Theme & Water Parks

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9 Must-See Dinosaur Theme Parks and Attractions for Kids

If your kid is fascinated by dinosaurs, chances are everything in your home revolves around the prehistoric creatures, including your family vacations. Your nearby natural history or kids' science museum is a great bet for a quick trip to study major fossil displays. For an even bigger thrill, families might want to check out one of the many outdoor dinosaur parks, from full amusement parks to nature walks and mini fossil digs.

We've rounded up a list of 10 great places for dinosaur lovers across the country. These dinosaur-themed attractions offer up-close encounters with lifelike creatures, thrilling rides, impressive fossils, and more fun things to do and see for kids, including dino-theater.

For more family vacation ideas—that may, or may not, involve dinosaurs—check out our United States Family Travel Guide.

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.

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.

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.

Get Merry and Go Round on Unique Carousels with NJ Kids

With all the crazy thrill rides found in theme parks these days, there’s something simply magical about taking a spin on an old-fashioned carousel. Often one of the first rides a child gets to experience, carousels have a special way of making even the most timid tiny ones crack a smile, and they’re a treat for all ages. New Jersey is home to both traditional and turned-up-a-notch carousels, and you don’t have to trek far to find one. Hop on a carousel at one of the area malls for a year-round shopping distraction, go for a spin in a park or zoo, or catch views of the Atlantic from a Jersey shore carousel on the Boardwalk.

We’ve rounded up 15 of the best and most unique carousels in and around NJ, so pack up your little ponies and give them a whirl.

Spruce Street Harbor Park: Play Games and Enjoy Some R&R in the Hammocks

If you think you have to head all the way to the Jersey Shore for a boardwalk, think again. This one is just over the bridge, a few blocks south of Penn's Landing, and is perfect for family fun. With the weather warming up, Spruce Street Harbor Park kicks off its season on Friday, May 11th. From games to food to a stroll on the boardwalk, read on to plan your visit to this great pop-up park.

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