Old Orchard Beach, ME
New England’s only beachfront amusement park looks old school with its neon tilt-a-whirl, splashy water flume, Orient-themed funhouse and 20,000-square-foot arcade with vintage games. But new coasters Sea Viper (topping 70 feet tall and 42 m.p.h.) and Wipeout (spinning cars on a figure-eight track) are not for the faint of heart. Enjoy 28 rides in all, plus food and drink, souvenirs and a stellar view of the Atlantic.
Where to Dock: Chicks Marina
Canobie Lake Park
Big news at this 117-year-old property in Salem, NH is the addition of Castaway Island Water Park, featuring a tidal river (think lazy river with waves), three waterslides, kids’ play lagoon, private cabanas and more. These join a long list of thrill rides, family rides, arcade and midway games, paintball, live shows, gift shops and concessions. Newly revamped Puzzle Rooms test your problem-solving skills.
Where to Dock: Newburyport Harbor Marina
Morey’s Piers & Water Parks
It takes three piers to hold all this park’s attractions — a total of 66 counting the monorail and helicopter tours. The rides vary from kiddie carousels and mini bumper cars to looping roller coasters and IT, a massive swing that spins and hurls thrill-seekers 65 feet above Wildwood’s beautiful beach. Morey’s Ocean Oasis Water Park & Beach Club offers waterslides and play areas to keep you cool on hot days.
Where to Dock: Schooner Island Marina
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Part amusement park, part animal haven, Busch Gardens serves up entertainment with a side of ecology. Visit Eagle Ridge and Wolf Haven to learn about the property’s rescued inhabitants. Then jump aboard any of the 28 rides — including seven roller coasters. The Alpengeist hurtles through six inversions, while Apollo’s Chariot descends from 210 feet in the air. The new Finnegan’s Flyer is an extreme swing that reaches 80-plus feet and 45 m.p.h.
Where to Dock: Kingsmill Resort & Marina
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
Myrtle Beach, SC
This seaside theme park boasts 37 rides along 500 feet of beach frontage. Its Swamp Fox wooden roller coaster has been a legend since 1963 with other attractions including the Giant Wheel, a gondola Ferris wheel that offers panoramic views of the grand strand. Family Kingdom remains one of the few free-admission parks in America (ride tickets are purchased independently). Splashes Oceanfront Water Park is next door.
Where to Dock: Barefoot Marina
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Home to 200+ species of animals, Tampa’s largest zoo is also a top-notch stop for rides, rollercoasters and family entertainment. The new Tigris coaster races forward and backward, with a 150-foot surge and inverted roll at more than 60 m.p.h. Falcon’s Fury is a 335-foot drop tower, and Congo River Rapids takes guests on a whitewater rafting expedition. The park also hosts dance performances, live music and animal acts.
Where to Dock: Tampa Marriott Waterside Resort & Marina
You can hear screams from this park all over Lake Erie. Cedar Point has 18 rollercoasters, the largest collection in the world, from pint-sized starters like Woodstock Express to the 120 m.p.h. Top Thrill Dragster. In 2018, the property added Steel Vengeance — the world’s tallest, fastest and longest hybrid coaster. Less daring family members enjoy plenty of kiddie rides, shows, shopping and Cedar Point Shores Waterpark.
Where to Dock: Sandusky Yacht Club
Bay Beach Amusement Park
Green Bay, WI
This amusement park has provided enjoyment along the shores of Green Bay for more than a century. The family destination showcases rides such as a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, swings and a giant slide. The Zippin Pippin is a wooden rollercoaster recreated from the plans of Elvis Presley’s favorite ride at Libertyland in Memphis. The property is in walking distance of Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and its many hiking trails.
Where to Dock: Sundance Marina (formerly Holiday Inn City Centre Marina)
San Diego, CA
San Diego’s beachfront amusement park and boardwalk has specialized in offering something for everyone since 1925. Find summer thrills all year long here! Admission is free; you pay as you play on traditional carnival rides and at attractions including a rock-climbing wall, zipline, mini golf and laser tag. The boardwalk features an arcade and midway games, as well as concession stands, restaurants and shops.
Where to Dock: Seaforth Marina
Balboa Fun Zone
Newport Beach, CA
Experience the best views of Newport Harbor and the Pacific Ocean from atop this park’s Ferris wheel or tower drop. The arcade has 30 games, from Skee-Ball to air hockey, with shops and restaurants right outside. See unique sea life demonstrations and traveling exhibits such as the Science of Sailing and tour boat companies with narrated harbor cruises with discovery opportunities.
Where to Dock: Balboa Yacht Basin
Oaks Amusement Park
Retro attractions, affordable rates and historic neighborhood make this amusement park a great Pacific Northwest destination. The wooded property is home to classic American carnival rides, a miniature trail and a new extreme rollercoaster — Adrenaline Peak —plus a vintage roller rink, mini golf and a long stretch of midway games.