America's big-name modern theme parks will be popular destinations for hoards of travelers of all ages this summer. But if you're looking for something a little further off the beaten path, consider detouring to oner of these older but still-running amusement parks... where cool meets creepy (and photo opps abound).
1. Coney Island
We’ll start with the most well known of the bunch — one of the U.S.A.’s most iconic parks. Perfect for a day trip, Coney Island’s Luna Park is far from predictable. Located right on the Atlantic Ocean and within New York City, this is a great spot for a variety of amusement park offerings combined with a trip to the beach. And with a history of unusual sideshows and plenty of risque themes to go around, Coney Island is no ordinary place — despite its popularity.
2. Enchanted Forest
If you’re near the Salem area of Oregon and you’re in the mood for a visit to an amusement park unlike any other, give Enchanted Forest a go. With storybook-inspired attractions, the park has twisting and turning pathways through the forest that will lead you to rides that will thrill and amuse... while the towering trees add a layer of spook to it all.
3. Lake Compounce
This Connecticut destination is a must for its sheer age alone: First opened in 1846, it’s the longest continuously operating amusement park in the U.S.A. The 14th oldest wooden rollercoaster in the world calls this place home and a mix of old and new will keep everyone entertained on the shores of Lake Compounce. The park itself was opened after a failed explosion attracted a huge crown to the lake — so while it didn't quite start off with a bang, its longevity is evidence of its allure.
When in the western Pennsylvania area, set aside a day to visit Kennywood. It’s one of only two parks that is officially declared a National Historic Landmark. There are rides here that date back to the turn of the 20th century, some of which could only engineered the way they are because of the hilly terrain. So you can experience some history and exceptional adrenaline simultaneously, all within a short drive from the offerings of Pittsburgh.
With one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in the world, Lagoon Amusement Park, settled on the shores of Great Salt Lake in Utah, is a must-see. First opened in 1886 under a different name, this gem is still operating today and is waiting for your visit. A fire in 1953 destroyed most of the park, but it was swiftly rebuilt.
Storyland is a sweet little New Hampshire spot, first opened in 1954. Taking pages out of lots of different fairytales and classic stories, this amusement park is a great fit for young readers who will recognize everything from Humpty Dumpty to Alice in Wonderland attractions. The characters add both charm and creep to the place — in doses that depend on your perspective.
Denver’s cherished amusement park, Lakeside, has been in operation at the same location since 1908. Though lots of things have changed in the 100-plus years that the park has been open to the public, the carousel is reportedly the same as the one the park had on opening day. Originally, this was a part of a chain of parks throughout the country called White City, but it is now the only one that remains.
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