Are you tired of the same old amusement parks with long lines and overcrowded rides, or maybe you want to check out a few off the beaten path theme parks this summer. Either way, Pennsylvania has got you covered. From free admission to historical rides, here are 5 Pennsylvania theme parks you forgot you wanted to visit.
Pennsylvania Theme Parks You Forgot You Wanted to Visit
Okay, I’m a sucker for the larger amusement parks. Drive me down to Florida to visit Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort and I’m a happy camper, even if I’ve been in the car for 15 hours straight.
But when it come to parks in my neck of the woods, aka, Pennsylvania & Ohio, I’m all about adorably historical. I want to visit theme parks that are not only a short drive from my home but ones that offer both thrilling and calm attractions as well. Additionally, I want them to be affordable, safe, and all-around fun. Here’s my list of the 5 best off the beaten path Pennsylvania theme parks.
Best Smaller Pennsylvania Theme Parks – Kennywood Park
Kennywood Park is one of the oldest and most beloved theme parks in Pennsylvania, and it just happens to be in my big city, Pittsburgh. It has been entertaining families for over a century with classic rides like the Jack Rabbit and Thunderbolt roller coasters (and Racer. I can’t even begin to write about Kennywood without mentioning the fan fave,Racer.)
But it’s not just the history that draws in the crowds. Kennywood Park is known for its unique attractions and food, like the Potato Patch, which serves up fresh-cut fries with a variety of toppings. Folks stand in long lines for the tasty fries and, I have to admit, I’m on of them.
One of the most popular rides at Kennywood Park is the Phantom’s Revenge. It’s a steel coaster that starts with a heart-racing drop and then speeds through a series of twists and turns that will leave you breathless. If you prefer something a little less intense, the Aero 360 provides a thrilling experience without the stomach-churning drops. And if you’re a football fan, heading to Steelers’ Country to take a ride on The Steel Curtain is well worth the trip.
But the fun doesn’t stop with the rides. Kennywood Park also offers a variety of shows and entertainment options, including live music and dance performances. There are also games and activities for all ages, so expect plenty of traditional carnival game booths around you when you go.
This year, the park unveiled Spinvasion, the first-of-its-kind thrill ride, to great reviews. Not only does it spin super fast, the seats move up and down. But the really cool thing about it is the fact that, if you close your eyes, the ride is so smooth you can’t even feel the movement.
Best Smaller Pennsylvania Theme Parks – Knoebels Amusement Resort
Located in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, Knoebels Amusement Resort is a true hidden gem. Nestled in the woods, this family-owned amusement park is the perfect getaway for those looking for a different kind of theme park experience. With no admission fee, you only pay for the rides you go on, making it an affordable option for families on a budget. If you’re old enough to remember (or are a Disneyphile) you may have read that Walt Disney World used the same ticketing system when it opened in 1971.
The Amusement Resort is home to over 60 rides, including two wooden roller coasters that are sure to give you a thrill. But it’s not just the rides that make Knoebels special. The park is also home to a campground, where you can pitch a tent or rent a cabin, and a pool, perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.
In addition to the rides and attractions, Knoebels is also known for its food. From classic amusement park fare like funnel cakes and hot dogs to unique offerings like pierogies and haluski, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
But what really sets Knoebels apart is its commitment to preserving the past. Many of the rides at Knoebels are vintage, and the park has a museum dedicated to preserving amusement park history. It’s a unique experience to ride a classic wooden carousel or Ferris wheel that’s been around for decades.
If you’re looking for a theme park experience that’s a little different, Knoebels is definitely worth the road trip. With its affordable prices, unique rides, and commitment to preserving the past, it’s a Pennsylvania theme park you won’t want to miss.
Best Smaller Pennsylvania Theme Parks – Idlewild & SoakZone
One of Pennsylvania’s hidden gems for theme park enthusiasts is Idlewild & SoakZone. This park has been around since 1878 and has grown to include a variety of rides and attractions suitable for all ages. With several distinct areas, the park is a fan favorite for guests of all ages.
One of the unique aspects of this park is its commitment to promoting learning through play. The park offers interactive exhibits that teach kids about nature, science, and history, making it an educational experience as well as a fun one. If the kiddos are fans of vintage children’s’ television, there’s plenty of Fred Rogers touches to make them happy. And if that wasn’t enough, Storybook Forest is a life-sized walkthrough path that features Mother Goose and her rhymes.
A big highlight of the park is the SoakZone, an expansive water park that includes slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day and, yes, Pennsylvania gets lots of them.
After a day of fun, visitors can grab a bite to eat at one of the park’s many restaurants and snack bars. Idlewild & SoakZone offers a unique blend of excitement and education that’s sure to appeal to families and anyone interested in a different kind of theme park experience.
Best Smaller Pennsylvania Theme Parks – DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
Located in Tipton, Pennsylvania, DelGrosso’s Amusement Park is a family-owned and operated park that has been around since 1907. The park features a variety of classic and modern rides, including a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and a thrilling roller coaster.
One of the park’s most unique attractions is the Antique Auto Ride, where visitors can take a leisurely drive through a scenic park setting. If you’re not familiar with the DelGrosso name, the family is all about Italian sauce making and its theme park is no exception.
In addition to the rides, the park also offers a water park with a wave pool and water slides. And if you’re feeling competitive, there’s even a mini-golf course on site.
But one of the biggest draws of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park is the food. The park is known for its delicious pizza and homemade spaghetti sauce, which has won numerous awards. Visitors can also indulge in other park favorites like funnel cakes, hot dogs, and soft serve ice cream.
Best Smaller Pennsylvania Theme Parks – Dutch Wonderland
Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dutch Wonderland is a charming and family-friendly theme park that will delight young ones and adults alike. With over 35 rides and attractions, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
For younger children, the park offers a variety of gentle rides like the Choo Choo Charlie train ride, the Frog Hopper, and the Wonder House. There are also plenty of interactive play areas like the Exploration Island and the Dino Dig to keep the kiddos entertained and happy.
For thrill-seekers, Dutch Wonderland features roller coasters like the Merlin’s Mayhem, Kingdom Coaster, and the Joust. In addition to the rides, the park also offers shows and entertainment, including the High Dive Show and the Duke’s Dance Party, so make sure you check the entertainment schedule when you arrive.
And of course, no theme park experience is complete without food. Dutch Wonderland has plenty of options, from classic amusement park fare like hot dogs and funnel cakes to healthier options like salads and wraps.