DAY TRIP: Keansburg Amusement Park & Runaway Rapids

Sometimes, the ideal day trip doesn’t require making much of a trip at all. If you’re craving a good, old-fashioned visit to a boardwalk town – but don’t want to fight summertime traffic down to the more southern parts of the Jersey shore – Keansburg is the perfect Bayshore area option. For generations, local residents have known and loved Keansburg Amusement Park as a terrific and affordable family-friendly destination to while away the hours on a fun summer day. For more than 110 years, the amusement park, located on Beachway Avenue, adjacent to the scenic Keansburg boardwalk and fishing pier, has offered an array of rides and attractions for visitors of all ages. After being flooded and having some rides destroyed in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, the park is back and better than ever. And, celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer is its companion waterpark, Runaway Rapids, featuring a variety of wet and wonderful ways to stay cool. It was one of the first waterparks in New Jersey at the time of its construction, and remains a popular destination.

At Keansburg Amusement Park, attractions run the gamut from vintage, fully restored kiddie rides that beckon nostalgic memories for countless families to exciting, state-of-the-art thrill rides for teens and adults. Knuckles turn white on offerings like the Tornado, Pharaoh’s Fury, the Looping Star, and Double Shot, to name just a few. Or bring the little ones to enjoy tamer kiddie versions like Super Slide, the Sea Serpent Roller Coaster, Log Flume, Red Baron airplanes, the Mini Train, merry-go-round, bumper cars, boats, and more. There are arcade and carnival games, too, plus a go-kart track, batting cages, and a haunted mansion. Over at Runaway Rapids, don your swimsuit and take a slippery ride down any of the colorful, oversized slides, get soaked under the tipping buckets, or bob along in tubes on the lazy river and pools.

For the inevitable bouts of hunger in the midst of all the fun, there are plenty of food establishments within the park, with classic boardwalk fare, snacks, and seafood on the menu. Choose from full service casual dining restaurants or on-the-go takeout counters.

Keansburg Amusement Park is already open daily for the season; Runaway Rapids is open, weather permitting, on weekends only through June 12 and daily thereafter. Be sure to check the operating calendar on the website to confirm the hours of operation on the day of your visit. Parking is available in the convenient lot behind the amusement park, and it costs just $5 to park all day ($7 on weekends and holidays). Limited metered parking is available on the street and in the lot north of the park.

Tickets for amusement park rides range from just 75 cents for an individual ticket to $31.95 for a sheet of 50, $59.85 for a book of 100, and $99.45 for a book of 200. Waterpark entry is $25.95 for a two-hour ticket, $27.95 for a three-hour ticket, and $12.95 for Splash Night (4:00 p.m. to close) or for toddlers (up to 42 inches tall). Don’t want to get wet? Dry spectators pay just $9.95 to take in the fun. Lockers are available for $11, with $5 refunded upon your key return. Season passes are $149 per person or $447 for a family of four. Private parties are available and can be reserved by calling (732) 495-1400, ext. 13.

Look for special events and discount promotions that are advertised throughout the season, including fireworks on the Fourth of July at dusk, and the Runaway Rapids 20th Anniversary celebration on June 22. There will also be Kruisin’ in Keansburg on August 6 and Taste of the Bayshore on August 21.

For everything you need to know about this fun and fabulous two-in-one entertainment venue, visit the website at www.keansburgamusementpark.com or call (732) 495-1400. Look for Keansburg Amusement Park and Runaway Rapids Waterpark on Facebook, too!