Nothing says summer fun like a trip to the best kids' amusement parks in NYC! These action-packed outdoor activities for kids range from the tot-friendly rides of Sesame Place and Victorian Gardens to the more hair-rising Coney Island activities for kids at Luna Park. Our list has something for everyone—and for all budgets!
Amusement park season starts soon, making this one of the best things to do in spring with kids in NYC, as well as one of the best summer activities for kids. And if the weather doesn't cooperate, no problem! Just head to one of the best indoor amusement parks and fun zones close to NYC.
Best kids' amusement parks near NYC
New York’s ultimate summer activity is a visit to Luna Park at Coney Island, the original amusement park. Hop on the iconic Cyclone and you'll rattle along traditional wooden roller coaster tracks, or whirl around Lynn's Trapeze. Little ones will love the Magic Bikes and the Brooklyn Barge, while older kids will get thrills fro the Coney Clipper and the Astro Tower. Luna Park is constantly being upgraded; see the full details about the latest rides here. (718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com). $65 and up, $40 and up 48" and shorter. All ages.
Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park next door is famous for the legendary Wonder Wheel, as well a number of kid-friendly rides that cost 5 credits, from the Tilt-a-Whirl to Dizzy Dragons to bumper cars. (718-372-2592, denoswonderwheel.com). $40 for 50 credits. All ages.
Come summer, the icy Wollman Rink is transformed as if by magic into Victorian Gardens, an old-fashioned amusement park with rides perfect for younger kids, including the Aeromax, Kite Flyer, Bumper Boats and a mini roller coaster. Games like Whac-a-Mole guarantee a good time, and the stunning cityscape towering behind the rides makes it one of the most photogenic amusement parks anywhere. Wollman Rink, Central Park, (212-982-2229, victoriangardensnyc.com). $15 and up. All ages.
Travel time: 2 hrs by car
Diggerland is the ultimate theme park for your little operators of heavy machinery. Located behind Sahara Sam's waterpark in Berlin, NJ, this is where you can operate and drive real backhoes, tractors, dumpers, excavators and skid-steer loaders. This is a one-of-a-kind family adventure! For the younger set, you'll find kid-friendly thrills such as a barrel train, some tube slides and an arcade, while the older kids might prefer the diggers and dump trucks. Diggerland (856-768-1110, diggerlandusa.com). $38.95 and up, $32.95 and up 42 inches and shorter, free 36 inches and under. All ages.
Travel time: 30 minutes by car, bus or ferry and shuttle
This amusement park has over 35 features, including Dora’s Sky Railway, the Rugrats Reptar Go-Round, the world's steepest roller coaster, PAW Patrol Adventure Bay, a nine-story ropes course and so, so, so much more! Located inside the American Dream megamall, all this fun is so close to Manhattan. East Rutherford, NJ (833-263-7326, nickelodeonuniverse.com). $69, $59 48 inches and under, free ages 2 and under. All ages.
Travel time: 1 hr 30 min by car
Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, is brought to you by the letters F, U, N! The rides and attractions are 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. Not only are there rides like Blast Off, which launches kids and parents to Planet Elmo, and Monster Mix-Up, which takes little ones on a spin across the dance floor, there are shows and parades that let your tots come face-to-face with the favorite characters. Sesame Place is a certified autism center, offering experiences and activities for children with special needs and a staff that's trained in sensory awareness. This feel-good amusement park has something for everyone! Sesame Place (215-752-7070, sesameplace.com). $30.99 and up, free ages 2 and under. All ages.
Travel time: 1 hr 45 mins by car
Quassy is the perfect amusement park for little kids, a family-friendly spot with a low-key feel on Lake Quassapaug. There are rides like kiddie bumper cars for tinier tots, and bumper cars for the bigger kids. The highlight is the Wooden Warrior, an old-school-style wooden roller coaster. You can take full advantage of the lake: Stake out a spot on the beach, go for a dip, set out on paddle boats or go for a 30-minute cruise on the Quassy Queen. It's a full day of summertime fun. Middlebury, CT (203-758-2913, quassy.com). $29.99, $25.99 45 inches and shorter. All ages.
Travel time: 1 hr 30 min by car
Six Flags Great Adventure is the Big Kahuna of the local amusement park scene! 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. Jackson, NJ (732-928-2000, sixflags.com/greatadventure). $84.99, $34.99 48 inches and under, free ages 2 and under. All ages.
Travel time: 2 hrs 45 min by car
The exciting piers and separate water park should be enough to keep you and the kids busy all summer long. Head to Mariner’s Pier to hop on the Wave Swinger, which propels you high in the sky for great views of the beach and boardwalk, or zip around on coasters, spinning teacup rides and smaller children’s rides. You can also hop aboard a haunted ghost ship (for kids ages 10 and up) if you’re keen to scream. Take things up a notch at Adventure Pier and Surfside Pier for thrill rides. Morey’s Piers also opened their 1970s Gorilla-themed amusement ride on Surfside Pier; KONG, the animatronic gorilla will snort smoke and fog while eight vintage shark-themed vehicles circle at heights of 26 feet. Wildwood, NJ (609-729-3700, moreyspiers.com). $59 and up, $49 and up 48 inches and under. All ages.
Travel time: 3 hrs 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. Hershey, PA (800-437-7439, hersheypark.com). $43.95 and up, free ages 2 and under. All ages.
Travel time: 45 min by car
Kids can pretend to be prehistoric explorers at this outdoor expedition, where they’ll tramp through the verdant New Jersey Meadowlands alongside animatronic dinosaurs including Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The theme park features 32 life-sized dinosaurs in total, built with sensors and facial-recognition technology that makes them move as visitors draw near. Daring kids will get a thrill from hearing a 15-foot-tall T.Rex roar in response to their excited shouts, but there are also activities geared towards the younger set; little ones can play Raptor Feud, a dino-centric quiz show covering geology and archeology facts. Leona, NJ (855-999-9010, fieldstationdinosaurs.com). $15–$16.50, free ages 2 and under. All ages.
Travel time: 1 hr 45 min 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 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 the newest ride, the Sports Tower. Farmingdale, NY (631-694-6868, adventureland.us). $33.99. All ages.
Travel time: 2 hrs by car
With more than 100 rides and attractions, Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania pack two-in-one thrills. The park 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. Allentown, PA (610-395-3724, dorneypark.com). $39.99, free ages 2 and under free. All ages.
Travel time: 1 hr 30 min by car
Hope, New Jersey’s Land of Make Believe & Pirate’s Cove amusement park is just a short drive from NYC, making it a perfect pick for warm-weather weekends—the younger set will find plenty to do, including jumpy frog rides, a swaying tugboat ride, a splash park area with a fort and a 1000-gallon dump bucket, a lazy river ride with single or double tubes, a shallow wave pool with a pirate ship that has slides and spray showers, and some summer fun water slides…just to name a few! Hope, NJ (908-459-9000, lomb.com). $33, free ages 2 and under. All ages.
Travel time: 3 hrs 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). Lancaster, PA (866-386-2839, dutchwonderland.com). $38.99 and up. All ages.
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. Queens (718-788-2676, fantasyforestnyc.com). $30 for 10 tickets, $25 unlimited rides during weekdays only. All ages.
More fun things to do with kids
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.