roller coaster under white clouds and blue sky

Must-Visit Theme Parks For Summer Fun

Planning your summer vacation around a trip to an amusement park is a great way to experience thrills and chills while exploring a different part of the country. Here are some places you can go, and new rides and attractions for 2023.

Despite its name Santa’s Village, in Jefferson, New Hampshire, is open from May through December. You can visit St. Nick at Santa’s Home, feed the reindeer at the Reindeer Rendezvous and go on a scavenger hunt, searching for the 26 elves located throughout the park. Rides include Santa’s Express Train, Skyway Sleigh, Yule Log Flume and Christmas Ferris Wheel.

Hersheypark, in central Pennsylvania, was created by Milton Hershey as a leisure area for employees of his chocolate factory. Today, the park is home to 121 acres of outdoor fun surrounded by shade trees and ample green space. A new attraction, Wildcat’s Revenge, is a wood and steel hybrid roller coaster that takes riders up a 140-foot hill, then dives into an 82-degree drop. You can see how candy bars are made on a tour at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Cedar Point, on Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio, opened in 1870 as a simple beach and bathhouse. Today, the amusement park is known for its 18 roller coasters, including the adrenaline-pumping Millennium Force, with a height of 310 feet and speeds reaching 93 mph. Improvements for 2023 include The Boardwalk, featuring new rides like the Wild Mouse roller coaster, dining and entertainment.

Dollywood, partly owned by legendary singer Dolly Parton, is located in Tennessee’s scenic Great Smoky Mountains. The Big Bear Mountain roller coaster debuts this year as part of the park’s largest-ever expansion, taking riders around nearly 4,000 feet of track. Dollywood’s water park features towering slides, sparkling pools and family friendly splash zones.

Nestled in the Ozarks, Silver Dollar City, in Branson, Missouri, is an 1880s-style theme park that features 40 rides and attractions, live shows and concerts, shops and restaurants. What sets it apart is the presence of 100 resident artisans who demonstrate America’s heritage crafts, including glassblowing, leather-making, candy-making, woodcarving, pottery and blacksmithing.

In Orlando, Disney World is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. New attractions include Tron Lightcycle/Run. Part of Tomorrowland, it takes riders on a quest across a dark, computerized world. At SeaWorld, Pipeline: The Surf Coaster mimics the motion of surfing. And at Busch Gardens in Tampa, the new Serengeti Flyer, a swing ride, reaches a height of 135 feet, offering a view of the park’s 65-acre Serengeti Plain.

Knott’s Berry Farm, Southern California’s original theme park, traces its origin to a roadside berry stand run by Walter Knott in the 1920s. This summer, the park’s Fiesta Village has been reimagined to celebrate California’s Hispanic heritage, with music, dance and storytelling. You’ll find a variety of merchants selling unique items at Fiesta Mercado, inspired by Los Angeles’ historic Olvera Street.