roller coasterHappy Fourth of July, friendsicles! Here's to a mid work-week respite and to lighting things on fire in our backyards. Independence Day not only signifies the birth of our nation, but the birth of summer, as well. Since most public schools end in late June, the Fourth sort of rings in the start of a warm season filled with pool time, barbecues, and amusement parks.

If you're not familiar with some of our country's great theme parks, I kindly suggest you put down that hot dog and beer long enough to read our top 10 list. Check out which amusement park is near you and plan a family trip -- it's what the Founding Fathers would want, after all.

  1. Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA. Best amusement park in the nation, if you ask me. The park is almost entirely shaded, it has HUGE roller coasters for the adults and great options for the little ones. Adult day passes are $67, kids are $57.
  2. Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. This old-fashioned, very family-friendly park is pay per ride. Go for the wooden roller coaster, stay for the food -- it's been voted Best Food for over seven years. 
  3. Universal Studios, Orlando, FL. Can you say "mind-blowing Harry Potter ride" and "boozy City Walk"? Day passes are $123 for adult, $117 for kids.
  4. Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio. This place is huge. With over 17 roller coasters and ten shows, there's never a break in the action. Adults pay $52, kids are $30.
  5. Disney World, Orland, FL. I mean, Space Mountain might be the best ride ever invented. Tickets start at $77 a day.
  6. Wonder World Park, San Marcos, Texas. Explore caves and learn about Mother Nature's destructive forces all in a fun-filled environment of learning. Adults $20, kids $16.
  7. Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA. Dubbed the "best amusement park in California," this place gives Disneyland a run for it's money. Water rides, roller coasters, and live entertainment for $58 a day, $30 for kids.
  8. Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois. Thrilling rides and water slides in the Midwest for $57, $37.
  9. Lake Compounce, Bristol, CT. It's the oldest theme park in North America. After a $50 million upgrade, this park as thrill rides and classic rides alike. $36 adults, $26 kids.
  10. Oaks Amusement Park, Portland, Oregon. There's mini golf, a roller rink, and a dance pavilion in this theme park. Bonus! Free admission, pay per ride/amusement.

What's your favorite theme park?

 

Photo via roller coaster philosopy/Flickr