Theme & Water Parks

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Great Amusement Parks for Preschoolers and Toddlers in New Jersey

Looking for a place to take your little ones for gentle thrills and kid-friendly amusements? We've rounded up 15 NJ amusement parks that are perfect for the younger set. Some, like Storybook Land, are geared exclusively toward small children, while others, like Morey's Piers and Jenkinson's Boardwalk, offer a solid selection of kiddie rides in addition to bigger thrills. 

We've limited our list of amusement parks to those located in New Jersey—to search for more tot-friendly spots in surrounding areas, check out the Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers in and Near NYC.

Family Getaway to Hershey, PA: Hersheypark, Chocolate World, Zoo

While there are plenty of family vacation options in our area, my family's destination of choice this year was Hershey, Pennsylvania. The town, smack dab in the center of the state, has been dubbed the Sweetest Place on Earth thanks to the region's namesake chocolate factory and iconic candy bar. 

The main attraction, Hersheypark, is the perfect short-week or long weekend getaway solution for kids who aren't ready for a long car, train, or plane trip. It’s just over three hours away from the New York City area and barely two hours from Philadelphia. (Tip: Leave before dawn and the kids will sleep through half of it).

I was hesitant that my 5- and 2-year-old boys would be too small to enjoy the trip, but Hershey offers much more than just roller coasters. There's water park fun, a zoo and gardens, chocolate galore, and plenty of great places to stay, including right on site with the treat-filled amusement park. There are even additional family sights in nearby Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Here is a breakdown of the top sights to see with kids.

9 Super Fun Water Parks, Slides, and Pools on Long Island

Slip-slidin’ away!  There are few better ways to stay cool on Long Island this summer than by heading down a slippery water slide, splashing around in a refreshing swimming pool, or getting drenched at a water park. That's why we invite you to check out our list of the hottest spots on Long Island where kids and adults can stay cool, even on the most sweltering days. Check websites for rates and hours. Town pools are usually open to nonresidents, but they might have to pay a higher entry fee.

Find more fun in our guide to Long Island theme parks and our guide to the best parks and playgrounds for Long Island families.

Best Water Theme Parks Near NYC for Families

While there are no full-fledged outdoor water theme parks in NYC (yet), you don't have to go too far to find some awesome ones. We've rounded up 13 of our favorites for families in the tristate area, mostly in New Jersey, including beachside spots, and Pennsylvania, and all are less than a two-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan. There's also a great pick in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island. No two are alike: Each one offers different experiences and thrills.

Find more rides in our Theme and Water Parks Guide, including indoor water parks for those rainy or cold days.

Zip Lines and Adventure Ropes Courses for Kids in and Around NJ

Gear up for an outdoor adventure at one of New Jersey's newest treetop obstacle courses, or buckle up for a soaring ride on a zip line. Swaying bridges, wobbly balance logs, cargo nets, high wires, and rope ladders are among the features at some sky-high ropes courses, along with tree climbers and platforms built right into tree trunks. Many treetop courses are best for older kids and teens, but some also offer tykes courses that are closer to the ground.

We've rounded up some of the coolest of these zip lines and ropes courses in New Jersey, a few in Pennsylvania, and even a year-round indoor option just over the state line in Westchester. You'll find these parks at local zoos, amusement parks, down the Jersey Shore, and even at some of the Poconos family resorts.

15 Awesome Water Parks for New Jersey Kids and Families

New Jersey has several fantastic water parks, some of them right on the beach! From big-name parks and boardwalk favorites to the state's first municipal water park, we've rounded up 15 of New Jersey’s best water parks and an overview of what to expect from each one. We've even included a couple of fantastic indoor water parks to keep kids splashing on rainy days.

If you're looking for water fun on a slightly cheaper scale, check out our Best Water Playgrounds and Splash Pads roundup. For more summer awesomeness, visit our New Jersey Kids Summer Activities Guide and our NJ Theme Parks Guide.

The Grove Resort Orlando (and Water Park) Is a Worthy Disney Alternative

When planning a family vacation to Orlando, Florida, you and the kids might have just one destination on the brain: Disney. But actually, as we’ve pointed out before, there’s more to Orlando than theme parks, including plenty of family resorts from which to choose.

If you’re looking off-park for a hotel, consider The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando. The 106-acre resort is just a few miles down the road from the entrance to Walt Disney World, but sits on a pretty tract of land set back from the major highways in a natural marsh and wooded landscape. It has all the favorite perks of a great family resort, including suites for housing extended family, pools, on-site restaurants, a spa, activities for kids, and even a water park.

We just returned from a long weekend at the resort and are happy to share our review.

Is that the London Eye in Long Beach? Giant Observation Wheel Visits Queen Mary

Well take a look at that! An Observation Wheel—which is another way of saying a really huge Ferris wheel with a great view—is setting up shop in Long Beach next to the Queen Mary, for one month only. No mere amusement park ride (though we like those very much!), the Observation Wheel offers birds-eye views of the picturesque Long Beach sky line, the majestic Queen Mary, and beyond. This thing is so tall you may be able to spot the buffalo grazing on Catalina Island.

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