Best Bay Area Amusement Parks
Whether you have a thrill-seeking roller coaster lover or a little one who enjoys the slow rides, the Bay Area offers plenty of amusement parks that are great for the whole family. Check out these favorites.
Children’s Fairyland – Calling itself the “Original Storybook Theme Park,” Children’s Fairyland has delighted families since 1950 with its gentle rides, whimsical storybook sets, animals and live entertainment. 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. 510-452-2259.
Pixieland Amusement Park – This is the perfect spot to introduce little ones to amusement parks. With age-appropriate rides like the Pixieland Express Train and the Dragon Roller Coaster, there's something for everyone. If your little one isn't quite ready to ride alone, parents can ride on most of the rides, too. Admission and parking are free. Ride tickets can be purchased individually or in discounted bundles. 2740 E. Olivera Road, Concord. 925-676-9612.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – This park has a little of everything: thrilling rollercoasters, fun family and kids' rides, Looney Tunes character meet-and-greets and live entertainment. Batman: The Ride is arriving in 2019 with its tumbling, free-fall journey along an I-box track. Plus, the park has a diverse collection of wildlife ranging from butterflies to giraffes. You can even swim with dolphins. 1001 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo. 707-643-6722.
California's Great America – The Gold Striker, the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California, is just one of many thrilling rollercoasters at this theme park. The park also recently opened RailBlazer, the first single rail steel coaster. There's also a water park for hot days, a large selection of family-friendly rides, live entertainment and more. 4701 Great America Pkwy., Santa Clara. 408-988-1776.
Gilroy Gardens – The six beautiful gardens make up the backdrop of this garden-themed park, which also features the famous circus trees – carefully grafted trees that are living works of art. There's also an assortment of rides for all ages, including two rollercoasters, a train ride, monorail and more. 3050 Hecker Pass Hwy., Gilroy. 408-840-7100.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – Its free admission and beautiful local scenery are just two of the reasons the Boardwalk remains a family favorite. Two of the rides – the Giant Dipper wooden rollercoaster and the Looff Carousel – are also National Historic Landmarks. In the summer, there are free Friday night concerts. All-day and seasonal passes are available, or tickets can be purchased individually. 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz. 831-423-5590.
Tag: Teresa Mills-Faraudo is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.