Amusement park visits are summer staples, whether you’re into massive roller coasters, shows, or carnival games. Now that many states in the U.S. have done away with the COVID-19 restrictions of the past two summers, many travelers are looking to add park visits to their summer plans.
Going to an amusement park in your own state is one way to save money in a time of inflation. After all, you don’t have to drive across the country to find fun. Here is a list of the top amusement parks to visit in all 50 states.
OWA Parks & Resort is a popular destination on the Gulf Coast in Foley. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of rides — from the massive Rollin’ Thunder coaster to kiddie rides like the teacups — at their Tropic Falls Theme Park.
OWA is also opening a new Tropic Falls Indoor Waterpark.
Alaska: Mukluk Land
Mukluk Land in Tok touts itself as Alaska’s “most unique destination.” The park features games and activities like “skeet-ball,” a bouncy house, mini golf, tetherball, and more.
It also has a slew of obscure exhibits along the side of the highway.
Arizona: Hurricane Harbor Phoenix
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor’s Phoenix location is a massive water park located within Maricopa County’s Adobe Dam Regional Park. The location offers tons of fun — from massive water slides and other thrill rides to family-friendly play areas and relaxing rides like the lazy river.
Arkansas: Magic Springs Theme & Water Park
Magic Springs in Hot Springs is one of the top attractions in the state and offers everything from massive coasters like the Arkansas Twister to kid's rides.
California: Six Flags Magic Mountain
With Six Flags, Disneyland, and Universal Studios all in California, it’s a bit hard to narrow down the best theme park in the state, But Magic Mountain is definitely a top destination for roller coaster enthusiasts.
In fact, it has more coasters than any other park in the world. Magic Mountain, located about an hour away from Los Angeles, also has plenty of less extreme ride options as well.
Colorado: Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
This combination theme and water park offers something for everyone in the family. From the Mind Eraser and Sidewinder coasters to the massive water slide Cannonball Falls, the park is full of excellent rides.
Connecticut: Lake Compounce
Connecticut’s Lake Compounce is the oldest continuously operating amusement park in all of North America and has been serving happy visitors for well over a century.
They have one of the best-rated wooden coasters in the world, Boulder Dash, incredible water rides, family-friendly options, and more.
As its name suggests, Funland offers fun for the whole family, with scores of different rides ranging from boats for the kids to the Gravitron and Sea Dragon for teens and adults. You will also find games, an arcade, and more.
Florida: Magic Kingdom
Picking the best park in Florida really depends on what you’re into since there are four Disney World parks to choose from, plus SeaWorld and Universal Studios. However, you can’t go wrong with Magic Kingdom.
From character dinners to some of the world’s most famous rides — like Space Mountain and It’s a Small World — Magic Kingdom is the Disney Park that really has it all.
Georgia: Wild Adventures
Wild Adventures in Valdosta offers visitors three parks in one — a theme park, water park, and animal park. The spot boasts dozens of rides and attractions, and guests can also get up close and personal with dozens of exotic animals.
Hawaii: Wet ‘N’ Wild Hawaii
Hawaii does not really have traditional theme parks, but Wet ‘N’ Wild is a full-service water park and one of the most visited family attractions on Oahu.
The park offers more than 25 rides and attractions and is nestled among acres of beautiful tropical landscaping.
Idaho: Silverwood Theme Park & Boulder Beach
This theme/water park located in Athol is a great option for families, offering more than 70 rides and attractions for visitors of all ages — from massive, hanging roller coasters to bumper boats to a carousel and car rides for the kids.
Illinois: Six Flags Great America
Illinois has its own version of Six Flags in Lake County that offers the typical thrill rides, a Hurricane Harbor water park, as well as less intense ride options for the kids.
It even has some record-breaking ride options, including the fastest wooden coaster (Goliath).
Indiana: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
This is a two-for-one deal with a theme park full of crazy coasters, a waterpark that includes the world’s longest water coaster, and plenty of rides and attractions for young kids.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is a great option if you happen to be near Santa Claus, Indiana. And yes, that is the real name of the town.
Iowa: The Lost Island Amusement Park
The Lost Island park in Waterloo packs fun for the whole family and is split into five different “realms,” all offering themed attractions: air, water, earth, fire, and spirit.
Visitors can enjoy attractions from massive coasters to Ferris wheels to play areas for kids.
Kansas: All Star Adventures
While Kansans may have to head out of state if they're looking for massive coasters or other theme park staples, there is plenty of fun to be had at All Star Adventures in Wichita.
The park has everything from batting cages to mini golf to kiddie coasters and carousels.
Kentucky: Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay
From gigantic roller coasters to thrilling water slides, Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay offer attractions for visitors of all sorts.
The park is even running a 5-D Ice Age theme ride this summer.
Louisiana: Carousel Gardens Amusement Park
Located in New Orleans, Carousel Gardens makes a great day trip for the family, with 18 rides including Coney Tower, as well as some top-notch dining options.
Maine: Palace Playland
Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach is New England’s only beachfront amusement park and includes 28 rides as well as Maine’s largest arcade.
There are rides fit for all ages, from Dumbo and carousel rides for kids to the “Sea Viper” coaster for thrill seekers.
Maryland: Adventure Park USA
Whether you’re looking for standard amusement park rides or indoor gaming (or both), Adventure Park USA in Monrovia has got you covered.
The park has plenty of outdoor attractions, like roller coasters, go-karts, and spinning teacups. It also has an indoor section that offers everything from laser tag to bumper cars.
Massachusetts: Six Flags New England
Another gem in the Six Flags chain is its location in Agawam, Massachusetts. The park, previously known as Gallup’s Grove and Riverside Grove, has 11 roller coasters, including the fan favorite (and award-winning) Superman: The Ride.
Michigan: Michigan’s Adventure
The state’s largest amusement and water park, Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon, has more than 60 rides that’ll appeal to visitors of all ages, from the famed wooden coaster, Shivering Timbers, to the Adventure Falls log flume.
Valleyfair in Shakopee has more than 75 rides and attractions to entertain visitors of all ages and types. The park features massive coasters, carousels, and several swing rides of varying thrill levels. It also has a “Soak City” section, featuring dozens of slides and water rides.
Mississippi: Geyser Falls Water Theme Park
Rated the top amusement park in the state by TripAdvisor, Geyser Falls in Choctaw encompasses 23 acres of speed slides, water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and more.
Missouri: Branson Mountain Adventure Park
A truly unique adventure park experience in the Ozarks, Branson Mountain Adventure Park offers three main attractions: the Branson Alpine Coaster, zip lining through the mountains, and gem mining near the banks of Fall Creek.
Montana: Big Sky Waterpark
The largest water park in the state, located in the heart of the Rockies in Columbia Falls, Big Sky offers dozens of attractions, from riveting water slides to a whirlpool to mini-golf and bumper cars.
Fun-Plex in Omaha includes the largest waterpark in the state, plus dozens of other attractions like a go-kart track, kiddie rides, and an 18-hole mini-golf course.
Nevada: Wild Island Family Adventure Park
With thrilling water slides, a relaxing river, a wave pool, and kiddie slides for the little ones, Wild Island Family Adventure Park is a must-visit if you’re in the Sparks area. The park also offers go-karts, mini-golf, an arcade, and more.
New Hampshire: Whale’s Tale Waterpark
Whale’s Tale Waterpark in Lincoln offers dozens of thrilling water rides, from wild plunges to a massive wave pool to a scenic lazy river. The park also offers incredible views of New Hampshire’s famed White Mountains.
New Jersey: Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson features well over a dozen thrilling roller coasters — including the famed El Toro and Kingda Ka — as well as countless family-friendly rides, and a drive-thru safari with exotic animals.
New Mexico: Cliff’s Amusement Park
This park in Albuquerque has thrills for visitors of all ages, from exhilarating rides like the Cliff Hanger or the New Mexico Rattler to the many attractions in Kiddyland.
New York: LEGOLAND New York
The state’s newest theme park, LEGOLAND, just opened in Hudson Valley in the summer of 2021. It’s created a lot of buzz since then and is a great, family-friend option. With rides like The Dragon coaster and Tower Climb Tournament, and plenty of building activities, like Rebuild the World, the park offers hours of creative fun.
North Carolina: Carowinds
Carowinds technically straddles the border of both North and South Carolina and offers incredibly thrilling rides — like the Carolina Cyclone and Afterburn coasters — as well as dozens of family-friendly attractions and massive water slides. The park also offers accommodations for overnight stays.
North Dakota: Super Slide Amusement Park
This park in Bismarck offers dozens of attractions for visitors of all ages, from massive slides to mini-golf, batting cages, go-karts, and a climbing wall.
Ohio: Cedar Point
Cedar Point in Sandusky offers 70 incredible rides, including many thrillers — like Steel Vengeance and Millennium Force — as well as family-friendly options, live shows, solid dining options, and more.
Oklahoma: Six Flags Frontier City
Another option in the Six Flags family is Frontier City, located in Oklahoma City. With major coasters like Brain Drain and wooden classic Wildcat, as well as over a dozen great kid's rides, Frontier City offers something for every visitor.
Oregon: Enchanted Forest
Enchanted Forest in Salem is a great family park that offers dozens of rides and attractions that stick to the “enchanting” theme of the park — from their “Big Timber” log flume to a haunted house and a water-light show.
For more than a century, Hersheypark — conveniently located next to Hershey’s Chocolate World — in Hershey has been dazzling visitors with dozens of rides and attractions, a waterpark, and even a zoo.
Rhode Island: Adventureland
As the smallest state in the U.S., Rhode Island doesn’t have any big theme parks. But Adventureland in Narragansett offers plenty of family-friendly attractions, from bumper boats and batting cages to a Victorian-style carousel and go-karts.
South Carolina: Wild Water & Wheels
This park in Surfside Beach offers dozens of water rides, as well as several tracks for go-kart racers of all ages. In addition to thrilling slides, rides, and a wave pool, the park also has mini-golf and a lagoon for the little ones.
South Dakota: Rush Mountain Adventure Park
This park, located in the Black Hills, offers fantastic attractions like an exploration of Rushmore Cave, the closest cave to Mount Rushmore, as well as a mountain coaster, zip ride, and a daredevil course.
The top spot in Tennessee has to go to Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge. The park covers 160 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains and offers rides and attractions for all, from massive roller coasters to kiddie rides to dinner shows like Dolly Parton’s Stampede.
Texas: ZDT’s Amusement Park
ZDT’s, located in Seguin, opened its doors in 2007 and has been rapidly expanding ever since, adding thriller attractions like go-karts, the Mad Raft Water Coaster, and Switchback — a first-of-its-kind modern wooden shuttle coaster.
Utah: Lagoon Amusement Park
This park, located in Farmington, includes plenty of thrillers, like the Cannibal coaster, the Rattlesnake Rapids, and Colossus: The Fire Dragon. But it also has plenty of less intense options for young visitors (think teacups, a “Dinosaur Drop,” and more).
Vermont: Jay Peak Pump House
Thanks to a retractable roof, the many rides at Jay Peak Pump House — from the water slides to the lazy river to the “flowrider” — remain open throughout the year. They’ll open up the roof on hot summer days, and close it up when cold weather rolls back around.
Virginia: Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is one of those great theme parks that really has it all: famed roller coasters like Pantheon and the Loch Ness Monster, kiddie rides inside Land of the Dragons, and soakers like the Roman Rapids.
Washington: Wild Waves Theme & Water Park
From the Timberhawk Ride of Prey coaster to the Brain Drain tower drop and the Lumberjack Falls flume, Wild Waves Theme & Water Park has attractions to thrill the whole family. It is located in Federal Way, Washington.
West Virginia: Camden Park
Camden Park in Huntington is a great spot for families. It offers fun for tots in Kiddie Land and thrills for older crowds with rides like the Big Dipper wood coaster and The Rattler swing.
Wisconsin: Noah’s Ark Waterpark
The biggest waterpark in the state, Noah’s Ark has something for everyone — from wave pools to a water coaster to two lazy rivers. The park features dozens of rides and attractions.
Wyoming: Star Plunge
This waterpark in Hot Springs State Park is a great spot to visit in the summer. With multiple pools (indoor and outdoor), hot tubs, water slides, and a vapor cave, there’s fun for the whole family at Star Plunge.
Whether you’re looking for world-famous coasters, wild water slides, or dinner shows, there are plenty of great theme park options across the U.S.
Those planning a vacation should definitely consider penciling some parks into the plans. And the fact that at least one of these parks should be located in your own state is a bonus for those trying to keep gas costs down this summer.
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