Theme Parks for Families with Young Children

Discover Theme Parks Designed Especially for Little Kids

Most theme parks have rides, lands, and other features for very young visitors. But a few parks are geared entirely for the 12-and-under set. Discover magical places where your young kids would be able to ride most of the rides.
  • 01 of 08

    Legoland California

    Legoland-CA.jpg
    ••• The entrance to Legoland California. © Arthur Levine.
    You know Legos. Most kids have a bucket of the snap-together blocks in their toy chests. Imagine a whole park constructed out of Legos and decked out in its primary colors. There are the requisite roller coasters (though they are tame), but many of the attractions are wildly inventive, hands-on, interactive, Lego-themed creations.
  • 02 of 08

    Legoland Florida

    ••• Merlin Entertaimants, 2010. Used with permission.

    The Florida version of the Lego-themed park. Like its California counterpart, it is geared for the 12-and-under set.

  • 03 of 08
    ••• Tickle ME, Elmo. The Sesame Street characters meet and greet guests at Sesame Place. Busch Entertainment. Used with permission.
    Q: Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street? A: Sure! Take I-95 north from Philadelphia. Themed to the landmark PBS children's show, Sesame Place is designed for a pre-teen audience with a special emphasis on the program's preschool audience.
  • 04 of 08
    ••• The Swan Boats at Story Land in New Hampshire's White Mountains. White Mountains Attractions Association, 2008. Used with permission.
    Kids 12 and older probably wouldn’t be interested in New Hampshire's Story Land, but younger children would revel in its beguiling charm. And adults would adore the almost palpable nostalgia. Dating back to the mid-1950s, the front section of the park retains many of its original storybook tableaus such as the Old Woman in the Shoe, Humpty Dumpty, and the Three Little Pigs (with real pigs!). The back of the park offers some modern-day attractions including a wonderful raft ride, a steel roller coaster, and a log flume ride, but the thrills are toned down to pint-size levels.
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    ••• A certain red-suited gent serves as the engineer of the train ride at Santa's Village. ©Arthur Levine. Licensed to About.com.
    Ah, the White Mountains. New Hampshire's majestic Presidential Range offers so many wonderful sights: Rugged mountain peaks poking through sun-streaked clouds, the spectacular National Forest along the Kancamagus Highway, the red and green Dodgem cars plowing into each other at Santa's Village. Too blase to marvel at the area's natural wonders, kids prefer man-made attractions like Santa's Village. For decades, the park has been a whimsical, yet vital part of the region's warm-weather vacation offerings.
  • 06 of 08
    ••• A classic Ferris wheel is among the rides at Idlewild. Idlewild
    One of the country's premier parks for families with young children, Idlewild is loaded with charm along with the genuine nostalgia of an attraction that dates back to 1878. Olde Idlewild, one of seven areas at the park, features classic attractions such as a carousel from the 1920s, a 1947 Caterpillar--one of only two remaining that still use a canopy, and the circa-1938 Rollo Coaster, a wooden coaster.
  • 07 of 08
    ••• The wooden Kingdom Coaster at Pennsylvania's Dutch Wonderland delights young riders. Dutch Wonderland

    Boasting a signature castle at its entrance, Dutch Wonderland in Pennsylvania's Amish Country treats younger kids like royalty. Most of its rides are geared to the 12-and-under set, and even the youngest guests can enjoy most of the attractions when accompanied by an adult.

  • 08 of 08
    Thjomas Land rides at Edaville U.S.A.
    ••• Edaville U.S.A. and Mattel

    In 2015, the small, train-themed park in Massachusetts opened Thomas Land as part of a big expansion. It features rides and attractions based on the popular PBS show, Thomas & Friends.