Roller coasters, log flumes, corn dogs, oh my! There’s just something so fun about spending the day at an amusement park. Whether a big multi-billion dollar resort, or a small family-owned trolley park, amusement parks have been providing families with fun days out since the late 19th century. And they’re everywhere! From Santa’s Village to Snow King Mountain to The Walt Disney World Resort, we’ve found the best amusement park in every state. Keep scrolling!
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Must Dos: There’s nothing better than Waterville USA’s waterpark on a hot Alabama day. Cool off on such attractions as the FlowRider, Triple Dog Dare high-speed body slide, and the Gold Rush open-air tube slide. Or just lounge along on the Crystal Waters Lazy River.
Roadrunner Amusement Park
Why It’s the Best: Arguably Alaska’s only theme park, Roadrunner Amusement Park is a traditional amusement park through and through. The park is locally owned and operated, and is a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike.
Must Dos: Have fun on all the classics, including bumper cars, Go-Karts, and miniature golf.
Castles N’ Coasters
Why It’s the Best: Opened in 1976 as a miniature golf course called Golf n’ Stuff, what is now known as Castles N’ Coasters is a 10-acre amusement park with an 18-hole mini golf course, a massive video game arcade, and several rides, including roller coasters.
Must Dos: The log flume ride, Splashdown, feels great on a hot Arizona day.
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Why It’s the Best: Located in Hot Springs, a popular tourism destination situated less than an hour from Little Rock, Magic Springs Theme and Water Park boasts 27 different attractions. These include five roller coasters and two water rides.
Must Dos: The Gauntlet roller coaster is a thrilling suspended looping coaster that’s worth the wait in line. Those brave enough are sure to love Magic Springs’ two different drop tower rides, Brain Drain and Sky Shark.
Disneyland Park and California Adventure
Why It’s the Best: “The Happiest Place on Earth” is chock-full of rides, attractions, characters, food, and magic. Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort consists of two parks, the original Disneyland and the modern California Adventure.
Must Dos: Grab a two- or three-day pass and enjoy classic rides like Space Mountain, The Jungle Cruise, and The Matterhorn (Disneyland). Pixar fans will love California Adventure’s impressive Pixar Pier, and the feels-like-real-life Cars Land.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Why It’s the Best: Located about 160 miles from Denver, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is situated on a mountainside at an altitude of 7,100 feet. When it opened in 1999, only cave tours were available to the public. Since 2003, the Adventure Park has expanded to include a variety of attractions, including three roller coasters.
Must Dos: Don’t leave the Adventure Park without taking a tour of the caverns which made this area famous. A highlight tour is The Fairy Cave Tour, a quarter-mile-long walk which retraces the path of the original cave explorers.
Why It’s the Best: The massive, 332-acre Lake Compounce amusement park is the oldest continuously running theme park in America. Amongst its 44 attractions are five roller coasters, 13 water rides, and a “beach.”
Must Dos: Take a ride on the Wildcat, the 14th oldest wooden roller coaster on Earth. The park’s newer wooden roller coaster, Boulder Dash, has been awarded the Golden Ticket Award for the #1 Wooden Coaster in the World five years in a row.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Why It’s the Best: Head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for some “old fashioned fun.” Funland is a small boardwalk amusement park and arcade that features myriad classic thrill rides and children’s attractions.
Must Dos: Purchase your tickets and carefully budget them among highlights like the Haunted Mansion, SuperFlip 360, and the bumper cars.
The Walt Disney World Resort
- Magic Kingdom
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
There are also 27 Disney-themed hotels, two water parks, and myriad other entertainment venues both Disney-affiliated and otherwise.
Must Dos: You’ll need several days to cover all that The Walt Disney World Resort has to offer, but highlights include:
- Expedition Everest
- Haunted Mansion
- Soarin’ Around the World.
- exotic zoo animals
- concerts and other performances
- eight roller coasters
- a Splash Island waterpark.
Must Dos: The whole family will love the steel Outpost Express roller coaster, while older “kids” can get their thrill on Twisted Typhoon, which suspends riders head-over-heels a total of five different times.
Sea Life Park Hawaii
Why It’s the Best: If you’re keen to see ocean life while visiting Hawaii, then head on over to Sea Life Park Hawaii. This large marine mammal park, aquarium, and bird sanctuary is located on the island of Oahu, and boasts exhibits featuring sea lions, sea turtles, dolphins, and rays.
Must Dos: Take a walk through the 300,000-gallon Hawaiian Reef Aquarium to see more than 2,000 different ocean-dwelling animals, including sharks, turtles, and whole schools of tropical fish.
Silverwood Theme Park
Why It’s the Best: Once a small local amusement park, Silverwood Theme Park is today one of the most popular attractions in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. The park boasts more than 70 attractions, including six roller coasters and the Boulder Beach Water Park.
Must Dos: Grab your picture with classic comic characters Garfield and Odie, Silverwood’s official mascots, then head over to Aftershock, an inverted roller coaster that’s sure to thrill.
Six Flags Great America
Why It’s the Best: Located less than an hour from Chicago, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee welcomes more than 3 million visitors each year. The park offers guests 15 roller coasters, a 20-acre water park, and three different children’s areas.
Must Dos: BATMAN, Demon, and American Eagle — all thrilling roller coasters offering high-speed loops and twists.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
Santa Claus, Indiana
Why It’s the Best: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is “#1 for Family Fun!” The park consists of four different sections celebrating all things Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July. Each section includes roller coasters and various other activities. Another part of the park, Splashin’ Safari, is a huge waterpark with wave pools, water slides, a lazy river, and tipping buckets.
Must Dos: Of the 51 different rides and attractions at Holiday World, highlights include:
- Rudolph’s Round-Up sleigh ride (Christmas section)
- The Raven wooden roller coaster (Halloween section)
- Raging Rapids in Boulder Canyon river rapids ride (Fourth of July section)
- the Turkey Whirl, a turkey-themed Tilt-a-Whirl (Thanksgiving section).
Must Dos: Kids will love such family-friendly rides as the Chuck Wagon miniature Ferris wheel, the Infant Ocean miniature boats, and the Junior Jockeys “pony trek.” Older riders are sure to get a kick out of the roller coasters like the double-looping Dragon and the dark, indoor coaster called The Underground.
All Star Adventures
Why It’s the Best: The only amusement park in Wichita (and one of only a couple in Kansas), All Star Adventures has myriad activities and attractions for families. These include a mini golf course, age-specific Go-Karts, coasters, swings, and more.
Must Dos: Grab a bunch of tickets from the old-fashioned ticket booth, then spend them on highlight attractions like the Himalaya roller coaster ride, swings, and arcade.
Why It’s the Best: Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky is a 63-acre theme park featuring a variety of rides and attractions, plus a water park called Hurricane Bay. Of Kentucky Kingdom’s 51 attractions, there are six roller coasters and two water rides.
Must Dos: Don’t miss Kentucky Kingdom’s newest (opened in 2019) roller coaster, the Kentucky Flyer, a family-friend coaster featuring a 45-foot drop and speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Other park highlights include:
- the T3 suspended looping coaster
- the Big Surf wave pool
- the fast-moving Adventure River.
Blue Bayou Waterpark and Dixie Landin’
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Why It’s the Best: Open during the summer months, Blue Bayou Waterpark is the perfect antidote to Louisiana’s hot and humid weather. The popular waterpark features 20 different water rides and other attractions. Next door, visitors will find Dixie Landin’, a more traditional amusement park consisting of 26 different rides and attractions, including three roller coasters.
Must Dos: Cool off on the lazy river at Blue Bayou, then brave the ProSlide Tornado. Once at Dixie Landin’, check out the Ragin’ Cajun boomerang-style roller coaster
More Information Blue Bayou Waterpark
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Funtown Splashtown USA
Must Dos: Be sure to check out Excalibur, the only wooden roller coaster in New England, and Thunder Falls, New England’s longest and tallest log flume ride.
Six Flags America
Why It’s the Best: Located within the Washington, D.C. metro area, Six Flags America is a popular theme park spanning more than 520 acres. This massive amusement park features 54 different rides, shows, and attractions, including nine roller coasters.
Must Dos: Hit up some of Six Flags America’s epic roller coasters! Highlights include:
- the Mind Eraser, an aptly named suspended looping coaster
- The Joker’s Jinx sit-down twister
- the Flying Dutchman-style Batwing.
Six Flags New England
Why It’s the Best: Theme park buffs will appreciate that Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts is the oldest park in the Six Flags franchise. It opened in 1870!. The 235-acre park boasts 63 different rides and attractions, including one water ride and 12 roller coasters.
Must Dos: You can’t leave Six Flags New England without riding Superman the Ride. This epic roller coaster was awarded first or second place in the Golden Ticket Awards’ Top Steel Roller Coaster category every year from 2001 to 2015.
Why It’s the Best: Spanning 250 acres, Michigan’s Adventure amusement park is the largest theme park in the state. It also has more rides and attractions than any other park in Michigan, offering guests 52 different rides and attractions, plus an outdoor waterpark called WildWater Adventure.
Must Dos: Seven impressive roller coasters headline Michigan’s Adventure, the best of which include Thunderhawk, a suspended looping coaster, and Shivering Timbers, a classic wooden roller coaster.
Paul Bunyan Land
Why It’s the Best: As children enter the 180-acre Paul Bunyan Land, they are greeted by name by Paul Bunyan himself — or rather, a 26-foot-tall animated, talking statue of Paul Bunyan. This unique and popular theme park consists of 27 children’s rides, plus a variety of other fun attractions. There are even free strollers for families’ use!
Must Dos: Check out classic children’s attractions like the Mini Himalayan, bumper boats, and Merry-go-Round, then walk over to Pioneer Village to experience a fun blast to the past.
Gulf Islands Water Park
Why It’s the Best: This island-themed waterpark is a great option for cooling off during the hot Mississippi summers. Open seasonally, Gulf Islands Water Park features multiple pools, splash pads, water rides, and waterslides.
Must Dos: Grab a cabana and spend the day by switching off between dips in the wave pool and people watching under your personal umbrella.
Silver Dollar City
Why It’s the Best: The family-friendly destination of Branson, Missouri offers visitors Silver Dollar City, a one-of-a-kind 1880s-themed theme park. The experiential park features demonstrations on such things as:
- candle making, and more.
There’s also a series of recurring shows, seven roller coasters and other rides.
Must Dos: Take the American Plunge — that is, a 50-foot drop tower that falls at a speed of 35 mph. Then ride Silver Dollar City’s oldest roller coaster, Fire-in-the-Hole. Finally, don’t leave the park without participating in some of Silver Dollar City’s more unique attractions, including “milking” Elsie the [fake] cow.
Why It’s the Best: With so much natural beauty and outdoor recreation available throughout Montana, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the state is low on theme parks. One exception is Splash Montana, a popular water park located in Missoula. Splash Montana features a number of exciting features, including:
- three, three-story waterslides
- a lazy river
- floating play structures.
Must Dos: Rent a cabana for your own personal use, then cool off intermittently by dipping into the pool, lounging around the lazy river, or braving one of the three-story waterslides.
Why It’s the Best: “All for fun, fun for all!” That’s the motto of Fun-Plex in Omaha, Nebraska. The amusement park features the Makana Splash water play structure, the double-waterslide Rockin’ Rapids, a five-story waterslide, lazy river, and much more.
Must Dos: Fun-Plex has a ton to offer, but don’t leave without enjoying some of the classics like the carousel, Tilt-a-Whirl, and Ferris wheel.
Las Vegas, Nevada
- a roller coaster
- rock climbing wall
- clown shows, and more.
Must Dos: Brave the Canyon Blaster roller coaster, the largest indoor double-corkscrew, double-loop coaster in the world.
Jefferson, New Hampshire
Why It’s the Best: Open May through December, Santa’s Village is a Christmas-themed amusement park located in Jefferson, New Hampshire. Aimed at families with children ages 13 and under, Santa’s Village features 23 different attractions, including two roller coasters and four water rides. Most of the rides have Christmas-themed names like “The Great Humbug Adventure” and “Rudy’s Rapid Transit Coaster.”
Must Dos: Get your picture taken with Santa Claus — and even sit in his rocking chair — when you stop in at Santa’s home.
Six Flags Great Adventure
Jackson, New Jersey
Why It’s the Best: Not only is Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey a thrilling theme park with myriad roller coasters and other fun rides, it’s also a safari park with more than 1,200 animals hailing from six different continents.
Must Dos: Take the 360 Safari tour to get up close and personal with lions, bears, tigers, giraffes, and more. Along the way, visitors will learn fascinating facts about exotic animals and various conservation efforts.
Cliff’s Amusement Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico
- water rides
- thrill rides
- kiddy rides
- roller coasters.
Of Cliff’s 24 attractions, two are roller coasters and two are water rides.
Must Dos: Be sure to check out the New Mexico Rattler, the state’s only wooden roller coaster.
Luna Park, Coney Island
- live entertainment
- traditional boardwalk games
- an aquarium,
- thrilling roller coasters and other rides.
Must Dos: The list of “must do”s for Coney Island is a long one, and includes the Cyclone wooden roller coaster, the Thunderbolt steel coaster, and the Wild River log flume ride.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Why It’s the Best: Though it straddles the border between the two Carolinas, the Carowinds theme park is technically located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carowinds boasts 56 different attractions for family members of all ages, including seven water rides and a whopping 14 roller coasters!
Must Dos: Racing fans will love The Intimidator, a steel roller coaster inspired by Dale Earnhardt. The coaster measures 232-feet tall and reaches speeds of up to 75 miles per hour. Carowinds is especially fun during the holidays, when Carowinds hosts SCarowinds Halloween and WinterFest.
Thunder Road Amusement Park
Fargo, North Dakota
- an arcade
- batting cages
- laser tag.
Must Dos: Have a family-friendly night out and enjoy the traditional amusements like a round of miniature golf and a trip around the Go-Kart track.
Why It’s the Best: As the self-proclaimed “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Cedar Point offers its 3.6 million annuals guests 18 thrilling coasters and 71 other rides. Cedar Point has been around since 1870, and remains one of the best classical theme parks in the country.
Must Dos: Brave the coaster Steel Vengeance so you can say you’ve been on the longest, tallest, and fastest hybrid roller coaster on Earth.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Why It’s the Best: Operated by Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, Frontier City is a western-themed amusement park which has been entertaining visitors since 1958. The park is home to 30 rides and other attractions, including five roller coasters and three water rides.
Must Dos: Experience Oklahoma’s tallest roller coaster by taking a ride on the Silver Bullet.
Oaks Amusement Park
Why It’s the Best: Oaks Amusement Park in Portland may not be the biggest theme park on our list, but it is certainly one of the best in the U.S. The 44-acre park first opened in May 1905, which makes it one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the nation.
Must Dos: Since Oaks Amusement Park is on the smaller side, it’s easy to fill one’s day with as many attractions as possible. Highlights include:
- the Herschell-Spillman Noah’s Ark Carousel (which dates back to 1912 and is made of wood)
- the year-round ice-skating rink
- the collection of Midway games
- the unique Rock-O-Plane Ferris-type wheel.
Why It’s the Best: Spanning more than 110 acres, Hersheypark is Pennsylvania’s largest theme park. It’s based on the world-famous brand of chocolate, and offers its 3,3 million annual guests more than 70 rides, shows, and other attractions.
Must Dos: Plan your trip to coincide with one of Hersheypark’s many special occasions or seasonal events, such as Halloween Fright Nights or Festive Fun for Christmas.
Atlantic Beach Park
Westerly, Rhode Island
Why It’s the Best: Atlantic Beach Park has been a Rhode Island tradition since 1921. Open seasonally, the beachfront park is a classic boardwalk amusement park featuring classic arcade rides and games.
Must Dos: The highlight of Atlantic Beach Park is almost certainly the beautiful Herschell Spillman Carousel, which dates all the way back to 1915.
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Why It’s the Best: Located on Ocean Boulevard, in the heart of Myrtle Beach, Family Kingdom Amusement Park is ranked by TripAdvisor as one of the top five theme parts that aren’t in Orlando. The park offers visitors 37 different attractions for family members of all ages.
Must Dos: Highlights of Family Kingdom Amusement Park include the Great Pistolero Round-Up and the O.D. Hopkins Log Flume. And don’t leave the park without taking at least one ride on the Giant Wheel, a massive ferris wheel which yields panoramic views of Myrtle Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from 100 feet in the air.
Rapid City, South Dakota
Why It’s the Best: Storybook Island is an admission-free family-friendly theme park located in Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s many child-friendly rides and attractions are themed around classic storybook characters such as Pinocchio, Dr. Seuss, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and more.
Must Dos: Kids will love the many classic children’s attractions, including a carousel, train, and meet-and-greets with their favorite storybook characters.
Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Why It’s the Best: Owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country in Pigeon Forge welcome more than 3 million visitors each year. The biggest ticketed tourist attraction in all of Tennessee, Dollywood boasts more than 50 different rides and attractions, including nine roller coasters and three water rides.
Must Dos: Take a ride on the Dollywood Express, a full-size steam train!
Six Flags Over Texas
Why It’s the Best: Spanning 212 acres, Six Flags Over Texas is the oldest Six Flags theme park in the country. It is named after the six flags (i.e. nations) which have governed Texas throughout its history:
- the Republic of Texas
- the Confederate States of America
- the United States of America
There are more than 45 rides and attractions from which visitors may choose, including three water rides and 13 roller coasters.
Must Dos: Some of Six Flags’ highlights include:
- La Vibora bobsled roller coaster
- El Aserradero, the world’s first log-flume ride
- the New Texas Giant, which won the Golden Ticket Award for Best New Coaster in 2011.
Lagoon Amusement Park
Why It’s the Best: The family-owned Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah is quite unlike any other theme park on our list of the best amusement parks in every state. Lagoon is split into five different sections:
- the carnival-like The Midway
- a water park called Lagoon-A-Beach
- the historic and educational, yet totally fun Pioneer Village
- Kiddie Land for the smallest visitors
- X-Venture Zone for the most adventurous park guests.
Must Dos: Roller coaster fans will love all that Lagoon has to offer. The aptly named Roller Coaster, first opened in 1921, is one of the world’s oldest operating coasters. Cannibal boasts one of the steepest drops of any roller coaster on Earth.
Santa’s Land USA
Why It’s the Best: This small, family-owned Christmas-themed amusement park has been providing joy and entertainment to visitors in Vermont for more than 60 years. Open from summer all the way through Christmas Eve, Santa’s Land USA features an Alpine Express Train, a classical carousel, lots of kiddie rides, and plenty of holiday cheer.
Must Dos: Children will love visiting with Santa Claus and his elves, who give our sweet treats and hot chocolate.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Why It’s the Best: Though Williamsburg may be best known for its American history, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg guests can immerse themselves into various European countries. Nearly 3 million people visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg each year to explore entertaining hamlets dedicated to England, Scotland, Italy, Germany, and France, among others.
Must Dos: Interact with animals at the Highland Stables and Jack Hanna’s Wild Reserve, then brave Busch Gardens’ most famous roller coasters — Alpengeist, Griffon, and Apollo’s Chariot, the latter of which placed 4th in the Golden Ticket Awards’ Best Steel Coaster category.
Wild Waves Theme & Water Park
Federal Way, Washington
- four roller coasters (including one for kids)
- a whopping 16 water rides
- a wave pool and various waterslides.
Must Dos: Check out the park’s three thrilling rolling coasters: The Klondike Gold Rusher, The Wild Thing, and Timberhawk Ride of Prey.
Huntington, West Virginia
Why It’s the Best: Opened in 1903, Camden Park is one of only 13 trolley parks — the precursor to amusement parks — left operating in the United States. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a day at Camden Park feels delightfully like a day spent in the past. The 26-acre park has 25 different attractions, including four roller coasters and two water rides. Camden Park’s famous “happy clown” still greets visitors as they enter from the highway.
Must Dos: Don’t leave Camden Park without taking a ride on the Big Dipper, a traditional wooden roller coaster and the park’s most famous attraction.
Bay Beach Amusement Park
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Why It’s the Best: A summertime staple for people living in and visiting Wisconsin, Bay Beach Amusement Park is a city-run classic amusement park situated right on the beach. Designed for families, Bay Beach has myriad picnic spots overlooking scenic views, and various rides for children including:
- bumper cars
- a Ferris wheel
- two trains.
Must Dos: Plan your trip to Bay Beach Amusement Park to coincide with one of the many concerts, dances, or other events that take place here throughout the summer. Don’t forget your picnic!
Snow King Mountain
Why It’s the Best: During the winter months, Snow King Mountain is famous for its night skiing passes, but during the summer, this Jackson Hole hotspot offers visitors all sorts of thrilling outdoor activities. Activities include miniature golf, zip lining, a bungee trampoline, and treetop ropes course, to name but a few.
Must Dos: There’s no coaster on our list quite like Snow King Mountain’s Cowboy Coaster! Yielding stunning views of the Grand Tetons, the Cowboy Coaster zips nearly a mile through stunning wildflower meadows, with lots of thrilling curves and drops along the way.
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