If you’re looking for a family vacation full of fun and thrills, there’s nothing better than visiting one of the top amusement parks in the United States. These theme parks are perfect for younger children and older kids and teens alike. From family-friendly rides to roller coasters for adrenaline junkies, these theme parks offer something for everybody.
While many of the most popular theme parks in the United States are concentrated in certain regions, Florida and California in particular, you’ll find great amusement parks nationwide on this list.
1. Walt Disney World
📍 Location: Orlando, Florida
Walt Disney World Resort is the largest and most visited theme park resort in the world. Spanning 43 square miles near Orlando, Florida, Disney World is home to four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping, dining, and entertainment district, and more than 25 hotels.
Magic Kingdom is where you’ll find many kid-friendly rides, along with the iconic Cinderella’s Castle. Hollywood Studios is the perfect theme park for older kids, with the innovative Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land and high-energy thrill rides.
EPCOT is a great theme park for all ages, with plenty of kid-friendly rides as well as the unique World Showcase and events like the Food and Wine Festival that will appeal to the adults in the family. Animal Kingdom is a more relaxed theme park with rides and wildlife exhibits.
In addition to the theme parks, guests can spend time at Disney World’s two water parks or catch a Cirque du Soleil performance or enjoy dinner in the Disney Springs district.
📍 Location: Anaheim, California
Disneyland is another one of the best theme parks for the whole family. Located in Southern California, Disneyland is home to two theme parks.
Disneyland Park is the original Disney theme park that was opened by Walt Disney in 1955 and features a mixture of nostalgic rides and innovative new attractions.
Disney California Adventure Park is another theme park at Disneyland with more roller coasters and attractions in themed lands like Pixar Pier, Avengers Campus, and Cars Land.
For a multi-day trip to Disneyland, visitors can stay in one of three on-site hotels including Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Disneyland Hotel.
3. Universal Orlando Resort
📍 Location: Orlando, Florida
Universal Orlando Resort is a fantastic theme park for older children. At this theme park complex in Orlando, Florida, you’ll find two theme parks, Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, each with plenty of roller coasters and thrill rides.
In addition to the theme parks, guests can enjoy Universal’s Volcano Bay water park and Universal CityWalk, an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment district.
Universal Orlando offers eight themed hotels for guests who want to stay close to the parks and enjoy extra benefits like early admission and skip-the-line access to rides.
4. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
📍 Location: Tampa, Florida
Busch Gardens is a large amusement park in Florida that is a great place for families with kids of all ages. Older children and teens will enjoy the roller coasters and thrill rides at Busch Gardens, while younger children will love the kid-friendly rides and animal encounters.
One of the most unique attractions at Busch Gardens is Serengeti Safari, an open-air safari ride through 65 acres of wildlife preserve with animals including giraffes, zebras, and antelopes. This theme park offers other animal encounters with cheetahs, tigers, orangutans, and more.
Busch Gardens is located in Tampa Bay, close to some of the best beach destinations in Florida like Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach.
5. Cedar Point
📍 Location: Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point is one of the best theme parks in the United States for family fun and thrills. Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point originally opened in 1870, making it the second-oldest continuously operated theme park in the country.
With more than 70 fun rides and attractions, this large theme park is a great destination for families. Cedar Point has some of the most thrilling roller coasters in the United States, making this a great place for adrenaline junkies.
There are also plenty of kiddie rides that younger children will enjoy. Outside of Cedar Point, this area is a great destination for families due to its proximity to the Lake Erie shoreline.
6. Universal Studios Hollywood
📍 Location: Universal City, California
Universal Studios Hollywood is a great destination for a family trip, especially if you combine it with a visit to another Southern California theme park like Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm.
One of the highlights of this amusement park is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which boasts a thrilling ride inside Hogwarts Castle as well as unique experiences like choosing your own magic wand from Ollivanders.
In addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood has other attractions themed to popular movies, like Jurassic World — The Ride and Revenge of the Mummy.
7. SeaWorld Orlando
📍 Location: Orlando, Florida
SeaWorld Orlando combines your classic theme park with a marine zoological park for a unique experience that kids will love. You’ll find high-speed roller coasters like Manta and Kraken, along with water rides like Infinity Falls and Journey to Atlantis.
One of the main draws to SeaWorld is the opportunity to see and interact with marine wildlife including dolphins, penguins, orcas, and more. You can also watch incredible shows and presentations featuring these majestic animals.
For small children, Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando is an area you can’t miss. This themed land features kid-friendly attractions and character meet-and-greets with beloved Sesame Street friends like Elmo and Big Bird.
📍 Location: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Hersheypark is one of the most amazing theme parks for kids in the United States. It was originally founded in 1906 by Milton S. Hershey as a leisure park for his employees who worked at the nearby Hershey Chocolate Company.
Now, Hersheypark has grown into a world-class amusement park that offers fun for the entire family. You’ll find dozens of roller coasters and family-friendly rides that will keep everyone entertained.
One of the best parts of Hersheypark is Chocolatetown, a themed area that includes the Candymonium roller coaster and The Chocolatier restaurant.
9. LEGOLAND California
📍 Location: Carlsbad, California
LEGOLAND Park is the ultimate playground for Lego toy enthusiasts. This theme park located in Southern California about half an hour north of San Diego is full of Lego-themed rides and attractions, as well as a water park and an aquarium.
Most of the rides at LEGOLAND are kid-friendly, making this a great theme park for kids under the age of twelve. In addition to rides, there are interactive play areas and experiences that allow kids to create and build with Lego.
There’s also a 4D Lego movie theatre and interactive experiences at the aquarium. For a really special stay, visitors can stay overnight at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel.
10. Knott’s Berry Farm
📍 Location: Buena Park, California
Knott’s Berry Farm began as a roadside berry stand in 1923, but has grown into one of the best amusement parks in Southern California in the century since.
This theme park has plenty of rides that the whole family will enjoy, including roller coasters for older kids and family-friendly rides for all ages. There’s also a water park where you can beat the heat and cool off on a sunny summer day.
If you’ll be visiting Knott’s Berry Farm in the fall, you can’t miss Knott’s Scary Farm, a special evening event that is held around Halloween.
11. Sesame Place
📍 Location: Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Sesame Place is a Sesame Street-themed amusement park that is perfect for families with younger children. At Sesame Place, which is located just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, visitors will feel like they’ve stepped into the beloved neighbourhood as they encounter characters like Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, and Big Bird.
There are plenty of kid-friendly rides, including water rides to cool off on a hot summer day. In addition to rides, Sesame Place has parades and shows featuring your favourite characters. You can also meet Sesame Street characters at designated photo ops around the park, and even dine with Elmo and friends!
12. Kings Island
📍 Location: Mason, Ohio
Kings Island is the perfect place for families in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. This amusement park is known for its roller coasters like Orion, Diamondback, and The Beast, which are perfect for thrill-seekers, as well as more kid-friendly rides.
One of the highlights of Kings Island for young kids is Planet Snoopy, a themed land with more than 20 kid-friendly rides and attractions. Visitors will get to experience rides, shows, and meet-and-greet opportunities with beloved PEANUTS characters including Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and more.
Included in your Kings Island admission is Soak City, a water park that features 36 water slides and more than a dozen other water attractions.
📍 Location: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dollywood is a family amusement park located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. As you might be able to guess from the name, the theme park was founded by the famous country singer Dolly Parton who calls Tennessee home.
At Dollywood, you can enjoy a variety of rides and attractions, shows and musical productions, a water park, and a resort and cabins.
Pigeon Forge is a great location for a family vacation because, in addition to Dollywood, the area is a gateway to the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
14. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
📍 Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
In addition to the Busch Gardens in Florida, there’s another Busch Gardens theme park located in Williamsburg, Virginia, making it a convenient destination for East Coast visitors.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg has European-themed lands including Ireland, Germany, Italy, England, and Scotland. Roller coasters like Loch Ness Monster, Alpengeist, and Apollo’s Chariot provide thrills for adrenaline junkies, but there are also plenty of rides that are suitable for younger kids too.
This theme park also offers animal encounters with Clydesdale horses, Scottish Highland cattle, grey wolves, and other unique species.
15. Six Flags Magic Mountain
📍 Location: Valencia, California
There are more than 20 Six Flags theme parks across the United States, but one of the best is Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. This Southern California theme park is great for older kids because it boasts more than a dozen thrill rides and roller coasters.
While you can take a day trip from LA, there are also several hotels close to Six Flags to choose from.
There are also plenty of family-friendly rides that younger kids will enjoy, many of which are themed to favourite Looney Tunes characters. In addition to the theme park, you can also visit Hurricane Harbor, a seasonal water park with a wave pool, water slides, a lazy river, and other attractions.
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.
📍 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.
📍 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.