3 Day Road Trip: Amusement Parks

Home to dozens of amusement parks with thrilling rides and kid-friendly adventures, New Jersey is one of the best places to get your adrenaline pumping. Check out our three-day itinerary below for the ultimate East Coast amusement park road trip – customized for riders of all types and complete with backup plans for those unexpected rainy days. You can also pop over to our state-wide list of New Jersey amusement and water parks to plan your own pulse-pounding expedition!

Day One

For thrill-seekers of all ages: Start your road trip at the king of Jersey amusement parks, the biggest in the state: Six Flags Great Adventure. With tons of fun for family members of every age (and level of bravery!), including rides large and small, live entertainment, shopping, and great food, Six Flags has something for everyone. In the summer months, you can even split your day between the amusement park and water park and beat the afternoon heat at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Stay and play until the park closes, then enjoy a cozy night at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Robbinsville or the Holiday Inn in East Windsor, just 12 miles away.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Rainy day alternative: If weather prevents you from visiting New Jersey’s biggest outdoor amusement park, fear not. The state’s largest indoor park, iPlay America, is just 20 minutes away in nearby Freehold. This 4-acre entertainment oasis features indoor amusement rides, laser tag, a Topgolf Swing Suite, arcade and boardwalk games, and more.

For families with young kids: If you’re looking for an amusement park adventure that caters to littles, begin your journey at The Land of Make Believe in Hope. This all-ages park was founded in 1954 with a mission to bring parents back into family fun. Here, parents don’t just sit by the sidelines but rediscover their own childlike joy as they ride, slide, laugh, and play. While older kids and parents take on the Tumbling Timbers and the Scream Machine, toddlers can also join in on the fun with rides like the Happy Swing or the Jumping Frog. There’s entertainment the whole family will enjoy, from the petting zoo and magic shows to the train and safari rides. After lunch at the Family Picnic Grove, be sure to check out the pirate-themed water park for water slides, lazy river floats, and splash-pad adventures. Stay at the nearby Quality Inn in Hackettstown for a quick and easy drive back to your hotel.

Rainy day alternative: Make your way to East Rutherford’s American Dream, the mega-entertainment complex that houses the indoor Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and DreamWorks Water Park (the biggest indoor water park in America!). Kids (and adults) can meet their favorite characters and enter their world on themed rides. Then, make a splash at a water park that has everything from kiddie play zones to slides that will make your stomach drop. Pro tip: Get the Dream Pass to save on 1-day admission to both parks. Stay overnight at one of American Dream’s preferred hotels and rest up for Day Two of your East Coast amusement park road trip!

DreamWorks Water Park

Day Two

For flexible fun: Fuel up (gas and coffee, too) and drive south to The Funplex in Mount Laurel, which has 100,000 square feet of attractions – both inside and out—so there’s no need for a rain plan. Perfect for groups of various ages, the Funplex is bursting with possibility. Soak up the summer sun and explore the outdoor rides and attractions or the Splashplex Waterpark. When temperatures drop or the rain clouds close in, head inside for even more adventures, from go-karts and laser tag to boardwalk rides and arcade games. For a convenient stay (and a discount on park admission!), stay at one of the on-site hotels where you’ll recharge before another day of fun.

For constructive kiddie play, Head to West Berlin, where you’ll find the nation’s ONLY construction-themed amusement and water park: Diggerland USA. Here, kids and adults can ride and operate real, specially engineered construction equipment. Explore kid-friendly rides like the Excavator Express and Crazy Cranes, then burn some energy at the Crawl Space playground or take a load off and enjoy some downtime at the Bulldozer Bay wading pool. After a long day on the construction site, you can rest your bones in a comfy bed at your choice of hotels included in the Diggerland USA Hotel & Ticket Package.


Rainy day alternative: Just a half-mile away, you can jump into the fun at Big Kahuna’s, an indoor and outdoor water park. So, even if the weather is miserable outside, your family can play all day in a 60,000-square-foot tropical paradise under a state-of-the-art retractable roof.

Day Three

For seaside excitement: No amusement park road trip would be complete without a stop along the Jersey Shore for the iconic boardwalk rides and attractions. The Wildwoods in New Jersey reign supreme for thrill seekers on the hunt for the ultimate amusement park experience. Morey's Piers, the crown jewel, is a collection of three amusement piers boasting over 100 rides and attractions. Here, daring riders can conquer The Great White, with its famous 105-foot drop, or strap into the Springshot and launch toward the sky. Beyond the adrenaline rush, Morey's Piers caters to all ages with classic carnival games, kiddie rides, and water park fun at Raging Waters and Ocean Oasis. For the full Wildwoods experience, book a night at one of the famous doo-wop motels, like the Caribbean Motel or the StarLux Boutique Hotel.

Morey’s Piers

For small adventurers: Ocean City's boardwalk offers a double dose of family fun with Gillian's Wonderland Pier and Playland's Castaway Cove. Gillian's caters to younger children with classic rides like the Carousel, Fire Engines, and MonoRail train. Little ones will love exploring the whimsical world of Gillian’s, where they can drive Dune Buggies or ride on mini boats and tot-sized roller coasters. Playland's Castaway Cove gives you that boardwalk feeling but with a pirate theme. Families can take on the Pirate’s Gold Rush kiddie coaster, battle in the bumper cars, or rack up points in the arcade (inside, under the tall pirate ship!). Both parks boast interactive games and tasty treats, making for a delightful day at the boardwalk for families with young kids. Stay somewhere walkable, like Ocean 7 and enjoy your final evening before heading home in the morning.

Playland’s Castaway Cove

Rainy day alternative: No downpour can wash away the amusement park fun in New Jersey, especially with a detour to Atlantic City! The famous Steel Pier might be best saved for sunshine, but you can still get that classic Jersey Shore experience indoors. Stay at the Showboat Resort, where you can explore America’s biggest arcade, complete with an indoor go-kart racetrack. Then, spend your afternoon at the resort’s Island Waterpark for hours of beachy fun, regardless of the weather. Wrap up your trip at the on-site hotel and spend your drive home reminiscing about all the fun you’ve had!


Planning your own itinerary? Explore accommodations along your trip, and, as always, be sure to check the websites and social media channels of your destination before you go for the latest details on schedules and events.