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These are the Best Roller Coasters in NYC and Nearby

These are the Best Roller Coasters in NYC and Nearby

From historic coasters to steel behemoths, there's a coaster on this list for thrill seekers of all kinds


Your heart pounds. Your blood races. You're nervous and immensely excited. You're...about to ride a roller coaster! There's nothing like the thrill of soaring into the air on a roller coaster to really get your adrenaline pumping. With National Roller Coaster Day on Aug. 16, here’s a guide to some of the best roller coasters in NYC and nearby for families and kids to enjoy. We also included a few that are worth a road trip. From a candy-themed coaster to steel behemoths, there's a roller coaster on this list for thrill seekers of all kinds!

One more thing to keep in mind. All of the coasters listed are in amusement parks with lots of other on-site rides and attractions—great for anyone in the family who prefers more “grounded” fun! And with summer still in full swing, check out these local water parks, too!

Best Roller Coasters in NYC and Nearby

El Toro

Amusement Park: Six Flags Great Adventure
Location: 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, NJ
732-928-2000
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El Toro (which means “the bull” in Spanish), looks like a classic wooden roller coaster with a lot of cool, complex architecture. But it was also built with ultra-modern engineering, so you'll enjoy a smooth and fast ride with a wooden coaster feel. You'll zoom through El Toro's course at 70 mph, over a series of hills that give you maximum airtime. There's a lot more to this exciting ride, but you'll have to head to Six Flags to experience the thrills first hand. Bonus bragging rights: You'll get to say you rode the coaster voted #1 in USA Today's 10 Best Awards 2022!

The Cyclone

Amusement Park: Luna Park in Coney Island
Location: 1000 Surf Ave., Brooklyn
718-373-5862
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No roller coaster guide is complete without mentioning the famous Cyclone in Coney Island. One of the oldest roller coasters in America and known as the 'Mother' of coaster enthusiast culture, the Coney Island Cyclone is the second-steepest wooden roller coaster in the world, featuring an adrenaline-charged plunge of its 85-foot-tall hill at a 45-degree incline, speeds of 60 mph over, and 2,640 feet of wooden track. Debuted in Coney Island in 1927, the legendary coaster and New York landmark, is still providing thrills and chills to date.

The Thunderbolt

Amusement Park: Luna Park in Coney Island
Location: 1000 Surf Ave., Brooklyn
718-373-5862
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After riding the historic Cyclone, don't leave Luna Park without trying The Thunderbolt. This amazing ride is custom-crafted from steel and features a nine-seat car, an audacious 90 degree drop, with inversions, turns, and enough G-force to captivate the most intrepid visitors. The impressive orange colored steel behemoth’s twisted layout erupts into the cityscape mesmerizing spectators from near and far with 2,233 feet of pure exhilaration, twists, bends, and plunges.

Kingda Ka

Amusement Park: Six Flags Great Adventure
Location: 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, NJ
732-928-2000
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There sure are lots of rides to choose from at Great Adventure, but Kingda Ka should soar to the top of your list! Check this out: This upside down U-shaped track bolts up 45 stories in the sky—that’s a whopping 456 feet high. Once you get to the top you’ll be plummeting right back down in a 270-degree spiral (not recommended for wimps). Needless to say, this description is nothing compared to what you’ll experience on this amazing ride!

Boulder Dash

Amusement Park: Lake Compounce
Location: 185 Enterprise Dr., Bristol, CT
860-583-3300
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Take a road trip to Connecticut to ride this cool coaster. It's a Lake Compounce favorite that's definitely one of those must-do rides at the park. On this exhilarating coaster, you'll dash through woods, narrowly dodging trees and boulders as the track takes you around turns and down thrilling hills. 



Wooden Warrior

Amusement Park: Quassy Amusement Park
Location: 2132 Middlebury Rd., Middlebury, CT
203-758-2913
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This unassuming family roller coaster will surprise you. Sure, it's got a small footprint, but it packs in some amazing air time punch and a heart-pounding tunneled turnaround. According to the Quassy website, it was even rated among the top 25 wooden roller coasters in the world in a 2012 poll of coaster and theme park experts. Talk about impressive!

Candymonium

Amusement Park: Hersheypark
Location: 100 W. Hersheypark Dr., Hershey, PA
717-534-3900
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Think Hershey Park is all about chocolate and treats? Think again! Among the park's many thrill attractions is Candymonium—which is one sweet ride! Get this: Candymonium reaches a maximum speed of 76 mph. You'll experience a heart-pounding, 210-foot ascent up the tallest hill in Hersheypark. Once you're up there, you'll then dip into thrilling drops including seven camelback hills. After the ride, treat yourself to some delicious candy—you've earned it!

Phoenix

Amusement Park: Knoebels Amusement Resort
Location: 391 Knoebels Blvd., Route 487, Elysburg, PA
800-487-4386
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According to VisitPA.com, international coaster enthusiasts have rated Phoenix the second-best wooden coaster in the world because of its impressive airtime. It's worth a trip to Elysburg, not just for the amazing Phoenix, but the resort's other attractions, too. You can ride Model T-like replicas, enjoy lots of kiddie and thrill rides, play laser tag and mini golf, and so much more. The best part is, admission and parking are free. Choose to pay per ride with ticket books or purchase a Ride All Day Pass on weekdays during summer. 

Leap-The-Dips

Amusement Park: Lakemont Park
Location: 700 Park Ave., Altoona, PA
800-434-8006
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Altoona, PA, may seem a far ride from NYC, but it's worth the trip for Leap-The-Dips, the oldest operating wooden roller coaster in the world. Built in 1902, the coaster went through some restoration efforts over the years and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996. Go ahead and take a ride on Leap-The-Dips. It'll show you that fun is timeless, no matter what year it is!

Dragon Coaster

Amusement Park: Playland
Location: 1 Playland Parkway, Rye, NY
914-820-3070
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One of Playland’s most popular and exciting thrill rides is the amazing Dragon Coaster. This historic wooden roller coaster has been giving fun and exciting rides to coaster fans since 1928. 

The Comet 

Amusement Park: Hersheypark
Location: 100 W. Hersheypark Dr., Hershey, PA
717-534-3900
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This is the oldest coaster at Hersheypark. In case you're wondering, Hersheypark was built in 1906, originally as a leisure park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company. The Comet climbs 96 feet and reaches a top speed of 50 mph during its 3,360-foot ride. It does all this in just 1 minute and 45 seconds. The Comet gets one big Hershey Kiss from us for its speed, history and family fun!

Main Image Credit: Luna Park in Coney Island

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