Six Flags Great America, the closet amusement park to both Chicago and Milwaukee, is packed with fun. The list of thrills is long—for some visitors, it will be the rushing roller coasters, others will enjoy the family fun and games, and others come for the live music. When you add in Hurricane Harbor, the adjacent waterpark, you’ll find plenty of fun at Great America.
The perfect location for a Chicago day trip, this Six Flags Illinois park is located at 1 Great America Parkway in Gurnee, Illinois, a quick drive north of the city on Interstate 94. Besides the amazing roller coasters, Gurnee is home to some excellent outlet shopping. If you reserved a hotel room, you could spend one day enjoying the fun of Six Flags and the next searching for bargains—with a comfortable overnight in between.
Whether you’re planning to make a full vacation out of it or you’re visiting for the day, you’ll find a lot to like at Six Flags Great America. If you’re wondering when to go, you’ll need to plan a visit between May and October. When the snow is flying, the roller coasters aren’t running. But when the weather’s warm and the days are long, there’s plenty of fun to find here. The waterpark is open later May through Labor Day weekend.
For many, the roller coasters are the premier reason for a visit. Like all of the parks in the Six Flags family, the Six Flags Illinois location has some twisty coasters sure to get your heart pounding—more than 15 great rides. The Viper, a wooden cyclone-style coaster, has an 80-foot drop to get your blood pumping. The American Eagle, a favorite for 25 years, also is a wooden coaster that’s a favorite of families. The stand-up Iron Wolf delivers thrills, as does the Raging Bull. Eventually reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour, the Raging Bill zips up a 20-story hill, twists around turns, and drops into an underground abyss.
Thrill rides also are waiting to be discovered at Hurricane Harbor. The Mega Wedgie water ride offers excitement not duplicated elsewhere. After counting to three, a trap door opens beneath your feet and you experience a five-story drop at 40 miles per hour. Another new favorite, the Surf Rider, also offers high-MPH thrills. With this two-sided surf simulator, you can catch a five-foot wave. Newbies can sign up for lessons to learn the finer points of surfing.
Of course, not all of the rides at Six Flags Great America require a high dose of bravery. Even the faint of heart will find something to enjoy here. Near the park entrance, the Columbia Carousel offers a pleasant spin for visitors of any age. The carousel has become a symbol of Great America—and it looks simply fantastic when fireworks light up the night sky. It’s just a short walk to the Sky Trek Tower, a rotating observation ride that brings you 28 and a half stories high to enjoy the views of the Great America skyline.
Besides the rides at Great America and Hurricane Harbor, you’ll find a long list of places to grab a snack or do some shopping. The theme park also offers a full schedule of shows and live music. You’ll also have the chance to meet with your favorite Looney Tunes characters and get your picture taken with Bugs, Daffy, and friends. Many nights during the summer, the Six Flags Illinois streets come to live with the Glow in the Dark parade.
A variety of ticket packages are available, providing value and convenience, Besides park admission, some packages have parking vouchers and meal deals. Others give you front-of-the-line access or a personal attendant for a VIP tour. Season passes are a great way to save money if you’re planning to visit Great America more than once a season.
Image: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor