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Pennsylvania is home to a wealth of amusement parks, brimming with a variation of excitement filled destinations, all with their own story and unique charm. Some have been established as far back as the late 1800s, making them not only awesome summertime destinations but historical landmarks. From ones with a fairytale theme to those with surprisingly awesome food, these amusement parks in Pennsylvania are worthy of your bucket list.
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Conneaut Lake Park houses the famous Blue Streak, a wooden roller coaster which happens to be one of the oldest in the United States. Originally, it opened in the late 1930s. While most rides fall more on the simplistic side, Conneaut customers have access to the glacier lake, for swimming, fishing, beach lounging or unlimited horsepower boating, which sounds a little scarier than most roller coasters. A waterpark, mini golf, a whimsical carousel and beachside boardwalk round off the waterside experience.
Sesame Place is in Langhorne, just 30 minutes north of top attractions in Philadelphia. Expect to see Oscar the Grouch shaped hedges, giant Elmo figures and super sweet parade floats. Rides are pretty impressive for a park that is meant mainly for kids—parents might even find themselves enjoying the coasters and water features. Sesame Street characters traverse the streets regularly and even put on shows—it’s both nostalgic and exciting, for the new generation as well as older ones. Food choices include burgers, chicken fingers, fries and other like items.
Castles, dragons, animatronic dinosaurs—what more could any kid ask for? Lancaster’s Dutch Wonderland is a place of fairytales, magic and small, old school rides. Float down the log luge, putter in the air via the sky lift, get soaked in one of the splash pads. While Dutch Wonderland is generally geared toward little ones, we won’t judge if you fall in love with this enchanting Pennsylvania jewel. There is more to be desired of the food at the park, but everything else makes up for it.
Leaning Tower of Pisa fountains, water surrounded playgrounds, a massive lazy river are at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park & Laguna Splash. There are dry rides too, but visitors gravitate to the water park. Surprisingly, food is a central focus of the park, making funnel cakes and corn dogs seem like mere child’s play. Wednesday’s bring darn good spaghetti with famous sauce and homemade meats—the smell of true Italian floats through the park. Real pizza, lasagna and Philly cheese steaks are other top-notch foodie finds—we suggest you purchase a jar of the robust red sauce to take home. And if you’re wanting something a bit more amusement park-like, try the sloppy joe fries.
If a fair and amusement park had a baby, it would be Erie Pennsylvania’s Waldameer & Water World, which is a mash-up of midways, water slides and giant coasters. Classics like the tilt-o-whirl give those who’d rather skip the thrill something fun to do, as do the daily musical performances. Waldameer is a cashless park, so guests need to pay for a Wally Card upon entering the gates. The card allows you to buy food and play games, without the worry of carrying around a lot of loose bills. As a bonus, thrill seekers can get a great glimpse of Lake Erie from certain rides.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is located in Allentown. From steel mammoths to easy going adventures, Dorney has all the bases covered, plus some. Adjoined to a water park where guests can chill out in a lounge chair, float in the wave pool or zoom down a water slide, it’s a great spot for hot summer days. Planet Snoopy has an enormous selection of rides for little ones as well, Peanuts-themed of course, like the Linus Launcher and Woodstock Express. You can’t go wrong with some fried Oreos or funnel cake either, as long as you chase it with a salad later.
A top family attraction in Pittsburgh, Kennywood is located in West Mifflin. Epitomizing traditional American theme parks, the establishment opened way back in the 1800s as a small trolley park. Many modern rides and awesome kiddie sections featuring Thomas the Tank Engine, have expanded Kennywood over the years, but three old school wooden coasters, which have been deemed landmarks by the American Coaster Enthusiasts, give that deep authentic allure. The tallest Christmas tree in Pennsylvania is erected each holiday season, and they do an excellent job executing Halloween festivities. Don’t even bother with the other indulgent foods—skip straight to the famous Potato Patch Fries. Fresh cut, fried potato-y goodness smothered in nacho style cheese is foodie perfection.
Hersheypark was originally built well over a century ago, for employees working at the chocolate company, but has since opened its door to all of the public making it a top destination for families in Pennsylvania. Located in none other than Hershey, Pennsylvania itself, the candy-themed fun spot boasts not only coasters and rides, but a waterpark and zoo. Plenty of photo ops with Hershey Bars and kisses are throughout the park. Food options are impressively diverse, from Chick-fil-A, Moe’s, Kettle corn, burgers, hotdogs, subway and more unique options specific to the area. Add on an extra day and go to Chocolate World, where you can make your own bar, enjoy a chocolate tasting, and learn all there is to know about Hershey. Resorts, a spa and other activities are within the town as well.