35 Best Amusement Parks for Kids in the USA (2024)

There are hundreds of amusement parks across the United States. But which is best? And are they all just in Orlando? After decades of theme park experience, I’ve put together my list of the best theme parks in the US.

1. Walt Disney World

📍 Location: Orlando, Florida

Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited theme park resort in the world. Spanning 43 sq. miles, this resort is home to:

  • 4 Theme Parks
  • 2 Water Parks
  • Entertainment District
  • 25 Hotels

While Walt Disney World is marketed as a young-family resort, there’s plenty for all ages here. Education and delicious food at EPCOT, animal encounters at Animal Kingdom, and Star Wars at Hollywood Studios.

2. Disneyland

📍 Location: Anaheim, California

The original Disney theme park, Disneyland, is in Southern California. Here you’ll find:

  • 2 Theme Parks: Disneyland & Disney’s California Adventure
  • Entertainment District
  • 3 Hotels

Disneyland isn’t as big as Walt Disney World. However, there’s still plenty for all ages here. Pixar Pier and Avengers Campus are great for older kids, while the Cars Land area is a huge hit for youngsters.

3. Universal Orlando Resort

📍 Location: Orlando, Florida

The Universal Orlando Resort is a fantastic choice for tweens and teens. This theme park resort is located in Orlando, Florida and is made up of:

  • 2 Theme Parks: Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure
  • Volcano Bay Water Park
  • Entertainment District
  • 8 Hotels

Universal is a great choice for kids who love Harry Potter. Here, you’ll find several Harry Potter-themed lands, rides, and dining experiences.

Universal Orlando will expand to 3 theme parks in 2025 with the opening of Epic Universe.

4. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

📍 Location: Tampa, Florida

Busch Gardens is a theme park and zoo suitable for families with kids of all ages.

Tweens and teens visiting Busch Gardens will love the thrill rides here. Meanwhile, families with kids of all ages will love the Serengeti Safari.

This unique safari experience will take you through 65 acres of wildlife preserve in an open-air truck. Expect to see giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, tigers, orangutans, and more.

5. Cedar Point

📍 Location: Sandusky, Ohio

Cedar Point opened in 1870, making it the second-oldest continuously operated theme park in the United States.

Thankfully, the theme park has undergone several renovations since then and is now home to over 70 rides and attractions.

6. Universal Studios Hollywood

📍 Location: Universal City, California

Universal Studios Hollywood is a working movie studio and theme park. This theme park features a range of rides including features from:

  • Harry Potter
  • Super Mario
  • Minions
  • Jurassic World

A unique highlight of Universal Studios Hollywood is the 60-minute Studio Tour. On this tour, you’ll explore the working movie studios and learn more about movie magic.

7. SeaWorld Orlando

📍 Location: Orlando, Florida

SeaWorld Orlando combines a classic theme park with a marine zoo for a unique experience. High-speed rollercoasters like Manta and Kraken are a huge hit with adults and teens.

Meanwhile, young kids love Sesame Street Land. It has rides for toddlers and meet-and-greets with characters like Elmo and Big Bird.

8. Hersheypark

📍 Location: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hersheypark was founded in 1906 as a leisure park for the employees who worked at the Hershey Chocolate Company nearby.

Today, Hersheypark is a fantastic, chocolate-inspired theme park suitable for the whole family.

9. LEGOLAND California

📍 Location: Carlsbad, California

LEGOLAND Park is the best theme park for Lego enthusiasts. Here you’ll find:

  • LEGOLAND California Water Park
  • LEGOLAND California Hotel

All of the rides at LEGOLAND are inspired by Lego and are best suited to families with kids under 12.

10. Knott’s Berry Farm

📍 Location: Buena Park, California

Knott’s Berry Farm started as a roadside berry stand in 1923. However, since then, it has grown into one of the best amusement parks in Southern California.

The theme park has rides for the whole family. If you visit during the summer months, there’s also a water park next door.

Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Hollywood and Disneyland are all within a 40-minute drive. Unsurprisingly, Universal Hollywood and Disneyland are more high-end. But if you’re looking for a theme park on a budget, then Knott’s Berry Farm is a solid choice.

11. Sesame Place

📍 Location: Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Sesame Place is a Sesame Street-themed amusement park. Situated just outside of Philly, this theme park is great for little kids. There are plenty of kid-friendly rides here, as well as parades, shows and character meet-and-greets.

12. Kings Island

📍 Location: Mason, Ohio

Kings Island is a great family theme park in Cincinnati, Ohio. There are thrill rides here, including Orion, Diamondback, and The Beast.

There’s also a dedicated little kids area, Planet Snoopy. Here, you’ll find 20 rides for little kids and character meet-and-greets with beloved PEANUTS characters.

If all that wasn’t enough, Kings Island admission also gives you entry into Soak City. This water park features 36 water slides and over a dozen other attractions.

13. Dollywood

📍 Location: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dollywood is a famous theme park founded by country singer Dolly Parton. It features rides, attractions, shows, and musical productions.

There’s also an on-site water park, resort hotels and cabins. This theme park is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It is excellent for a family vacation as it’s the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

14. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

📍 Location: Williamsburg, Virginia

In addition to the Busch Gardens in Florida, there’s also a Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.

This theme park has European-themed lands, including Ireland, Germany, Italy, England, and Scotland. As well as themed rollercoasters such as Loch Ness Monster, Alpengeist, and Apollo’s Chariot.

Much like the Busch Gardens in Florida, this theme park also offers animal encounters. However, in this case, they are once again European-inspired. My favourites include Clydesdale horses, Scottish Highland cattle and the grey wolves.

15. Six Flags Magic Mountain

📍 Location: Valencia, California

There are more than 20 Six Flags theme parks in the United States, and one of the best is Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia.

Situated in Southern California, this theme park is great for older kids as there are over a dozen thrill rides & rollercoasters.

Alongside the theme park, there’s also the Hurricane Harbor water park. Open during the summer months, this water park includes a wave pool, water slides, and a lazy river.

16. SeaWorld San Diego

📍 Location: San Diego, California

Another SeaWorld location is in San Diego, California, making it the perfect destination for families on the West Coast. This kid-friendly theme park combines classic rides and roller coasters with marine life encounters and attractions.

Some of the best rides at SeaWorld San Diego include Electric Eel, Arctic Rescue, and Emperor. Younger children will enjoy kiddie rides like Tentacle Twirl and Aqua Scout.

But one of the biggest highlights of SeaWorld San Diego is the sea life. In addition to seeing the animals at a distance during shows and presentations and inside the aquarium, you can get up close and personal with dolphins, beluga whales, sea otters, and more during special behind-the-scenes tours.

17. Silver Dollar City

📍 Location: Branson, Missouri

Silver Dollar City is one of the best amusement parks in the Midwest. Located near the popular family vacation destination of Branson, Missouri, this theme park offers fun and adventure for kids of all ages.

This theme park has classic attractions like a wooden roller coaster and a log flume ride. There’s also a water park where you can beat the heat on hot summer days.

One of the most unique things to do at Silver Dollar City is taking a dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle. This three-course dinner cruise on beautiful Table Rock Lake includes a lively show that is fun for the entire family.

18. Kennywood

📍 Location: West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

Kennywood is an amusement park for families located close to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This park originally opened in 1899 and has been entertaining families in Pennsylvania for over a century now.

If you’re looking for thrill rides, Steel Curtain and Phantom’s Revenge are some of the best roller coasters that will leave your heart pounding. Kennywood also has lots of family-friendly rides that younger kids will enjoy.

One of the best parts of Kennywood for little kids is Thomas Town, which is themed to Thomas the Tank Engine.

19. Six Flags Great Adventure

📍 Location: Jackson Township, New Jersey

Another one of the best Six Flags theme parks can be found in Jackson Township, New Jersey, the home of Six Flags Great Adventure.

This theme park is located just over an hour from New York, and a little under an hour from Philadelphia, making it a great day trip for families in either city. Big kids will enjoy the many roller coasters and thrill rides, while younger children will have fun on the kiddie rides.

One of the best attractions for kids at Six Flags is the Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure, which allows visitors to get up close and personal with wildlife including zebras, giraffes, and more.

20. Fun Spot America

📍 Location: Orlando, Florida

Fun Spot America is a great theme park located in Orlando, Florida. There’s another location in Kissimmee, Florida about half an hour away too. If you’re looking for an affordable amusement park for kids, this is a great option.

It’s much cheaper than nearby Disney World or Universal Orlando, and Fun Spot America offers free parking and free admission. This means that adults who are not riding any rides can visit the park for free and watch their kids.

Fun Spot America has several roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, go-karts, bumper cars, and other rides and attractions that kids of all ages will enjoy.

21. Knoebels Amusement Resort

📍 Location: Elysburg, Pennsylvania

Knoebels Amusement Resort is another amusement park offering free admission. In fact, it’s the largest free-admission theme park in the United States.

This amusement park, which opened in 1926, has more than a dozen rides and attractions including roller coasters, family rides, and kiddie rides. You can pay per ride by purchasing a ticket book, or get unlimited rides for one low price with a “Ride All Day Pass.”

In addition to rides, Knoebels Amusement Resort offers various play areas, a swimming pool, and water slides for kids. There’s also a campground and cottages for families who want to make a weekend out of their visit to Knoebels Amusement Resort.

22. Santa’s Village

📍 Location: Jefferson, New Hampshire

It’s always Christmas at Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire. This seasonal theme park is open on select dates from May through December.

During the summer months, you can still celebrate Christmas at Santa’s Village with rides like Santa’s Express Train, Yule Log Flume, Skyway Sleigh, and the Christmas Ferris wheel. Santa’s Water Park features several water slides and a splash pad for little ones.

In the winter, you can enjoy Santa’s Village as it transforms into a Christmas wonderland with seasonal activities like ice skating and visits with Santa Claus himself.

23. Lake Compounce

📍 Location: Southington, Connecticut

Lake Compounce holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously operated amusement park in the United States. It opened in 1846 and is still providing entertainment for families today. Kids of all ages will enjoy spending the day at Lake Compounce.

There are a number of thrill rides that older kids and teens will love, along with plenty of moderate and mild rides for younger children. Visitors can also enjoy Crocodile Cove water park, where you can cool off on a hot summer day with water slides and a lazy river.

24. Carowinds

📍 Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Carowinds is one of the top theme parks in the United States for families. Located on the border of North Carolina and South Caroline, this theme park boasts dozens of intense roller coasters and thrill rides perfect for any adrenaline junkie.

If you’re looking for rides on the tamer side, there are also plenty of kid-friendly rides in the Camp Snoopy area of the park. Younger children will love these PEANUTS-themed attractions featuring beloved characters like Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Another one of the highlights at Carowinds is Carolina Harbor, a water park featuring a wave pool, water slides, a lazy river, and kids’ splash zones.

25. Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

📍 Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park is an indoor theme park located at the American Dream shopping mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This is a great theme park for kids under twelve who are fans of Nickelodeon programs like SpongeBob SquarePants.

Visitors will enjoy more than a dozen indoor rides and attractions, as well as live entertainment featuring everyone’s favourite Nickelodeon characters.

In addition to Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, visitors can also enjoy the indoor DreamWorks Water Park at American Dream.

26. Dutch Wonderland

📍 Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Dutch Wonderland is one of the best theme parks for families with small children. This amusement park, which is known as the “Kingdom for Kids” and is located in Pennsylvania, is full of kid-friendly rides and attractions.

Kids will enjoy family-friendly roller coasters, a log flume, and more than 20 other rides. One of the other big draws of Dutch Wonderland is the nearby Cartoon Network Hotel. This hotel is the perfect place to stay with kids, offering unique theming and opportunities to meet popular Cartoon Network characters.

27. Kentucky Kingdom

📍 Location: Louisville, Kentucky

The Kentucky Kingdom is a great amusement park for families located just outside Louisville. This theme park has tons of rides for kids of all ages.

Older kids will enjoy Kentucky Kingdom’s high-thrill roller coasters like Thunder Run, Lightning Run, and Kentucky Flyer. For younger children, there are more than a dozen rides and attractions that even the littlest ones can enjoy.

The Kentucky Kingdom also has a water park called Hurricane Bay. This seasonal park has a lazy river, a wave lagoon, water slides, and rafting rides.

28. SeaWorld San Antonio

📍 Location: San Antonio, Texas

If the SeaWorld locations in Florida and California aren’t close to you, there’s one more SeaWorld in the United States located in San Antonio, Texas. This theme park blends thrilling rides and attractions with the wonder of a marine zoological park.

Visitors can enjoy exciting rides like Steel Eel, Wave Breaker, and Catapult Falls. There are also live presentations with animals like orcas, dolphins, and beluga whales.

For kids who want to get even closer to the animals, it’s possible to book a special encounter that allows visitors to swim with, feed, and interact with dolphins, beluga whales, and sea otters.

29. Silverwood Theme Park

📍 Location: Athol, Idaho

Silverwood Theme Park is one of the best theme parks in the Northwestern United States. With over 70 rides and attractions, there’s something for everyone here.

There are several high-intensity roller coasters perfect for thrill-seekers, as well as family-friendly rides that younger kids will enjoy. And if you’re visiting in the summer, you can’t miss the Boulder Beach water park with water slides, a wave pool, and more.

If you want to make a weekend out of your visit to Silverwood Theme Park, there’s also a campground and RV parking available.

30. LEGOLAND New York

📍 Location: Goshen, New York

For kids who are Lego toy enthusiasts, LEGOLAND New York is a must-visit theme park. This larger-than-life park is the ultimate playground for Lego fans, with dozens of rides, attractions, play areas, and other experiences to enjoy.

This is the perfect place to take younger children because there are lots of kid-friendly attractions and opportunities to build, experiment, and create with Lego toys. (And of course, there’s a giant Lego store if you want to take some new sets home with you!)

One of the most unique aspects of LEGOLAND New York is the LEGOLAND Hotel, which features themed rooms that kids will love.

31. Holiday World

📍 Location: Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana has one of the most interesting names of any town in the United States, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to an amusement park called Holiday World. This combination of theme park and water park is lots of fun for the whole family.

Visitors will be able to enjoy roller coasters as well as milder family-friendly rides. At the Splashin’ Safari water park, which is included with your admission at Holiday World, you can also enjoy water slides, a wave pool, and other water rides during the summer months.

32. Canobie Lake Park

📍 Location: Salem, New Hampshire

Canobie Lake Park is a classic family amusement park that was founded in 1902 on the shores of scenic Canobie Lake in New Hampshire. This seasonal theme park is located less than an hour away from Boston, making it a great destination for a day of family fun.

There’s no shortage of rides, games, and attractions that are great for kids of all ages. In addition to the rides, there’s also a water park called Castaway Island which offers water slides and other water rides during the summer.

33. Seabreeze Amusement Park

📍 Location: Irondequoit, New York

Seabreeze Amusement Park is a historic amusement park that dates back to 1879. It’s located on the shores of Lake Ontario, close to Rochester, New York.

With more than 70 rides and attractions, kids will love this theme park. Family-friendly roller coasters, drop towers, log flumes, and bumper cars are just some of the ways that you can stay entertained during a day at Seabreeze Amusement Park.

During the summer, visitors can also cool off at the water park, which offers attractions like water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a soak zone for kids.

34. Six Flags Fiesta Texas

📍 Location: San Antonio, Texas

Although there are more than 20 Six Flags amusement park locations across the United States, Six Flags Fiesta Texas is known for being one of the best.

This theme park has high-speed roller coasters that will satisfy any thrill-seeker like Goliath and Batman, as well as kid-friendly rides and a water park called Hurricane Harbor, which is the perfect place to beat the heat on those hot Texas summer days.

35. Kings Dominion

📍 Location: Doswell, Virginia

Kings Dominion is a great theme park for families located in Virginia. Admission to Kings Dominion gives you access to two parks in one. You’ll be able to experience the rides and attractions of Kings Dominion, and the water activities at the Soak City water park.

When you spend the day at Kings Dominion, you can enjoy high-speed thrill rides and roller coasters, and mild family-friendly rides that younger kids will enjoy. Soak City also offers dozens of water slides and other attractions like a lazy river and a wave pool.


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