Most Affordable Amusement Parks
HomeToGo revealed the results of its 2022 Theme Park Index, ranking 30 theme parks in the U.S. based on affordability. Taking into account factors such as the cost of an admission ticket, parking and nearby vacation rentals, they compared many of the most popular theme parks across the country to uncover both budget-friendly and top dollar options for those planning upcoming vacations.
While ticket prices have seen an overall increase, the index revealed that some of the best theme parks across the country are accessible for a fraction of the price compared to those in states like Florida and California.
Amusement parks in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Missouri and New York climb to the affordable peak of this year’s ranking, whereas world-renowned parks in Florida and California are on the pricier side.
Based on the cost of a one-day adult admission ticket, parking and data for nearby accommodations, here’s a snapshot of the top rankings from the 2022 Theme Park Index:
1. Tropic Falls at OWA - Alabama
Ticket Price: $22.49 Parking: Free
2. Quassy Amusement Park - Connecticut
Ticket Price: $39.99 Parking: $10
3. Wild Adventures Theme Park - Georgia
Ticket Price: $49.99 Parking: $15
4. Worlds of Fun - Montana
Ticket Price: $34.99 Parking: $2
5. Six Flags Darien Lake - New York
Ticket Price: $34.99 Parking: $20
For a complete breakdown of the methodology and all 30 destinations in this year’s Theme Park Index, read the full report at: https://www.hometogo.com/united-states/amusement-parks/#theme-park-index
Traveling, while enjoyable and fulfilling, takes a lot of expenses. It will take the use of strategic planning, different budgeting techniques, and financial confidence to make a limited budget work, especially when there are a lot of people traveling together such as with your family and with kids, at that! When you’re traveling with kids, the game changes and adjustments have to be done. Before making that next big trip, parents and guardians should consider several strategies so that their hard earned bucks are also well spent for them and their kids, ranging from finding affordable flights to bringing their own forms of entertainment. One efficient strategy is by “reverse engineering” your finances (or knowing the things that can potentially go wrong, instead of the ones that you should do right). That said, below are some of the financial mistakes to be avoided when families travel with kids. We hope that this guide prevents parents (like us) from making the same mishaps. 1. Not Being Prepared for Medical Emergencies Traveling is best done when precautions are in place. The first step in being prepared for medical emergencies is having travel health insurance. Getting you and your family covered will save you the trouble of paying for emergency medical expenses when traveling. Depending on the plan the family has, the cost will either be reimbursed within the plan limits or covered altogether regardless of injury or illness. Unfortunately, not many families come prepared with this, not even the parents themselves. It doesn't take a while to be acquainted with options, though, be it a comprehensive travel insurance plan that covers several problems (including baggage loss, trip delay, and trip cancellation), or a standalone medical plan limited to dental and emergency medical fees only. The bigger mistake is opting out of the travel insurance fee and then ending up spending more let alone on a different country when faced with medical expenses. 2. Not Prioritizing Convenience Over Ticket Price While flights can be as affordable as they can go, it is still best to be wise when choosing cheap ones but one that can compromise convenience. After all, going through delays and panicking one's way into making the connecting flight, with jet lagged children, toddler gear, and several pieces of luggage, is not an ideal experience when traveling, even if it allows youto save a little bit. For instance, don’t fall prey to a lap arrangement. It is recommended to buy a ticket for your child in order to prevent breakdowns and also have someone on your lap for an extended period of time. Parents, you will need all that muscle strength while traveling. Save your energy while in transportation. Also, isn't giving your family a bit of fun, convenience, and comfort a good thing to aspire for while traveling? If one can do this within a good budget without overspending, then it should be done. 3. Not Having Essential Items It is better to bring your children's essential needs, such as diapers and clothes, instead of buying them at the travel destination. After all, the availability of your children's needs, especially in terms of brand, may not always be around in certain countries. Securing these needs will save the unnecessary expense of buying something other than souvenirs and the experiences that should make the trip, not new baby clothes, prescription medicine, or diapers. A way to ensure doing this is to have firstaid kits and packing cubes. A firstaid kit and having it onboard is a nonnegotiable, and it should include items such as medicine for allergies, stomach ache, cold, flu, motion sickness, fever, and rehydration, as well as antiitch cream, thermometer, and bandages. Packing cubes, on the other hand, are fabric containers with zips. These can be packed with the basic clothes needed, including socks, as well one for dirty laundry and some detergent in case clothes need to be washed at the hotel. Imagine all the savings by dodging all those unnecessary expenses! 4. Not Bringing Enough Entertainment for Children It is a must to engage children of all ages when traveling. Otherwise, parents will find themselves with unnecessary expenditures on snacks, toys, and even inflight WiFi. It is best to pack some activity sheets, portable art materials, and even some books for the children to carry on their bags themselves. Be strategic when picking toys that won't be too missed in case they are damaged or lost. Make room for calming downtime activities too, so that the children can recharge and avoid having to ask for other things that are not needed. 5. Not Planning Properly Lastly, not planning properly for almost everything in the trip is a sure ticket to disaster. There are so many decisions to make. Lodging, for instance, is crucial for comfort, convenienceand affordability. Will it be better for you to book a hotel room? Or should you choose a spacious rental with kitchen access instead? More importantly, what are the activities you have planned each day? It would be best to keep things scheduled so you can avoid unexpected expenses and decision paralysis. Other Tips to Consider When Traveling With Kids Finally, don’t alienate your kids from the planning process. You’ll be surprised by how insightful their opinions are. Just remember that when it comes to choosing activities, your interests should come first, with the destinations as a second priority. Don’t forget to account for younger children as well. For example, going to a theme park with really young kids might not be the best idea since they will have limited ride options. Cruises, on the other hand, have a variety of activities for school age and teenage children. Family friendly cruise lines have added perks, too. Lastly, parents and seasoned travelers alike advise that less is really more. If the parents try to cram too much in a day, the trip might end up as a chore and not as an enjoyable way to spend time with the family. The Bottom Line At the end of the day, how much you wish to spend on your family travels is still up to you. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to strike a balance between cost effectiveness and overall, the fun, happy times that you signed up for. Safe travels! Jim Hughes is a freelance writer based in Sheridan, WY. Jim has significant experience covering financial and businesstopics. He’s been a financial advisor and also provided consulting and advice. At the moment he is the Director of Content atOpenCashAdvance.com
An American, and certainly a Pennsylvanian, historical experience and adventure is about to awaken after years of hibernation. The East Broad Top Railroad (EBT) located in Orbisonia, PA and nestled in the rolling hills and farmlands in the central part of the state will start up train rides and historic railroad shop tours on May 6. The 150-year-old railroad is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the best preserved examples of 19th century American narrow gauge railroads (the rails less than 4 feet apart so the trains, and everything is smaller than "standard" railroads) and industrial complexes in the country. It was already an antique when it was shut down in 1955; today is it a true treasure that far exceeds the trains and tracks. The EBT still has six narrow-gauge steam locomotives, each awaiting their turn for restoration, one of which is expected in the near future. Malkiewicz TrainStation - Courtesy The East Broad Top Railroad The East Broad Top is famous for being an authentic antique all steam engine railroad when it was shuttered in 1955, escaping the scrappers torch (the owner of the scrap company actually saved the entire railroad) and slumbering, running semi-regulary with steam engines (which are rumored to be back this year) and watched over, protected and preserved by "friends," railfans, and the community. This historical treasure was well guarded, preserved and kept safe for 70 years. In 2020 the non-for-profit EBT Foundation was formed and embarked on the ambitious plan to restore most of the entire line and inject funding and resources into the mountain-pass communities. Adjacent to the East Broad Top is the Rockhill Trolley Museum offering a significant collection of operating streetcars and trolleys from around the U.S. and the world. Malkiewicz TrolleyRide - Courtesy The East Broad Top Railroad So, if you are looking to discover a true treasure, a historical and adventure experience in a landscape less touched by the rushing, worried world, take a short train ride big on history and discovery on the East Broad Top before everyone else finds it. From May 6 through the end of the year, the renaissance of the East Broad Top can be experienced on a one-hour train ride in a vintage caboose, passenger car or even an open-air car. While the rail line is 30 plus miles long, trains in 2022 will travel on a nine-mile round-trip ride from the historic roundhouse and shops in Orbisonia to Colgate Grove and back. Prices begin at $20 for adults and $18 for children. Visit www.eastbroadtop.com for reservations and information.
Spring is prime time to visit California -- and have deals across the state for all types of travelers. From romantic escapes to family outings, discover weekend getaways and unmissable hotel deals in California. Reach for the Stars Family Deal and Gas Bump Yosemite - Credit: Visit California Yosemite–Madera County, CATaking the family to Yosemite National Park doesn’t require that everyone love camping. This nice deal from Yosemite-Madera County sets up the kids with a tent and sleeping gear inside your hotel room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Oakhurst Yosemite, 15 miles from the national park’s south gate. Or choose the same hotel’s deal that offers a $25 gas card for the parents. Adding to its family-friendly appeal, the hotel has a pool and free breakfast. Best of LA Deal Los Angeles, CAThe 17-story Omni Los Angeles California Plaza offers a convenient perch on Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles, located near Grand Central Market, The Broad Museum, and Angels Flight Railway. Streamline your trip even more with this deal that includes a $25 credit with Uber, either for rides or Uber eats. Ongoing. 30 Percent Off: Spring into Wine Country Special Napa Valley - Istock - franckreporter Napa Valley, CAMake your own spring break at St. Helena’s Wine Country Inn, which features 20 rooms and five cottages with decor inspired by the vineyard scenery. Stay three nights between Sunday and Thursday and get up to 30 percent off, as well as a split of wine upon check-in and daily breakfast delivery (good through April 30). Check out Visit Napa Valley for more offers, like one where California residents can get discounts of up to 25 percent (with ID) at resorts such as the Silverado Resort & Spa. Buy Three LEGOLAND California Passes, Get One Free Legoland 2 - Credit: Visit California Carlsbad, CAIf you go even two times during a year, an annual pass to a theme park pretty much pays for itself. This new deal at the Carlsbad theme park packs in even more value. Buy three Platinum or Elite annual passes, then get the fourth free. Both of these pass levels include admission to the main theme park, LEGOLAND Water Park, and SEA LIFE Aquarium, and adds free parking plus discounts on dining and shopping. The Elite option ups the ante by having no blackout dates. Third Night Free Santa Barbara, CAMore than a dozen hotels are offering third-night free deals through June 30 in the American Riviera. Choose from options such as The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, the Brisas Del Mar, Inn at the Beach, and the Cheshire Cat Inn. Planning further ahead? Check out the Stay Savvy Deal at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beach Resort, granting a third night free on weeknights (good through July 29). $20 Unlimited Service to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Sequoia - Credit: Visit Visalia Visalia, CAPlan now for your late spring or summer trip to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The 16-passenger Sequoia Shuttle will resume service between Visalia and Sequoia National Park starting May 26, running through September 11. The shuttles stop at several Visalia hotels, an easy launching pad into the big tree–lined national parks, and there are routes inside the parks, too. Each shuttle offers comfy seats, luggage space, and features a video about the Giant Forest. Round-trip tickets are $20 per person and include your park entry fee. Spring Break Getaway Package with a $100 Daily Credit Indian Wells, CATake the whole family to the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, a Greater Palm Springs resort with a sand-beach pool, golf, and a spa. The deal includes a large pizza and soft drinks upon arrival, then a sweet $100 in resort credit per night. Good for stays between March 27–April 25.
You really can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing a beautiful place to go hiking in Washington County, Maryland, home to five national parks, eight state parks, and two resource management areas. Each comes with its own set of scenic trails, offering plenty of options whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing stroll through the woods or up for something more strenuous as long as it leads to a phenomenal view. Here’s a look at some of the best places to go hiking on your next trip to Western Maryland. Maryland’s Portion of the Appalachian Trail Washington Monument on Appalachian Trail in Boonsboro - Credit: MJ Clingan Did you know the majority of the 40-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that crosses Maryland actually passes through Washington County? This particular portion of the A.T. is relatively easy compared with others, with fewer steep climbs and elevation changes of just 1,650 feet. While you could thru-hike the entire stretch in four or five days, most visitors opt to do day hikes where the trail runs through Greenbrier State Park (Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliff), Gathland State Park (Weverton Cliffs), and Washington Monument State Park, home of the first monument ever created in George Washington’s honor. The A.T. also allows access to the Maryland Heights overlook at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which we’ll get into later. C&O Canal National Historic Park Hikers on C&O Canal towpath - Credit: Canal Trust Constructed in 1828 and declared a National Monument in 1961, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal is a vast 184.5-mile waterway that connects Georgetown in Washington, D.C. with Cumberland in Maryland. The C&O Canal Towpath — the dirt and stone trail that runs alongside it and was once used by mules to tow boats down the canal — serves as a recreational space for hikers and cyclists, with 78 miles of it passing through Washington County. The canal is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and is a popular place for birding. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, turkey vultures, egrets, great blue herons, wood ducks, and more than 120 other species of birds as you make your way along the Potomac. The Western Maryland Rail Trail Western MD Rail Trail in Hancock 1st Maryland Trail Town -Credit: John Canan For those who prefer paved paths, the Western Maryland Rail Trail, formerly the site of the Western Maryland Railway, runs alongside a 28-mile section of the C&O Canal Towpath from Big Pool (near Fort Frederick State Park) up to Little Orleans. With beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the nearby Potomac River, it’s a beautiful place to visit year-round, especially in the fall when the leaves change color. The entire path is wheelchair and stroller accessible and relatively flat, making it a great place to go for a relaxing walk, energizing run, or scenic bike ride. Fort Frederick State Park While most people visit Fort Frederick State Park to learn about the unique stone fort, which was constructed in 1756 and used to defend Maryland during the French and Indian War, it’s also home to two scenic trails perfect for hikers of all ages and abilities. Stroll along Beaver Pond Trail, where you can view white-tailed deer, turtles, birds, and other wetland wildlife along the 0.3-mile path, or take the 1.1-mile Plantation Nature Trail through the forest, where trees were harvested in the 1930s — the C&O Canal Towpath also winds its way through here along the Potomac River. Nearby, the Woodmont Natural Resource Management Area’s Wildlife Heritage Trail offers pathways through rolling mountain landscapes, oak forests, and places to pick wild berries. Antietam National Battlefield Antietam Burnside Bridge - Credit: Scanter Halfway between Hagerstown, Maryland, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Antietam National Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, where 23,000 soldiers were killed that fateful day on September 17, 1862. Today, it’s home to 10 historic hiking trails where visitors can walk along 0.3- to 1.8-mile pathways and read markers indicating the historic events that happened here. Visit in springtime when birds returning from their winter trips south can be seen in the trees around the Sherrick Farm and Snavely Ford trails. The battlefield is also home to 77 species of birds including northern cardinals, red-tailed hawks, and eastern bluebirds, among others. The Maryland Heights Trail at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Harpers Ferry National Historical Park spans three states (Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia) and its Maryland Heights Trail is a major highlight, offering incredible views of the C&O Canal, Harpers Ferry, and the place where the Potomac River and Shenandoah River meet. It also connects with the Appalachian Trail at the Maryland Heights overlook and lets you check out artillery batteries dating back to the Civil War era — the Stone Fort Loop Trail, which adds about two more miles to your hike, is also worth a look. Park at the Visitor Center and take the free shuttle or hike down the 1.6-mile path to begin the 4.5-mile semi-strenuous trail in Lower Town. South Mountain Recreation Area Greenbrier State Park (South Mountain Recreation Area) - Credit: Scott Cantner South Mountain State Park, Greenbrier State Park, Gathland State Park, and Washington Monument State Park make up the South Mountain Recreation Area, home to hiking trails and excellent bird-watching areas. While parts of the Appalachian Trail pass through Greenbrier State Park, there are 11 miles of trails ranging from moderate to difficult due to the steep, rocky landscape — whichever you choose, leave time to cool off in the scenic 42-acre lake. The A.T. also crosses South Mountain State Battlefield, where you can learn how the Battle of South Mountain helped turn the tide of the Civil War in 1862, and Washington Monument State Park, home to a stone tower that was built in 1827 to honor our first president. Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area In Western Washington County, the 3,100-acre Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area offers hikers a chance to discover the area’s geology. Stop by the Visitor’s Center to learn how the region’s ancient Devonian-age black shale, which dates back to more than 350 million years ago, and ancient Hampshire and Chemung sandstone support the unique wildlife and endangered plants that live here. Watch for songbirds, black bears, grouse, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer. Most trails here once served as logging roads or were built to support the C&O Canal, and are now used by hikers and hunters during hunting season. CARD WIDGET HEREVisit Hagerstown