Summer is the perfect time to get out of the house and go on an adventure. Some seek fun for the entire family. Others look for more thrilling escapades. Heck, maybe you need to study physics and want to experience its laws first hand! Whatever the case, you can find all this and more at an amusement park. Amusement parks take many forms: roller coaster heaven, kiddie wonderland, beach-side boardwalk and more. Here are a few different amusement parks, some known worldwide, others that might be off the beaten path.

1. Cedar Point: Sandusky, Ohio

Founded in 1870, Cedar Point is the second-oldest amusement park in the country. However, that doesn’t mean the park is stuck in the past. Today, Cedar Point boasts some of the most popular roller coasters in the world. In fact, it is the only place in the world where park visitors can ride five coasters over 200 feet.

2. Six Flags Great Adventure: Jackson, New Jersey

Adrenaline junkies look no further: this amusement park has all the thrills your heart desires. While there are plenty of Six Flags parks across the country to enjoy, Great Adventure is a must visit for thrill seekers. One of the park’s main highlights is the 456 foot, 128 mph Kingda Ka: the tallest and one of the fastest roller coasters in the world. 

3. Canobie Lake: Salem, New Hampshire

Anyone looking for a clean, charming amusement park will find exactly that in New England’s Canobie Lake. While it might not be the biggest park on the East Coast, there are plenty of fun attractions including roller coasters, water rides, and child-friendly attractions. Book lovers may take a particular fancy to Canobie Lake as the park was the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel Joyland.

4. Santa Cruz Boardwalk: Santa Cruz, California

In a state known for its many iconic theme parks, the historic Santa Cruz Boardwalk is the oldest standing park in California. Located on the beaches of Monterey Bay, the Boardwalk is home to a giant arcade, miniature golf course and plenty of rides including the Giant Dipper; one of the oldest working wooden roller coasters in the country. If it seems a bit familiar, chances are you’ve seen it on the big screen in the cult classic The Lost Boys (1987) or the recent horror hit, Us (2019).

5. Universal Studios Hollywood: Universal City, California

Universal Studios has all of the hallmarks of a typical theme park, whether you seek a roller coaster adventure or the ability to cast a spell in the Wizarding World. What sets Universal Studios Hollywood apart is the studio back lot tour. Visitors get the opportunity to explore some of Hollywood’s most iconic film sets, including the town square from Back to the Future, a crashed Boeing 747 from The War of the Worlds and the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic Psycho. VIP guests can even walk on some of the sets. Film students and movie buffs alike are guaranteed to have a great time exploring film history at Universal Studios.

6. Noah’s Ark Water Park: Lake Delton, Wisconsin

When in need of a break from the summer sun, try checking out Noah’s Ark Water park, the largest of its kind in the country. The park has over 50 water slides and plenty of other attractions such as a wave pool and a lazy river. Its most recent attraction is Raja, the largest King Cobra water slide in the world. 

7. Hershey Park: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Chocolate lovers rejoice, there is a theme park just for you. Hershey park has all kinds of attractions, whether you seek roller coasters or water slides. Pay a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World and take a tour of the chocolate-making process or even create your own signature candy bar. As amusement park food goes, chocolate is always a delicious choice.

8. Epcot: Orlando, Florida

Disney World has many wonderful theme parks to explore. However, Epcot stands out as one of the most unique spots to visit. Science enthusiasts will love exploring the Future World, a celebration of human innovation and exploration. Aspiring world travelers can get a taste of international adventure in the World Showcase by exploring eleven pavilions, each themed for a different country.

9. Disneyland: Anaheim, California

While you can find Disney resorts all around the world, there is an undeniable magical quality about the original Disneyland park. You can meet with all of your favorite Disney characters, ride the wide variety of attractions, enjoy the delicious park treats and marvel at the stunning parades and fireworks every night. Plus now, park guests have the opportunity to pilot the Millennium Falcon all the way to a galaxy far, far away. In the immortal words of Walt Disney: “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy. To all who come to this happy place: welcome.”

10. Knoebels: Elysburg, Pennsylvania

Let’s face it, most college students don’t exactly possess the funds to splurge on a vacation and a $150 ticket to Disneyland. For anyone who wants to save some money while having fun, Knoebels is the largest free-admission amusement park in America. You can pay per ride or pick up an all-day pass. Knoebels has plenty of fun attractions for just about anyone, including classic coasters and kiddie rides, a mini golf course, and an arcade. For a relatively low price, park visitors can extend their stay and enjoy a night of camping.

There are all kinds of wonderful amusement parks all across the country. Some amazing parks might be just a quick drive away. Others are the perfect opportunity for a family vacation or a road trip with friends. Whatever kind of adventure you seek, enjoy the summer and be sure to throw your hands up at the top of the hill, it’s going to be a fun way down.

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