North Carolina Theme Parks and Amusement Parks

The Hurricane at the North Carolina State Fair
Brian Vetter/Getty Images

The one major amusement park in North Carolina is the popular Carowinds Park (which is actually located on the border of both North and South Carolina), but there are also a number of smaller parks and places to find fun in the state if you're looking for a family day-trip to take during your summer vacation.

There used to be more amusement parks across the state, especially in the mid-1900s when these parks first came into major popularity, but many of the old parks have closed down due to a lack of customer interest. Although these parks have closed, along with a few ghost towns that are now truly abandoned, there are still seven great parks to check out, listed below in alphabetical order.

  • 01 of 07
    Carolina Beach Ferris Wheel

    Wilmington and Beaches CVB

    The Carolina Beach Boardwalk in Carolina Beach is perfect for a day spent on the water while relaxing with some traditional carnival-style games. There are a few rides and activities, such as a Ferris wheel and mini-golf along the classic seaside boardwalk. 

    Guests can enjoy boardwalk foods like hot dogs and giant pretzels, try their hand at a few carnival games like ring toss, or just enjoy all the sights and sounds of this popular tourist destination throughout the summer.

  • 02 of 07
    Carolina Cobra rollercoaster at Carowinds, North Carolina
    Mike Liu/Flickr

    If you're looking for a traditional yet exciting theme park, Carowinds in Charlotte is North Carolina's biggest and best attraction. This huge theme park has one of the largest collection of roller coasters in the world, including the incredibly tall and fast Fury 325, the hyper-coaster Intimidator, and the inverted coaster Afterburn.

    Beyond the thrilling roller coasters, Carowinds also includes access to the Carolina Harbor water park in its admission price when visiting.

  • 03 of 07
    People riding a ride at Frankie's Fun Park, Raleigh, NC
    Frankie's Fun Park

    The family fun center includes go-karts, an arcade, and a few rides such as bumper boats, the Sidewinder pendulum ride, and the spinning WindStarz, as well as "the best mini-golf in Raleigh."

    Other fun attractions include the Dark Ride XD, the Fun House obstacle course, laser tag, a batting cage, the Drop Zone, the Spider Web, and a number of great restaurants and snack shops to satisfy your hunger during an active day at this amusement park.

  • 04 of 07
    Child completing a ropes course at Galaxy Fun Park
    Galaxy Fun Park

    The Galaxy Fun Park is another family fun center with go-karts, bumper cars, trampolines, laser tag, and a ropes course located in Raleigh, NC. Keep in mind that Galaxy Fun Park does not allow open-toed shoes including flip flops, sandals, or heels due to the nature of activities offered at this amusement center.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07
    Person at Santa's Land, Cherokee, NC dressed as a Christmas elf and petting two bear cubs.
    Santa's Land

    This small Christmas-themed amusement park and zoo in Cherokee, NC includes the Rudicoaster roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and a few other rides while animal exhibits include deer, monkeys, bears, exotic birds, and kangaroos. Even though the park is only open during the summer, Santa is on hand to greet kids and take note of their off-season holiday wish lists.

  • 06 of 07
    Old-fashioned locomotive train at Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock, NC
    Tweetsie Railroad

    The train-themed park features a three-mile ride through the North Carolina mountains on an authentic narrow-gauge, coal-fired steam train. Other attractions include covered wagon rides, a carousel, a chairlift ride up to Miner’s Mountain, a small zoo, gold panning and gem mining, a Ferris wheel, and other spinning rides.

  • 07 of 07
    People playing mini-golf at WagonMaster Adventure Ranch, Murphy, NC

    Wagonmaster Adventure Ranch

    This small family fun park includes mini-golf, wagon rides, gold panning, live animals, skeet shooting, and a bouncy castle as well as camping and RV sites on-premise for overnight accommodations. Nearby, the Smoky Mountains are full of creeks and rivers that are great for summer swimming and fly fishing.