When you need a break from all the museum and national monument hopping, the Washington, DC area has a variety of amusement parks offering a full day of thrills and entertainment. As to which park is the best, that depends on your particular interests and idea of fun. Whether you're looking for the biggest thrill rides or family-friendly attractions, there's a park nearby that's bound to suit your needs.
If you're in the market for an easy day trip or weekend getaway, look no further. Each of the following theme parks are no more than three hours away from the capital region.
Six Flags America is located just 30 minutes from downtown Washington, DC in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. It features more than 100 rides—including a wooden roller coaster that was built in 1917—plus shows and the area's largest water park. Throughout the year, the park hosts special seasonal events, such as Fright Fest for Halloween and Holiday in the Park. Six Flags' Opening Weekend for the 2020 season is March 28 and March 29.
Best for: Close proximity and convenience to Washington, DC.
The 400-acre amusement park features more than 50 rides, seven roller coasters, live family entertainment, and a 19-acre water park. If you're feeling brave, hop on the Dominator, which bills itself as the world's "longest floorless steel roller coaster." Or maybe you want to take a spin on the Intimidator 305, where you will drop 300 feet at an 85-degree angle. Kings Dominion is located in Doswell, Virginia, 20 miles north of Richmond and 75 miles south of Washington, DC. The park is open April through September, and for seasonal events over Halloween and the winter holidays.
Best for: Roller coasters and other thrilling rides.
This Hershey's Chocolate-themed amusement park has more than 70 rides and attractions. Featuring a roller coaster that climbs 200 feet and reaches a max speed of 75 miles per hour, Hersheypark offers kid-friendly rides as well.
For those with an extra sweet tooth, visit Hershey’s Chocolate World and hop on a free chocolate-making tour—complimentary sample included. You can later create your own candy bar; partake in an immersive, theatrical experience; and indulge in desserts made with Hershey's chocolate (think cakes, cocoa, s'mores, and milkshakes). The park is located about two hours north of the Washington, DC area, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Best for: Chocolate lovers and kiddie rides.
The European-themed amusement park offers dozens of rides, shows, animal attractions, a water park, and much more. In 2020, Busch Gardens is slated to debut the much-anticipated Pantheon. Claiming to be the world's fastest multi-launch coaster, it will feature four launches, two inversions, and top speeds of 73 miles per hour. The park is located right near Colonial Williamsburg, which makes this area a great place to visit for several days of family fun. Located about three hours from the Washington, DC area, the park hosts an annual food and wine festival, a Bier Fest, and a seasonal Christmas event.
Best for: Cultural events and a full weekend of fun (combine it with a visit to Virginia's Historic Triangle).
Maryland's largest Family Entertainment Center, this western theme park features go-karts, mini-golf, bumper boats, laser tag, a ropes course, rock wall, water wars, moon bounce, paintball, soft-play playground, arcade games, carousel, and teacups. Adventure Park USA hosts special events as well, including a breakfast with Disney princesses. Located in New Market, Maryland—about 40 miles north of Washington, DC—the facility is open year-round.
Best for: Limited time, birthday parties.
The indoor/outdoor family fun center in Fredericksburg, Virginia has more than 20 rides and attractions, including a mini Ferris wheel, mini roller coaster, laser tag, a multi-level go-kart track, miniature golf, batting cages, mini bowling, rock climbing, and bumper cars. Fun Land also has an arcade with over 100 video games—you can even play them at half price on Wednesdays. The facility is located about 90 minutes south of Washington and is open year-round.
Best for: Indoor entertainment, group events, and birthday parties.