From roller coasters and carousels to wave pools and water slides, this roundup of New England amusement parks and water parks offers something to suit every preference. Each one guarantees a full day of summer fun.
Guide to New England Amusement Parks & Water Parks
The shores of Lake Quassapaug are home to one of Connecticut’s oldest amusement parks and one of two remaining “trolley parks” in the country. Spotting names like Frog Hopper, Big Flush Water Coaster, and Grand Carousel, you and your kids will easily want to make a day of it at Quassy. The Splash Away Bay water park and areas for swimming and picnicking are bonus attractions.
There’s something for everyone at America’s oldest amusement park: water rides, classic rides, kiddie rides, dance and comedy shows — and, of course, roller coasters and thrill rides. In 2016 the magnetically propelled Phobia Phear Coaster, which races at speeds of up to 65 mph and flips riders 150 feet in the air, became the most hotly anticipated new thrill in park history. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Tourist Hot Spot.”
At this beloved Saco institution, you’ll find rides that range from kid-friendly excitement to heart-in-your-throat thrills, with the latter including Maine’s only wooden roller coaster, New England’s longest and highest log flume, and the 220-foot plummet of the Dragon’s Descent turbo drop tower. And don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, which you’ll want for the raft rides, slides, and other watery fun. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Adventure Park.”
This family-oriented amusement park sits right on the beach, making it one of the most picturesque New England amusements parks around. Enjoy a morning of swimming and building sand castles, then head over to Palace Playland’s 24,000-square-foot arcade for some afternoon fun. In addition to the arcade, take ride on the Electra Wheel for a terrific seaside view.
If you’re looking for a thrilling water adventure, you’ll love Aquaboggan Water Park. While there are some dry-land rides such as the Grand Prix racing cars and mini golf, the main attractions are the water rides. Go tubeless on the Turbo Drop or spend some time chilling in the Giant Wave Pool.
Formerly the site of Riverside Amusement Park, Six Flags New England offers mega-thrills and all-day family fun at what is arguably the biggest amusement park in New England. The park’s many classic rides — including a dozen roller coasters — will satisfy adults and older kids, while a turn on the Wacky Wheel ferris wheel and the 1909 Illions carousel is perfect for the younger set. Visiting the park on a hot day? Don’t miss the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Waterpark.
The kids might be impressed to learn that this family-owned park has been featured in two Hollywood movies, including a 2013 favorite, The Way Way Back. But they’ll be even more thrilled with the Hurricane Hill water slide, the Squid Row tube ride, and the Mussel Beach wave pool. Named a 2014 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Water Park.”
Edaville started out as a small loop railroad transporting cranberry bog workers, but when locals clamored for rides, owner Ellis D. Atwood obliged, and “Edaville” (Atwell’s initials inspired the name) was born. Over the years, Edaville has grown into a full-blown amusement park with over 90 rides and attractions, including themed areas dedicated to dinosaurs and Thomas the Tank Engine, respectively.
From its early days as a “pleasure resort” in 1902, with canoeing and a botanical garden, Canobie Lake has evolved into a classic amusement park with 85 rides, games, and attractions — and actual fear-factor ratings. Thrill rides such as the Yankee Cannonball wooden coaster and the Starblaster (shuttle liftoff meets bungee jumping) demand a spirit of adventure; family rides like Crazy Cups and Dodgem bumper cars let your pulse rate recover.
SEE MORE:Guide to Canobie Lake Park
A trip to Story Land is a favorite summer activity for New England families, in particular those with young children. Among the many rides and storybook-themed attractions are the antique German carousel, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, and Alice’s teacups. Older kids love the Bamboo Chutes water ride and Roar-o-Saurus coaster.
SEE MORE:Revisiting Story Land
Craving a little Christmas in December? The holiday spirit lasts all year long at Santa’s Village, where rides include Reindeer Carousel, Christmas Ferris Wheel, Yule Log Flume, Rudy’s Rapid Transit Coaster, and Santa’s Express Train. On a hot day you can also take advantage of the splash pad and water slides at the Ho Ho H2O water park. During the holiday season, the park is open during special hours for extra fun. See over half a million lights and, weather permitting, enjoy up to 18 different rides.
One of the largest New England water parks, Water Country has been helping folks cool off since 1984. Enjoy numerous rides and slides, a quarter-mile-long Adventure River, and New England’s largest wave pool. Smaller children will love experiencing their first water slide at Ollie Octopus.
With the only wave pool in the White Mountains, Whale’s Tale Water Park is a popular spot for summer travelers. Eleven water slides range from speed slides and flume slides to a 360-foot tube ride. There’s also a quarter-mile lazy river and Whale Harbor, a special shallow activity pool for toddlers with water slides, fountains, and a water seesaw.
This small park, adjacent to the beach and Water Wizz of Westerly (below), is home to several children’s rides, a Herschell-Spillman carousel from the early 1900s, and an arcade. When you’re done, grab a bowl of Rhode Island clam chowder at the Windjammer Snack Bar (there’s live entertainment on the patio on weekends) or a banana split at Dusty’s Original Dairy Bar.
Not to be confused with the Cape Cod Water Wizz, this Water Wizz is a smaller operation that’s become the quintessential pre- or post-Misquamicut Beach day stop-off. Enjoy a shot of nostalgia in the form of sleek curves, 50-foot speed slides, and cannonball-size splashes.
Vermont may not have a big “traditional” amusement park, but the one it does have is out of this world! The Pump House indoor water park at Jay Peak is glass-walled, with a retractable glass roof, and always 86 degrees. The choice of watery ways to cool off include La Chute — a 65-foot-high slide with a twisty 45 mph descent — and Big River, a deceptively lazy run until you hit the waves.
SEE MORE: A Visit to the Jay Peak Pump House
Which of these New England amusement parks and water parks are your favorites? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.