The Best Indoor Amusement Parks For Year-Round Fun (Even When The Weather Sucks)

by Rachel Aschenbrand-Robinson
Originally Published: 
indoor amusement parks
Nickelodeon Universe

We’re always looking for new and exciting ways to keep the kids happy and preoccupied — aka: wear them out — especially on weekends and vacations. There’s no denying that task is exponentially more challenging when the weather is inclement, which is when an indoor amusement park comes to the rescue. Safely enclosed and entertained, whether rain or shine, all year long? Yeah, that sounds pretty damn good. Especially when we’ve still got months to go until we can bust out the kiddie pool out back.

The indoor theme park has come a long, long way. Around the country, you can find indoor adventure parks featuring thrills and attractions for kids of varying ages, including indoor roller coasters, go-karts, mini golf courses, laser tag, climbing walls, and zip lines (and more)! Many also offer dining options like sports bars and/or are close to — if not attached to — plenty of other family-friendly spots. (Some are inside malls. What a time to be alive.) These ain’t just your average arcades, though they have those games, too.

So which theme park should you plan to visit (when COVID-19 restrictions allow, of course)? Whether you hope to drive to one nearby for the day or include it as part of a more far-flung trip itinerary, we’ve found 11 of the best indoor amusement parks around the country. Choose your adventure ahead!

Best Indoor Amusement Parks in the U.S.:

Tom Foolery’s in Wisconsin Dells, WI

Part of the famed Kalahari Resort’s Wisconsin location, Tom Foolery’s Adventure Park offers 100,000 square feet of indoor attractions. That includes a six-story ferris wheel, mini roller coaster for littles, an African-themed carousel, a Mission Impossible-style laser course, laser tag, ropes course, and go-karts. An arcade also offers 250 games including traditional favorites like skee-ball and more for prize-hungry kids (and adults, tbh). This indoor park also features a bowling court and mini-golf. Accommodations are available on-site at Kalahari, but if you’re looking for other options that are potentially more budget-friendly, the Hampton Inn & Suites at Wisconsin Dells Lake Delton has an indoor pool, and children under 17 stay for free if they’re occupying their parent or guardian’s room. The same is true at Holiday Inn Express Wisconsin Dells, where there are two indoor and two outdoor pools, an arcade/game room, and a playground on site.

For more info about the park’s COVID-19 response, click here.

Nickelodeon Universe in Rutherford, NJ

At the American Dream mall in Rutherford, NJ, the 8.5-acre Nickelodeon Universe is the largest indoor amusement park on the continent. Rides range from ultra-thrilling to tot-friendly, including spin and drop rides, and multiple indoor roller coaster options (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed “Shellraiser” boasts the world’s steepest drop). Kids will also have the opportunity to meet their favorite Nickelodeon characters. What’s more, the mall itself hosts other entertainment venues like Big Snow, North America’s first indoor, real-snow, year-round ski and snow resort, an indoor ice rink, and the Angry Birds Not So Mini Golf Club, and 18-hole indoor course. Expect a full day of excitement adjacent to Manhattan, so plan to rest your bones at the nearby family-friendly Hilton Meadowlands or Holiday Inn Express Meadowlands.

For more info about the park’s COVID-19 response, click here.

The Adventuredome in Las Vegas, NV

On the Las Vegas strip, the Adventuredome indoor theme park occupies 5 acres at the famed Circus Circus. It boasts several roller coasters, laser tag, bumper cars, a 4-D theater, rock climbing wall, virtual reality zone, mini-golf course, and mini bowling, among other attractions. It’s all housed under — you guessed it — a giant dome, so there’s indoor fun to be had all year long. For family-friendly fun while you’re in Sin City, this is a spot not to be missed. Of course, you can stay at Circus Circus itself, or zip across the street to the casino-free Hilton Grand Vacations on the Las Vegas Strip. Another family-friendly option is Excalibur, the castle-themed hotel on the Strip that has the Fun Dungeon (a huge arcade room, aka a kid-friendly casino) and the Tournament of Kings, which is a jousting show (similar to Medieval Times). For an upscale experience with eye candy-esque decor, there’s also the Wynn, which houses a casino, three outdoor pools, a spa, restaurants, and a nightclub.

Contact Circus Circus for more information about their current COVID-19 protocols.

Funplex in Houston, TX

(Funplex is currently not open for business, due to Covid-19, aside from bowling and sports bar)

Houston’s Funplex indoor adventure park has something for everyone from littles to teens to adults. Over 200 games and attractions reside inside, including a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, go-karts, bowling, and skating. There’s also a virtual reality roller coaster that simulates all the movements, vibrations, and wind effects of the real deal. Younger kids can enjoy the two-story PlayPort that features inflatables, ball pits, trampolines, and arcade games. Dining options include a food court with a kid-friendly menu, as well as a sports bar for more grown-up fare. Stay at the conveniently located Best Western Plus Downtown Inn & Suites or the value-priced La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Houston.

iPlay America in Freehold, NJ

iPlay America is New Jersey’s largest indoor amusement park, combining a Jersey Shore boardwalk experience with a shop-lined street over nearly four acres. Among the entertainment options are amusement rides like an indoor rollercoaster, spin, swing, and drop rides, a carousel, as well as attractions like go karts, virtual bowling, laser tag, arcade games, and a virtual golf suite. In addition to the Gametime Bar and Grill, Boardwalk-style concession stands abound with options like pizza and ice cream. Kids can get their sugar high at Broadway Sweets, the modern-meets-old-fashioned candy store where they can raid the candy bins or score homemade fudge. Coming from out of town or just don’t want to drive home post-park? Stay at the Hampton Inn Neptune/Wall, adjacent to Jersey Shore Premium Outlets, or the Radisson Hotel Freehold, which is also located conveniently close to Six Flags Great Adventure—if you’re up for theme park hopping.

For more info about the park’s COVID-19 response, click here.

Nickelodeon Universe in Minneapolis, MN

In addition to rides, entertainment stages, restaurants, and yes, retail stores, the 7-acre Mall of America also houses one of the country’s two Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme parks. Rides include Family-, Junior-, and Thrill-appropriate levels, so smaller kiddos can enjoy Diego’s Rescue Rider bus or the Backyardigans Swing-Along while older kids can ride one of several indoor roller coaster options like the Fairly Odd Coaster or the SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge. The AC Hotel Bloomington Mall of America is located right across the street from the mall and close to public transit, as is the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Bloomington at Mall of America, MN, which features 2 indoor pools and free transportation to the mall and airports.

For more info on the park’s response to COVID-19, click here.

Mt. Olympus Indoor Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, WI

Mt. Olympus Resort is home to two water parks and two theme parks, including the indoor amusement park, where mostly younger-leaning rides include a trolley, twirling teacups, mini roller coaster, kiddie swing, and a spring drop ride. Also available for the kiddos to enjoy: mini-golf, bumper cars, laser tag, go-karts, rock climbing wall, and the largest arcade in the Wisconsin Dells area. Accommodations are of course available onsite at Mt. Olympus but if you’re looking for other options, check out the beachfront Condos at 530 E. Hiawatha or Bakers Sunset Bay Resort which features two pools and its own arcade, as well. The Best Western Ambassador Inn and Suites is an affordable nearby choice where kids under 18 (using existing beds) stay free.

Call Mt. Olympus for more information about their safety protocols around COVID-19.

Adventure Park USA in Monrovia, Maryland

On the smaller side, Adventure Park USA offers both indoor and outdoor attractions over 17.5 acres in Maryland. Indoor attractions include laser tag, mini bowling, bumper cars, a rock wall, ropes course, drop ride, “Hologate” virtual reality, and an arcade. Just purchase a rechargeable Fun Card to play, ride, and redeem prizes, and grab some barbecue grub at the Whistle Stop Smokehouse located inside the adventure park. If you’re visiting the mid-Atlantic area or live a little beyond your ideal day-drive distance, the highly-rated Country Inn Suites by Radisson Frederick Maryland and the Hampton Inn Frederick, with a seasonal outdoor pool, are both reliable options.

Visit Adventure Park USA’s site for more information about their COVID-19 safety protocols.

Planet Obstacle in Lake Mary, Florida

Created by two Cirque du Soleil veterans, Planet Obstacle is not your typical indoor amusement park. The American Ninja Warrior-esque obstacle park is the largest in the world, spanning 50,0000 square feet and offering everything from an aerial ropes course, zip line, rock-climbing wall, and adult ninja course to kid-friendly options like trampolines, ball pits, bungees, and bumper cars. At the Sky Cafe, kids can choose from a menu that includes snacks like chips and ice cream, and other traditional park fare like pizza, burgers, chicken tenders, and hot dogs. The family-friendly La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Orlando Lake Mary is located just over a mile away, and the well-reviewed Hampton Inn & Suites Lake Mary at Colonial TownPark is just 5 miles away (and 30 minutes from Walt Disney World and Universal). A little further out, the Florida Hotel and Conference Center at The Florida Mall is also a traveler favorite.

For more info about how the park is responding to COVID-19, click here.

Nitro Zone Atlanta Indoor Fun Park in Peachtree Corners, GA

Indoor amusement center Nitro Zone occupies 127,000 square feet in Peachtree Corners, GA, and makes for a great spot to entertain kids when you’re in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The park is equipped with a 14-lane bowling alley, indoor go-kart racing track, trampoline park, and a ninja obstacle course created by a former American Ninja Warrior. Also on tap at Nitro Zone: A laser tag-paintball hybrid known as Bazooka Ball that uses 2-inch foam balls rather than painful paintballs (yes, please), and an arcade with both video and redemption games. Stay nearby and enjoy the indoor pool at Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners or check out the comfortable Courtyard Atlanta Norcross / Peachtree Corners which features a restaurant and outdoor pool.

Check out Nitro Zone’s website for more information on COVID-19 safety protocols.

Urban Air Adventure Park in Reno, NV

Urban Air is so much more than trampolines. The indoor adventure park has gravity-defying attractions for all ages and skill levels, including a ropes course, tubes playground, climbing walls, battle beam, trampolines, warrior obstacle course, dodgeball, slam dunk zone. If you’re looking for a place for your kids to burn off energy (and maybe conquer their fear of heights?) while in the Reno area, this is a spot you can rely on year-round. Nearby, the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino offers plush accommodations and features 10 restaurant options, as well as a nightclub, casino, two pools, and spa.The luxurious top-rated Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is a splurge-worthy option, with an arcade, game room, two pools, and stunning mountain views—and kids stay free!

For more info on the park’s response to COVID-19, click here.

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