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Find your thrill at the ten best amusement parks in the Midwest USA!
From theme parks to water parks, there is no shortage of awesome attractions for you to enjoy when living in or visiting the Midwest.
In this post, we’re rounding up the very best amusement parks in the Midwest as well as including their top attractions, yummy eats, and tons of travel tips for your planning pleasure.
From Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and others- let’s find out where the fun awaits!
10 Best Midwest Amusement Parks
Wondering if there’s a top-rated Midwest amusement park where you’re traveling?
There just might be!
Having been born and raised, and now raising a family of my own in Minnesota, these awesome amusement parks in the Midwest are near and dear to my heart.
Check out our favorites, including the crazy roller coasters, exciting thrill rides, and twisting water slides that they’re known for.
Many of the best Midwest amusement parks have both theme park rides and a waterpark onsite.
In this article, we make note of which amusement parks include (and don’t include; in other words, tickets must be purchased separately) waterpark access in their standard admission prices.
Planning a trip to the Midwest? Check out some of our other favorite Midwest vacation ideas:
- 15 Best Midwest Family Vacations (The Whole Family Will Love!)
- 5 Fun-Filled Midwest Winter Weekend Getaways (+Itineraries)
- Minnesota North Shore Scenic Drive Must-See (Amazing!) Stops
- The Best Indoor Waterparks in Minnesota (+ Waterpark Hotels in MN!)
- The Ultimate Chicago Family Vacation | 3 Days in Chicago With Kids
1. Silver Dollar City – Branson, Missouri
Silver Dollar City is an 1880s theme park with rides and attractions for all ages.
In other words, the adults are going to love this Midwest theme park just as much as the kids will!
Travel back in time with themed attractions like the American Plunge log ride and the Time Traveler coaster.
Then, change pace by enjoying one of the many street performers, magic shows, and rotating musical attractions that the park offers.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Silver Dollar City is the incredible atmosphere they create through live demonstrations from expert craftspeople.
You can witness glass blowing, taffy pulling, wood carving, and so much more.
And once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a bite at one of their All-American dining options.
Choose between fair food staples like funnel cakes at Cokes and Floats, burgers and hotdogs at the All-American Family Cookout, and a scoop of fresh-churned ice cream at Hannah’s Ice Cream Parlor.
Did we mention that they also have a waterpark?
You heard right – their partner, White Water, is filled with drop slides, wave pools, rentable cabanas, and Hawaiian-themed eats.
And, it just so happens to be ranked as one of America’s best outdoor waterparks!
When purchasing tickets online, admission includes access to both Silver Dollar City and White Water – 2 parks for 1 price.
Front-of-the-line access to both parks can be purchased as an add-on.
2. Kings Island – Cincinnati, Ohio
Kings Island is the largest amusement and water park in the Midwest and was voted the 3rd best in the nation according to USA Today (back in 2022).
Daily admission prices include access to both Kings Island and Soak City Water Park – 2 parks for 1 price.
Highlights of Kings Island Amusement Park and Water Park include its 4 famous wooden roller coasters including The Beast, The Racer, and Mystic Timbers.
The Beast is listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world and its nostalgia makes it a must-ride for any amusement park enthusiast!
Beyond its major coasters, enjoy character rides based on the Hanna-Barbera characters of Scooby-Doo, Snoopy, and Peanuts, as well as a drop tower, waterslides, and 2 original locomotives.
For a meal, we recommend keeping it classic at LaRosa’s Pizzeria or the Jukebox Diner – but be sure to leave room for Kings Island’s signature Smurf blue, soft-serve ice cream.
Fun Fact: The original owner of Kings Island purchased Brooklyn, New York’s Coney Island back in 1969.
Upon its closing, most of Coney Island’s rides were relocated to what is now known as the Old Coney Area at Kings Island.
3. Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America – Bloomington, Minnesota
Nickelodeon Universe is a gigantic 7-acre indoor amusement park that is located in the center of the world-famous Mall of America!
This midwest amusement park ranks high on our list simply for the fact that it is located 100% indoors – which makes it a perfect place to visit on a rainy day or during the cold Midwest winters.
Being the largest indoor theme park in America, there are endless things to do here!
The park features themed rides from your kids’ favorite Nickelodeon shows, as well as meet-n-greets with Nickelodeon characters.
Our kids’ top rides include Avatar Airbender, Spongebob’s Rock Bottom Plunge, and Brain Surge.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock is another huge hit. It is a fly ride where you control your own shell, spinning round and around!
Nickelodeon Universe also has a ropes course, zipline, mini-golf, and a flight simulator.
Take a break from the attractions with a few arcade games, a silly caricature drawing, or a bit of themed shopping!
There are several snack stations across the park, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe, which is located directly within Nickelodeon Universe.
(You do not need to pay to enter and walk around Mall of America or Nickelodeon Universe, but you do need to pay to ride the rides.)
For more planning tips, get our full guide on the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park here!
4. Valleyfair and Soak City Waterpark – Shakopee, Minnesota
Included in one daily admission fee, Valleyfair includes 125 acres of amusement park rides, as well as access to a 7-acre water park called Soak City – 2 parks for 1 price.
Valleyfair has over 75 different rides and attractions and is the perfect place to let loose on a Minnesota getaway!
This family-friendly park includes roller coasters for all ages with everything from the gentle Cosmic Coaster to the scary, twisty Steel Venom inverted roller coaster.
When it’s time to cool down, head over to Soak City Waterpark for water slides, splash pads, pools, and more.
For eats, try Caribou Coffee, Coaster’s Drive-In diner food, or one of their many fast food chains.
There are options for everyone in the family!
Additional planning tip: Want to enjoy the rides without having to wait in line? Consider purchasing a Fast Lane pass for an additional $55/person.
Valleyfair is located 23 miles from Minneapolis, MN.
5. Six Flags Great America – Gurnee, Illinois
Six Flags Great America offers thrilling rides for the entire family and is one of our favorite amusement parks of all time!
DC comic fans have to check out AQUAMAN Power Wave ( a launch-style water coaster) and BATMAN The Ride (an inverted roller coaster through Gotham City).
Little ones will have tons of fun on Bugs Bunny Cloud Bouncer & Marvin the Martian Space Rockets.
And older riders have to ride the Judge Roy Scream, a classic wooden roller coaster with just the right amount of thrill.
The park itself is filled with live entertainment, so be prepared to see dance parties, neon lights, and incredible live music.
They even have fun special events like summer fireworks, Gaming Fest, and a Flavors of the World food tour!
Favorite eats include Drizzle Cheesecakes, Mijo’s Authentic Mexican Food, and the fried chicken sandwiches from Strutters.
DC comic fans, don’t forget to stop at the DC Universe store to make all of your wildest merch dreams come true!
Six Flags in Gurnee, IL is located only 40 miles from Chicago!
We love pairing a 3-day visit to Chicago with a trip to the Six Flags amusement park for the ultimate family getaway!
6. Cedar Point – Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point is a gigantic property and most people choose to spend multiple days there as it is more of a ‘destination’ than an amusement park.
It is home to over 71 rides and attractions, Cedar Point Shores Waterpark, 4 onsite hotels, a campground, and several onsite restaurants and shopping venues.
In terms of rides, must-try coasters include Steel Vengenacne, Millennium Force, Corkscrew, and the Atomic Scrambler.
And don’t forget to ride the Giant Wheel for a view of the entire park.
For lunch, stop by Derby Dogs & Señor Vargas’ Walking Tacos for a tasty bite, then head over to French Quarter Confections for a sweet treat to tie it all together.
For a separate admission price, consider heading over to Cedar Point Shores for a trip to the waterslides!
Kids can splash at Lemmy’s Lagoon splash pad or the Lakeside Landing slides while older folks enjoy Point Plummet thrill slides and a Storm’s Surge tube ride.
Finally, commemorate the occasion with a family race at the Riptide Raceway.
Additional planning tip: Staying onsite at one of Cedar Point’s hotels or Lighthouse Park campground offers Early Entry (get in an hour before the general public), discounts on single-day and multi-day admission tickets, and close proximity to the park.
Cedar Point is located 60 miles west of Cleveland, Ohio.
7. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari – Santa Claus, Indiana
Have you ever visited Santa Claus, Indiana?
This Christmas-themed town is home to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari which is considered to be the ‘world’s first theme park’.
And these names are far more than novelty as they have major street cred in the theme park world.
Holiday World’s coaster, “The Voyage,” was voted the #1 Wooden Coaster in the nation by TIME Magazine.
And the Mammoth Water Coaster at the Splashin’ Safari Waterpark is the longest water coaster in the world!
Beyond the rides, visit for their fun, holiday-themed events like Christmas in July fireworks and Santa’s Pool Party.
Daily admission includes access to both Holiday World’s amusement park rides and the Splashin’ Safari waterpark – 2 parks for 1 price.
Sunscreen is available for free at both Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari!
Sunscreen pump bottles contain 50 SPF Australian Gold sunscreen and are located in the public restrooms.
8. Arnold’s Park Amusement Park – Arnold’s Park, Iowa
The history of Arnold’s Park Amusement Park dates back all the way to 1889 and is still loved by many to this day!
Along with its 23 amusement park rides, visitors are drawn to Arnold’s Park to experience its nearby boardwalk, scenic views of West Lake Okoboji, and The Tipsy House, an iconic angled attraction near the entrance of the park.
The park has rides for all ages – even the littlest of tots.
Young kids will love Spin the Apple, Dizzy Dragons, and the classic carousel.
Others will enjoy the iconic The Legend wooden roller coaster (built-in 1930; formerly known as Giant Dips, then Giant Coaster), The Log Flume, Roll-O-Plane, and Rock-O-Plane.
The grounds are filled with classic fare food to munch on to keep you energized through your busy day!
9. Michigan’s Adventure and WildWater Adventure– Muskegon, Michigan
Michigan’s Adventure and WildWater Adventure is the largest amusement park in the state of Michigan.
It covers 250 acres and offers over 60 rides, slides, and attractions.
Little ones will adore Camp Snoopy, where they can meet the Peanuts gang and ride kid-approved attractions.
Thrill seekers will need to ride the Shivering Timbers coaster for a mile-long experience.
This coaster holds a state record for being both the longest and fastest!
For some wet-and-wild fun, stop by Wild Water Adventure for wave pools, speed slides, and more summer fun.
Daily admission includes access to both Michigan Adventure amusement park and WildWater Adventure waterpark – 2 parks for 1 price.
10. Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun – Kansas City, Missouri
The final park on our list isn’t last in anyone’s book.
It definitely earned its title as one of the best amusement parks in the Midwest!
Worlds of Fun is properly named, with thrilling roller coasters, epic water slides, and amusement park classics that bring on some serious nostalgia.
This park is even home to America’s first tower ride, “The Detonator.”
This adrenaline-pumping drop is a bucket list experience.
Grab a slice at Gateway Pizza, a kid-friendly meal at Sand Dune Diner, or some tasty KC BBQ at Surf’s Up Pavillion.
Conclusion: Best Amusement Parks in the Midwest
That rounds up our top picks for the very best amusement parks in the Midwest!
There was some pretty steep competition, so you know that any of these parks will provide quality, family-friendly fun.
If you have any more questions about our favorite Midwest theme parks or other travel tips, please leave them for us in the comments down below.
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*