The radiant months of summer seem to whip by so fast. Here are some memorable excursions to fit in before the kids head back to school.
Five decades of family fun culminate in the golden anniversary of Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. With the introduction of Orion, Kings Island’s longest, tallest and fastest steel coaster in 2020, there are now 15 rollercoasters to happy-scream on. The Beast, the world’s longest wooden coaster, just became even longer. Off-season work extended it by a few feet and steepened the first drop.
Kings Island also features Planet Snoopy, an award-winning kids’ area, and Soak City, a 33-acre water park. Summer evenings are capped off with a fireworks finale of 200 synchronized drones, fire bursts and laser projections.
Swish around America’s first rotating water slide in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Water slide enthusiasts will definitely want to try the innovative slide, Medusa’s Slidewheel, a huge waterslide that spins like a Ferris Wheel, found at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park Resort. Up to four people can splash in a raft for 96 seconds, experiencing G-force and airtime, as they glide around a spinning series of tubes. Mt. Olympus also expanded its indoor water park. The outdoor wave pool is one of the world’s largest with nine-foot waves every 90 seconds.
Roll around Madison, Wisconsin
Want to tackle a wet, wacky, wild sport that’s sure to have you rolling with laughter? Try your best to balance on a spinning, floating log in Lake Wingra with Madison Log Rolling. Kids and adults will get a kick out of this lumberjack sport. Drop-in classes are available 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
While in Madison, stay at the hip Hotel Indigo, an old paint factory now splashed with colorful murals. Tweens and foodies will eat up at a Bike n’ Bites food tour with Madison Eats, tasting seven food and drink samples while pedaling around town on a guided e-bike tour. Start at Garver Feed Mill for samples of Ian’s Pizza (known for mac n’ cheese pizza) or KOSA Spa’s vegan Indian food. Also at Garver, check out Roll Play, an Asian street food board game café. Sip bubble tea while playing more than 150 board games. Rent kayaks at nearby Olbrich Park.
Veg out in Rockford
Rockford lives up to its nicknamed City of Gardens. Anderson Japanese Gardens offer a tranquil, 12-acre landscape with flowers and waterfalls dotted with stone pathways. The Japanese Summer Festival at the end of July showcases unique performances and cultural demonstrations.
Visit Rock Cut State Park for more than 3,000 acres of space for picnicking, hiking and camping. Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens on the Rock River features a beautiful 10-mile recreation path decorated with sculptures and parks.
When you’re ready to nosh, you’ll find plenty of vegan options, including Pig Minds Brewing Company, America’s first vegan brewery. The Spicy Peanut Tofu Zoodle Bowl is delicious, while its 10-beer flight is a generous tasting. Prairie Street Brewing Company has a fantastic patio along Rock River, plus kids can’t get enough of their arcade games. Grab brunch at The Norwegian. Families eat up breakfast treats like the Swedish Cinnamon Knot. Looking for a place to stay? Embassy Suites By Hilton Rockford Riverfront is a hip, modern hotel with bright, downtown views, an indoor pool and hot tub.
Surf the waves on a California vacay
If a California beach vacation is calling you, Huntington Beach, aka Surf City USA, is the place to hang 10 this summer. Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, with its chill vibe and water slides, provides the family-friendly accommodations that will wow your crew.
From there, take a short drive to Buena Park for Knott’s Berry Farm, California’s original theme park. Rides range from insane coasters to sweet kiddie rides featuring Snoopy. Our family’s favorites are Jaguar!, a glide above a Mayan-themed temple, and the Pony Express, a unique ride that jets to a quick start on “horseback.” Stay at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel so you can have a pool break in the middle of the day, then return for more rides.
In neighboring Santa Ana, little ones love Santa Ana Zoo for its monkeys, train ride and carousel.
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