Disneyland sleeping beauty castle by bubble_gum on Flickr

Five of the Best Theme Parks and the Cities They’re In or Near

Whether you have kids or you’re a kid at heart, theme parks are thrilling. Some parks specialize in roller coasters or bring your favorite movies and characters to life, while others let you sample different beers or stuff your face with unique park fare. If you’re an amusement park enthusiast, you’re in luck, because some of the best places to live are near the most popular parks.

Disney in Florida and California

Here’s a two-for, because there’s simply no way to choose a Disney. If you’re on the East Coast, Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is a no-brainer. You get all the magic of Disney, along with Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and the knowledge that your park is just a little better than its California counterpart, simply because the rides and attractions are so diverse. This area is close enough to Orlando, Tampa, and other Florida destinations that you can visit a wealth of other parks, as well as beaches and shopping districts.

Disneyland, located in Anaheim, Calif., is awesome too. Perfect for anyone who prefers the West Coast, you’ll get to enjoy the original resort, as well as all that California sunshine. You’re also close to the state’s choice spots — LA, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and even Knott’s Berry Farm.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando

Something about Florida just invites amusement parks. Universal Studios definitely gives Disney a run for its money, and Islands of Adventure is the biggest competition with Harry Potter World. Visiting Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and the Weasley twins’ joke shop is a huge draw for adults and children. Orlando is a wonderful place to live anyway, thanks to all the shopping, water parks, food, and nightlife.

Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH

Most people never think of Ohio when they think of theme parks. Those people have never visited Cedar Point. The surroundings are gorgeous, and it’s largely considered one of the best parks in America. In addition to all those roller coasters — 16 in all — you’re right on Lake Erie. You’re also not terribly far from the wilds of Michigan, and you can easily visit nearby Kings Island.

Hersheypark in Hershey, Penn.

If it involves chocolate, you know it’s incredible. Hersheypark is heaven for both chocoholics and thrill-seekers. You can tour the Hershey Chocolate Factory and get tons of free samples — just make sure you do that after you have your fill of the rides. You’ll also get to enjoy the water park and admission to ZOOAMERICA, plus you’re close to the beauty of Amish Country and Lancaster County. You haven’t lived until you visit Intercourse, Penn.

Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va.

There’s a Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., but the park in Williamsburg is exciting beyond belief. It has several classic, much-loved rides and ever-changing coasters, so every trip offers a new experience. Animal lovers will also enjoy Busch Gardens Williamsburg, which has tours and keeper experiences that bring you closer to the animals than ever. Another benefit is that you can visit Colonial Williamsburg, which is both charming and educational.

Amusement park enthusiasts are definitely spoiled for choice. Where’s your favorite park?

Disneyland sleeping beauty castle by bubble_gum on Flickr.

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