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The best kids' amusement parks in New York City

Find the best kids' amusement parks near NYC with our varied list of amazing spots

If your youngsters love the carnival rides at NYC street fairs and festivals, they'll flip for the cool roller coasters, games and character visits at kids' amusement parks near New York City. Some of these fun-filled spots are located right in your favorite NYC parks, while others make great destinations for summer day trips as a family, keeping kids and parents alike entertained with everything from animatronic dinosaurs to splash parks to construction-themed rides. These kids' amusement parks vary in size and theme (so there's something for everyone), plus they're all less than three hours by car from the city!

Kids' amusement parks

1

Luna Park

Recommended

Travel time: One hour by train, thirty-five minutes by car

It's a sure sign that summer's on the way when the rides at Coney Island open for another season of rollicking good times. In addition to the park's iconic Cyclone, kids with a need for speed will want to hit up the Thunderbolt roller coaster, which is a whopping 115 feet tall and can reach speeds up to 55mph. Don't miss the Scream Zone, a separate section which houses four new rides for brave (and big enough!) kids: two coasters, a spinning disc called the Zenobio, and the Human Sling Shot. Plus, a full-service restaurant, the Cyclone Café , offers sushi rolls as an alternative to the usual hot dog/candy apple/ice cream. Kids who get good grades can even earn bonus credits towards amusement park rides when they present a copy of their report card at guest services. 1000 Surf Ave, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com). Open through October 30; hours vary. Free admission; ride and game wristbands $20–$70. All ages.

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Brooklyn
2
Diggerland

Diggerland

Travel time: Two hours by car

In the summer of 2014, the lot behind the Sahara Sam's waterpark transformed into Diggerland USA, where families can operate and drive real backhoes, tractors, dumpers, excavators and skid-steer loaders. Seriously...this is for the not kidding around crew. Different rides have different height requirements, so check before you go, but there's certainly something for everyone! The kid zone (for littles) offers epic tube slides, a barrel train, an arcade and (yes) a dwarf goat exhibit. For the older set, there are diggers, mini diggers, dumper trucks, backhoes and more to test out. 100 Pinedge Dr, West Berlin, NJ (856-768-1110, diggerlandusa.com). Tickets starting at $24.95–$36.95, kids under 36 inches free. All ages.

3
Sesame Place

Sesame Place

Travel time: One hour and thirty minutes by car

At Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, each of the dozens of water slides, rides and attractions is aimed at kids ages two to tween—and anyone else nostalgic for a certain PBS show that infuses every inch of this 14-acre theme park. Once inside, don't miss Blast Off, which launches kids and parents to Planet Elmo, and Grover's World Twirl, which takes little ones on an internationally themed teacup ride. There are also exciting plays and a super fun water park with a castle, splash pad, wave pool and more. 100 Sesame Rd, Langhorne, PA (215-752-7070, sesameplace.com). Tickets from $55, seasonal ticket prices and hours vary. Children under 2 free. Recommended for ages 2–9.

4
Hershey Park

Hershey Park

Travel time: Three hours by car

Your kids will be all in for a trip to a park inspired by their favorite treats…after all, Hershey is as big as it gets when it comes to candy. Go for a spin on Carrousel, zip around on the Cocoa Cruiser, hold on for dear life with the sooperdooperLooper and Trailblazer and put the wee ones on the Dinosaur-Go-Round, Red Baron or Bizzy Bees for an afternoon of fun in the sun. There’s also a pretty sweet water park complete with life-size sandcastles (Sandcastle Cove), huge slides (Coastline Plunge Pipeline) and East Coast Waterworks with seven slides, two crawl-tunnels and 600 interactive water toys. 100 W Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA (800-437-7439, hersheypark.com). Hours vary. $62.95, ages 3–8 $39.95, ages 2 and under free. All ages.

5
Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ

Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ

Travel time: One hour and thirty minutes by car

Check out amazing activities from A–Z at Six Flags Great Adventure! You can zip down a log flume, brave a swinging pirate ship, brave a 15-story Ferris wheel and even fly like Superman (not for the faint of heart). New in 2016: The Joker, a terrifying-looking coaster that spins people like your traditional Zipper ride. 1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson, NJ (732-928-2000, sixflags.com/greatadventure). $49.99–$69.99, under 2 free. All ages.

6
Morey's Piers

Morey's Piers

Travel time: Two hours and forty-five minutes by car

Rejoice: This Jersey Shore town is more family-friendly than MTV-camera ready. Little ones can brave a 175,000–gallon activity pool and two interactive kiddie play areas, water rides like River Adventure and Shotgun Falls and explore (all with parental supervision, of course) three amusement piers (Mariner’s, Surfside and Adventure). In 2015, Morey’s Piers also opened their 1970s Gorilla-themed amusement ride; KONG, the animatronic gorilla will snort smoke and fog while eight vintage shark-themed vehicles circle at heights of 26 feet. While Mariner’s Pier (Schellenger Ave) offers traditional amusement park rides like Super Scooters, Teacups and a Ferris wheel, Surfside Pier boasts a variety of kids rides. Thrillseekers should explore Adventure Pier for scream-worthy rides Skycoaster and SlingShot. 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ (609-729-3700, moreyspiers.com). Ride and Water Park Combo $79, under 48" $59; Ride Pass $57, under 48" $45. All ages.

7
Adventureland

Adventureland

Travel time: One hour and forty-five minutes by car

With its mix of roller coasters, carousels, swings and ten acres of greenery, Adventureland feels like a Midwest county fair. Catering mostly to Long Island families seeking a mellow good time, Adventureland offers a veritable smorgasbord of colorful rides such as the Hip Hop, the Balloon Tower and the Little Dipper log flume—perfect for kids to twirl their hearts out. Little ones will dig the spinning cars, Pirate Island, Helicopters, Viking Voyage and Merry-Go-Round, plus there are water rides like Adventure Falls (flume ride) and Crocodile Run where kids will zoom around the water on green crocodiles. See website for hours of operation. 2245 Route 10, Farmingdale, NY (631-694-6868, adventureland.us). P.O.P Bracelet $29.99. All ages.

8

Field Station: Dinosaurs

Travel time: Forty-five minutes by car

Kids can pretend to be prehistoric explorers in Field Station Dinosaurs' new location. The theme park features life-sized dinosaurs built with sensors and facial-recognition technology that makes them move as visitors draw near; the whole family will tramp alongside animatronic dinosaurs including an Argentinosaurus and Parasaurolophus! Daring little ones will get a thrill from hearing a 15 foot tall T-Rex roar in response to their excited shouts, plus there are fun activities for the smaller set, too. Ages 3 to 11.

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9
Dorney Park

Dorney Park

Travel time: Two hours by car

With more than 100 rides and attractions, Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania pack two-in-one thrills. The parks is always introducing new additions to its already impressive collection of family rides, including the recent Cedar Creek Flyers—which lets riders steer a flying and spinning eagle suspended 28 feet in the air. Especially daring tykes can brave The Possessed, a U-shaped coaster that shoots riders up a 184-foot helix at 70mph before they freefall in reverse as the coaster speeds up the opposite track. Little ones have lots to keep them occupied, too: Planet Snoopy offers attractions such as the Flying Ace, a gently swaying swing-set ride, and a giant, inflatable Snoopy moonbounce. If you’re visiting on or after Memorial Day weekend, bring your bathing suits; the park’s water slides, play areas and wading pool make all the sweat bearable. 3830 Dorney Park Rd, Allentown, PA (610-395-3724, dorneypark.com). Hours and prices vary; ages 2 and under free. All ages.

10

Central Park, Victorian Gardens

Come summer, the ice of Trump Wollman Rink disappears and the space magically transforms into Victorian Gardens, an old-fashioned amusement park withrides including the Aeromax, Kite Flyer or Bumper Boats, plus a fun slide, mini roller coaster and games like Whac-a-Mole, making it a kiddie paradise for all seasons. Catch entertainment throughout the summer including magic shows and comedy performances. Wollman Rink, Central Park, enter from 59th St at Sixth Ave (212-982-2229, victoriangardensnyc.com). Open May–August, hours vary. Park admission $8–$9, ride/game tickets $1 (4 tickets per ride/game), unlimited ride wristbands $15–$17. All ages.

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Central Park
11
Dutch Wonderland

Dutch Wonderland

Travel time: Three hours by car

Youngsters who aren’t quite big enough for twisty roller coasters will love Dutch Wonderland, a tame amusement park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, boasting over 30 rides, a water play area, walk-around characters and live entertainment. Families can make their way through themed attractions like the Panda Party ride, dino-themed Prehistoric Path and on-water Gondola Cruise, many of which are appropriate even for little ones. Kids can join Princess Brooke on a brand-new Bon Voyage Balloon Chase this season—an attraction that takes rides 20 feet above ground in eight hot air balloons. The balloons rise, fall and rotate clockwise according to the passengers’ controls via a wheel in their balloon’s basket. Make sure to catch daily theater shows and storytimes when the tots need some time to rest their feet. Get to the park early on Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy a buffet breakfast with Merlin and other medieval characters (for a fee). 2249 Lincoln Hwy E, Lancaster, PA (866-386-2839, dutchwonderland.com). Hours vary. Tickets start at $40.99 per person at gate. All ages.

12
Fantasy Forest

Fantasy Forest

Travel time: Forty-five minutes by car

The Flushing Meadows Carousel in Queens becomes a hot attraction for families when this low-key amusement park opens in the spring. Kids can enjoy five other attractions, including a kid-friendly roller coaster; Fantasy Frog Hopper, a ride that flies to the top of a tower and bounces its way back to the ground; Queens Himalaya, a hilly mini-coaster that speeds up and down as you go; Corona Choo Choo, a western-style train for little engineers; and the Queens Motor Speedway, a racecar whip ride. Win prizes at classic carnival games, like swinging on the hi-striker, ring toss and mini basketball toss. And of course, families can also take a spin on the classic carousel. Be sure to check the website for other entertainment throughout the season. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens (718-788-2676, fantasyforestnyc.com). Open daily May–November, hours vary. Free admission, tickets vary per attraction ($1 for one ticket, $38 for 50 tickets). All ages.

13
The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove

The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove

Travel time: One hour and thirty minutes by car

Don’t sit on the sidelines while the kids hit the coasters. The Land of Make Believe and Pirate’s Cove in Hope, New Jersey, is a sweet-as-pie amusement park where parents are invited, nay, encouraged to participate. Legend has it that founder Hermann Maier made it his mission to open a true family amusement park after a visit with his children to Coney Island in the 1940s found him sitting alone on a concrete bench, just watching. Today, the Maier family still runs the retro-y LoMB, where adults can queue up for most of its rides. Try the 12,000-square-foot wading pool and the awesome water slides Pirate’s Cannonball and the Black Hole. For a calm water adventure, try tubing along lazy waterway Blackbeard’s River. The ride is the buoyant equivalent of chilling in a backyard hammock! 354 Great Meadows Rd (Route 611), Hope, NJ (908-459-9000, lomb.com). Open May–Sept. $27, children 2–18 $29, under 2 free. All ages.

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Best outdoor activities for kids in NYC

There are plenty of outdoor activities for kids in New York City—many you'll even love doing as a family! Explore the coolest skating rinks, parks, family attractions, and campgrounds in cooler weather, and check out our favorite NYC beaches, swimming pools and berry-picking hotspots when it's toasty. 

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By: Allie Early

Comments

1 comments
Globetrotting M
Globetrotting M

Great list but Adventureland is definitely a lot closer than your suggested travel time. Without traffic it is well under an hour from the city.