Theme & Water Parks

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Best Amusement Parks Near NYC Reachable by Public Transportation

If you're feeling nostalgic for a summer adventure filled with cotton candy and Ferris wheel rides, it might be time for some family-friendly fun at a nearby theme park. There's no shortage of amusement parks and water parks for New York City-based thrill-seekers, but if you don't have a car, some parks can seem out of reach. Fear not, we’ve rounded up the best amusement parks that are easily accessible from NYC via public transportation. Remember the sunscreen—and forget the parking (and rental) headaches.

Find more summer fun in our Theme and Water Parks Guide.

35 Summer Day Trips to Take With NYC Kids

It’s summer road trip season! Once school is finally out, we’re itching to get outdoors to explore beyond NYC’s limits. Lucky for you, our Mommy Poppins reviewers know all the best spots in the tri-state area, from beaches and water parks to cool nature spots and pick-your-own fruit farms.

We’ve rounded up over three dozen of our favorites for summertime, including a few indoor options for (shudder) rainy days, or if you really just need to freeze in the a/c for a bit. All of these spots are less than two hours away, because, well, who wants to day trip for longer than that with kids in the backseat?

Find more ideas in our full Day Trips and Getaways Guide, or try checking off something from our 100 Things to Do with Kids in New York State list.

Historic Carousel and New Ferris Wheel in Forest Park Are Sweet Rides for Preschoolers

Good news for pint-sized thrill seekers in Queens: There's a new ferris wheel just for kids at the preschooler-friendly Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village, now open for the season. This leafy, old-fashioned mini amusement park in Forest Park (located in the park on the bandshell side of Woodhaven Boulevard) has long been a hidden-gem favorite of Queens families, with its historic carousel, rides, and games. The opening of a ferris wheel specifically designed with little ones in mind makes the park the perfect activity for a slow summer's day. Here's what to know before you go.

Jersey Shore Boardwalks and Amusement Parks for Family Fun

Everyone loves a good trip to the beach, but Jersey Shore boardwalks are where the real memories are made. Whether you make it a day trip or have weekend or week-long plans for a summer vacation, one thing you most definitely don't want to miss is time on the boardwalk.

From frozen custard and funnel cakes to rides and mini-golf—and a few that feature water parks and toddler amusements—a boardwalk ups the ante on your usual trip to the beach. Boardwalks and the Jersey Shore go hand-in-hand, but if you are making only one trip this year, make sure it's to one of the best!

Victorian Gardens in Central Park Is a Just-Right Amusement Park for Preschoolers

Manhattan's only outdoor amusement park, Victorian Gardens, is now open for the 2019 season. It's one of those annual summer attractions you think all New York City families know about and go to—until you realize a bunch of your friends have never even heard of it.

Victorian Gardens is especially wonderful for younger children, which is why we included it in our roundup of best theme parks for preschoolers, although elementary schoolers will enjoy themselves, too. The rides are contained in a small, enclosed space so you don't have to worry about kids wandering off (like at Coney Island), and there's little walking between attractions. Most of the rides are gentle (a few have height requirements), and there aren't any teens rushing through the crowd. Plus, you can't beat the location at Wollman Rink in Central Park, just steps from the zoo, Heckscher Playground and the carousel.

New Inflatable Water Park Opening at NJ Lake This Summer

Looking for a new way to cool off this summer? How about slipping down a blow-up water slide and splashing into a beautiful NJ lake?

That's exactly what Lacey Township had in mind—so it's installing a huge new inflatable water park in Lake Barnegat (2nd Lake) in Forked River, which is slated to open in late June. Intended for swimmers ages 8 and older, the "hydro-playground" will combine slippery waters slides, bouncy inflatable climbers, floating balance beams, monkey bars, and more.

Not heading down the shore this summer? Residents of northern NJ can check out the water park at Lewis Morris County Park's Sunrise Lake Beach Club.

Best Water Parks for Toddlers Near NYC

When temperatures soar, there's always New York's FREE neighborhood pools or sprinklers for a quick cool down with the kids, but on particularly hot summer days, nothing beats the heat like a trip to a water park near NYC

Families with toddlers in tow aren't looking for big slides or big waves, though, so we've rounded up our top splash pads for the preschool set. Prepare to find toddler-sized attractions, along with perks such as nursing stations and FREE mini life jackets—and don't worry, there's plenty of big-kid fun to go around, too. So read on for details on 12 parks within two hours of New York City that cater to the littlest water explorers.

Check out our NYC Beaches, Pools, and Water Fun Guide for more family-friendly ideas on how to cool down in the city and beyond.

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