Sometimes, theme park conversations overlook a crucial aspect of potential visits. You’re most likely to visit the parks that are closest to you. Sure, you may vacation at Universal or Disney theme parks, but you’ll spend the most time at the ones in your neck of the woods. That’s why we’re starting a new series that evaluates the best parks in various parts of the United States. Here are the seven best amusement parks in the Northeast.

7. Lake Compounce

Image: Lake CompounceLet me get the only rule out of the way before we begin. I won't pick multiple parks from the same company. In the Northeast, this rule primarily applies to Six Flags, which has at least two parks that would otherwise qualify and arguably a third. Now then, let's talk about great parks in the Northeast!

Bristol, Connecticut, is known for two things. Primarily, it’s the place where ESPN’s national headquarters is, meaning that encounters with famous athletes are a common practice in a city with a population of barely 60,000. It’s also the home of Lake Compounce, one of the most beautiful theme parks in America. Oh, and it’s the oldest continuously operating theme park in the United States, too.

Lake Compounce enjoys the gorgeous setting of a lake nestled on a mountaintop. Wherever you walk in this park, you’re likely to see either trees or water or both. The landscaping here augments the idyllic setting, and the undeniable small town feel of the park buildings creates a homey vibe.

The star ride at Lake Compounce is Boulder Dash. It’s perennially ranked as one of the top three wooden roller coasters in the world. I view it as a destination attraction, one that singlehandedly justifies a visit to Lake Compounce. Having said that, this park doesn’t have a lot to do. After half a day here, you may start to get bored. It’s the con of smaller theme parks.

6. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

Image: Cedar FairRemember that Billy Joel song, Allentown? Yeah, the people who live in Allentown, Pennsylvania, hate that song, as tourists hum the lyrics like they’re the first ones ever to think of it. Whether you live in the area or an out-of-towner with a Billy Joel earworm, you’ll have a lovely time at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, one of Cedar Fair’s best parks.

The pride and joy of Dorney Park is Steel Force, which has finished in the top five in Best Steel Roller Coaster voting a couple of times. This hyper coaster is massive, with a length of 5,600 square feet. Even with a top speed of 75 miles per hour, it’s still a three-minute ride due to the track length. And there’s a 510-degree downward helix that will blow your mind.

Another unique selling point of Dorney Park is its waterpark. Wildwater Kingdom is part of the official name because it’s part of the park. It’s not an adjoining location or a second park in the area. The theme park and waterpark use the same space. You’ll want to pack your swimsuit when you spend the day here.


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