NOLA City Park – New Orleans
There’s so much for the entire family to experience in the Crescent City’s sprawling urban oasis. The New Orleans Botanical Gardens will delight nature lovers, and City Splash and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park boasts a 100-year-old carousel to round out the active attractions fun. But perhaps the expansive playground at Storyland will thoroughly enchant, where children and adults can interact with 20 enormous sculptures drawn from some of history’s most beloved fairytales. Captain Hook’s ship, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, Jack and Jill’s hill, and many more sit primed for little people’s exploration and big people’s nostalgia.
More Southeastern spots for fun in the sun
1. Disney World – Orlando, FL
Despite Epcot’s international flair, it’s still Mickey’s charming small world after all.
2. Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Orlando, FL
Wizards and movie fans will love this location highlighting Harry Potter.
3. Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay – Louisville, KY
Roller coasters, 5-D movies, water slides, and much more make up this Kingdom.
4. Family Kingdom – Myrtle Beach, SC
Admission to this seaside favorite—with cool rides and a waterpark—is free.
5. Carowinds – Charlotte, NC
World-class rides, waterpark slides, and Snoopy-meets-Carolina hospitality.
6. Dollywood – Pigeon Forge, TN
Dolly’s famous retreat features 40 attractions, top live shows, and a waterpark.
Sesame Place – Bucks County, PA
For every kid who’s just wanted to get to Sesame Street … newsflash: We’ve found it in a quaint Pennsylvania county! This fabled thoroughfare on the outskirts of Philadelphia encompasses the likes of Elmo’s World, Cookie Monster Land, Bert & Ernie’s Slip & Slide, Big Bird’s River, and the Count’s Splash Castle. There are live productions, parades, and tons more interactive activities for puppet-loving children learning to count while learning to be good citizens. (And plenty of reminders on how to do both of those things for their parents.)
More nostalgic Northeastern destinations
1. Luna Park – Coney Island, NY
6.2 acres of seaside fun on a historic island with scores of rides and attractions.
2. Catamount Aerial Adventure Park – South Egremont, MA
The beautiful Berkshire Mountains are the backdrop for this high-flying locale.
3. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom – Allentown, PA
Revamped “ThunderHawk” coaster, live shows, water slides, and much more.
4. Story Land – Glen, NH
German-themed escape with 21 attractions geared toward children and adults.
5. Santa’s Village – Jefferson, NH
Year-round Christmas spirit with rides like the Chimney Drop, fun shows, and more.
Silver Dollar City – Branson, MO
The great state of Missouri is home to this family-centric 1880s-themed park boasting everything from roller coasters and a waterpark to seasonal events, dinner cruises, and entertainment on the Showboat Branson Belle riverboat, where children are encouraged to dress as swashbucklers. Magicians, cloggers, cartoon characters, Harlem Globetrotters—there’s a performance for every aficionado in the city’s stable of shows. There are also gatherings for storytelling, a Southern Gospel Picnic, and a camping and RV “Wilderness” area.
More merriment in the middle states
1. Six Flags St. Louis – St. Louis, MO
One of the chain’s nine locations debuting Virtual Reality roller coasters in 2016!
2. Hawaiian Falls – Pflugerville, TX
Central Texas’ waterpark/adventure park location of the family-friendly chain.
3. Schlitterbahn – New Braunfels, TX
70 acres along the Comal River full of water-related adventures and relaxation.
4. Morgan's Wonderland – San Antonio, TX
Inspirational park with 25 attractions all accessible to special needs individuals.
5. Cedar Point – Sandusky, OH
“The roller coaster capital of the world” boasts 365 acres along Lake Erie.
6. Santa's Village Azoosment Park – East Dundee, IL
Critter-themed park home to over 200 animals, a mobile zoo, rides, and more.
7. Mt. Olympus – Wisconsin Dells, WI
Journey to great heights at this Wisconsin theme park, waterpark, and resort.
Enchanted Forest – Salem, OR
It’s hard to get more fairytale-esque than a verdant forest in the Pacific Northwest. So if you happen to be in the Enchanted neighborhood, take a stroll down “Storybook Lane,” spy Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall, explore Western towns and European villages, and even pan for gold. And don’t get so swept away that you forget to experience a musical comedy send-up of a classic fairytale, hear some pretend Irish singers, or hop on the big- and little-kid rides.