If you're like me, I bet you have many fond memories of visiting amusement parks.  Having worked at Disney World in college, I've seen the best of the best but I still love my Neew York and PA parks!  You can't let summer '16 go by without taking the family to one of many fun parks.

This year, it seems like more people are staying close to home.  Most of the amusement parks on my list are a couple of hours away, perfect for a family day away.

Here are my 5 picks for nearby amusement parks that define a fun summer:

  • Knoebels Amusement Resort - Knoebles is already known as "Glenn Pitcher's favorite place to buy jewelry" and probably even more famous as 'America's largest free-admission amusement park."  Located in Elysburg, PA, Knoebels is home to 6 roller coasters and 2 water rides.  Sundays are special in that they feature a 90 cent ride of the week.  Park hours are 11am-10pm, Pool hours 11am-8pm and golf is open 7am-dark.
  • Darien Lake - featuring thrill, wet family and kids rides, this resort outside of Rochester has a new ride called Ripcurl Racer.  It looks and sounds amazing on a hot day when water rides are the only way to have fun.  Darien Lake has always featured big concerts and this summer is no exception with Zac Brown, Brantley Gilbert, Toby Keith, Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean all hitting the park in the coming weeks.  Park hours are 10:30am-10pm the rest of July and August.
  • Enchanted Forest Water Safari -  Old Forge is where the fun never stops, especially for families looking to cool off and get away. If you like water parks, this is the one to go to as it's said to be New York's largest water parks.  With 50 rides and attractions (32 are wet and wild), this park is perfect for the family on a hot day.  New this year, private cabana rentals. Click HERE for park hours.
  • Sylvan Beach Amusement Park -  This park is awesome because it's a throwback taste of the classic amusement parks of 20th century America, complete with bumper cars, bumper boats, tilt-a-whirl, superslide and miniature golf.  On Oneida Lake, it's a great day trip for the family.  This park is not open everyday so click HERE for park hours.
  • Great Escape Amusement Park -  60 miles north of Albany is Great Escape with park and water rides for all ages in Lake George.  Great Escape features all your favorite Looney Tunes characters and is great family fun.  New this year:  the Revolution  Virtual Reality Coaster at Steamin' Demon and Greezed Lightning which is a looping coaster that delivers never-ending revolutions and weightless hang time. Yikes! Click HERE for park hours.

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