Nickelodeon Universe
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon Universe

The 11 best indoor amusement parks in the U.S.

From record-breaking roller coasters to kiddie rides, the best indoor amusement parks in US will entertain the whole family

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When it comes to planning a family vacation, pleasing everyone is no easy task. Some families like to explore nature via America's best national parks or do some urban sightseeing in major metropolises. But if those aren't quite your family's thing, might we suggest some indoor, temperature-controlled family fun?

While you might think of outdoor theme parks when you picture attractions like roller coasters or bumper cars, there are a host of amusement parks that actually take place inside. These massive playgrounds are ready to be conquered year-round, no matter the weather s. From roller coaster rides to escape rooms and classic arcade games (think skeeball and air hockey), there is fun for all ages. Another perk: these family-fun-packed venues often feature bars and restaurants on-site for parents in need of a break.

Best indoor amusement parks

1. Nickelodeon Universe | Bloomington, MN

Everything's bigger in Bloomington, including America’s largest indoor theme park, the seven-acre Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America. The amusement park just celebrated 15 years of entertaining families. Here, you can enjoy 27 rides that range from the tot-friendly Blue’s Skidoo to the big-kids-only Avatar Airbender. Make sure there’s room on your camera roll for pictures—your kids will want to remember meeting their favorite cartoon characters, including Aang, Blue, Diego, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

2. Adventuredome | Las Vegas, NV

Turn your Sin City trip into a family retreat at the Circus Circus Adventuredome. The five-acre indoor park has a distinct desert theme that’s jam-packed with entertainment. The little ones can take their turn on the carousel or the gentle Miner Mike train ride, while family members with a need for speed can go wild with vertical drops on El Loco or the Canyon Blaster: it's the world's only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster. Ready for family bonding? Get into some friendly competition with a round of laser tag, mini golf, or mini bowling. 

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3. iPlay America | Freehold, NJ

Although iPlay America is a full half-hour drive from the Jersey Shore, visitors can enjoy beachy vibes year-round at this boardwalk-themed park. Spanning 115,000 square feet, the park offers an abundance of activities for the whole family like a carousel, happy swing, and dizzy dragons. Get behind the wheel of go-karts or bumper cars, go for an immersive experience in the 4D Theater, or enjoy classic games like whack-a-mole, balloon darts, and skeeball. Stick around for dinner on Saturdays to also enjoy free live music.

4. Kalahari Indoor Theme Park | Wisconsin Dells, WI

Located in the family funhouse that is the Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world, the Kalahari Indoor Theme Park is an added bonus to the already activity-packed Kalahari Waterpark & Resort. At 220,000 square feet, the waterpark is full of thrills that include a six-story Ferris wheel, ropes course, climbing wall, go-karts, and even laser tag. There’s also a sports bar on the premises for parents to wind down while the kids rack up points at the arcade. Stay at the resort for a discount on the entrance fees.

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5. Mt. Olympus | Wisconsin Dells, WI

Yet another worthy stop in Wisconsin Dells, Mt. Olympus, is a paradise for the little ones. There are plenty of rides for tots including mini hot air balloons, bi-planes, tea cups, and a trolley. The alien ball pit is a must, along with more classic options like climbing walls, bumper cars, and an arcade that includes mini bowling. Open only during the colder months, admission is free if you stay at the resort.

6. Nickelodeon Universe | East Rutherford, NJ

While the first Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park sits in the Mall of America in Minnesota, some don't know there is a second—and even larger—Nickelodeon Universe located in American Dream mall in East Rutherford NJ.The 8-acre indoor amusement park is actually the largest in the Western Hemisphere, with more attractions that you could fathom. They include two world record-holding roller coasters, rides for little kids and adults alike, a rope course, an escape game, an ice rink, a mini golf course, a Legoland Discovery Center, a mirror maze, and so much more.
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7. Spooky Nook Sports Center | Lancaster, PA

Though most visitors to Spooky Nook, the country’s largest indoor sports center, are certainly interested in taking advantage of the huge array of fields and courts, know that there’s plenty of other sporty fun to be had. So in addition to the 700,000-square-foot indoor facility, there's an outdoor field hockey pitch and a climate-controlled dome used for field hockey, soccer, football and more. And the sprawling pay-as-you-go arcade alone is enough to keep guests occupied for hours with over 60 games including classic carnival selections with prizes.

8. Scene 75 Entertainment Center | Dayton, OH

Fly high in Dayton (where the world’s first airplane factory was built) at Scene 75, an indoor entertainment center. Enjoy plenty of twists and turns on the Tsunami Roller Coaster, or head to the drop tower to feel your heart hit your stomach. Looking for a more grounded experience? Try the mini-golf course and putt under black lights, or play a round of laser tag. There are also three full-service bars on-site for parents who need a little down time. 

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9. Funplex | Houston, TX

When in Texas, go big or go home. The Funplex boasts over 200 activities and attractions for kids of all ages. Tiny tikes will love the ladybug and airplane-themed rides, but they’ll also run wild in the Playport, the park’s two-story indoor playground. Older kids and teens will be mesmerized by the VR roller coaster and car simulators, while the inflatable laser maze is also a park favorite.

10. Great Wolf Lodge | Pocono Mountains, PA

Beat the heat with a dizzying array of attractions at Great Wolf Lodge. Little ones can splash around Fort Mackenzie, the interactive water treehouse fort, or slide down Whooping Hollow for some pint-sized fun. Bigger kids and adults can brave the Hydro Plunge, a roller coaster slide that sends you down an exhilarating 52-foot drop aboard a raft. There’s also a ropes course, mini bowling alley, and arcade on the grounds, plus interactive mining experiences and live-action games. In addition to the Poconos location, Great Wolf Lodge has many other locations as well.

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