Travel & Outdoors

Top Bay Area Amusement Parks

September 8, 2011 12:16 PM

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Kids, grown-ups and everyone in between all love amusement parks. What’s not to love? Rides, games, food, prizes and the opportunity to lug around a giant stuffed animal all afternoon all add up to one of America’s favorite pasttimes. You must be THIS tall to check out this list of the Bay Area’s Top Amusement Parks.

California’s Great America

4701 Great America Pkwy
Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 988-1776 x8848
California’s Great America

California’s Great America has the most thrill rides in Northern California. Check your fears at the door and get ready for the rides of your life. But there’s also tons of fun for those who don’t feel like defying gravity. Check out KidZville, a big, busy town built just for kids. Discover a whole new world, bursting with fun for the entire family. With 18 rides and attractions for parents and kids to enjoy together, you won’t know where to start. There’s also tons of dining options, shopping and massive amounts of parking. Great America is the South Bay’s biggest and best place to amuse just about everyone.

beachboardwalk com Top Bay Area Amusement Parks


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

400 Beach St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 423-5590
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Recently named the world’s “Best Seaside Amusement Park” by industry experts, the 102-year old Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk features both modern and classic thrill rides, restaurants, miniature golf, video game arcades, and family bowling, all located on a mile of sandy beach. The admission-free Boardwalk offers affordable ticket options and free summer entertainment. A historica state landmark and owned by the same company since 1915, the Boardwalk remains a family style amusement park creating memories that last a lifetime. Try the 1924 wooden roller coaster, the Giant Dipper. And a Sky Glider ride across the entire Boardwalk is an absolute must.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

1001 Fairgrounds Dr.
Vallejo, CA 94589
(707) 643-6722
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Swimming with the dolphins and other animal encounters are always right around the corner at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. From alligators to sharks, dolphins to cougars, butterflies to elephants, and walruses to penguins, discover all kinds of wildlife during a visit to the park. Check out one-of-a-kind wildlife shows, stop by and feed a new friend, or swim with the dolphins. Looking for thrills? Well, you’ve found them. In fact, you’ll find some of the fastest, tallest, wildest, gut-wrenchingest rides in the country-including a few record-breakers at Discovery Park. But don’t worry if you’re too short or too scared to ride. This Vallejo amusement park has got tons for kids of all ages, including rides just for little ones, and rides for moms and dad to join.

Gilroy Gardens

3050 Hecker Pass Hwy (Hwy 152)
Gilroy, CA 95020
(408) 840-7100
wwGilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens is the only California theme park with a horticultural theme. The Park is actually a non-profit organization, created and designed by Michael Bonfante to educate guests and foster a greater appreciation of the natural world and man’s ability to shape it. An additional bonus of this is that the price of admission is tax-deductible. Ideal for families with young children and garden lovers, Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park features 21 rides, 27 attractions, 6 majestic gardens and the world famous Circus Trees.

View Comments
  • delfina ayudan

    Perhaps you should think twice before promoting businesses that exploit dolphins?

  • mr_anderson162

    wow, seriously?

  • Gene

    I haven’t been there in ages, but i heard California’s Great America has really gone downhill. i don’t know so much about the rides and things, but i’ve heard that there is alot of gang activity.

    • Susan Jackson

      It’s true. We hold a season pass again this year and are pretty disappointed. The grounds maintenance has left the landscape to wither. It didn’t look like Cedar Fair did anything to spruce up the park for a new season. Some of the rides could use new paint as it’s chipping badly and peeling in places. Neglect is apparent. For the steep price of admission and as busy as it always seems, I would expect more.

  • Biker

    English only!

  • Justin

    I’ve given up on places like Six Flags and Great America… I don’t like the idea of my safety being in the hands of immature 16-year-olds who don’t know how to control themselves on the ride’s microphone.

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