year to visit his organic designs, which are particularly stunning when set amidst the changing fall foliage.” -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com 960 1280

Taliesin Preservation, Inc.  

Wisconsin Road Trip

Wisconsin Road Trip

“Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes and buildings were designed to work in harmony with their environment. Driving through southern Wisconsin, some highlights include Taliesin, Wright’s summer home, Wingspread, the ‘epitome of organic architecture,’ and the Seth Peterson Cottage, which you can rent as a vacation home." -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com

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Twain’s Great River Road, Mississippi to Hannibal, MO

Twain’s Great River Road, Mississippi to Hannibal, MO

"As a boy in England, I was obsessed with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Loquacious and satirical, Mark Twain really knows how to woo a man. Driving down the Mississippi to Hannibal, MO, it isn’t too hard to find the inspiration behind Twain’s iconic coming-of-age novel. Traveling along Twain’s Great River Road during autumn provides incredible leaf-peeping opportunities at every bend.” -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com 960 1280

Courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism  

Twain’s Great River Road Trip

Twain’s Great River Road Trip

“This road trip finishes up in Hannibal, where you can visit Twain’s boyhood home and a slew of other Twain-inspired attractions." -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com

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Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania

“Living in the Northeast we are blessed with beautiful fall foliage color due to an abundance of sugar maple and birch trees that turn vibrant orange, red and yellow each year. One of my favorite local drives for a day of leaf peeping is Ricketts Glen State Park off Route 29 and Route 487 in northeast Pennsylvania. The combination of 22 waterfalls, mountains and gorgeous 200-year-old trees make for absolutely stunning photos.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist 960 1280

OGphoto  

Ricketts Glen State Park Road Trip

Ricketts Glen State Park Road Trip

“While the drive here is spectacular, you’ll have to brave a 3-mile hike to really experience the stunning fall color. The waterfalls make it well worth getting out of the car, and the photos and memories of a great day trip will last a lifetime.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist

See Interactive Map
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Skyline Drive, Virginia

Skyline Drive, Virginia

“I fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains when I went to college in the “Valley” in Harrisonburg, VA. Weekend trips to escape campus often included hiking or driving through the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. There’s no better time to visit this National Scenic Byway than fall, when the fall foliage peaks the second to third week in October. Now that I live in Washington, DC, it’s only a few hours away -- still perfect for a weekend fall getaway.” -- Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Getty Images  

Skyline Drive Road Trip

Skyline Drive Road Trip

“One of the best parts of Skyline Drive is from Front Royal to Rt. 211 -- it’s around 32 miles, with plenty of overlooks for snapping photos. These days, I like to combine my leaf peeping with wine tasting in Virginia’s Wine Country, too. There’s no shortage of wineries to stop at in the area, but some of my favorites include Fox Meadow Vineyards and Gray Ghost Vineyards.” -- Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer, Travel Channel

See Interactive Map
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Lake Wallenpaupack, Northeast Pennsylvania

Lake Wallenpaupack, Northeast Pennsylvania

“Another great spot even closer to the Big Apple is Route 507 around Lake Wallenpaupack in northeast Pennsylvania. The good news: Here at Weather Trends we are projecting ideal fall color this year in the Northeast due to very favorable summer and fall weather conditions unlike last year when record October cold and Superstorm Sandy made for a very short and somewhat dull season.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist 960 1280

Lake Wallenpaupack/ The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, PoconoMountains.com  

Lake Wallenpaupack Road Trip

Lake Wallenpaupack Road Trip

“Stop in Hawley for some lunch and be sure to take the hour scenic boat ride around the lake for more stunning photos.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist

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Fan Favorite: Smoky Mountains

Fan Favorite: Smoky Mountains

We asked you what we missed on our list and for you to tell us your favorite fall foliage road trip. It was a landslide – The Great Smoky Mountains won out! Hop in your car and take in the scenery as you drive around Gatlinburg, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the scenic Smokies. Now is the perfect time -- fall colors peak here in mid-October. 960 1280

Zhuzhu / iStock / Getty Images  

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