There are so many family-friendly ways to enjoy summer. From backyard BBQs or backyard campouts to beach days or beach vacation rental stays, with the kiddos out of school and the sun out in general, it’s no wonder kids (and plenty of adults!) love this season. If summer is in full swing and you’re looking for your next great adventure, we highly recommend a visit to your local (or not-so-local, if you’re making a trip out of it) amusement park or water park. These are super kid-friendly destinations that can also be a ton of fun for adults, and breaking up a routine to turn this into a day trip or even part of a weekend getaway is a guaranteed way to make lots of memories.
As with any family activity, especially when little kiddos are in the mix, planning is essential (although we’re sure we don’t have to tell you that!). Being prepared for the day can make all the difference—an amusement park can quickly become not-so-amusing if you forget the sunscreen, for example—so it’s key that you have a game plan in place to ensure the day is enjoyable for everyone. Plus, there can be a lot of simulation at an amusement park or water park, so being prepared for the day can be a safeguard against any meltdowns (let’s leave the melting to the ice cream, shall we?).
Read on for some tips that’ll make having a family visit to the amusement park this summer a breeze.
The more you know before you go, the more successful your excursion will be. This is true for basically any experience or event, but it’s especially true when bringing kiddos to an amusement or water park, with tons of other people and lots of sights and sounds. You’ll want to look up basic details, like how long it’ll take to get there and if you need to book any tickets or reservations in advance. If it’s a waterpark, do you need to bring your own beach towels? And, for any amusement park, what’s the food situation? Are you allowed to bring in your own snacks? Those are the types of questions you should be looking up in advance.
We also recommend you do a bit more digging, like looking at online forums or reviews to see if other parents have any thoughts about how kid-friendly specific parks are. For example, if you have little ones, you want to avoid arriving at the park only to be disappointed by sign after sign stating, “you must be this tall to ride”.
Now that you have the details sorted out, you should have a sense of what you’ll need to bring along. For a family visit to the amusement park, the bag you choose is just as important as what you put in it. While we all love carrying our favorite beach tote bags in the summertime, something a bit more secure like a water-resistant backpack with a sturdy zipper and zippered pockets can help to keep your belongings safe and organized throughout the day. You can also have your kiddos bring along some of their own essentials (while, of course, keeping the essential essentials in your bag or another adult’s bag) in their kids' backpacks.
Keep in mind that you won't be able to bring your backpacks on all rides, so it might make sense to keep your larger bag in a locker, if available, for certain parts of the day while you keep things like ride tickets and your phone in a fanny pack (don’t worry, we’ve checked with the Tik Tok generation and confirmed that these are 100% back in style). Some parks will just have cubbies by the rides rather than lockers, so try to avoid leaving your bag unzipped or bringing lots of valuables along. For a water park or an amusement park with lots of “splash zone” rides in the mix, you might also want to consider bringing a waterproof dry bag instead of a standard backpack.
You’ve got the details pinned down and your bags packed, so it sounds like it’s time to go. When getting ready or helping kiddos get ready for the day, comfort should be at the front of your mind, in addition to the types of rides and activities you’ll be enjoying throughout the day.
If you’re heading to a water park, you’ll definitely want to wear a swimsuit layer under some cute and breathable shorts, plus a lightweight UPF sun protection t-shirt. For kids, we highly recommend bringing a change of clothes for them to change into after they’ve hit the water slides in their kids’ swimsuits, since heading back home in a dry, clean outfit can make for a much more enjoyable experience after the excitement of the day dies down.
No matter what type of amusement park you’re heading to, make sure you have on your comfiest walking shoes, sneakers, or sports/activewear sandals, with arch support and comfortable straps. For kiddos, ensure they have on a comfy pair of kids' sneakers that are breathable and lightweight while still providing support. After all, the trek to the rides and to the funnel cake stand and back again is no easy feat on your feet!
By following these tips, you’re guaranteed to have a successful amusement park experience with your family this summer. Just don’t forget to take lots of photos and save a deep-fried cookie or two for us!