There’s nothing like spinning around in a bucket, flipping around in a pirate ship, smashing in a bumper car, and riding through a haunted mansion after a day at the beach. Even before the sun sets, the lights come on in these fun, family-friendly beachfront amusement parks.
Funland, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Once you make your way past the shops selling saltwater taffy and boardwalk fries, Funland greets you first with its midway-style carnival games, from whack-a-mole to the lively “horse racing” (you roll a ball into a slot to get your “horse” to advance toward the finish line). There’s a wonderful special section for little kids, and then more extreme rides for the older set, including a Gravitron. Don’t miss the haunted house with its skull and mirrors room and its surprise that leaves a smile on everyone’s face.
Pacific Park®, Santa Monica, California
Undoubtedly, you’ve seen this amusement park on the pier before. Its towering Ferris wheel set against a Pacific Ocean background has starred in hundreds of movies, and is a romantic way to take in the famous coastline of Los Angeles from a bird’s-eye view. Other rides include a Sea Dragon and a 9-story tower plunge. Those looking to score a stuffed animal can head to the game section where you can do everything from breaking plates to popping balloons in order to win a souvenir.
Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, Texas
Whether you want to hit the high score in the video arcade, feel your stomach turn on a rollercoaster, or ride a more sedate carousel, Kemah Boardwalk’s many amusements will keep you and your family busy for hours. Overlooking Galveston Bay, the main attraction for many is the Boardwalk Bullet, a wooden coaster with thrills in mind. In addition to the many rides and games available, there’s a Stingray Reef, where visitors can touch and feed the harmless creatures. Be sure to take the kids to see the interactive fountain.
Santa Monica Pier photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Stephanie Shaner.