Over the last few decades, many amusement parks have done away with ride tickets in favor of an entry fee to the entire park that includes rides and attractions. But this means that park-goers who don’t want to hop aboard roller coasters or other rides still have to pay for them.
Fortunately, there are some amusement parks that offer free admission. So, you can spend the day and only pay for the rides you enjoy. Which means you get to keep your money in your bank account.
The following eight amusement parks promise free fun in the hot sun.
Coney Island, New York
Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, is the iconic American amusement park experience, and people savor the nostalgia of riding the Cyclone. But Coney Island is actually just a boardwalk and a free public beach accessible from the D, F, ,N, and Q subway lines.
So, come and hang out for as long as you want to for free. You pay for the rides, to play the carnival games and to buy food from vendors. But being at Coney Island is free.
Pacific Pier, California
On the other side of the country is another famous amusement park experience, Pacific Pier amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California.
This amusement park is so famous that it has appeared in hundreds of movies, from “Forrest Gump” and “The Sting” to “Sharknado.”
You can buy a wristband to ride rides and enter other attractions, but it’s absolutely free to enjoy the boardwalk and the concourse and enter the amusement park. When it’s too cold to go to Coney Island, it’s still warm and sunny at the Santa Monica Pier.
Navy Pier, Illinois
Jutting out over Lake Michigan, Chicago’s famous Navy Pier amusement park is known for the enormous Ferris wheel that dominates the skyline, and for its summer fireworks shows.
Admission to the park is free, but some attractions will cost you. The fireworks shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays are free, and there are nearly 250 free public concerts and events every year at the pier.
The rides are intense, from the huge Ferris wheel to a 4D virtual reality experience. You can even buy a park pass that lets you enjoy rides multiple times.
Morey’s Piers, New Jersey
Wildwood is a city on the New Jersey Shore famous for its boardwalks and Morey’s Piers. Admission is free to the amusement piers at Morey’s — Surfside, Mariner’s, and Adventure — and you don’t have to pay to see and be seen on the boardwalk. But you will have to pay for the rides and the water park.
The Jersey Shore has been a vacation destination for centuries, and Morey’s Piers opened in 1969. Morey’s Piers has rides for everyone, from the kiddie boats and corkscrew roller coasters to swings and more.
Pro tip: Get more out of your trip to the shore including discounts and rewards with the best travel credit cards for beginners.
Waldameer Park, Pennsylvania
Waldameer Park in Erie, Pennsylvania, is located on a hill overlooking Lake Erie. Unlike Coney Island and the Santa Monica Pier, Waldameer is a fully enclosed park, with two free parking lots.
Admission is free at Waldameer Park, which opened in 1896. However, you pay for access to rides, including the famous Ravine Flyer II roller coaster that swoops over highways outside the park twice as it follows its path.
Waldameer is a true family park, with smaller rides and attractions for children in a section called Kiddieland, as well as the more thrilling rides that attract roller coaster enthusiasts. Waldameer is a great deal for travel on a budget because of all the free amenities at the park.
Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, is the largest admission-free amusement park in the country. It offers free admission, free parking, free entertainment, and free picnic facilities.
The park has large roller coasters, smaller rides, entertainment, and other attractions that you have to pay for. Knoebels prides itself on its size and variety of rides and attractions, and on offering amusement for all ages.
The amusement resort has nearby campgrounds, rental cottages, and a bed-and-breakfast, so guests can stay overnight easily on or near Knoebels’ property.
Family Kingdom, South Carolina
Family Kingdom Amusement Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is another amusement park with free admission. Rides will cost you, however.
Coolers are not allowed, but there are concessions throughout the park. Parking is not free. Family Kingdom has 35 rides, from a wooden roller coaster and a log flume to the famous Tilt-A-Whirl. There’s something for everyone in this classic vacation amusement park.
Belmont Park, California
Belmont Park, a seven-acre amusement park on the beach in San Diego, is another amusement park with free admission and free parking.
Belmont Park was built in 1925 as the Mission Beach Entertainment Center. The first two attractions, The Giant Dipper and The Plunge, have undergone multiple restoration efforts and are still open today for visitors to enjoy.
If you and your family are big roller coaster riders, you’re probably better off going to an amusement park that charges for admission and includes all rides.
But if you only want to ride a few rides, or people in your group don’t want to ride at all, one of these free-admission amusement parks makes more financial sense, and can let everyone have summer fun together.
Check out some of the best travel credit cards that offer points and rewards for traveling to these iconic parks
Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards
- Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
- Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
- No foreign transaction fees
- Apply Now
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
- 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
- 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee applies to all balance transfers.
- If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
- Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
- This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
Why we like it