Despite its understated reputation, Indiana has more to offer than just cornfields, basketball, and the Indianapolis 500. It's also home to thrilling theme parks that pack a high-octane punch, serving as unexpected playgrounds for fun-seekers and adrenaline junkies alike. It's a side of the Hoosier State most people don't expect, but it's a surprising find that offers fun and excitement at every turn.
Top Indiana Theme Parks
Scattered among the quaint towns and quiet landscapes are some of the most thrilling theme parks in the country. These parks offer a delightful surprise for first-time visitors and seasoned locals. Indiana also prioritizes waterpark fun, which you'll find proof of at almost all their theme parks.
Here are six of the best theme and amusement parks in Indiana.
1. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
With a city named Santa Claus, how could you expect anything less than a holiday-themed fun park? Santa Claus Land opened its door in 1946, nine years before Disneyland, and by some accounts, was the first theme park in America.
Holiday World was first known as Santa Claus Land, then expanded to include additional holiday-themed sections. The name was changed in 1984 to its current name to reflect the updates. Boasting a unique mix of seasonal cheer and adrenaline-fueled attractions, it's one of Indiana's most popular theme parks. You can celebrate year-round with the park divided into four sections: Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July.
Holiday World is recognized for its three world-class wooden roller coasters: The Raven and The Legend, each offering intense drops and high-speed thrills, and the Voyage, where “you'll experience 24.3 seconds of zero-G, one of the steepest drops on any wooden coaster and 90-degree banking at highway speeds!”
And when the heat kicks in, Splashin' Safari, the adjoining water park, offers the world's two longest water coasters: Wildebeest and Mammoth.
Apart from being a great place for families seeking adventure, Holiday World stands out by offering free unlimited soft drinks to all guests. Not only that, they also offer free parking, free sunscreen, and free Wi-Fi.
2. Indiana Beach Amusement and Water Park Resort
Indiana Beach Amusement and Water Park Resort, located on the edge of Lake Shafer in Monticello, is more than just a theme park – it's a cherished Indiana institution in operation since 1926. Its convenient location, halfway between Chicago and Indianapolis, makes it an easy destination for a day trip or a weekend escape.
Blending nostalgia with modern attractions, Indiana Beach is known for its assortment of roller coasters, water slides, and family-friendly rides. Fan favorites include the Cornball Express, Steel Hawg, and the Hoosier Hurricane, a coaster that impressively hovers over the lake. No matter which ride you choose, you're in for a heart-pounding, laughter-filled adventure.
But Indiana Beach isn't only about rides and attractions. Regular live music performances transform the park into a lively concert venue. The much-anticipated fireworks nights are a spectacle not to be missed. If you need a break from the thrill rides, you can indulge in a bit of shopping or fill your hunger with some classic theme park food found around every corner.
Indiana Beach truly embodies the timeless charm of old-school amusements, ensuring a fun-filled retreat for visitors of all ages.
3. Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark and Resort
Ready for waterpark fun regardless of the weather? Then you'll love Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark and Resort in French Lick. A unique indoor venue equipped with a retractable roof, this place offers water-filled adventures year-round. You'll feel like it's summer even in the heart of winter, and when the sun's out, the roof opens up to let the sunshine in.
Get ready for a day packed with memory-making moments at Big Splash Adventure. Whether it's speeding down the Jolly Roger Jetty slide, making a daring plunge on Pirate's Plunder, playing a friendly game of basketball in the Lost Treasure Lagoon, or simply unwinding on the peaceful Lost River, there are plenty of options for everyone's favorite ride. With a water park spanning over 40,000 square feet, you'll find something exciting around every corner!
Don't forget the additional attractions like Shotz Lazer Tag and Wilstem. Your family's trip to Big Splash Adventure will be filled with splashes and smiles.
4. Paige's Crossing
Paige's Crossing, located in Columbia City, offers an assortment of entertainment options that go beyond the traditional theme park model. It's a place where the thrill of an amusement park intertwines with other fun, family-oriented activities.
At Paige's Crossing, you can choose from a variety of indoor and outdoor amusement park attractions. Mini-golf enthusiasts will find a well-designed course to test their putting skills, while the go-karts offer a rush of adrenaline for racing fans. There's even a mini train ride for the little ones, providing fun for the whole family.
The entertainment doesn't stop with rides and games. Paige's Crossing is also home to an expansive arcade. Visitors of all ages can try their hand at various games, from traditional pinball and air hockey to the latest video games.
You'll also find on-site food options, from classic park fare to sweet treats. Overall, Paige's Crossing offers families a fun mix of traditional theme park thrills and family-oriented entertainment.
5. Tropicanoe Cove & Columbian Park Zoo
For smaller-scale adventure park seekers, Tropicanoe Cove in Lafayette might be ideal. If you're looking for an Indiana amusement park that caters specifically to your little ones, this is the place to go. The park has some of the best kid-friendly water attractions in the state. It is perfect for young children with its large tube slide, play area with some children's slides, and a small lazy river. With pint-sized slides designed just for them, kids will have hours of fun splashing around in this Southern Indiana oasis.
Although you may only spend part of the day at this water park, with Columbian Park Zoo right next door, you can start your day with a waterslide and end it with wallabies! This zoo offers visitors an up-close look at animals like kookaburras and red pandas. Columbian Park Zoo is educational and entertaining, making it an excellent addition to any family outing.
6. Deep River Waterpark
If you want to make a splash in Indiana, Deep River Waterpark is the place for you. This water-based wonderland is perfect for families hoping for aquatic excitement. Everyone can find something they'll love at this park with body and tube slides.
Get ready for a surge of excitement as you zoom down one of Deep River's thrilling slides. Each slide promises a fun adventure, whether you choose the high-speed Dragon Speed Slide that sends your pulse racing or you take a meandering journey down the Storm Surge Tube Slide filled with twists and turns.
Deep River also offers a wave pool where guests can ride massive swells like surf pros, two river rides perfect for those who prefer a more leisurely pace, and kid-friendly play areas designed with little ones in mind.
There's one more reason Deep River Waterpark is worth putting on your summer itinerary: They allow families to bring their own coolers into the park. Just be sure not to pack any glass or alcohol. This way, you can pack a picnic lunch full of treats and enjoy a day filled with watery thrills without breaking the bank.
More Than Expected at Indiana Theme Parks
And there you have it. Indiana, a state traditionally known for cornfields, basketball, and the world-famous Indianapolis 500, also has a host of fun theme parks to explore. The next time you're in the Hoosier State, remember there's more than meets the eye. Find time to explore one of the best theme parks in Indiana, and you'll discover an entirely new side of this charming state!