Home » The 7 Most Beautiful Theme Parks in the United States

    The 7 Most Beautiful Theme Parks in the United States

    Image © Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    Not every aspect of an amusement park vacation is predicated upon the rides. Sometimes, you want to relax and enjoy the scenery. In other instances, the breathtaking views enhance the proceedings. Theme park designers spend millions of dollars selecting the perfect park location and then augmenting them further to provide a soothing experience for guests. Here are the seven most beautiful theme parks in the United States.

    1. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    Image © Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    The Virginia location is the reigning winner in the Best Landscaping category three years running in the Golden Ticket Awards. Amazingly, that’s not its most impressive feat. The National Amusement Park Historical Association has named Busch Gardens Williamsburg as Most Beautiful Amusement Park. Over 20 times. I’m not sure what more I could say to add to those accolades other than noting that the idyllic Williamsburg setting includes elements of 17th century England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Scotland in its design. You can take a walk through history while enjoying some of the most entertaining rides on the East Coast. In terms of park beauty, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is the gold standard in American theme parks.

    2. Cedar Point

    Image © Cedar Fair

    Perhaps no other amusement park in the country benefits more from its surroundings than Cedar Point. Nestled beside Lake Erie, the roller coaster capital of the world is approaching 150 years in operation. What differentiated it in the 19th century remains its calling card today. The lake perspective adds immeasurably to all of the attractions. This is why the brilliant ride engineers at Cedar Fair have chosen to emphasize their competitive strength as much as possible.

    Four different roller coasters at Cedar Point exceed 200 feet in height, the requirement to qualify as a Hypercoaster. The idea is that as theme park tourists are lifted high in the air, they can appreciate the beauty of the waters below for a few moments before plunging at extreme velocity to the depths below. No ride is better in this regard than Millennium Force, which is why it reigns as the gold standard in roller coaster design in the 2000s. Sitting on the front row of Millennium Force provides the ultimate lake view, and it’s exactly this kind of ride accentuation that makes Cedar Point one of the most beautiful theme parks in America.

    3. Knoebels Amusement Resort

    Image © Knoebels

    Taking full advantage of the Allegheny Mountains, Knoebels Amusement Resort manages to embrace its location and history while still maintaining relevance in the competitive 21st century amusement park industry. The largest free admission park in the country, Knoebels finds clever ways to glorify its heritage and locality, thereby enhancing its beauty. Several of its rides have existed for many decades, allowing parents and grandparents to share aspects of their youth with the next generation of their family.

    Impressively, several of the areas incorporate nature as their backdrop to the point that tree trunks are part of the infrastructure of multiple pavilions. It’s a specific nod to the timeless nature of the park as well as its placement in the surrounding forest. Many of the throwback rides at Knoebels offer amazing views of the lush vegetation in the surrounding region, making the park somehow feel like an extension of the mountains, as is fitting for a place once known as Knoebels Grove. You’ll never feel more at home with nature while riding a roller coaster. For aging theme park tourists, Knoebels feels like a gentle, warm reminder of the halcyon days of youth.

    4. Dollywood

    Image © Dollywood

    Cynics lambasted this park during its early days. Co-owner Dolly Parton was well known in the music industry and more recently the movie realm for her Russ Meyer-esque proportions. Few people took her passion project seriously in the mid-80s, yet Dolly has had the last laugh over time. Dollywood is a perennial winner at the Golden Ticket Awards in categories such as Best Food, Best Shows, Best Christmas Event, and Friendliest Park. It also finished in the top three in the most recent awards for Best Park overall.

    What ties together all of its strengths, however, is the breathtaking backdrop of the Smoky Mountains. This vista setting of hundreds of acres of mountains accentuates virtually every aspect of Dollywood. It is particularly gorgeous during fall, when the leaves change color. Also, the reason why Dollywood is a strong annual contender/reigning champion in the Christmas Event award is obvious to anyone who has ever visited during this time. Dollywood as well as the vast majority of the businesses in the area all embrace the holiday season. There is a constant onslaught of Christmas decorations, creating one of the most festive atmospheres in the history of amusement parks. It literally stretches for miles.

    5. Silver Dollar City

    Image © Silver Dollar City

    Best described as the park that made Branson, Missouri, a tourist destination, Silver Dollar City is much more than a clever, catchy name. The 19th century frontiersman vibe permeating throughout the facilities fosters a feeling of Manifest Destiny for park adventurers seeking to know what it was like to become an explorer back in the day.

    Silver Dollar City’s positives for the Most Beautiful Theme Parks list are myriad. Like several others listed here, it has the benefit of a scenic mountain view. In this case, the Ozarks provide the ambience, and the park capitalizes on one of finest naturally occurring aspects of these mountains.  Marvel Cave, a National Natural Landmark, was the original impetus for Silver Dollar City. Hugo and Mary Herschend leased the cave, and then they created a tourist attraction known as 1880s Ozark Mountain Village. It was intended to attract consumers to its retro mining town feel, and it even used the foundation of an actual town to perfect the realism. Fast forward to today, and you can still tour Marvel Cave for free as an extra bonus for your Silver Dollar City ticket. It’s one of the most unique and thematic amusement park incentives in the world, as well as the fitting point of origin for the rustically attractive Silver Dollar City.

    6. Holiday World

    Image © Holiday World

    The pride of Santa Claus, Indiana, this park is the reigning champion in the category of Cleanest Park. The employees of Holiday World take pride in the appearance of their park, because they know how pretty it looks as long as they do their jobs. The entire premise of Holiday World is that if children visit a town with a name brimming with yuletide, they should feel like they’re re-living December 25th over and over again. That concept carries over to the park thrown together over the otherwise flat lands of Indiana. In combination with its companion water park, Splashin’ Safari, Holiday World is visible for miles as a seemingly out of nowhere man-made marvel of architecture. It is indelibly tied to the city of Santa Claus itself, and its attractiveness and attention to detail feels like a celebration of all things Kris Kringle.

    7. Six Flags Great Adventure

    Image © Six Flags

    While pretty may not be the first word that pops in your mind when you think of New Jersey, Six Flags Great Adventure still deserves selection. Recently tethered to its sister animal park, Great Adventure now holds a claim as the largest theme park in the world at 510 acres. It has also suffered from negative headlines lately for a decision to build a solar farm to attain sustainable energy at the cost of many trees in the area.

    Despite all the negative press about its developers intentionally destroying some of its natural beauty, Six Flags Great Adventure has always claimed a spot as one of the most beautiful parks in the world due to its placement in Jackson Township, New Jersey. This area features forestry and waterfront areas so impressive that original owner Warner LeRoy had even grander plans for his new land. Basically every portion of Six Great Adventure offers a treat for the eyes in some way, a rarity for a region largely perceived as a punchline for neighboring New York. It is a vibrant, sweeping tract of land teeming with resplendent views of the surrounding forestry and waters.