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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fall, folaige, vermont, hogback mountain, greenery
Northeast: Vermont

Northeast: Vermont

"When I lived in Vermont, hundreds would come and ride the scenic train every fall." – Michele F. 960 1280

By chensiyuan (chensiyuan) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Northeast: New Hampshire

Northeast: New Hampshire

"White Mountains in New Hampshire – Kencamagus Highway is gorgeous!" – Stephanie C. 960 1280

By Miles Scanlon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Northeast: Maine

Northeast: Maine

"Acadia National Park in Maine, of course!" – Darcy G. 960 1280
Northeast: New Jersey

Northeast: New Jersey

"Sculpture garden, Hamilton, NJ." – Jay P. 960 1280
Northeast: New York

Northeast: New York

"Thatcher State Park near Albany, NY!" – Kelly B. 960 1280

Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images  

South: Tennessee

South: Tennessee

"Gatlinburg is absolutely beautiful! Can't beat the Smoky Mountains in the fall!!" – Amanda M. 960 1280

Chris Murray/Aurora/Getty Images  

South: Arkansas

South: Arkansas

"The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Very beautiful scenic beauty there also." – Matthew G. 960 1280

By Doug Wertman (Flickr: Overlooking The Buffalo River) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Midwest: Ohio

Midwest: Ohio

"The covered bridges in Ashtabula County, OH." – Marilue B. 960 1280

By IntuneDan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Midwest: Minnesota

Midwest: Minnesota

"Northern Minnesota: the Iron Range or North Shore of Lake Superior. GORGEOUS!" – Ted G. 960 1280

By kkmarais [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Midwest: Illinois

Midwest: Illinois

"Galena, IL." Whether you're window shopping on Main Street or watching the fall foliage creep over the countryside, it's small town Americana at its best. – Seung K. 960 1280

Bob Hallam/Getty Images  

Midwest: Wisconsin

Midwest: Wisconsin

"Door County in Wisconsin," where brisk weather, vibrant forests and delicious farmers markets and orchards makes sure it feels, looks and tastes like fall. – Kathy K. 960 1280

By Leif and Evonne [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Midwest: Michigan

Midwest: Michigan

"The upper peninsula of Pure Michigan! Copper Harbor and Tahquamenon Falls." – Michelle M. 960 1280

By Wfgc (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

Midwest: Indiana

Midwest: Indiana

"Indiana near the beautiful covered bridges". – L. Morrison 960 1280

By No machine-readable author provided. Cszmurlo assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Midwest: Colorado

Midwest: Colorado

"I live in Colorado and a lot of local peeps go up on the Grand Mesa around color Sunday. All of the aspens, brush and other trees are very beautiful." – Shelli P. 960 1280
West: Idaho

West: Idaho

"McCall, Idaho!" Nowhere are the bursts of red and yellow more bright than beneath the aptly named Rainbow Bridge over the Payette River just 2 hours north of Boise.  – Alexis D. 960 1280
West: Washington

West: Washington

"Seattle, WA." You don’t have to go far to see Autumnal hues, picnic and play in fallen leaves at Woodland Park (just south of the zoo) or stroll along nearby Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Lost Meadow loop. – Sarah K. 960 1280
Mid-Atlantic: North Carolina

Mid-Atlantic: North Carolina

"Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina." – David R. 960 1280
Mid-Atlantic: West Virginia

Mid-Atlantic: West Virginia

"Highland Scenic Highway, Pocahontas County, WV."– Carol S. 960 1280

By Squashpup (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons  

Mid-Atlantic: Virginia

Mid-Atlantic: Virginia

"Charlottesville, VA (or better yet, at a nearby vineyard)." – Brian P. 960 1280
Mid-Atlantic: Pennsylvania

Mid-Atlantic: Pennsylvania

"Bucks County, PA!" Embark on a tour of Bucks County’s charming covered bridges (there are 12 in all) or getting a bird’s-eye view of the countryside with the US Hot Air Balloon team! – Jeff H. 960 1280

Photos

Best Wedding Destination -- Hawaii

Best Wedding Destination -- Hawaii

“A perennial favorite, we predict even more couples will say "I do" in Hawaii now that gay marriage has been legalized there. For picture-perfect nuptials tie the knot in Maui at the romantic Grand Wailea resort or on the increasingly popular, but still less-developed Kauai.” – Sara Gilliam, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Grand Wailea  

Best Overall Travel Trend -- TV and Movies-Inspired Travel

Best Overall Travel Trend -- TV and Movies-Inspired Travel

From Breaking Bad to Hunger Games: Catching Fire, TV and movies in 2013 moved us – from Albuquerque, NM, to Hawaii. Tourism boards are finding this is a great way to market a destination – targeting set-jetting fans wanting to follow the steps of their favorite characters on screen. We’re predicting films such as Grace of Monaco,The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and cult-favorite shows like Games of Thrones will inspire even more fans to travel in 2014.” – Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer 960 1280

iStock  

Best Travel Gadget -- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II

Best Travel Gadget -- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II

“This Sony Cyber-shot point-and-shoot camera is the perfect substitute for the photog that does not like hauling around a bulky DSLR camera while on vacation. It's an update to 2013’s model, which is still available, but offers some new features that are useful such as a tilt LCD screen and Wi-Fi so you can connect with your smartphone.”– Arthur Hsu, Video Producer 960 1280

Sony, Electronics, Inc.  

Best International Destination -- Trinidad, Cuba

Best International Destination -- Trinidad, Cuba

“For the first time since the 1960s, flights have resumed from Key West to Havana -- thanks to the eased travel restrictions enacted by the Obama administration in 2011. And more travelers are expected to flock to the island nation next year to help Trinidad, Cuba, celebrate its 500th anniversary. This city is also where the rhythmic foundation of salsa music started. We recommend visitors take a comfortable pair of dancing shoes to experience the series of fiestas and cultural events hosted by this hot travel destination.” – Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280

istock  

Best Domestic Location -- Jersey Shore

Best Domestic Location -- Jersey Shore

“What travel spot are we ready to see make a comeback? In 2014, New Jersey celebrates 350 unforgettable years of history, milestones and memories. This is the time to visit the Jersey Shores’ beautiful beaches and boardwalks, which first broke ground in the US on the Jersey Shore in 1870. Enjoy an array of year-long events including restaurant week, concerts and more to commemorate 350 years!” – Rani Robinson, Managing Producer 960 1280

Tony Fischer Photography, flickr  

Best World Event -- Winter Olympics, Sochi

Best World Event -- Winter Olympics, Sochi

“For the first time in history, the Winter Olympic Games will be held in Russia. From February 7 to February 23, fans will flock to northern Eurasia to see some of the world's greatest athletes compete against one another in an attempt to earn respect for their home countries; They're final destination: Sochi. Don't miss out on another amazing sporting event taking place in 2014, the FIFA World Cup in Brazil from June 12 to July 13.” – Ben Breslerman, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Reuters  

Best Tourist Attraction -- Northern Lights

Best Tourist Attraction -- Northern Lights

“Thought this past year was your best chance to see the northern lights? It’s true, the lights whipped up a flurry of solar activity in 2013, but the best is yet to come, with show-stopping displays anticipated well into 2014. NASA is predicting the lights’ solar activity will peak this winter, with aurora borealis displays stretching into the months to come, in places like Iceland’s Lake Myvatn.” -- Lisa Singh Interactive Producer 960 1280

iStock  

Best Wellness Travel Trend – Yoga and Volunteer Vacations

Best Wellness Travel Trend – Yoga and Volunteer Vacations

“In 2013, yoga vacations became increasingly popular to detox and decompress outside of yoga studios. And experts are forecasting that volunteer vacations will be on the rise in 2014. So what better way to recharge and support a good cause, than by combing a yoga and volunteer vacation? From volunteering in Kenya with the Africa Yoga Project to yoga and teaching in Kerala, India – there are more and more opportunities available for yoga-loving travelers who want to give back on a feel-good vacation. “ -- Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer 960 1280

iStock  

Best Dining Trend – Local Brew Pubs

Best Dining Trend – Local Brew Pubs

“Forget eating local, start drinking local! Whether you’re into IPAs, wheat brews or ambers – craft brewing is definitely on the rise, and so are local brew pubs. These establishments offer a unique experience: see how and where the beer is brewed, get out of your comfort zone by sampling a tasting flight, and pair the beer of your choice with the perfect dish. On a recent trip to Asheville, NC, the “beer city,” I was surprised by the quality of the beer, the food, and even the atmosphere at Wicked Weed Brewing.” – Allee Sangiolo, Interactive Producer 960 1280

iStock  

Best Hotel Trend – Upscale Hostels

Best Hotel Trend – Upscale Hostels

“Forget all your preconceived notions about hostels. Budget travel gets a luxurious makeover with new upscale hostels like the MOXY in Berlin, Milan, London and Frankfurt, #bunk in Istanbul, and the Lisbon Lounge Hotel. Sharing space can be stylish with these hostels’ chic rooms made for mingling and networking. Hostels are no longer just for the backpackers, but for the social and savvy budget-conscious traveler.” –- Amanda DiGiondomenico, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Richard Clifford, flickr  

Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis, Maryland

With its historic homes, wooden sailboats and midshipmen strolling the streets in their whites, Annapolis is the epitome of classic Americana. It’s the perfect place to explore military history and get a peek at its future at the United States Naval Academy Museum. Stay for the food: No trip to Annapolis is complete without enjoying some Maryland crab with Old Bay, of course. 960 1280

K. Thom  

Peak to Peak Highway, Estes Park, Colorado

Peak to Peak Highway, Estes Park, Colorado

As one of the rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park described it, “You can take many photos, but you can never completely capture the beauty of this place.” True story. A three-hour stretch of green pine trees, snowcapped mountains and log cabins makes this scenic byway (Colorado's oldest) the perfect setting for a short-but-sweet road trip.  960 1280

Visit Estes Park  

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Washington/Oregon

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Washington/Oregon

Located on the state line between Washington and Oregon, this locale is an excellent nature-filled family retreat, with waterfalls, wildflowers and sweeping views of the Columbia River. If you're willing to get wet, take a short hike through the majestic Oneonta Gorge, a lush chasm leading to a hidden waterfall. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Ericfoltz  

Redwood National and State Parks, California

Redwood National and State Parks, California

This enchanted forest of giant trees is located next to miles of empty beach, combining history, culture, wonder and nature in one beautiful location. As sunbeams break through the towering canopy, you'll feel as though you've been transported into a real-life fairy tale. Redwood National Park is truly an awe-inspiring escape for wildlife and nature enthusiasts. 960 1280

Visit California/Carol Highsmith  

Lafayette, Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana

A mix of historical and cultural influences has created the unique Cajun/French Creole food, music and language found only in this small part of the country. Enjoy a delicious (and messy) crawfish boil, dance to zydeco music and take a thrilling airboat ride! Plus, in Lafayette, you'll get all the Mardi Gras celebration without the New Orleans tourism. 960 1280

Louisiana Travel  

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Craving Zen and beauty? White Sands offers perhaps the most serene experience in the country. Walking the dunes is like wading through an ocean of diamonds surrounded by purple mountains. Make sure to arrive when the gates open to witness the morning light dancing across the desert. 960 1280

Guillaume Dutilh  

Williams, Arizona

Williams, Arizona

In the town of Williams, Ariz., expect an eclectic mix of the rich history of Route 66 and the Wild West. Williams is the perfect place for a pit stop to find a kitschy souvenir and let the kids get up close and personal with wildlife at the Bearizona drive-through wildlife park. Then, hop aboard the 100-year-old Grand Canyon Railway for a scenic, 65-mile ride to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. 960 1280

Chris Hepburn/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

St. Louis

St. Louis

St. Louis is the “Gateway to the West” for more reasons than one. Yes, its iconic Gateway Arch is a sight to behold, but the city’s friendly Midwest sensibility, steamboats, vibrant riverfront along the Mississippi, and free attractions such as the St. Louis Zoo make it truly appealing for a family getaway. Plus, it’s a (Cardinals) baseball and beer town — could you get more American than that? 960 1280

Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images  

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, Alabama

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, Alabama

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the park created to honor the ship’s stellar service during World War II. Tour the battleship, the aircraft collection and the USS Drum submarine, or even book an overnight adventure to get a taste of how the sailors lived. Beyond beautiful Mobile Bay, streets lined with historic homes and giant oaks give way to a vibrant downtown once dubbed “the Paris of the South.” 960 1280

Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Florida Keys Overseas Highway

Florida Keys Overseas Highway

Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett — two American icons, with their own devoted fan bases, who’ve called Key West home. Discover why they fell in love with the Keys by driving the 127-mile Florida Keys Overseas Highway, which includes a network of bridges that stretch from mainland Florida all the way to the southernmost point in the U.S. Make sure to pull over for the occasional conch fritter and snorkeling break, of course. 960 1280

The Monroe Tourist Development Council  

Best Brunch: The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA

Best Brunch: The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA

Situated right on the beach, the Beachcomber is a favorite among locals and tourists who flock to historic Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, CA. It’s open for lunch and dinner as well, but breakfast is a must. Indulge in favorites such as its beignets, lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes, and crab cake Benedict. 960 1280

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove  

Best Barbecue: Smitty’s Market, Lockhart, TX

Best Barbecue: Smitty’s Market, Lockhart, TX

When you arrive at Smitty's Market, expect to get up close and personal with your barbecue. No sticky-sweet barbecue sauces or forks are offered at Smitty’s, and we kind of like that. Situated in the sleepy town of Lockhart, TX, 30 minutes south of Austin, Smitty’s is not to be missed. 960 1280

Smitty’s Market  

Best Seafood: Cantler's Riverside Inn, Annapolis, MD

Best Seafood: Cantler's Riverside Inn, Annapolis, MD

Cantler’s restaurant in Annapolis, MD, is the perfect setting year-round but is especially appropriate in the summer, when it’s crab crackin’ time! We love the Maryland blue crab, of course, with potatoes, corn and bread. 960 1280

Cantler's Riverside Inn  

Best Summer Pie: Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Brooklyn, NY

Best Summer Pie: Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Brooklyn, NY

You can find the perfect pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a creative pie shop that turns out a flawless all-butter crust. The seasonal fillings really make the pies; try the rhubarb crumble, birch beer float or the year-round salted caramel apple. They’re also available at the Brooklyn Public Library and all 3 locations of Shake Shack in Brooklyn. 960 1280

Gentl & Hyers  

Best Ice Cream: Laduree SoHo, New York City

Best Ice Cream: Laduree SoHo, New York City

Enjoy the savory and sweet of Paris at Laduree SoHo bakery, where the locals and Francophiles flock. For a can’t-miss experience, settle in to Laduree’s outdoor seating while indulging in a cup or bowl of its macaron glaces. Flavors include raspberry, citron, pistachio and rose petal. 960 1280

Ladurée  

Best Ballpark Food: Blue Smoke on the Road, Queens, NY

Best Ballpark Food: Blue Smoke on the Road, Queens, NY

Try something new but classic at the ballpark this summer: a North Carolina pulled-pork sandwich in New York City! Blue Smoke on the Road has acquired prime real estate at Citi Field. Sure, there are countless other vendors to choose from, but this 1 comes from the creative mind of Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack. 960 1280

Melissa Hom  

Best Food Truck: Mei Mei, Boston

Best Food Truck: Mei Mei, Boston

Visit the Mei Mei food truck at Boston’s SoWa Open Market each Sunday between May and October. Thanks to its fresh, seasonal offerings, it has been dubbed Boston’s best food truck. The menu is forever changing, so make sure to follow Mei Mei on Twitter to lock onto its location Tuesday through Sunday and to find out the day’s food options. 960 1280

Fotodish  

Best Food Festival: Feast Portland, Portland, OR

Best Food Festival: Feast Portland, Portland, OR

Send summer off with a bang at the Feast Portland food festival Sept. 17-20. Artisans, breweries, cider houses, chefs and distilleries descend upon Feast Portland for 3 days of elaborate collaboration dinners, hands-on butchery demonstrations, brewery classes and a downright good time. 960 1280

Courtesy of Feast Portland  

Best Bar Food: Bartaco, Atlanta

Best Bar Food: Bartaco, Atlanta

With a bar scene you've only dreamed of — outdoor and indoor seating with a Mexican-style décor — Bartaco is the place to eat, drink and be seen. Don’t miss out on its sesame rib-eye taco, which is juicy and flavorful with just the right amount of spice. 960 1280

Manny Vargas  

Best Restaurant With a View: Da Salvatore Ristorante, Ravello, Italy

Best Restaurant With a View: Da Salvatore Ristorante, Ravello, Italy

Picture this: You’re driving along the Amalfi Coast when you arrive in the small, quaint town of Ravello and realize you’re starving! Head straight to Da Salvatore Ristorante for amazing cuisine, such as cocoa- and coffee-braised veal cheek with ricotta gnudi, accompanied by an unmatched view, easily one of the best in the world 960 1280

Da Salvatore Ristorante A Ravello  

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