Best Amusement Park in Every State
We’ve found the best double loop, wooden, and steepest roller coasters, plus splash-tactic water rides that come with a side of kettle corn in every state in the nation.
OWA (pronounced OH-WAH and meaning “big water” in the language of the Muscogee tribe, which developed and owns OWA) is a 21-ride, 520-acre amusement park centered on a 14-acre lake in Foley on Alabama’s Gulf Coast centered on a 14-acre lake. It’s top-rated on Trip Advisor and is open from January through October, although the hours are limited to weekends outside of the spring and summer months. Before you go to any amusement park, check out these money-saving, crowd-busting amusement park secrets.
Alaska: H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark
Anchorage’s H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark is known as a “tropical island in the last frontier.” The fully-enclosed waterpark is open throughout the entire year, which is a real advantage during those long winters. During the school year, you’ll have to go on the weekend, but the rest of the year it’s open every day, rain or shine.
Arizona: Trail Dust Town
The Western-themed Trail Dust Town in Tuscon has a Wild West Stunt Show, a gold-panning experience, and a train ride on a real train through the “Wild West.” As far as rides go, there’s a Ferris wheel and a vintage-style carousel. The park is open year round.
Arkansas: Magic Springs and Crystal Falls
About an hour from Little Rock, Magic Springs and Crystal Falls is a combination amusement and water park, featuring the Sky Shark sky-diving experience and the Brain Drain free-fall experience, on the one hand, and a water tower with seven slides and a water raceway, on the other, as well as family-oriented rides and kid-specific rides. This top-rated park in Arkansas on Trip Advisor is open weekends April through October, with longer hours in the summer. Don’t miss these mini-vacations that won’t break your budget.
Even with so many top-notch amusement parks in the Golden State, we’re still going with SeaWorld in San Diego. Offering traditional amusement park rides, it’s also famous for its unique animal shows and educational experiences. Where else can you ride a roller coaster (the Electric Eel) and a water slide and check out an exhibit on killer whales and then stay past dark to participate in the nighttime “Electric Ocean Light Festival” event? Enjoy this jewel in California’s theme park crown all year long.
Colorado: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Top rated by Trip Advisor among Colorado amusement parks, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is America’s only mountaintop theme park. Located far above sea level in historic Glenwood Springs, it’s open year-round, although some of the rides are seasonal. The Giant Canyon Swing was featured on several travel television shows, and the Bert the Conquerer coaster is the longest Alpine Coaster in Colorado.
Connecticut: Lake Compounce
Lake Compounce in Bristol calls itself Connecticut’s best amusement park for kids, but teens love it, too. It’s notable for being the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the country, dating back to 1846. With over 400 acres, it’s got both water and land rides, including Boulder Dash, which has been voted the world’s #1 wooden roller coaster. It’s open May through Labor Day. Lake Compounce’s record-breaking historical run got us thinking about these other crazy world records from every state.
Funland is a classic boardwalk amusement park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, featuring 19 rides, including the brand new SuperFlip 360, which swings you 360 degrees, and an arcade. It’s open Mother’s Day through Labor Day. Careful, however, before you decide to hit the arcade: here’s how those carnival games are rigged.
Florida: Universal Orlando
Univeral Orlando is actually three amazing theme parks in one: Universal Studios, Universal Islands of America, and Universal Volcano Bay. Islands of Adventure, in particular, has been named the number one amusement park in the world by Trip Advisor and offers a place to explore Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, hide from the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, and fly above the city streets like Spider-Man. It’s open year-round and has special seasonal activities to help you plan your trip. Get ready for a brand new Disney theme park… on this continent!
Georgia: Six Flags Over Georgia
Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell features some impressively unique attractions, including:
- Acrophobia, a drop tower that’s as heart-pounding as it sounds: riders are positioned in a near-standing position, then tilted outward at the top of the 200-foot tower so that they’re facing right at the ground as they fall toward the ground.
- Mindbender, a twin-loop roller coaster that reaches 50 MPH along the 7-story drop.
- Great America Scream Machine, the first wooden roller coaster ever built by Six Flags.
Hawaii: Wet N’ Wild
Open year-round, Oahu’s Wet ‘N Wild features 25 land and water rides that include the following extreme thrills for adrenaline junkies only:
- Tornado, a water slide that begins with riders being catapulted from 50 feet in the air through a 130-foot tunnel before plummeting into the eye of a simulated storm.
- Volcano Express, a four-story-high head-first water slide that takes riders down a height of 42 feet at speeds of more than 20 feet per second.
The park also has more chill rides for those so inclined.
Idaho: Silverwood Theme Park (and Boulder Beach)
Silverwood Theme Park (and Boulder Beach) in Coeur d’Alene, is the biggest theme park in the Northwest. It features 70 land and water rides and attractions, including Aftershock, an inverted hanging roller coaster that reaches 191 feet, and Corkscrew, the world’s first modern inverted roller coaster. And don’t miss Polliwog Park, the part of the water park at Boulder Beach that’s completely kid-oriented. Silverwood is open May through September. Find out the best family travel destinations in every state.
Illinois: Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America is home to some of the fastest, tallest, wildest, most adrenaline-surging rides in the country. Its even got these record breakers:
- Goliath, a world record-breaking wooden coaster for speed (72 miles per hour), vertical drop (180 feet) and steepest drop (85 degrees)!
- Demon, one of the first coasters in the world to feature a double corkscrew.
But there’s also an old-fashioned small-town amusement park within the grounds that will appeal to all family members. It’s open during the summer months.
Indiana: Holiday World (and Splashin’ Safari)
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is located in Santa Claus, Indiana and, as you may have guessed, it’s holiday-themed. It features:
- Mammoth, the world’s longest water coaster.
- Thunderbird, America’s first launched wing coaster that takes you from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
- Voyage, known as the best wooden coaster in the nation.
It’s open May through August (as well as a few spring weekends). Find out more about Holiday World along with eight other totally wacky theme parks around the world.
Iowa: Adventureland Resort
Just outside Des Moines is Adventureland Resort, with over 100 rides and attractions, including some double-loop roller coasters, wooden coasters, and water rides that include Iowa’s largest wave pool and longest lazy-river. The park’s open from June through September, although only on the weekends in September.
Kansas: Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park
Located in Salina, Kenwood Cove Aquatic Park is Kansas’s highest rated amusement park on Trip Advisor. It features 1,400 feet of slides, including one with a 35-foot drop. There’s also a lazy river and a wave pool as well as a children’s play area, and its decor is colorfully Caribbean-inspired. Psst… it’s not exactly the hardest town name to pronounce, but the Salina in Kansas is not pronounced how you probably think, but rather Sah-LINE-uh. Find out the most difficult-to-pronounce town in every single state.
Kentucky: Kentucky Kingdom
Louisville’s Kentucky Kingdom stands on 53 acres and features some of the country’s top-rated roller coasters, including:
- Storm Chaser, which is 100 feet tall at its highest point and is the first coaster in America to feature a barrel roll drop from a 10-story lift hill
- Thunder Run, a world-renowned wooden coaster with nearly 3,000 linear feet of track, a 74-foot drop, and negative airtime.
It’s also home to Hurricane Bay, a full water park (Hurricane Bay). Kentucky Kingdom is open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
Louisiana: Splash Kingdom Water Park
Shreveport’s Splash Kingdom is a family-friendly waterpark that offers plenty of summer fun for everyone, and it’s rated the highest of all amusement parks in Louisiana on Trip Advisor. While all the waterpark fare is top-notch, reviewers rave about the “big slides,” “lazy river” and “great family atmosphere.” Read this before taking your toddler to an amusement park.
Maine: Funtown Splashtown USA
Saco’s Funtown Splashtown USA is the largest waterpark in New England and the top-rated amusement park in Maine on Trip Advisor, earning raves not just for its water features but also for its coasters. “There is a wooden roller coaster that goes fast at more than 50 mph! It is a very fun roller coaster with a big drop at the beginning of the ride,” says one repeat visitor. It’s also been described as “timeless” and worth repeat trips. Come by starting in mid-June and throughout the summer months.
Maryland: Six Flags America
The largest amusement park in the Baltimore area, Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro boasts some truly thrilling rides, including:
- Apocalypse: a steel coaster with 2,900 feet of “relentlessly” winding track that reaches speeds of up to 55 MPH.
- Dare Devil Dive: a sky-diving-like experience that takes you 11 stories up only to plummet back down at speeds as high as 60 miles per hour.
Come during the summer months to enjoy the waterpark rides as well. Put these other awesome places on your bucket list for you and your kids.
Massachusetts: Six Flags New England
Springfield’s Six Flags New England is the oldest of all the Six Flags properties, having been in operation (albeit not always as a Six Flags property) since the late 1800s. Open all summer, it has both land and water rides, but don’t miss Harley Quinn Spinsanity, a 147-foot-tall swing ride that reaches speeds of 70 MPH; it takes you higher than even the otherwise formidable, Batman: The Dark Night and The Joker 4D Fly Coaster, offering seriously amazing views. Thrill seekers will also want to take a ride on these most terrifying roller coasters in America.
Michigan: Michigan’s Adventure
Located in Muskegon, Michigan’s Adventure is the state’s largest amusement park and the highest rated according to Trip Advisor. This 250-acre park is home to Wildwater Adventure Waterpark, which boasts more than 20 waterslides—all included with park admission. Don’t miss the land rides, however, such as Shivering Timbers, which holds the record for longest and fastest wooden coaster in Michigan.
Minnesota: Nickelodeon Universe
Located in the world-record-breakingly gigantic Mall of America in Bloomington, Nickelodeon Universe is a 7-acre Nickelodeon-themed amusement park that has 27 rides and is open every day of the year, except Christmas (a boon for Minnesotans, who have a long, cold winter to endure, as well as for tourists). Just because it’s Nickelodeon-themed doesn’t mean there aren’t thrill rides to spare. Don’t miss the Ninja Turtles-themed Shell Shock, which flips and twists through the air at dizzying speeds.
Mississippi: Geyser Falls Water Theme Park
The Geyser Falls Water Theme Park gets super-high marks and is the top-rated amusement park in Mississippi according to Trip Advisor. Some of the more renowned attractions there include:
Whitewater Express, which is “half waterslide, half dragstrip.”
Backsplash, a backward waterslide featuring two-person inner tubes.
The park is open daily from May 26 through July 29 and on weekends in August and September. You’ll want to add these items to your summer bucket list.
Missouri: Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City has been a Branson staple for over 50 years. Featuring 30 rides and attractions, 40 live shows, 60 unique shops, and over 100 demonstrating craftsmen, no wonder its top-rated on Trip Advisor. But before you plan your trip, find out these popular travel tips are no longer true.
Montana: Big Sky Waterpark
In the heart of the Rockies in Columbia Falls, Big Sky Waterpark offers exciting attractions that include ten water slides, a huge whirlpool, mini golf, bumper cars, and a climbing wall. If you’re going to Montana, you’ll want to make a detour to St. Ignatius, one of the nicest places in America, according to Reader’s Digest readers.
Nebraska: Fun Plex
“Move over, Disney,” says one Trip Advisor reviewer of this top-rated Nebraska amusement park, appeals to kids of all ages. Fun Plex is conveniently located in Omaha and is not only ranked the largest and best amusement park in the Cornhusker State by Trip Advisor—but also can boast it has the only roller coaster in the entire state. It also has plenty of other rides and activities, as well as a water park with slides, wave pools, a lazy river, and Nebraska’s only swim-up bar for the grownups.
Adventuredome may be the one exception to the rule, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” because this indoor amusement park on the Las Vegas strip is a place where families make memories they keep talking about for years to come. Despite being indoors, it covers 5 acres and includes these exciting thrill-coasters:
- Canyon Blaster: the only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew coaster on the planet, with speeds up to 55 MPH.
- El Loco: 72 seconds of extreme gravity-defiance, including a 45-degree banked curve and a 240-degree roll into an inverted drop.
New Hampshire: Canobie Lake Park
Canobie Lake Park in Salem has over 85 rides, including the wooden Yankee Cannonball and UNTAMED, which has grizzly bear-shaped cars that lifts riders 72 feet into the air, then into a drop that’s beyond vertical at 97 degrees. New for 2018 is Castaway Island, a water park with a tidal river (think lazy river but with waves), and a 60-foot tower with three water slides.
New Jersey: Six Flags Great Adventure
Ask any thrill-ride aficionado what’s on their roller coaster bucket list, and you can be sure it will include Six Flags Great Adventure‘s Kingda Ka, which is over 454 feet tall at its highest with a 418-foot drop that takes you to 128 MPH! Although it only lasts 28 seconds, it might be the most thrilling coaster on planet Earth. New this year at Great Adventure is the Cyborg Cyber Spin, a first-of-its-kind, seven-story high, anti-gravity thrill ride. You’ll want to read these tips on how to beat motion sickness before you go.
New Mexico: Cliff’s Amusement Park
If it sounds like a small-town kind of place, that’s because it is. Albuquerque’s Cliff’s Amusement Park will take you back to the days of wooden coasters in terms of its ambiance, while still offering the thrills and chills of modern-day adrenaline-surge rides. In fact, you’ll get both in The New Mexico Rattler, a nearly 3,000-foot long “woodie” packed with hair-raising drops, wild speeds, wicked turns, and even a 100-foot long underground tunnel.
New York: Coney Island
For amusement park aficionados, no discussion of the best could be complete without reference to iconic Coney Island, a collection of amusement parks in Brooklyn whose crown jewel is Luna Park, home to the famous Cyclone roller coaster. The Cyclone, along with the Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump, are registered National Landmarks. So visit Coney Island not just for the amusements but for a piece of history. And while you’re at it, don’t miss the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest sponsored by Nathans!
North Carolina: Carowinds
North Carolina and South Carolina come together in perfect state-line harmony at Carowinds, whose entrance straddles the border of the two states. Standing on over 400 acres, it includes Carolina Harbor, the largest water park in both states, and some of the South’s scariest roller coasters, including Intimidator and Afterburn. When you get hungry, you can enjoy North Carolina or South Carolina-style BBQ. Carowinds, whose official address is in Charlotte, North Carolina, is open throughout the summer as well as on weekends in spring and fall.
North Dakota: Thunder Road Amusement Park
If it’s carnival-type rides that you seek in North Dakota, you may have to wait for North Dakota’s State Fair. But if you’re into North Dakota’s outdoorsy, adventuresome spirit, then check out Fargo’s Thunder Road Amusement Park, featuring go-karting, bumper cars, laser tag, and mini golf. It’s open from the end of April until the end of August. Find out the best state fair in every state.
Ohio: Cedar Point
With 17 roller coasters, Cedar Point in Sandusky is known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” Two of the most popular are Skyhawk, one of the world’s biggest swing rides, and Lake Erie Eagles, which lets you control your flight as you soar over the midway. The park sits on an archipelago in Lake Erie, which makes it an incredibly special experience. Open all summer; it has weekend hours in September and October.
Oklahoma: Frontier City
Oklahoma City’s Frontier City isn’t just the best amusement park in Oklahoma, it’s the only amusement park in the Sooner State. It has something for everyone, including land rides, water rides, and a Wild West Frontier theme. It’s open all summer and has weekend hours in the spring and early fall.
Oregon: Oaks Park
What Oaks Park lacks in thrills, it makes up in charm with its wooden carousel that dates back all the way to 1913. The Portland landmark features rollerskating and mini-golf, along with carnival games and over 20 rides.
Pennsylvania is home to several great amusement parks, including Dorney Park, Sesame Place, and Dutch Wonderland, but none can quite compete with Hersheypark because…well, chocolate, obviously. You get not only all the land and water features of a top-notch amusement park, but you also can tour the chocolate factory. Here are even more candy factories in the United States you can visit.
Rhode Island: Adventureland
For a tiny state, Rhode Island certainly has its share of family fun and amusement parks—and the best is Adventureland in Narragansett. Open daily throughout the summer (starting June 1), it’s mostly family-friendly (read: tame) fare, but there is one fairly new attraction worth mentioning for adrenaline-fiends: the Extreme Big Air Jumper, which while suitable for all ages and abilities, allows you to jump up to 25 feet into the air! Adventure junkies will want to ride on these craziest zip lines around the world.
South Carolina: Family Kingdom Seaside Amusement Park
While Carowinds dominates as the top theme park in the Carolinas, when you’re in Myrtle Beach, you might want something a little more boardwalk-classic. That’s what you’ll find in the Family Kingdom Seaside Amusement Park. Beach-adjacent and next door to Splashes water park, it’s great family fun and boasts nearly 40 rides, including the Log Flume and the Sling Shot, which has a 100-foot freefall. Don’t miss the 14 best beach boardwalks in America.
South Dakota: Rush Mountain Adventure Park
At Rush Mountain Adventure Park in Rapid City, you’ll find the only roller coaster in the area, the Rushmore Mountain Coaster. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore stalactite-filled caverns and zip along on the Soaring Eagle Zipline Ride. The park is open daily from May through October and on weekends in March and April.
Dolly Parton put Pigeon Forge on the map when she opened Dollywood. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, this top family destination in Tennessee, boasts:
- Firechaser Express: the nation’s first dual-launch family coaster—it blasts you backward and forward.
- Lightning Rod: this 1950s-era hot rod-themed coaster launches riders from zero to 45 mph and more than 20 stories up its lift hill to an exhilarating airtime moment.
Dollywood is open April through October, but its water attractions close on Labor Day.
Texas: Six Flags Fiesta Texas
In a state with two huge Six Flags amusement parks, it’s hard to pick just one, but we’re going with San Antonio’s Six Flags Fiesta Texas because of two of its two unique features:
- Thunder Rapids Water Coaster: the first blast water coaster in the US
- Wonder Woman Golden Lasso: the first single-rail roller coaster on the planet
This park, which is huge like everything Texas, is open for a huge season as well: April through October. After your trip to the park, you’re sure to agree that Texas is one of the nation’s best states for a road trip.
Utah: Lagoon Park
Utah is a major ski destination in the winter, and it was a onetime host of the Winter Olympics, but it’s no slouch in terms of summertime fun. Lagoon Park, just outside Salt Lake City (and convenient to the airport), has 50 rides on both land and water as well as a Pioneer Village, a Wild West-themed attraction. The fun continues through October with the Frightmares Halloween-themed entertainment.
Vermont: Killington Pico Adventure Center
Killington is a major ski destination in the winter, but come summer it transforms into an action-packed amusement park that features ziplining, Alpine tubing, trampolines, a climbing wall, a ropes course, Segway tours, and, last, but not least, the Beast Mountain Coaster, a 4,800-foot-long alpine coaster that twists and turns through the woods with 360-degree corkscrews and major thrills.
Virginia: Busch Gardens
The crown jewel of Busch Gardens is the Loch Ness Monster, a double-loop roller coaster that was once the tallest and fastest roller steel roller coaster. Recently, the park added its first wooden coaster, which features a 74-foot plunge and reaches speeds of 50 mph. The adjacent water park is the largest in Virginia and the fact that its so near to Colonial Williamsburg, one of the 16 best American cities for history buffs, make this a bucket-list-destination.
Washington: Wild Waves Theme and Water Park
Wild Waves, in Federal Way, is truly a two-in-one land and water park because both parks are included in the same ticket price (which isn’t always the case). It’s also the only two-in-one amusement park in Washington. It’s open all summer and has a holiday lights event in December.
West Virginia: Camden Park
The only amusement park boasting carnival rides in all of West Virginia, Camden Park sits on 26 acres in Huntington and has been around in some form since 1902 when it began as a picnic site soon after gaining its first carousel. Now it has more than 30 rides and attractions, including a full-size wooden coaster, the Big Dipper. There’s also a pool, roller rink, and zoo. It’s open six days a week from late May to early August, with a more limited schedule in late August, and select dates in September and October.
Wisconsin: Kalahari Resorts
The Wisconsin Dells location of the Kalahari Resorts family of indoor theme parks boasts 100,000 square feet of family fun and excitement with an unprecedented array of indoor attractions and activities, including the new-this-year super-thrill-ride, Maximum Foolocity, a whirly ride that takes you 50 feet up and then down…and all around. Wisconsin Dells also has an indoor waterpark and an outdoor waterpark. Don’t miss our round-up of the best water slides in the world.
Wyoming: Star Plunge
Imagine a water park that’s sourced from hot springs, and you’ll understand the attraction of Star Plunge, located in Thermopolis. It includes not only water slides and pools but also a natural steam room that was cut into rock and is naturally heated by the Vapor Cave mineral springs. Next, read on for the 12 coolest indoor water parks in the United States.