7 Road Trip-Worthy Amusement Parks

amusement park road trips

Channel your inner Clark Griswold and make your family’s next road trip destination an amusement park. Whether you’re chasing the wildest roller coasters, the wackiest winding water slides or quality time with your crew, everyone can get onboard with this ride.

While you can always fly, these parks are worth the drive – and as all road trippers know, it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination. Hertz can get you there in style.

Just make sure the parks are open first. (Seriously, most amusement parks are only open seasonally.)

Prefer something a little closer to home? We’ve got you covered with our list of iconic amusement parks in the Northeast.

Busch Gardens

Williamsburg, Va.

Head to the historical town of Williamsburg, Virginia, to be transported to this charming European-themed and immaculately landscaped adventure park, voted the “World’s Most Beautiful Amusement Park” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. This popular road trip destination has more than 50 roller coasters and rides, including the newest addition, the Pantheon, the world’s fastest multi-launch coaster. Take a break and visit one of the European-themed eateries, like an Irish pub or a German pretzel house.

Beyond the park, you can explore the Historic Triangle of Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown. Williamsburg is also home to the AAA Four Diamond Kingsmill Resort on the stunning James River.

Cedar Point

Sandusky, Ohio

Set on the charming waterfront of Lake Erie, Cedar Point is known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” The park holds 18 epic roller coasters like the Millennium Force, which was the first roller coaster over 300 feet tall when it opened. Outside of coasters, the park has a lot to offer from the Cedar Point Shores Waterpark to live music and endless rides.

Venture out of the park to enjoy the view at several waterfront dining options in Sandusky, or the AAA-approved family favorite, Chet & Matt’s Pizza.

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Jolly Roger Amusement Park

Ocean City, Md.

How about an amusement park with a view? Visitors can take a spin on the Ferris wheel at the Jolly Roger amusement park in Ocean City while taking in a beautiful ocean sunset. This seaside amusement park has been an Ocean City tradition since 1964. With five separate parks, visitors have plenty of rides and slides to enjoy. Plan for a full day, from go-karting at Speedworld to water sliding adventures at Splash Mountain.

The parks are conveniently located near a plethora of hotels and restaurants. Post-park try a local treat of blue crabs or take a break at the AAA Three Diamond Aloft Ocean City.

Knott’s Berry Farm

Buena Park, Calif.

Knott’s Berry Farm is a 106-acre amusement park that started as a small family berry farm in 1920. It soon became popular because of Mrs. Knott’s legendary fried chicken dinners. Diners would sometimes have to wait hours for a table, so the Knott family began adding carnival games to give them something to do while they waited. They then added more attractions like an Old West Ghost Town, fast rides and a waterpark.

The theme park has an on-site hotel called Knott’s Hotel, but if you plan to head off-property to explore the area, there’s plenty more to do. Delight the whole family with a trip to the nearby beach and a pit stop at the famous In-N-Out Burger for a burger and fries.

amusment park road trips

Nashville Shores

Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville is a music lover’s paradise, but did you know that just ten miles away from downtown there’s a family recreation paradise? Located lakeside on the picturesque 14,000-acre Percy Priest Lake, Nashville Shores features a water park with a gigantic wave pool, ten water slides, a water treehouse and a lazy river, as well as an exhilarating zip line course with 100 obstacles.

If you plan on heading back downtown to stay, consider the AAA Four Diamond Designated Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. For some extra family fun, book a show at the world-renowned Grand Ole Opry, and don’t leave without trying Nashville’s famous hot chicken.

Silver Dollar City

Branson, Mo.  

Head back in time at Silver Dollar City, an 1880s theme park located in the magnificent Ozark Mountains. This amusement park combines old and new with 40 electrifying rides and 100 craftsmen demonstrating America’s heritage crafts (think candy makers and woodworkers). Other not-to-miss park attractions include a massive water park with 13 acres of slides and waves and the Showboat Branson Belle, which offers a dinner cruise and show. All aboard!

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Valencia, Calif.

Calling all adrenaline junkies! Situated outside of Los Angeles, Six Flags Magic Mountain is known as the “Thrill Capital of the World.” The park features 20 exhilarating roller coasters like the X2, which is the first roller coaster where the seat spins while you’re riding. Aside from its impressive roller coaster roster, the amusement park has a water park called Hurricane Harbor, live entertainment and dozens of rides. It also offers over 25 dining options to please every palate, including the Funnel Cake Factory and Twin Charged Tacos. 

AAA members can save at Six Flags parks nationwide.

Of course, if you’re looking to expand beyond amusement parks, larger theme parks like Dollywood, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood are also top road trip destinations for those who prefer driving. Save with AAA Tickets.

Ready to reserve your car? AAA members can get up to 20% off on Hertz rentals.

Which of these amusement park road trips would you like to take? Tell us in the comments.

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One Thought on “7 Road Trip-Worthy Amusement Parks

  1. My family and I have been to Bush Gardens, VA – it is very nice. Have not been to Cedar Point in Ohio; however, more than a few friends (from New York and from Dayton & Columbus, OH) have visited there and all rated their fun experience very highly. The #1 amusement park on my list is the commendable family-friendly Hershey Amusement Park, in Hershey, PA (a comfortable four-hour drive from our home in NY). My family and I have been there some 14 or more times over the many years (most always with an overnight stay at the Hotel Hershey) – including several times to celebrate the July 4th and Thanksgiving holidays, and we and our guests have been never disappointed. The close-by Hershey Gardens & Butterfly enclosure and entertaining Hershey Chocolate World tour are equally worthy of a visit.

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