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The best kids' amusement parks in New York City

Find the best kids' amusement parks near NYC with our ultimate list, which includes Sesame Place and Luna Park

Photograph: Shutterstock

Sure, backyard BBQs and block parties are exciting and all, but a trip to some of the best kids' amusement parks near NYC can really shake up your summer routine in the best of ways! Head to picks like Sesame Place and Victorian Gardens to entertain your very little ones, or trek to Six Flags New England, Luna Park or Morey's Piers to amp things up with speedy coasters and thrill rides. The picks on our list of 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!

Not done exploring? You may also want to check out our roundups of the best water parks in NJ, our favorite splash parksin NYC and fun indoor amusement parks, too.

Best kids' amusement parks near NYC

1
Sesame Place

Sesame Place

Travel time: 1 hr 30 min 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 Monster Mix-Up, which takes little ones on a spin across the dance floor. 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.

2

Luna Park

Recommended

Travel time: 1 hr by train, 35 min by car

New York’s ultimate summer activity is a visit to Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. Hop in the iconic Cyclone, a traditional wooden roller coaster, to zoom around in style, or give your day a more terrifying turn with rides on the Thunderbolt, a scream-inducing, 115-foot-tall coaster with ride speeds that reach 55mph. There are also traditional rides, like bumper cars, plus arcade and boardwalk games. Don’t leave without a ride on the Wonder Wheel, which undoubtedly offers the very best views of the park and beach, or without heading to Nathan’s Famous to down a loaded hot dog. P.S. If your kids are doing well in school, they can present a copy of their report cards to guest services for free ride credits (see the full details here). 1000 Surf Ave, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com). Open through October 29; hours vary. Free admission; all-day wristbands $29–$69. All ages.

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3
Diggerland

Diggerland

Travel time: 2 hrs 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 $26.95–$36.95, kids under 36 inches free. All ages.

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4
Morey's Piers

Morey's Piers

Travel time: 2 hrs 45 min by car

Three 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 brand new 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. If you’re ready to take things up a notch, head to Adventure Pier and Surfside Pier for thrill rides. In 2015, 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. 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ (609-729-3700, moreyspiers.com). Various prices. All ages.

 

5
Hersheypark

Hersheypark

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. 100 W Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA (800-437-7439, hersheypark.com). Hours vary. $64.95, ages 3–8 $41.95, ages 2 and under free. All ages.

6
Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ

Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ

Travel time: 1 hr 30 min 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–$74.99, under 2 free. All ages.

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7

Field Station: Dinosaurs

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. Check out the Paleontologists’ Laboratory to get the feel of a dig site and learn about a paleontologist’s tools ($10) then watch the prehistoric creatures come to life on the big screen in Sea Rex, Journey to a Prehistoric World 3D ($5). Open 10am–6pm on weekends May 27–June 25 and Memorial Day, May 29; 10am-6pm Tue through Sun June 30–Sept 6 and Labor Day, Sept 4; and 10am-6pm Sat and Sun Sept 23–Nov 12, Thur and Fri Nov 9 and 10. $15–$20, kids under 2 free. Ages 3–11.

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8
Adventureland

Adventureland

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, 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 $31.99. All ages.

9

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 $8.50–$9.50, ride/game tickets $1 (4 tickets per ride/game), unlimited ride wristbands $16–$18. All ages.

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10
Dorney Park

Dorney Park

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 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). $39.99–$119.99; ages 2 and under free. All ages.

11
The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove

The Land of Make Believe & Pirate's Cove

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 sumer fun water slides…just to name a few! 354 Great Meadows Rd (Route 611), Hope, NJ (908-459-9000, lomb.com). Open June–Sept. $28, children 2–18 $30, under 2 free. All ages.

12
Dutch Wonderland

Dutch Wonderland

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). 2249 Lincoln Hwy E, Lancaster, PA (866-386-2839, dutchwonderland.com). Hours vary. Tickets start at $47.99 per person at gate. All ages.

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13
Fantasy Forest

Fantasy Forest

Travel time: 45 min 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 ($3.50 for one ticket, $100 for 40 tickets); weekday unlimited ride wristband $25. All ages.

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By: Allie Early

Comments

1 comments
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.