7 Great Amusement Parks Within Driving Distance From Philly
Your guide to Philadelphia’s best amusement parks within driving distance, specializing in everything you remember from the past two years – from quiet fun to thrills.
Whether your idea of summer fun involves high-speed or upside-down thrills or floating in a tube down a lazy river, your next adventure is just a car ride away. There are so many local (and local) places to choose from – some perfect for little kids, others full of coasters guaranteed to get your heart pumping – but here’s the best of the best. Now all that’s left to do is get your tickets, pack your SPF, and save us some funnel cake.
Located 20 minutes from Pittsburgh, this park has been in business since long before sliced bread. Kennywood rose to popularity in the early 20th century for its balance of thrills and more recreational pursuits. These days, young patrons can enjoy the Kiddieland section, while adrenaline seekers can experience Steel Curtain, Pennsylvania’s tallest roller coaster, with the most loops and twists in North America and the tallest reversal of the world.
4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin.
This “kingdom for kids” is perfect for families, with 35 rides and attractions for the little ones. The prehistoric-themed island of exploration offers entertainment in the form of boat rides and a range of 22 realistic dinosaurs.
2249 East Lincoln Hwy, Lancaster.
land of tales
Parents of young children need look no further than this family-friendly amusement park to catch up. The theme park centers around characters like Mother Goose and the Three Little Pigs; the rides include amusement park standards aimed at tykes, like Bubbles the Coaster.
6415 East Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township.
This quintessential park — complete with lodging, dining, entertainment, and an entire zoo with over 200 animals — is home to several beloved roller coasters, including Skyrush. It stands 200 feet tall and runs at 75 mph, making its duration of minutes and three seconds feel like a lifetime of elation.
100 Hersheypark Drive, Hershey.
Nestled in the mountainous west of Maryland, this four-season resort offers all the best parts of a bustling amusement park as well as a quiet summer retreat. In addition to canopy tours, ziplines, and archery options, there’s a 3,500-foot downhill roller coaster through the greenery.
296 Marsh Hill Road, McHenry.
Busch Williamsburg Gardens
The sprawling Virginia theme park is divided into 10 hamlets, each inspired by a European country, with gondolas and a replica steam train to transport guests between them. The sprawling park has a small but much-loved range of rides – its award-winning Alpengeist has six whopping loops.
1 Busch Gardens Blvd., Williamsburg.
Six America Flags
Take a trip to crab country for this Maryland theme park that’s sure to please. Divided into six zones variously inspired by regions of the United States and fictional settings like Gotham, the park currently has nine roller coasters – don’t miss the Firebird, a rare floorless coaster with a nine-story drop and two (gulp) inversions.
13710 Central Ave, Bowie.
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Published as “Joy Rides” in the June 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.