Planning a trip to amusement and water parks is challenging when your kids vary in age. Plus, adults want to enjoy themselves, too! Luckily, local destinations offer plenty of joy rides, extreme thrills and everything in between.
Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, Tannersville, PA
Little kids: No need to find fun beyond shallow water here; the Penguin Play Bay is a zero-depth entry that lets little ones climb structures and splash around.
Older kids: Get ready for five gravity-defying drops on the 750-foot-long Storm Chaser. Grab a buddy to share the experience or fly solo.
Insider’s tip: You must have a reservation at the Camelback Resort to access the park. And with 13 slides, seven pools and two levels, as well as on-site restaurants, it’s worthy of a day or weekend trip.
Diggerland USA, W. Berlin, NJ
Little kids: An expansion brings five new attractions to this construction-themed park. Get behind the wheel of farm tractors and Rugged Riders — a fleet of rough-terrain vehicles — while your child enjoys the view from the passenger seat.
Older kids: Many attractions are hands-on, allowing riders to safely operate the equipment — a surefire way to draw the interest of tweens and teens.
Insider’s tip: Construction can get dirty, but that’s not the case here. All walkways are paved and attractions are kept clean. Flip-flops and sandals are forbidden on many rides, though, so close-toed shoes are a must.
Dorney Park/Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown, PA
Little kids: Good grief! Take your pick from 15 Peanuts-themed kiddie attractions based on tried-and-true favorites such as swings, train rides and the Tilt-a-Whirl.
Older kids: Take a spin on more than a dozen family attractions that cater to a wide age range, or show off your daring side on eight thrill rides and seven coasters.
Insider’s tip: The Boarding Pass program lets visitors with mobility restrictions or autism spectrum disorder access rides at the exit ramp at specified times to avoid crowds and lines.
Dutch Wonderland, Lancaster, PA
Little kids: Merlin’s Mayhem, set to open this season, is the park’s first suspended rollercoaster. On board, join magician Merlin in the search for his lost dragon.
Older kids: While the venue is a toddler haven, a handful of rides are suited for elementary-age and tweens. Try the Kingdom Coaster, Sky Fighter, Double Splash Plume and Space Shuttle.
Insider’s tip: Need a break from rides? Grab a seat to catch one of several free shows, held daily at locations throughout the park.
Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountain, Scotrun, PA
Little kids: Toddlers enjoy slides, geysers and jet skis sized just for them, plus an 18-inch “deep end” at Cub Paw Pool.
Older kids: Let them wear themselves out on more than 10 slides and pools. One standout is Slideboarding, a video game/waterslide hybrid that gets more challenging as riders improve.
Insider’s tip: Water-park access is limited to those with a reservation at the resort. Still, lines can be lengthy, so consider hitting the water during breakfast or dinner hours.
Hersheypark, Hershey, PA
Little kids: Twenty-five kiddie attractions on land and in the water park ensure your child gets the full park experience. Admission also includes entrance to ZooAmerica — perfect for tykes who dislike rides.
Older kids: Two water attractions recently made their debut. Breakers Edge features four-person family rafts that glide along hills and make “flying-saucer” turns. Whitecap Racer, meanwhile, is the longest mat-racing slide in the world.
Insider’s tip: Before you go, download the app. In addition to a park map, it shows estimated wait times for each ride. Also take advantage of free WiFi.
Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, PA
Little kids: Tots won’t feel left out here, where they’ll experience all-ages classics (Ferris wheel, bumper cars) and kid favorites (whirling helicopters, fire trucks).
Older kids: With 40 rides that range from family-friendly to thrillers, including four coasters, it’s no wonder Knoebels owns an adjacent campground for visitors who want to split the fun into two days.
Insider’s tip: Admission and parking are free. There is, however, a cost for attractions; purchase a day pass or tokens to use per ride.
Land of Make Believe, Hope, NJ
Little kids: Those who prefer a slower pace and solid ground should check out the petting zoo and arcade. Or introduce them to rides via a handful of carnival-style attractions you can try together.
Older kids: This moderately sized park’s seven waterslides pack the most thrills. The 40-foot Pirate’s Peak complex, for instance, boasts a downward dash that sails through a waterfall, tunnel and spiraling path rife with twists and turns.
Insider’s tip: Don’t skip the train ride that loops around the park; you’ll get a chance to scope out the place and warm up for the larger attractions.
Sesame Place, Langhorne, PA
Little kids: Booking a character meal is a great way to cool off indoors and meet Sesame Street mainstays. Elmo joins diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets daily, while other characters host on select dates. An added bonus: Diners younger than 2 eat for free.
Older kids: The water park appeals to all ages. Slides, wave pools, a lazy river and a multi-level, interactive attraction provide super-soaked fun.
Insider’s tip: The park offers a “sunny day guarantee.” If it rains continuously for one hour during your visit, you’ll receive a ticket valid for any other day during the current season.
Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ
Little kids: There’s no shortage of options for toddlers here. With nearly 20 rides, most of which are Looney Tunes-themed, kids can try something new alongside familiar characters.
Older kids: The new Cyborg Cyber Spin is as dizzying as it sounds. Floorless gondolas seven stories high flip and pivot in an unpredictable combination of gravitational forces.
Insider’s tip: This expansive space is best navigated from back to front. Since most head to the first attractions they see upon arrival, you’ll beat the rush that reaches the area later in the day.
Storybook Land, Egg Harbor Twp., NJ
Little kids: Ages 1-8 are the target group here. Standouts such as the tree-shaped Out on a Limb, Bubbles the Coaster and Rock Spin Roll offer the perfect balance of thrill and fun.
Older kids: Attractions are adult-sized, so siblings can join their younger brother or sister for the ride.
Insider’s tip: Bring food and drink prepared at home to snack on at the partially covered picnic area. Personal grills are prohibited.
Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, NJ
Little kids: From kiddie coasters to racecars to mini golf, there are ample ways to entertain the youngest visitors.
Older kids: The Air Race, Sky Coaster, Shore Shot, Pirate’s Hideaway and nearly 20 other attractions can easily fill up a few hours before or after the beach.
Insider’s tip: Bring your swimsuits for the adjacent Breakwater Beach water park.
Funland, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Little kids: There are kiddie rides galore at this boardwalk hotspot, including pint-sized fire trucks, boats, motorcycles and a Ferris wheel.
Older kids: Amp up the adrenaline rush on the spinning Gravitron, fast-moving Sea Dragon and the newest attraction, SuperFlip 360.
Insider’s tip: Rides and games are on a pay-as-you-go basis, so you can purchase tickets to use throughout your stay.
Jungle Jim’s, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Little kids: The state’s largest water park is perfect for budding swimmers. They’ll dip in the wave pool, race down slides and float along the lazy river.
Older kids: Engage in a little family-friendly competition on bumper boats. Armed with a provided water gun to splash opponents, see if you can steer clear from the crowd and dodge waterfalls.
Insider’s tip: Arrive after 3pm to take advantage of discounted admission.
Morey’s Piers, Wildwood, NJ
Little kids: Whether your child wants to gently bounce on the Jack in the Box, pedal the Magic Bikes or cruise on the truck convoy, there are a dozen kiddie rides to enjoy.
Older kids: Feeling brave? In addition to several family-oriented attractions, you’ll find four “extreme rides” that combine big air and scary-fast movements.
Insider’s tip: Each of the three piers boasts its own flavor of entertainment: Adventure Pier is chock-full of extreme thrills, and Mariner’s Landing is home to traditional boardwalk staples. Surfside Pier, meanwhile, houses family attractions such as the Great Nor’Easter.