You don’t have to spend a fortune, or hours in line, to enjoy a thrill ride this summer.
We are graced with a plethora of amusement parks, from large to small, that fly under the radar in the shadow of the more well-known theme parks.
But they offer up everything from laugh-out-loud fun for toddlers and small kids, great water slides for tweens and teens, and thrilling roller coasters for kids of all ages.
Hint, that means you too.
Here are some under-rated U.S. parks – save for one from Canada! – you should visit this summer.
Cedar Point – Sandusky, Ohio
With all due respect to the larger, more nationally known theme parks, Cedar Point is the unquestioned king of the roller coasters. Two of the best are the Steel Vengeance, which goes upside down four times during the ride, and the Millenium Force, which can reach a speed of 93 miles per hour.
Busch Gardens – Williamsburg, Virginia
Another park known for its roller coasters spread out over 383 acres. Now you can add another one. In May of 2019, Busch Gardens added Finnegan’s Flyer, quickly becoming a favorite along with Battle for Eire, Invadr and the Loch Ness Monster.
Hershey Park – Hershey, Pennsylvania
Interesting fact – the park was founded by the great chocolate candy bar family as a place where its employees could enjoy before opening it to the public. Try two different things while you’re here. First, the Storm Runner, which takes riders from standing still to 72 miles an hour in two seconds. Second, the candy, of course.
Dollywood – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
A beautiful backdrop set against the Smoky Mountains, Dollywood is all country in honor of its founder, legendary singer and actress Dolly Parton. Splash Country Water Park Adventure and Wildwood Grove are great spots for the kids.
Carowinds – Charlotte, North Carolina
Be sure to get in line for Copperhead Strike, the park’s newest coaster and the Carolinas’ first double-launch roller coaster. Carowinds is also great for young children – the park has a
‘Peanuts’ theme so you never know when you’re going to run into Snoopy or Charlie Brown.
Silver Dollar City – Branson, Missouri
Before Branson became Branson, Silver Dollar City was born in the Ozarks. The park retains its charm as a throwback to the 1880s. In addition to rides, Silver Dollar City has a ton of live shows and plenty of shopping.