All Ages

10 Best Midwest Amusement Parks for Families

See recent posts by Lissa Poirot

Just because you”re in the Midwest doesn”t mean you have to hop a plane to Florida or California for amusement park fun! There are quite a few great Midwest theme parks that won”t cost your family an arm and a leg. Consider one of these thrilling Midwest amusement parks for your next family adventure.

Written by Lissa Poirot


Adventureland - Altoona, Iowa

For more than 40 years, families have descended upon Adventureland in Iowa, which features more than 100 rides, attractions and shows. Visitors will find a combination of roller coasters, water rides, kiddie rides and more at this Midwest theme park.

Of the thrill rides, Adventureland is always expanding, recently adding The Monster, a 133-foot-tall steel coaster that traverses 2,500 feet of track. At Adventure Bay, wave pools, splash playgrounds and waterslides are the main attractions. The seasonal park is traditionally open May through early November.

Recommended Hotel: Adventureland Resort

Cedar Point - Sandusky, Ohio

One of the oldest amusement parks in the country, Cedar Point in northwest Ohio is a 364-acre amusement park with a water park, beach, activity center, water sports and live entertainment.

The Midwest amusement park recently launched Valravn to its skyline. The roller coaster is the world"s tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster, and is the park's 18th roller coaster. It's no wonder Cedar Point is nicknamed “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” The seasonal park is traditionally open May through early November.

Recommended Hotel: Lighthouse Point

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari - Santa Claus, Ind.

Also a seasonal park, open April through November, Holiday World & Splashin" Safari are two amusement parks in one, with tons of thrill rides and water park fun.

Operating for nearly 70 years, the Midwest theme park has received numerous accolades. Its Wildebeest water coaster has been named the top water park ride year after year by Amusement Today, earning that title for its one-third of a mile ride with a 4-story drop, two tunnels and a variety of twists and turns.

Recommended Hotel: Santa"s Lodge

Kings Island - Mason, Ohio

Ohio"s second biggest amusement park is Kings Island, and it is another screaming good time with thrill rides, coasters, family rides, a water playground, shows and more. Its Peanuts-themed Planet Snoopy kids" area has received the Golden Ticket Award for more than a decade, and its Soak City Waterpark is included with admission to Kings Island.

Soak City recently expanded to include a new waterslide complex with six different waterslide experiences. The park is open seasonally during warm-weather months.

Recommended Hotel: Great Wolf Lodge Mason

Michigan’s Adventure - Muskegon, Mich.

The largest amusement park in Michigan is a sister property to Ohio"s Kings Island. It, too, features family rides, thrill rides and a water park included in admission. Older kids can get their kicks on coasters like the wooden Shivering Timbers or fast-moving steel Thunderhawk, while young ones can ride in flying, driving and spinning rides.

The entire family shouldn"t miss the Giant Gondola Wheel, which is a giant Ferris wheel with 20 gondolas taking visitors around for a 360-degree view of the park.

Recommended Hotel: Shoreline Inn & Conference Center, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member

Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park - Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

In the heart of the Wisconsin Dells, which is surrounded by amusements and water parks, is Mt. Olympus, one of our favorite spots for wild rides and laughs. The park features an indoor water park and indoor theme park for year-round fun, and also is home to winter skiing, tubing and snowboarding. Medusa"s Indoor Water Park offers a 10-story waterslide, while Mt. Olympus"s rides are suited to younger kids and pre-teens.

Recommended Hotel: Mt. Olympus Resort

Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America - Bloomington, Minn.

At America"s biggest mall is one of the best Midwest amusement parks for families. Nickelodeon Universe is a one-of-a-kind theme park with seven acres devoted to Nickelodeon-themed attractions and entertainment. The indoor amusement park is open year-round, and kids will come face to face with their favorite Nickelodeon characters, including Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Recommended Hotel: Radisson Blu Mall of America

Silver Dollar City - Branson, Mis.

A trip to Branson is always going to be good, but its top spot is Silver Dollar City. Besides its many charms that include live shows, exciting annual events and great dining, it also has a theme park. The park offers more than 40 rides that include everything from scream-inducing steel coasters to wet and wild water rides. There's also an area just for young kids. Throughout the year, the park offers a number of festivals, including An Old Time Christmas and a Star-Spangled Summer.

Recommended Hotel: Silver Dollar City"s The Wilderness

Six Flags Great America - Gurnee, Ill.

Six Flags amusement parks are located across the country, but for Midwesterners, this one is the place to go. Located outside of Chicago, the seasonal amusement park features tons of fast-moving coasters, kid-focused play areas and entertainment. Hurricane Harbor is the place for splashing good fun, and kids will find Looney Tune characters making their way around the park and featured in rides and daily entertainment.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Gurnee Convention Center

Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun - Kansas City, Mis.

Featuring the characters of Charles Schultz"s The Peanuts, Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun are two parks in one. The seasonal park provides wet-and-wild fun at its water park, with Splash Island and other rides guaranteed to soak riders. Stay dry at the World and choice family rides like the Grand Carrousel or feel the wind in your face on coasters like Prowler, Mamba and Patriot. The park also features a special Dinosaur Alive! Experience with animated dinosaurs from the Mesozoic era.

Recommended Hotel: Worlds of Fun Village

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