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Nickelodeon Universe
Photograph: Shutterstock Nickelodeon Universe

The best indoor amusement parks in the US

From record-breaking roller coasters to classic arcade games, the best indoor amusement parks are fun for the whole family

Written by
Tolly Wright
Jen Woo

If you’re one of those hyper-active families that’s done all the outdoorsy stuff already — from camping at the best national parks, to cycling along the most scenic bike trails across America — might we recommend heading inside this season? From Texas to Wisconsin and New Jersey, the best parks are all fun and games all the time. You’ll find roller coaster rides for tiny tikes and big kids alike, classic arcade games (think skee-ball and air hockey), and even black light mini golf. The best part? A full day of thrilling activities is sure to tucker the kids out, and some parks even have on-site bars for parents who need a quick break. Jump into our list of America’s best indoor amusement parks, and get going!

RECOMMENDED: the best family vacations in the US

Best indoor amusement parks

Everything's bigger in Bloomington, including America’s largest indoor theme park, the seven-acre Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America. Here, your family 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. 

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. 


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 skee-ball. Stick around for dinner on Saturdays to also enjoy free live music.

Nestled in Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world, this indoor park is an added bonus to the already fantastic Kalahari Waterpark & Resort. At 220,000 square feet, the waterpark is packed with 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.

Mt. Olympus | Wisconsin Dells, WI
Photograph: Courtesy Mt. Olympus

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.

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. 


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. 

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.


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.

If having your heart jump up into your throat is your idea of fun, then Vegas, of course, is the place to be. The Tower is the location of several unique, adrenaline-pumping rides—granted not technically 'indoors' but still well worth a mention as well as some of the very best views of Sin City. At the launching pad on the 108th floor of Stratosphere Casino, willing participants are strapped into a harness and attached to a cable connected to a 'descender.' After they jump, moments before they reach the ground, the machine slows down the fall for a safe landing. 

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