16 Best Amusement Parks in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania may seem an unlikely destination for an amusement park trip but you'd be surprised by what it has to offer.

An Unlikely Destination

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When you think of some of the best amusement parks in the US, Pennsylvania may not be the state that comes to mind. However, while more popular amusement parks may be found in states such as Florida and California, Pennsylvania has its fair share of entertaining family fun.

Find out more about these area attractions on our list of the 17 top amusement parks in Pennsylvania.

1. Hersheypark

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Located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Hersheypark began as a leisure park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company. Fast forward to the 1970s, and, after more than 60 years of operation, current management opted to redevelop Hersheypark into a theme park.

Today, it features over 76 attractions, including roller coasters and kiddie rides. In addition, the theme park includes a waterpark and a zoo with over 200 animals.

Plan your visit here.

2. Dutch Wonderland

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Dutch Wonderland was designed with young children in mind in the early 1960s by potato farmer Earl Clark. While the slogan for the park is “A Kingdom for Kids,” this Lancaster gem does have three thrilling roller coasters for guests who need a little more action in their day.

It is popular with local families thanks to its affordable entrance fee of less than $70 per person. Dutch Wonderland also includes a tropical-themed waterpark and a 5-acre land of robotic dinosaurs.

Plan your visit here.

3. Knoebels Amusement Park

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Family-owned and operated since 1926, Knoebels Amusement Park is the largest free-admission amusement park in the United States. Guests of the park purchase tickets for each attraction they wish to ride, or purchase ride passes for the entire day.

Other entertainment options besides rides include a mini-golf course, arcades, and live, interactive theater. One of the most significant carousels in the world, the Knoebels Grand Carousel, is still in operation at Elysburg, Pennsylvania park today.

Plan your visit here.

4. Idlewild & Soak Zone

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Idlewild and Soak Zone, more commonly known as Idlewild Park, was founded near Ligonier in 1878. It is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania.

The park was family owned and operated for over 100 years. As a result, Idlewild is a historic piece of Pennsylvania's history that has continued to adapt itself to modern times. With high-speed coasters and kiddie rides, Idlewild serves families with kids of all ages.

Plan your visit here.

5. Kennywood

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Almost as old as Idlewild, Kennywood opened in 1898 as a small trolley park. It is one of only two amusement parks in the United States to be designated a National Historic Landmark. Themed area Kiddieland was one of the first children's ride areas in the world, and it included miniature versions of all the park's current rides.

While many rides date back to the early 1900s, many newer attractions have been built, including the tallest coaster, Steel Curtain, and the fastest coaster, Phantom's Revenge, in Pennsylvania.

Plan your visit here.

6. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

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Another popular waterpark/amusement park combination is Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom. There are over 100 attractions to enjoy in this Allentown area park. Currently owned and operated by Cedar Fair, Dorney Park merges roller coasters and freefall rides with family-friendly attractions like bumper cars and train rides.

Admission to Dorney Park also includes Wildwater Kingdom access, making it an excellent value for families.

Plan your visit here.

7. DelGrosso's Amusement Park & Laguna Splash Water Park

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Formerly known as Bland's Park until 2000, DelGrosso Amusement Park in Tipton opened on the Bland family farm in 1907. Featuring rides for kids and adults alike, guests of the park can also enjoy midway-style games and admission to Laguna Splash.

DelGrosso's offers free admission but charges for rides. Visitors can purchase ride tickets individually. Those who want to enjoy attractions and the waterpark can buy an all-day wristband to enter both.

Plan your visit here.

8. Sesame Place

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Based on the popular children's series Sesame Street, Sesame Place is located just outside the city of Philadelphia. Families will find familiar favorites like Cookie Monster and Big Bird, and the park was the first theme park in the world to become a certified autism center.

All attractions in Sesame Place are meant to be enjoyed as a family, but some have height restrictions. Nonetheless, Sesame Place combines familiar characters with exciting attractions which appeal to children and adults of all ages.

Plan your visit here.

9. Waldameer & Water World

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Erie, Pennsylvania, is home to Waldameer and Water World. Like several parks on this list, admission to the park itself is free. Visitors can purchase all-day ride wristbands or pay individually for rides. Unlike other parks, admission to Water World is a separate cost. Still, even then, the prices are reasonable for a local amusement park.

Besides the attractions and waterpark fun, visitors can enjoy midway games and classic amusement park fares like funnel cakes, popcorn, and ice cream.

Plan your visit here.

10. Lakemont Park

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Located in Altoona, Lakemont Park is home to the world's oldest-surviving roller coaster, the Leap-The-Dips. It opened in 1894 as a trolley park, but it became an amusement park in the summer of 1899.

Lakemont Park has three roller coasters, four family rides, and four kiddie rides in addition to their waterpark offerings. Passes are available all day, unlimited rides, or guests can pay per ride.

Plan your visit here.

11. Costa's Family Fun Park

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Costa's Family Fun Park, located in the Poconos, offers attractions such as a golf practice range, go-karts, gem mining, bumper boats, and a laser tag arena. A wristband purchase allows guests to enjoy all the attractions for one price. For just $5 more, the wristband purchase includes unlimited rides on the water slides. Families can enjoy the attractions together or walk around and enjoy the park because there is free admission.

Plan your visit here.

12. Fun Fore All

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This “family fun park” has indoor and outdoor attractions open year-round. The outdoor attractions operate seasonally, but the indoor arcade games and rides make up for the seasonal closures.

Outdoors, visitors can enjoy bumper cars, a kiddie coaster, a balloon ride, mini-golf, and go-karts. Inside is an XD Dark Ride and over 70 arcade games, such as Galaga, Big Buck HD, skeeball, and even Mario Kart Arcade Edition.

Plan your visit here.

13. Lahey Family Fun Park

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Visitors can find Lahey Family Fun Park just five minutes outside the town of Scranton. The park has something for everyone: mini-golf, bumper boats, go-karts, and batting cages. When the weather isn't cooperating, visitors can enjoy a game at one of the 70+ arcade games inside the facility.

Plan your visit here.

14. Kalahari Resorts

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Kalahari Resorts have establishments across the US, but their Pennsylvania location is in the heart of the Poconos. It is primarily a waterpark, but because it is indoors, it makes an excellent choice for visitors year-round.

Families looking for other entertainment besides the waterpark will find more fun in Gorilla Grove Treetop Adventures. This space offers a 36-hole mini-golf course, zip lines, and several suspended ropes courses.

Plan your visit here.

14. Arnold's Family Fun Center

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Indoor fun is the name of the game at Arnold's Family Fun Center. Like other parks on this list, Arnold's offers go-karts, bumper cars, mini-golf, and laser tag. There are also bowling lanes available to rent and a rock wall for adventurous kids and adults.

Because it is an indoor park, Arnold's is open year-round, which is excellent for families looking for activities in the winter or during inclement weather.

Plan your visit here.

16. Great Wolf Lodge – Poconos

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Great Wolf Lodge is a well-known name across the United States. The Poconos location offers identical family suites, waterpark access, and other activities found at a typical Great Wolf Lodge. Kids of all ages can enjoy the waterpark. Older children may enjoy the interactive MagiQuest game, ropes course, or classic arcade.

Pennsylvania may not be at the top of the list regarding amusement parks in the US. Still, it's worth taking a second look when planning the next family vacation.

Plan your visit here.

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Sarah is an expert travel writer and founder of On The Road With Sarah, a travel website with a focus on family experiences in the travel sector. She created her website as a resource for families looking to make the most of their vacations together. In addition to managing her own site, Sarah is a freelance writer for outlets such as Insider, Conde Nast Traveler, YahooLife, MSN, and Wealth of Geeks.