Northern California's collection of amusement parks feature thrill rides, animal encounters and live entertainment. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Nor Cal amusement parks.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, which opened in 1968, combines thrill rides with animal adventures. The 140-acre park, located in Vallejo, is about a hour's drive northeast of downtown San Francisco.
The SkyScreamerThe SkyScreamer, the signature ride at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, opened in 2011. This towering swing ride takes riders up 15 stories before swinging them around at 43 miles per hour.
Coasters, Water Rides, Wildlife And MoreIn addition to the SkyScreamer, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has 44 other rides, including eight roller coasters and two water rides. Equally enjoyable for visitors are the park's animal encounters -- swim with dolphins, see Shouka the giant whale perform and even interact with exotic animals like anteaters, sloths and macaws.
Johnny Rockets And Food StandsThere are many food stands scattered throughout Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. In addition, the park boasts one full-service restaurant, the 1950s-style diner chain Johnny Rockets.
Safety RecordThere have been several accidents at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in the last decade. Among these are two injuries on the Starfish ride, one in 2001 and one in 2002. In addition, a 9-year-old boy was injured on the Scat-a-bout, when he intentionally slid beneath the safety restraint.
Address: 1001 Fairgrounds Dr., Vallejo, CA 94589
Hours: Open from March through December; hours vary by week; check website for current information
Price: General admission, $49.99; children under 48 inches tall, $36.99; general admission tickets purchased online, $36.99; children under age 3, free
California's Great America
California's Great America is a favorite amusement park in the Nor Cal, combining thrill rides with family entertainment and even a water park. The 100-acre park is located in Santa Clara, about an hour south of San Francisco, and features everything from the latest roller coasters to tamer kiddie rides -- and even a classic carousel.
FirefallFirefall, opened in 2008, is the signature ride at California's Great America. This 40-person thrill ride takes riders up 60 feet before twisting and turning through fire and water on its way back to home base. But don't forget old favorites like The Demon and Top Gun.
From Boomerang Bay To KidzvilleIn addition to Firefall, California's Great America features 54 other rides, including six other roller coasters and three water rides. The park also offers a variety of live shows, Kidzville for the park's youngest visitors and Boomerang Bay, the park's summer water park.
Dining OptionsCalifornia's Great America features food stands throughout the park, offering classic amusement park items like churros, pretzels, cotton candy and French fries. In addition, the park has several full-service restaurants, including the Joe Cool Cafe in the Planet Snoopy area and Maggie Brown's, which is known for its fried chicken.
Safety RecordThere have been several accidents at California's Great America in the last decade. In 2007, a 4-year-old drowned in the Great Barrier Reef attraction, and in 1999, a 12-year-old fell from the Drop Tower: Scream Zone attraction and died.
Address: 4701 Great America Pkwy., Santa Clara, CA 95054
Hours: Open from May through October; hours vary by month and by day; check website for current information
Price: Guests 48 inches and taller, $54.99; seniors 62 and older and guests under 48 inches tall, $34.99; children under age 3, free; parking, $12
Other Noteworthy Parks In Northern CaliforniaGilroy Gardens in San Jose
Children's Fairyland in Oakland
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Funderland in Sacramento
Storyland and Playland in Fresno
What's your favorite amusement park in Northern California?
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