Florida’s Walt Disney World has many times the acreage, but for our money the original park in Anaheim, California, packs more fun into every square foot. We still love the Haunted Mansion.
2. CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF INDIANAPOLIS
Dinosaurs literally burst through the walls at this beloved institution, the largest of its type in the world. It has five floors of exhibits, including fossils from an archaeological dig.
3. BEARIZONA WILDLIFE CENTER
There are plenty of bears on display at the drive-through nature preserve on the way to the Grand Canyon, including fearsome grizzlies, but you might find yourself enchanted by little guys like the beavers, badgers, and porcupines. Located in Williams, Arizona, it’s 58 miles south of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim entrance.
In the bustling town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, this country-music theme park is named for legendary singer and songwriter, Dolly Parton. Favorite attractions include Klondike Katie, a coal-fired steam engine, and the Lightning Rod roller coaster.
5. CEDAR POINT
Thrill-seekers flock to this venerable Ohio theme park, where the Steel Vengeance is the world’s fastest and tallest hybrid roller coaster. It also has the steepest and longest drop and four inversions.
6. COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG
You can walk the same streets as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg, where 18th-century structures have been lovingly restored.
7. KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
A thrill for young scientists, Florida’s Kennedy Space Center lets you gaze in awe at the Space Shuttle Atlantis, relive the thrilling launch of Apollo 8, or talk with a real astronaut.
8. GEORGIA AQUARIUM
The largest of its type in the world, the Georgia Aquarium is home to 100,000 underwater creatures. It’s one of the only facilities with massive whale sharks, and the playful beluga whales are adorable.
9. ALASKA SEALIFE CENTER
On the shores of Alaska’s Resurrection Bay in Seward, this marine mammal rehabilitation facility teaches you about research on animals like puffins and sea otters and lets you see them up close.
10. MAUI OCEAN CENTER
One of the world’s top aquariums, Maui Ocean Center is home to Turtle Lagoon, where hefty green Hawaiian sea turtles come up for air. Also dazzling are the jellyfish and hammerhead sharks.
11. MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES
The skeleton of a fully grown T. rex gives you chills at Montana’s Museum of the Rockies, with one of the best collections of fossils in the country.