Best Small Amusement Parks for Families in the U.S.

As mentioned in one of our former blogs, an amusement park is much more elaborate than a simple city park or playground, providing oodles of attractions that cater towards certain age groups, as well as some that are aimed towards all age groups. From stomach-dropping roller coasters to a theme park/water park combo to designated kiddie rides, the best amusement parks have what it takes to keep families coming back for more. It is important to do your research to find a park with age-appropriate rides and attractions that will meet your own family’s needs. We have compiled a list of our favorite small amusement parks from different regions within the US for your convenience. In no particular order we give you:


Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire, located about 40 miles north of Boston, is a historical amusement park that has over 85 rides, games, shows, and attractions, including thrill rides, family rides, kid rides, and water rides. There are numerous restaurants and lots of shops as well as a helpful staff. The waits for lines are never too long and the park has costumed characters called Canobie Critters that roam the park for the amusement of young children. Admission tickets are $36 for adults/$27 for kids & seniors and free for ages 3 and under. Be sure to ride the infamous Yankee Cannonball Coaster, a traditional wooden roller coaster with quick drops and lots of air time! For more information, visit

Cool Tips:  Canobie Lake Park offers a Parent Swap program for those who have small children, but no provision for childcare while participating in height-restricted attractions at the park. One person may wait with the child near the exit while the other guests in the party enter the line. When the rest of the party has exited the ride, the person who waited with the child may enter the ride through the exit and ride

Note: Parking is FREE


Knoebels has rides for kids of ALL ages!

Knoebels has rides for kids of ALL ages!

Knoebels, in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, is a charismatic park with a relaxed feel that has been entertaining families for 87 years. It is a family-owned and operated amusement park, picnic grove, and campground offering more than 60 rides, which include two wooden roller coasters, a carousel from 1913, and a dark haunted house ride. The park and its rides have won numerous awards and it has also been awarded for the best amusement park food for 14 consecutive years. There is also a water park with slides, pool, fountains, and more. The best part about this amusement park is you don’t have to pay if you don’t ride because admission is free! Visit for more information.

Cool Tips: There is free admission, free parking, free entertainment and free picnic facilities


Lakeside Amusement Park in Lakeside, CO is an amusement park that has been in operation since 1908. Located adjacent to Denver on a picturesque lake (with great mountain views), Lakeside is the perfect place to go for family fun in the Rocky Mountains. There are trains, a merry-go-round, a drop tower, bumper cars, and many spinning rides as well as Kiddies’ Playland, which is filled with rides specifically for young children. Gate Admission is $3.00 per person (with a .50 rebate valid towards the purchase of rides).  Rides can be paid for either by purchasing an unlimited ride wrist tag I.D. or by buying individual ride coupons.  Gate admission and unlimited rides for the 2014 season are $14.50  Monday through Friday and $22.50 on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. Many locals choose to relive their lifetime memories of fun at Lakeside by frequenting the park with their families. Go to to see more.

Cool Tips: Parking is always FREE and picnics are welcome.



Family Kingdom Amusement Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is right on the water–so you can get some great ocean views from the rides!

Family Kingdom Amusement Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has 37 rides for adults and children of all ages, including thrill rides, family rides, kiddie rides, and go karts. The park has been in business for over 40 years and features a 2,400 foot, figure eight wooden roller coaster, which is one of only 122 wooden roller coasters operating in North America. Another signature ride is the Giant Wheel, where riders are taken to a height over 100 feet where they are able to witness stunning ocean and beach views. The park provides free entertainment such as clowns, magicians, jugglers, stilt walkers, face painters, and balloon sculptors, and Family Kingdom Water Park is conveniently located across the street. One of best features of the park is that there is no admission price to enter, but individual ride tickets or all-day wristbands are also available for purchase. See more at

Cool Tips: Free admission. Ride tickets can be used at a future date, and if you purchase a combo pass for the amusement and water park, you can do one park one day and the other park another day, or you can choose to do both parks the same day.


Little Amerricka in Marshall, Wisconsin is a 1950’s-style amusement park and is the home of 26 rides and attractions featuring the infamous two-mile long Whiskey River Railway that takes you through a countryside and over a river filled with wildlife including peacocks, geese, emus, llamas, donkeys, and even a zebra.  More features include Bumper Cars, a Monorail (with great views of the park), Go Karts, Bumper Cars, Parachute Tower, Little Dipper roller coaster, and lots of other classic rides for kids. Little Amerricka has no general admission – you only have to pay if you want to ride! Wristbands are available for purchase and are tailored in price based on an individual’s height. Parents with children can purchase the same colored wristband as their child if they only wish to ride features with their kids.  See more at

Cool Tips: There is no general admission price. Children under 2 can ride on the train for free. Picnic lunches and drinks are allowed.


Castle Park in Riverside, CA has a medieval “castle” theme and includes attractions such as four championship miniature golf courses, an arcade, Buccaneer Cove (a water playground), and 27 amusement rides including three rollercoasters. The park was founded in 1976 and has been expanding ever since, adding both Dragon Flyer, a spinning flat ride, and Sceamin’ Demon, a spinning wild mouse rollercoaster in 2008. There are also rides that appeal to the younger tots including Castle Park Railroad, which chugs its way into the hearts of children and adults alike as you take a scenic tour of the park on this mini locomotive. Prices range from $9.99 (unlimited rides, unlimited mini golf or unlimited water rides) to $29.99 (unlimited rides, mini golf and Buccaneer Cove plus $5 in arcade tokens, $12 in game bucks and $1 off a $4 food purchase) depending on what you are looking for. For more information, visit:

Cool Tips: Castle Park has a Reward program for kids. If they do their homework every night for 2 weeks straight or have a perfect monthly attendance in school, they can earn 10 tokens free! Even better is Castle Park’s Good Grades Program where if they get all A’s or B’s on their current report card, they can receive all-day ride admission!


Wild Waves One 8.13.12

One cool ride at Wild Waves Theme Park.

Wild Waves Theme Park in Federal Way, WA has everything you need to enjoy a day in the sun in the Seattle area. Occupying 70 acres of rides, slides, shows and attractions, this theme park is by no means small but it has expanded drastically over the years and includes a theme park and water park in one. Smaller children can head over to Kiddie Land for 11 rides designed just for tots. There are plenty of places to shop and eat but you can also save money by tailgating at your car for lunch as you are given reentry stamps upon entering the park. Admission prices vary from $14.99 to $39.99 for adults and $14.99 to $32.99 for children depending on time of year and if you buy online versus at the gate. For families who plan to frequent the park, purchasing a season pass is a good idea and there is even a payment plan available. For more information, go to

Cool Tips: There is a Rider Swap program available where one parent can wait in line while the other parent waits with the small child at the exit to the attraction. After the ride comes to a complete stop, the parents may trade places.


What’s your favorite small amusement park in your area?



Originally from Massachusetts, Lora came out to coLORAdo for college and decided she had found her permanent home (who can blame her since her name is in the state name)! She loves the outdoors and exploring all it has to offer by way of her favorite activities which include snowboarding, ATVing, hiking, and camping. Recently married, Lora lives with her husband and 2 dogs and hopes to expand her happy little family in the near future.

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