Cedar Point

Several places offer beyond-the-park adventures as theme park destinations. Of course, there are places like Orlando with its several theme parks, accommodations, and activities. However, other locations like Cedar Point, Silver Dollar City, Dollywood, and Hersheypark offer nearby national parks, fascinating museums, and a plethora of other unique activities. These destinations offer enriching experiences beyond the thrill of rides, promising unforgettable memories for the whole family. 

1.Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio

For thrill-seekers, Cedar Point is a true icon, featuring world-class roller coasters and entertainment for all ages. However, there is more to this park than just its rides. Cedar Point Shores water park offers several water slides and attractions. As the park is situated on a peninsula on the coast of Lake Erie, the site is also home to a beach that offers several water sports including parasailing and jet-skiing. 

Castaway Bay
Image: Cedar Point


Additionally, there are two on-site resorts within walking distance of the park, and 3 other Cedar Point-owned hotels and resorts including Castaway Bay with its indoor waterpark and marina or Sawmill Creek which features a marina and golf course. Nearby, the Kalahari Resort also offers indoor water park adventures. Throughout Sandusky, there are dozens of hotel accommodations to fit any preference or budget. 

Sandusky, Ohio, offers a myriad of attractions and experiences to cater to visitors of all ages. The city is renowned for its scenic waterfront. Visitors can enjoy sandy beaches, recreational activities like swimming, boating, and fishing, or simply take in breathtaking sunsets over the water. Nature lovers can explore the nearby Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve.

Sheldon Marsh Nature Preserve
Image: Ohio Department of Natural Resources


Culture enthusiasts can explore the Sandusky Maritime Museum, delving into the region's rich maritime history, or catch a show at the historic Sandusky State Theatre which is set to reopen after an extensive renovation this year. Foodies will delight in the array of dining options, from classic American diners to upscale waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood. 

With its blend of outdoor recreation, cultural experiences, and family-friendly attractions, Sandusky offers something for everyone to enjoy.

2. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, nestled within the Great Smoky Mountains, offers a plethora of attractions and activities to captivate visitors. Dollywood itself remains a beacon of entertainment, showcasing thrilling rides, live performances, and a celebration of Appalachian culture. Dollywood also offers two on-site resorts: Dollywood’s Heartsong Lodge & Resort and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa.

Heartsong Lodge
Image: Dollywood


Beyond Dollywood though, Pigeon Forge boasts an array of accommodation choices. From resort-style hotels with indoor water parks to homely cabins perched within the cliffs of the Smoky Mountains, there is something for every family of every size. Of course, there are also standard hotels for every budget ranging from motels to hotels that offer a more luxurious experience.

The family-friendly experiences are endless as well. The Island in Pigeon Forge features shops, restaurants, and the impressive Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, providing panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can also explore nearby Gatlinburg with its unique walking district with shops, restaurants, and even an aquarium. There are also many dinner shows such as Dolly Parton’s Stampede or Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud. 

The Island Pigeon Forge
Image: Amanda Dwyer


For outdoor enthusiasts, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park beckons with its hiking trails, scenic drives, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Additionally, there are many miniature golf courses, go-kart tracks, and mountain coasters to fill the day with excitement and entertainment. 

From adrenaline-pumping rides to cultural experiences and natural beauty, Pigeon Forge presents a diverse array of attractions sure to enchant visitors of all ages.

Continue reading for two more not to be missed theme parks in 2024... 


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