For a memorable family outing jam-packed with exhilarating rides, indulgent snacks, and giggle-inducing character interactions, head to a New England amusement park. We've rounded up the very best New England theme parks that are great for families with kids ranging from toddlers to teens. Some are close enough for a day trip, while others are better suited for a weekend getaway. And they all make for a quick, exciting escape.
For even more local thrills, explore our park guides for Boston and Connecticut, and if you have a few extra days for fun and relaxation, check out the Top Amusement Parks Near NYC.
Before you hop in the car, be sure to check each park's official website to confirm hours, as they change by season. Many parks can sell out fast, so make sure to plan ahead and consider booking tickets online. Some parks offer two-day tickets; to visit a particular park more than once, consider buying season passes.
Six Flags' "Thrill Meter" has rides ranging from "max" to "mild", like these soaring balloons. Photo courtesy of the author.
New England Theme Parks - Massachusetts
Located just outside of Springfield, Six Flags New England (pictured) has rides that range from “Mild” to “Max” on the “Thrill Meter” and is best for teens and tweens. Concerts, character meet-and-greets, dance parties, parades, and shows round out the entertainment options. Six Flags is also home to New England's largest water park, Hurricane Harbor, with everything from one of the largest wave pools in the country to multi-passenger rafting adventures. The Six Flags season is April through October (weekends only in September and October).
Canobie Lake Park has more than 85 lakeside rides and attractions. Photo courtesy of the park.
New England Theme Parks - New Hampshire
Canobie Lake Park has more than 85 rides, games, live entertainment, and attractions. There are rides for everyone, ranging from roller coasters for maximum thrill-seekers (think 72 feet into the air and a drop that's beyond vertical at 97 degrees) to gentle rides for the young ones and fun family rides. The park hosts a wide variety of spectacular live entertainment throughout the summer, plus fireworks shows around July 4 and SCREEEMFEST in October. The attractions in Castaway Island keep visitors cool during the dog days of summer. The park is open weekends in May, daily from Memorial Day weekend to early September, and weekends in September and October for the Halloween season.
Rudy’s Rapid Transit Roller Coaster delivers crazy fun. Photo courtesy of Santa’s Village.
Even when it's hot outside, it's very "cool" in this Christmas-themed park. Go "snow" tubing down a giant slide and bounce up and down the Chimney Drop, enjoy up-close encounters with reindeer, or spend the day lounging in the "polar cap"-decorated water park. Santa's Village opens Memorial Day weekend and is open on weekends in June, September, October, and November. The fun happens daily in July and August. Hours vary and the weather can affect activities, so check the park calendar before visiting.
Head north with your family for a magical time in the mountains. Photo courtesy of Story Land.
Tucked away in the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire, Story Land is a bit of a hike from Boston, but it's the perfect theme park for parents and little ones to enjoy together. And with so much to do in the area, make the trip a multi-day family getaway. Rides like the Swan Boats, Antique Cars, and Bamboo Shoots are designed for kid-parent bonding. The Little Dreamers' Nursery Rhyme area is a big hit with preschoolers who revel in literally stepping into their favorite stories, and there are lots of opportunities to meet storybook characters around the park. Story Land is open Memorial Day weekend through early October (weekends only in September and October).
These New England amusement parks will thrill the entire family. Photo courtesy of Quassy Amusement Park.
New England Theme Parks - Connecticut
For more than 100 years, Quassy has been a family favorite, uniting generations and making summer a little extra fun. There are quintessential kiddie rides (like a choo-choo, carousel, or frog hopper), thrill rides for older children, and a water park that the entire family can enjoy. Park operations are in full swing between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with a few weekends before and after those dates. The water park closes at 7pm every day, while the park remains open until 8pm, or 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Lake Compounce is a fun place for the whole family, even for non-amusement park enthusiasts. The rides range from sweet kiddie rides to intense thrill rides, including a new triple launch coaster. The park's Antique Carousel, built in 1898, is one of America's oldest. For visitors who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, Dino Expedition features life-like dinos and a fossil digging area. Water rides in Crocodile Cove keep visitors cool on hot days, and the fun can last around the clock by staying at Bear Creek Campground. The regular operating season is May to September, plus select times during the holiday season for Holiday Lights.
Get butterflies in Maine. Photo courtesy of York's Wild Kingdom
New England Theme Parks - Maine
A mix of family rides, paddle boats, a miniature golf course, a zoo, and The Butterfly Kingdom guarantee a day (or more) of fun in York Beach. Visit with lions and tigers, watch in wonder as countless butterflies flutter in a 5,500-square-foot exhibit, and venture on more than 20 rides, including a Ferris wheel, a scrambler, a Wacky Mouse Roller Coaster, and bumper cars. For a restful break from all the excitement, step onto the nearby sand and dip your toes in the refreshing ocean. The park opens Memorial Day weekend and closes Labor Day weekend. Check the website for hours and special events.
Note: Six Flags New England offers some helpful tips for visiting with a family; many are practical suggestions that apply to any theme park visit.
New England's only oceanfront theme park, Palace Playland combines modern rides and games with a classic boardwalk atmosphere. The park features Maine's largest arcade, games, food and 28 rides. The park offers something for everyone, from toddler-friendly fun rides to hair-raising experiences like the 42-mph Sea Viper roller coaster. Come on a Thursday or the 4th of July for fireworks. The park takes passes as well as tickets for individual rides, so you can pop in for a few spins while spending a day at Old Orchard Beach!
This post was originally published in August 2011 and updated in April 2013 & June 2014; revised in June 2016, revised in May 2021 & May 2022